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From The Saturday Review. unaffected ; and we like it because, if he SIMPLICITY.
chose to be pretentious, we could only say he THERE is no gift of expression that tells bad more right to be so than his neighbors ; more than simplicity in its right place. A but the truth is, these people have not really riinple style of talking or writing is an engine the temptations to pretence that others, their of power in good hands, enabling them to inferiors, have. The world allows them 80 undertake tasks forbidden to the world at distinguished a place that there is no need large. It even fits a man for talking or for them to struggle and use effort in order writing about himself, which only persons to seem something bigher and more important endowed with the art of being plain, trans- than they are. It needs a reliance on self to parent, and natural ought ever to attempt. be perfectly simple in treating of self; and Simplicity, as we would view it here, is by no this reliance, as a conscious quality, it is means a merely moral or negative quality. scarcely modest to bring forward unless the It is so in some cases ; but it is then only noticed world has given its sanction to the selfor appreciated for its suggestiveness. Chil- estimate. When the Duke of Wellington dren do not admire each other's simplicity ; said publicly, “ I should be ashamed to show but we admire it in them, because what is my face in the streets " under such and such uttered without thought or intention in the circumstances, the simple phrase, occurring child is full of meaning to us. It was more in an important debate, had a noble effect; than a simple, it was probably a stupid, little but there were not many men in whom it girl that kept reiterating " We are seven; " would have been becoming to bring forward but the words suggested deep meanings to self in this artless way in the House of Lords. the poet. The weeping child apologizing at There is no greater testimony to the weight sight of the unfolding handkerchief, “ My of a name, which once made itself known and tears are clean,” meant no more than the felt than the manner of speaking of self in literal sense of his words ; but to the hearer Dr. Newman's “ Apologia.” Nothing can they brought thoughts of guileless innocence be more engaging than the simplicity of tone; and of other tears that do leave a stain. the touches of personal feeling and recollecAfter childhood no one can retain a sim- tion, of likes and dislikes, and of self-defence plicity worthy of admiration without some are given in language the most artless and intellectual power. The unconscious sim- natural ; hut the tone would have been inadplicity of a child, when childhood is past, is missible if. the writer had not had a right to disagreeable and painful, and is never recog- rely on his past influence, and on the interest nized without a shade of pity or contempt. that still attaches to his name. Nobody can Manly simplicity is intelligent, and knows write in this way who does not feel that what what it is about. And though, to win our he says will be well received ; that people respect, it must of course be real, it may and will care to hear things personal to himself often is only one side of a many sided-char- told in the plainest way because it is himself. acter ; that is, the quality may attach to part, Very few men could venture to write their and not to the whole, of a man's nature. lives, even though in self-defence, in this fash
The charm of full-grown simplicity always ion. Indeed, if it comes to a venture, it is gains by, and we believe even requires, con- all over with him. Simplicity of the great trast. We must be a little surprised at a sort is serenely confident. man’s being simple before we can value the All simplicity, however paradoxical it may quality in him. Thus the style and manners sound, ought to conceal something,-rank, or of royal personages are generally simple, and achievement, or high purpose, or extensive there are doubtless plenty of reasons to make knowledge, or covert meaning, or a strength this probable, and a thing to expect ; but of modest purity, or an incorruptible honesty, persons dazzled by the pomp and circumstance or a power of self-command; or, in a child, of greatness are delighted with this simplicity, innocence. In mature life it must be backed which they confound with humility, because by some inner sense of worth, or at least by it seems to them a striking contrast with state a self-respect founded on just grounds, though, and splendor. So with the aristocracy of in- perhaps, never consciously dwelt upon. It tellect and genius. It appears a fine thing should have some touch of the heroic. It is for a great author or thinker to be artless and impossible for some people to be simple.
