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into a good many biographies of literary men, I have been left with a very different impression.“ Weighty performances in literature" may be differently understood : very extensive and systematical ones are out of the scope of Mr. C.'s remarks: because they must be carried on with mechanical regularity and with a certain pecuniary provision ; but surely the great mass of the more exquisite and the more valuable works of the pen have been produced by men, who did not depend upon literary performances for their livelihood- large proportion of them by writers who, during a considerable part of their time, had regular employment in another way. Are not the works of Jeremy Taylor and all our great divines of this kind ? Have not most of our eminent philosophers, as Locke, Newton, Berkeley, Hume, Hartley, and many more, either had professions or held posts and places, which would have prevented them from being idle if they had never written a line of original composition ? Would not Milton have starved long before Paradise Lost was finished had he relied on his writings for bread ? Leibnitz himself, whom Mr. D. considers the model of a scholar, not only was “busied during a great part of his time,” as a recent account of him notices, “ with the conduct of civil and ecclesiastical negotiations,” but also held " a succession of legal and literary offices at Hanover."* In all these instances, and hundreds of others that might be adduced, there was either the “ faithful discharge of an established profession,” or regular employment, independent of literary adventure, during great part of life; in all of them an entire exemption from dependence on mere literature, as distinguished from a literary office, for the means of living. Genius and native power will find time and place to manifest itself, and break forth with the more concentrated force from having met with some resistance: I doubt whether the power of composing every day and all day is not more apt to foster a literary growth of inferior value, than necessary to evolve and cherish the products of genuine power.
One of the most successful literary adventurers, of those who are not mere blowers of “soap-bubbles for their fellow-creatures," # was David Ilume. But Hume did not make his thousand a year by mere literary
At different times of his life he had lucrative appointments, which helped hiin on; these he may have owed in part to his literary success but no young man, on setting out in life, can reckon on such success; and though literature has its side-advantages as well as other
* Lord Campbell's Lives of the Chancellors, to judge from report, may be cited as a recent proof, that an important theme in literature may be well handled by one who “stands in the first rank of an emulous and laborious professiont.”
t Carlyle's Miscellanies, vol. ii., p. 192.
professions, yet this cannot remedy or compensate the evil of the main wheel itself, on which others depend, being uncertain in its working, at least for the production of pecuniary effects. It is still mote important to observe that Hume, till he was forty years old, had a paternal or fra. ternal home open to receive him, where he would probably have been hepl alire,* even if his literary productions had been unpopular; and again, that IIume did not consider a better half among " the indispensable requisites of life,”—perhaps partly from a sense that such a complement to his being inight not leave him wholly undisturbed in his tranquil atheism. Indispensable or not, however, a helpmate is included in Mr. Dequincey's plan for the votary of literature, as well as Mr. Coleridge's : "and the more so, because if we do not allow him a wife, he will perhaps take one without our permission.” Such as this, then, is not the case contemplated by Mr. Coleridge—that of dependence on the sale of literary works “ for the necessaries and comforts of life,” where there is, or may be, a family to provide for.
On the domestic part of the subject Mr. Dequincey expresses opinions rather different from those which my experience has led me to form ; I pity the man who cannot enter into the pleasure of “social silence,"i and finds nothing in Mr. Coleridge's description of a literary man's evening but a theme for sarcasm. Mr. Dequincey, “ when he sits with a young woman, makes a point of talking to her and hearing her talk, even though she should chance to be his own wife, &c.” Mr. Coleridye was by no means deficient in the power of addressing young women,
to judge by specimens of his discourse in that kind which he has left behind him, as well as from other documents : but a wife is a young woman only for a time; it was in his manner of addressing the iniddleaged, so full of kindly and judicious courtesy, and in his tenderness for the old of our sex, that the peculiar aspect of his character towards women was most clearly shown. Somewhere else Mr. Dequincey eloquently declares, that “ every man, who has once dwelt with passionate
* “For a man of Johnson's stamp,” says Mr. Carlyle, in his very interesting review of Boswell's Johnson,“ the problem was twofold: First, not only as the humble but indispensable condition of all else, to keep himself, if so might be, alive : but secondly, to keep himself alive by speaking forth the Truth that was in him, and speaking it truly, let the Earth say to this what she liked. Of which two-fold problem, if it be hard to solve either member separately, how incalculably more so to solve it when both are conjoined, and work with endless complication into one another !"-Miscellanies, vol. iv., p 69.
+ This pleasure is feelingly alluded to by Mrs. Joanna Baillie in her interesting Lines to Agnes Baillie on her Birthday. Fugitive Verses
love on the fair face of some female companion through life, must have commended and adjured all-conquering Time, there at least, and upon that one tablet of his adoration,
• To write no wrinkle with his antique hand.'” There is tenderness of feeling in this, but a still better feeling is displayed in strains like those of Mr. Wordsworth, which, not content with drily exposing the emptiness of any such “ rebellion against the laws that season all things for the inexorable grave,” supply reflections whereby, even in this life, Time may be set at defiance,-gráce and loveliness may be discerned in every age, as long as the body continues to be a translucent tenement of the mind. But without contending any longer on behalf of those whose charms of youth are departed or transmuted, I do maintain that a wife, whether young or old, may pass her evenings most happily in the presence of her husband, occupied herself, and conscious that he is still better occupied, though he may but speak with her and cast his eyes upon her from time to time: that such evenings may be looked forward to with great desire, and deeply regretted when they are passed away for ever.