They are not great enough ; they are born | way, the poor are driven to feeble hyperbole, with that foppery which Dr. Johnson called helplessly reiterated, without a notion that the bad stamina of the mind, which, like a it is hyperbole. Thus an old woman wants bad constitution, can never be rectified,- i to say that she has lost her appetite, and "once a coxcomb, always a coxcomb.” In- tries her hand at expressing her lo86. “One deed, people who are not coxcombs often dare bit of cake is oceans--oceans it is-oceans. not be simple, because they would feel naked This seems to her nearer the truth, as her and insignificant; their thoughts must be hearer will receive it, than the simple andressed up to be fit to be seen ; in fact, they nouncement that, whereas once she ate her would not know how to set about it, and plain food with a relish, now delicacies cancould not be simple if they would. Few per- not tempt ber; and probably she is right. sons, perhaps, realize the difficulty of mere Again, uneducated people of a different class simplicity of expression. We own it is not never dream of being simple. They talk in difficult to say, " That is a door; this is my great stilted phrases from a mixture of affecdesk ;” but once pass the region of plain tation and modesty ; simple statement does statement of what our senses tell us, and the scem 80 very bare and unpresentable as difficulty begins which most people never get they would manage it. Hence the style of over. Scarcely any conversation is simple. guide-books and penny-a-liners ; they must Half the hyperbole of language is no delib- be gorgeous and poetical, or they would fear erate effort of fancy, and much less is it in- to collapse into mere inanity. Strong lantentional exaggeration. It is because it is guage acts as the irons which hold rickety impossible for inaccurate minds to hit the limbs straight. The Cockney dialect is, for exact truth and describe a thing just as it somewhat the same reason, the reverse of appeared to them,—to express' degrees of feel- simple. Everything is done by implication ing, to observe measures and proportions, to and allusion; nothing is direct. You retell a thing as it happened, and define a sen- quire a key of interpretation, and in this sation as it was felt. They cannot represent elaborateness lies the point. A man loses themselves just as sick or sorry - pleased, his personality, and becomes vaguely annoyed, or impressed—as they really were. party.” He does not stand high in his Which of us really manages to do this ? profession; but he is A 1. He is not on the Men rely on the universal license necessary point of ruin; but it is U. P. with him. where accuracy is unattainable, and would The person who addresses his friend is not feel ashamed to go against the popular phra- simply“ 1,” “ myself,” but he conveys the seology in search of a more formal truth; and idea mysteriously, as “ yours truly.” Simwisely, too; for with the run of people it plicity is open to all the world; but this recwould be a fastidiouness more nice than wise. ondite speech needs a clew and an accomViolent efforts to be simple would quench plice. Vulgarity, as a term of reproach, is the imagination without attaining to effec- never simple. Indeed, it often makes such tive truth. The poor have little of the sim- large demands on the fancy that we only plicity attributed to them in books. They distinguish it from poetry by its different achave too great a sense of their own insignifi- tion on the nerves. Intricacy, allusion, and cance to presume so far.
pretence are of its very essence. A rustic has felt indisposed and very un- Self-instructed persons are rarely simple ; comfortable in the night; how can he or she nor are those to whom knowledge has not expect to rouse sympathy for so very com- come naturally and by ordinary methods. monplace an occurrence? And yet it is pleas- Hence, the terrifying phraseology so comant to be pitied when we are ill. Therefore mon in modern science, and the incursion of be
says, “ I thought I should have died in new words into our periodical literature; the night.” He says this, not because he hence, too, in old times, the inflation and efreally thought so, or really wants you to fect of would-be learned,“ superior” women.
but because it is the only form Really superior perhaps they were; but they he knows likely to make an adequate im- had not yet come to the power of taking a pression on his hearer. He must know how simple view of their attain mente. When to analyze sensations before he can tell the good woman in a party of blue-stockthe simple truth about them. In the same ings whispered to a new-comer, “Nothing
but conversation is spoke bere,” she was with an amusement which he intended his awed, not so much by the thought, as by the reader to share. When it comes to any boast fine language in which it was wrapped. No- of sharpness or penetration, then the simple body is frightened at thought if put into style is indispensable. We see it in perfecplain terms; we may almost say that nobody tion in Goldsmith, but perhaps a little pasfeels it to be above him. No one can be sim- sage from Gray will be a less familiar inple who knows a little of everything, and stance of what we mean. He writes to a nothing thoroughly; nor one who thinks it friend :necessary to be always laying down his prin
“In my way I saw Winchester Cathedral ciple of action. There are people of this again ith pleasure, and supped with Dr. class who cannot for the life of them give a Balguy, who, I perceive, means to govern the simple answer, but follow the method of the Chapter. They give £200 a year to the poor Eastern traveller, who, being asked his name of the city. His present scheme is to take by an Arab sheik, began his reply with a to laziness. But what do they mean to do
away this ; for it is only an encouragement history of the creation of the world. Sim- with it? That I omitted to inquire because plicity, in mature action, is knowing what I thought I knew.”' you have to do, and doing it; and, in words,
It is a bad sign when there is too great a it is knowing what to say, and saying it. demand for simplicity,—a token of a growing Half the eloquence of the world is founded luxury and idleness overtapping themselves. on the reverse precept. The simplicity which Thus it was when Metestas io wrote. Such gets a man a reputation as a writer is not
birth to Dresden-china only saying what he bas to say in direct terms, but in the best chosen and the fewest, takes this tendency in hand when the inani
shepherdesses and maudlin pastorals. Molière and withal conveying more than meets the ties of Mascarille and Trissotin excite an eneye, as seeing into the heart of things. Take, thusiasm in his Précieuses. That song which for instance, that story told by Addison of Magdelon would rather have written than un the Puritanical Head, who, when a youth poeme épique, and which the author dwelle on presented himself for matriculation, exam
as façon de parler naturelle, expressed inined him, not in his learning, but upon the
nocemment sans malice comme un pauvre moustate of his soul, and whether he was pre- ton, is only too like the effusions of a dozen pared for death.
“ The boy, who had been authors whose works find place in our Collecbred by honest parents, was frighted out of ted Poets, and whose simplicity is divorced at his wits at the solemnity of the proceeding, the same time from purity and sense.
There and by the last dreadful interrogatory, 80
was a whole generation of idyls after the patthat, upon making his escape from that house
tern ofof mourning, he could never be brought a
“ A party told me t'other day second time to the examination, as not being
That knew my Colin well, able to get through the terrors of it.” Noth- That he should say, that come next May, ing but a seeming artlessness of pbrase, akin But what I cannot tell!' to the simplicity of these honest folks, could and all of it in the tone of the « dear simhave told such a story well. It is through plicity” of the waiting-maid in“ The Rivals." the same admirable adaptation of style to Simplicity, again, made a great start with subject that his Sir Roger de Coverley is what Wordsworth. With him it was founded on he is. Our older writers sometimes were a deep philosophy, and was the most chermost felicitous in this vein. We remember ished feature of his genius. He despised a passage in Fuller, where he makes us his every reader who could not or would not see confidant in the matter of a personal habit the profound meaning that lurked in “ Peter displeasing to him,-a way he had, when sit- Bell," where simplicity surely borders on afting down to read his Bible, of turning over fectation. But though the world made a the leaf to see if the chapter were long or stand here, he taught men to see depths of short, and finding himself not unwilling that thought behind many another childlike effuit should be short. None but a master of sion. Since the ladies came forward and filled style could touch upon such a trick with suf- the world with their views of life, we think ficient gravity for decorum, but not too much we observe that simplicity, as an object and for the occasion, or combine an honest shame ideal, has waned and gone out of fashion
again. Like the Germans, “ they are pro- | striking characteristics, in communicating founder than we,” and probe too deep into even with the ghost of their former self. motives for any man's simplicity to stand the Hawthorne, with all his shyness and tenderordeal, much less any woman's. Again, they ness, and literary reticence, shows very disare too "rich” and full to overflowing for tinct traces also of understanding well the their own style to be marked by it, while cold, curious, and shrewd spirit which besets they inculcate too much self-study for us to the Yankees even more than other commerbe able to get up any illusions. We cannot cial peoples. His heroes have usually not a think of the fairest and the most innocent little of this hardness in them. Coverdale, as being
for instance, in the “ Blithedale Romance,"
confesses that “ that cold tendency between “ True as truth's simplicity,
instinct and intellect which made me pry And simpler than the infancy of truth,”
with a speculative interest into people's pasas we might in revelling in the romances of sions and impulses appeared to have gone far the last generation. All their virtues are towards unhumanizing my heart." Holconscious, all their heroines see right through grave, in the “ House of the Seven Gables,” themselves, and us too; and simplicity, is one of the same class of shrewd, cold, curiwhether divine or twaddling, waits for a new ous heroes. Indeed, there are few of the development, except where, in some wholly tales without a character of this type. But unexpected quartēr, it slyly peeps out upon though Hawthorne had a deep sympathy us, takes us by surprise, and once again de with the practical as well as the literary genlights us with the irresistible charm. ius of New England, it is always in a far
removed and ghostly kind of way, as though he were stricken by some spell which half
paralyzed him from communicating with the From The Spectator. life around him, as though he saw it only by NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE. a reflected light. His spirit haunted rather The ghostly genius of Hawthorne is a than ruled his body ; his body hampered his great loss to the American people. He has spirit. Yet his external career was not only been called a mystic, which he was not, and not romantic, but identified with all the dulla psychological dreamer, which he was in est routine of commercial duties. That a very slight degree. He was really the ghost man who consciously telegraphed, as it were, of New England,—we do not mean the with the world, transmitting meagre messa“spirit,” nor the “phantom," but the ghost ges through his material organization, should in the older sense in which that term is used have been first a custom-house officer in as the thin, rarefied essense which is to be Massachusetts, and then the consul in Livfound somewhere behind the physical organ- erpool, brings out into the strongest possible ization,-embodied, indeed, and not by any relief the curiously representative character means in a shadowy or diminutive earthly in which he stood to New England as its littabernacle, but yet only half embodied in it, erary or intellectual ghost. There is nothing endowed with a certain painful sense of the more ghostly in his writings than his account, gulf between his nature and its organization, in his recent book, of the consulship in Livalways recognizing the gulf, always trying to erpool, -how he began by trying to commubridge it over, and always more or less un- nicate frankly with his fellow-countrymen, successful in the attempt. His writings are how he found the task more and more diffinot exactly spiritual writings ; for there is no cult, and gradually drew back into the twidominating spirit in them. They are ghostly light of his reserve, how he shrewdly and writings. Ile was, to our minds, a sort of somewhat coldly watched “ the dim shadows sign to New England of the divorce that has as they go and come,” speculated idly on been going on there (and not less perhaps in their fate, and all the time discharged the old England) between its people's spiritual regular routine of consular business, witand earthly nature, and of the impotence nessing the usual depositions, giving capwhich they will soon feel, if they are to be tains to captainless crews, affording costive absorbed more and more in that shrewd, hard advice or assistance to Yankees when in need earthly sense which is one of their most of a friend, listening to them when they
were only anxious to offer, not ask, assist- | conception to make it clearly conceivable ance, and generally observing them from that to the mind of his readers. He had a distant and speculative ontpost whence all clear conception of his own design, and a common things looked strange.