Wieland, whose conjugal felicity has been almost as celebrated as himself, says in a letter written after his wife's death, that if he but knew she was in the room, or if at times she stepped in and said a word or two, that was enough to gladden him. Some of the happiest and most loving couples are those who, like Wieland and his wife, are both too fully employed to spend the whole of every evening in conversation. But Mr. Dequincey objects to Mr. Coleridge's evening plan that it introduces a sister into the circle, and excludes the “noisy boy or noisier girl, or, what is noisier than either, both.” “Did a very little babby make a very great noise ?" is the first line of a nursery song, in which Mr. Coleridge recorded some of his experience on this recondite subject; but he probably considered that children, however noisy by day, are usually in the silent domains of Morpheus in the evening. gestion of banishing them to the nursery seems bronght in ad invidiam, and very unfairly as against Mr. Coleridge, who was not only fond of his own babes and prattlers, but what is uncommon, especially in a grave musing man, fond even of other people's, if tolerably attractive. But he knew that there is a time and a place for all things, and that in the evening, after they are “ tired of boisterous play” in doors, or of trotting about after the daisies and buttercups, this “ lively part of crea tion” ought to shut up their flower-bright eyes and fold themselves to sleep-several hours at least before grown persons need retire from their employments. When they are no longer thus disposable a new state of
things has taken place: the boys are at school; the girls form a party by themselves with the “ sister” or governess, and the wife can join them or the good man in his study,-unless a studious daughter takes her place,-as suits all parties best; and this is no mere fancy-piece, but a picture from life. If the picture now-a-days can seldom be realized by the professional man, it is not for the reasons alleged by Mr. Dequincey, as far as my observation extends, but because the profession itself. or the demands of society, engross the whole of his time. Busy men can see their little children only by snatches, as the traveller views refreshing waters on his way, except in the deeply enjoyed holiday or vacation: there are not many, who even desire to spend hours in juvenile or infantine company, unless occupied in teaching.
It is true, as Mr. Dequincey observes, that professors of literature are not absolutely obliged to quarrel with their wives; yet I fear there is some truth also in Mr. Coleridge's hint, that their wives often quarrel with them, unless the catastrophe be averted either by heavenly patience on their part, or what sometimes answers the same purpose, but brings its own evil along with it,—a stupid placidity. Love is strong as death; stronger than all the trials of life; that is, Love in ideal perfection; but in ordinary cases, it at least makes towards the window, when Pecuniary Embarrassment comes in at the door; and, even if it does not fly away for ever, yet sadly bruises its light wings, and dulls their plumage, by Anttering in and out of the embrasure. The morbid sensitiveness consequent on too continuous literary efforts, combined with anxiety about money matters, exposes it to imminent danger, even if the husband be less eccentric and irritable than Richter's Advocate of the Poor, and the wife not quite so common-place and irritating as his pretty, but too womanish, Lenette ; though even she could have loved her Siebenkäse, if he had had anything to “crumble and to bite.” Jean Paul himself saw his "sunbeams weighed on hay-scales, and the hay-balance give no symptoms of moving," and " bis heart moved as little as the balance ;"for be was alone. Would his heart have lain as still, had the comfort of wise and children depended on the power of his sunbeams to weigh down a hay-scale ? In drawing the parallel between Leibnitz and Coleridge Mr. Dequincey leaves out of sight that the German scholar was born into good circumstances, obtained immediate success in his career in life,-partly by means of that effective patronage, which is so much oftener afforded to the philosophic student in Germany than in England, -and moreover was exempt from matrimony. These advantages probably did more to keep the philosopher in a serene state of mind than even his regular mathematical studies. There is a story, indeed, that the disturbance and vexation caused by his dispute with Newton con
cerning the invention of the differential calculus hastened his end ; ana we need not this story to prove, that if men do not form personal attach ments of the nearest kind, the art or science, to which they wed them. selves, may grow too close to their heart, and make them as uneasy as a wife and children could do.
Mr. Dequincey concludes his discussion by declaring it clear to his judgment, “ that literature must decay, unless we have a class wholly dedicated to that service, not pursuing it as an amusement only, with wearied and pre-occupied minds.” Literature, pursued only as an amusement, can never flourish in any high and worthy sense ; that it must decay unless carried on by a class wholly dedicated to that service, seems to me very questionable; since the best part of the literature we already possess was not produced in that way. Mr. Dequincey thinks that he sufficiently corrects the “misrepresentation” of Mr. C. in regard to Herder, by giving a list of the works which this author vainly desired to write, and also by repeating his lamentations about want of “time, lime, time !" and his longing to be “ shut up for some years in a fortress, with permission to pursue his labors, and to procure the books he might want.” All this appears to me a very doubtful proof that Mr. C. sought to convey " delusive impressions” respecting unprofessional literature in the B. L. “ His thesis was,” says Mr. D., “ that the performance of this ordinary business might be so managed, as not only to subtract nothing from the higher employments, but even greatly to assist them; and Herder's case was alleged as a proof and an illustration.” Now I think Mr. C.'s thesis may be more fairly stated thus: first, that to pursue literature as the sole business of life and the sole means of support, is unfavorable to the welfare of the literary man himself, consequently unfavorable to literature; in the second place, that weighty performances in literature may be, as they hare been, produced in addition to regular employment of another kind. That Herder might not have written more, if his whole time had been at his disposal, who ever doubted? The question is, would he have written beller, upon the whole, even if he had been fortunate enough to be “thrown into a dungeon,” or “ shut up in a fortress with books at command :" did he not write much, and well
, even as it was? Would he not probably have written worse, had he composed it under pain of starvation, if his writing did not succeed, and that innmediately? For blink it who will, such is the alternative in the case of persons whom Mr. Coleridge meant to address : such must have been the case with Herder himself,* if he had had no regular calling. Mr.
* Of “a certain indifference to money matters," specified by my father as one of the tokens of a gentleman, Mr. Carlyle says, “ which certain indifference must be wise or mad, you would think, as one possesses much