conception, too, of the world for which he Ilawthorne, who was a delicate critic of was writing, and was ever afraid of not conhimself, was well aware of the shadowy veying his own conception, but some other character of his own genius, though not distinct from it and inconsistent with it, to aware that precisely here lay its curious and the world, if he expressed it in his own way. thrilling power. In the preface to “ Twice- He felt that he could not reproduce in others told Tales” he tells us frankly, “ The book, his own idea, but should only succeed in if you would see anything in it, requires to spoiling the effect he had already, by great be read in the clear brown twilight atinos- labor, produced. He had manifested himphere in which it was written ; if opened in self partially ; but the next stroke, if he the sunshine, it is apt to look exceedingly made it at all, would spoil everything, mislike a volume of blank pages.” And then translate him, and reverse the impression he he adds, coming still nearer to the mark, hoped to produce. It was the timidity of
They are not the talk of a secluded man an artist who felt that he had, as it were, to with his own mind and heart, but his attempts, translate all his symbols from a language he and very imperfectly successful ones, to open knew thoroughly into one he knew less peran intercourse with the world.” That is, he fectly, but still so perfectly as to be nervously thinks, the secret of his weakness; but it is sensible to the slightest fault. It was a proalso the secret of his power. IIe carries cess like that which the wild artist Blake with him always the air of trying to mani- describes as his conversation with the ghost fest himself; and the words come faintly, of Voltaire, though without its certainty of not like whispers so much as like sounds success. When the shrewd English barrister lost in the distance they have traversed. A asked whether Voltaire spoke in English, common reader of Mr. Hawthorne would Blake replied, “ The impression on my mind say that he took a pleasure in mystifying his was English of course ; but I have no doubt readers, or weaving cobweb threads, not to that he touched the keys French.” Hawbind their curiosity, but to startle and chill thorne's communication with others was a them, 80 gravely does he tell you in many continual process of this kind. The keys of of his tales that he could not quite make out his genius were touched distinctly; but there the details of a fictitious conversation, and was a liability to failure in rendering these that he can only at best hint its purport. touches into the common tongue so that For instance, in « Transformation," he says others would understand then. And someof his heroine and her temper, “ Owing to times, like a ghost that moves its lips but this moral estrangement, this chill remote- cannot be heard, he simply acquiesced in the ness of their position, there have come to us incapacity, only using expressive gestures but a few vague whisperings of what passed and vague beckonings to indicate generally a in Miriam's interview that afternoon with the subject for awe or fear. From a similar sinister personage who had dogged her foot cause Hawthorne was continually expressing steps ever since her visit to the catacomb. his regret that his native country has as yet In weaving these mystic utterances into a no Past, and he seems always to have been continuous scene, we undertake a task resem- endeavoring to supply the want by peopling bling in its perplexity that of gathering up his pictures of life with shadowy presences, and piecing together the fragments of a let- which give them some of the eerie effect of ter which has been torn and scattered to the a haunted house or a mediæval castle. We winds. Many words of deep significance- doubt much, however, whether it was really many sentences, and these probably the most a Past after which he yearned. When he important ones—have flown too far on the laid his scene in Italy, or wrote about Engwinged breeze 'to be recovered.” This is a land he certainly made little or no use of favorite device, of Mr. Hawthorne’s, and their Past in his art, and, we imagine, that does not, we think, proceed from the wish all he really craved for was that interposing to mystify, so much as from the refusal of film of thought between himself and the his own imagination so to modify his own or characters he was delineating,