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J. Ballantyne. Never, sir.
Opium-Eater. Homer showed that his judgment was equal to his genius--and in all minds of the highest order—as in our favourite Shakspeare's, Mr. Ballantyne_these two faculties, in all their great achievements, march pari passu or rather passibus equis—not else omnipotent and resistless; and, therefore, Homer, in his Odyssey (and that it is not his Odessey is a notion that could only have originated in the dunderhead of a German pedant)---it being, though myriad-minded, yet one Tale-he introduces but one dog, and that one dog, observe, sir, but on one occasion. But then, Mr. Ballantyne, is there in the whole range of real or fictitious history (the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament always excepted) an incident so simply and sublimely pathetic? When the sea-soul-sick Wanderer had reached home at last, with face and form, though both still majestic, so bedimmed by winds and waves as to escape even faintest recognition by those human eyes and human hearts that yet loved their Ulysses well--when the old household nurse, who had tended him as the bright boy bounded out of the palace-gates of old-and even She on whose virgin bosom he had laid his head on the bridal night, knew not that he who stood there in beggar's weeds was in truth the long-lost and long-longed-for deliverer-then the poor, old, worn-out, faithful, and unforgotten dumb creature remembered its glorious master, and in a passion of joy crawled towards him, and died at bis feet!
Macdonald. Most beautiful! That subject is still reserved for statuary—and if the humble individual who now expresses his admiration of your description, sir, should succeed in “ stamping on the stone that triumph of the soul”—and who would deny to the dog that belonged to Ulysses, and was sung by Homer, a soul ?—then yours, Mr. De Quincey, be the praise ; for the merit, whatever it may be, assuredly will not be mine, so strong do I feel the inspiration of your breathing and burning words.
Shepherd. Weel said-my dear Lourie-faith you're the only statuary I ever ken't that can baith work in clay and in words. Dinna hurry ye—and you're, at times, nae less nor yeloquent in your discoorse;
-as for poetry, your verses, Mr. Lowrence, though they may aiblins be sometimes a wee hue monotonous, frae your bein' sae fond o the Spenserian stanza, hae aye a fine feelin' o' beauty about them--that's your ain darlin' word. Faith, Mr. Macdonald, ye launle the pen amaist as weel's the mouldin'-stick-though, fortunately, no quite sae weel either, for wi’ the ae muse you're only toyin', and flirtin', and playin', as it were, for an hour's amusement; whereas, wi’ the ither, you're payin' your addresses till her, sir, wi' the maist serious and honorable intentions o' makin' her your wife-na-you're married till her already,--and a' thae bonny statues, what are they but your bairns ! SCOTT'S DOG-CREATIONS.
Your stanzas will mak' you respecked while leavin', but your statues, my dear sir, will keep you immortal when you're dead ?
Opium-Eater. Whereas, Sir Walter Scott-being, by a prolific power, almost miraculous, the unexhausted sire of a Family of Tales, each, in its own peculiar character, breathing of the common origin, to which all of them, by their strong kindred resemblance, may, even by the most unobservant or indiscriminative, easily be referred-was not only at liberty, but say rather constrained by the all-comprehensive humari. ties of his nature, from which the more interesting animals of the inferior creation are not only not excluded, but, on the contrary, by a thousand finest and strongest affinities and associations, necessarily and in rerum natura, or rather ex necessitate, as it were attracted, and when attracted, by a gentle violence for ever and a day retained ; such a writer, I say, Mr. Ballantyne, had a perfect freedoin, not only to elect one of those creatures concerning whom has arisen our present discourse, into an active agent, or I ought rather to say, a hero, in every one, without exception, of his most imaginative romances,—but he shewed no less his judgment and his genius in bringing each individual ·canine champion frequently before the eyes of the reader, in each story to play many parts, and those parts in general conducted to a successful issue,—though not unfrequently the final catastrophe be such as to purge the soul both by pity and terror,-according to the ordinance and legislation of the Stagyrite, whose poetics even yet are by far the most perfect model of philosophical criticism existing in any literature, -provided always every achievement of the animal be, as in Sir Walter's novels they always eminently are, not only conducive to the pro. gress of the plot, but in itself true to the laws that govern irrational life, and (which is of equal necessity increasing in interest, perhaps in wonder, by an arithmetical ratio,—each achievement not only sustaining, but elevating the emotion excited by the one immediately preceding, so that on the violent death of the dog, be he deer-hound or of a lower grade, we are satisfied with the naturalness of his whole procedure from first to last, and convinced, I had almost said in foro conscientiæ, that the catastrophe would in nowise have been brought about better by unassisted human agency operating hand in hand with Fate or Fortune, in the final disposition of great characters and events; and thus Sir Walter has created, Mr. Ballantyne, I verily believe, some dozen dogs, while each of them plays, on an average, a dozen parts; yet judging by my own feelings, not a single dog, nor yet a single act of an indi vidual dog, could be sooner destroyed in the Fable, or from the beginning entirely left out, without great loss thereunto, possibly without diminution, or even demolition of all the tragic passion thereof, without which a Tale of Doing or of Suffering must be little better than a mere caput mortuum, uniilustrative of any great principles either in human character or in human life.
Shepherd. Do ye understaun that, Mr. Jeems?
Ballantyne. If I do not, James—my non-understanding must be set down to my own score, and not to that of Mr. De Quincey ;—for I have seldom-indeed I may say never-heard the philosophy of criticism so elaborately and felicitously applied, not to the elucidation, (for who would dream of intensifying the solar lustre?) of the character of Sir Walter's many imaginary Maidas
Shepherd. That's guide. The expression collecks the creturs a' intil a pack o' glorious houn's and jowlers, and we think we see them bearin' awa' ower the mountains to some great forest or chase, wi' tents pitched in a glen for the King and a’ his nobles.
J. Ballantyne (smiling graciously). —but to the faculties appealed to by the pictures of our great national animal painter, and to the moods of mind, Mr. Hogg, in which those faculties thereby appealed to must work, before the perusers of the novels and romances can arrive at a perfect knowledge of the poetry of such pictures, which embody, along with the primal truths of the natural history of man's four-footed field and household friend
Shepherd. The dowg
J. Ballantyne. —also all the most interesting and impressive traits of his character and pursuits, which, unnoted by mere naturalists, are chronicled in the traditionary experiences of shepherds and huntsmen, and in the memory of our illustrious friend himself, before whose eyes no dog, of any originality, ever threw his shadow, without, at the same time, impressing on that master-mind a distinct and ineffaceable image of his individual being.
Shepherd. Mr. Jeems Bannatyne, you're a very clever man, and I like till hear ye speak—and aiblins better still to read your writin's, mair especially on the Drawma.* You're the only gude drawmatic censor noo, I mean the best, no only in Embro', but in a' Scotland.
North. You once said the saine thing of me, James, to my face.
Shepherd. But now I see baith your faces, and I gie the preference to Jeems Bannatyne.
North. Right. I agree with you, James, in thinking Mr. Ballantyne an admirable dramatic critic. So much the larger and more
* James Ballantyne, who had been Sir Walter Scott's schoolfellow, was brought by him from the town of Kelso, and established as a printer and publisher in Edinburgh,-Scott advancing the capital, and becoming a sleeping partner. Ballantyne printed the whole of Scott's works, was in the secret of the Waverley Novels, and rendered essential service to them, as well as to Scott's poems, by exercising strict and searching criticism upon them, while passing through the press, When Constable's publishing house failed, in 1826, Ballantyne became involved in the catastrophe. He was editor of the Edinburgh Weekly Journal, then an excellent paper; and as he had particular appreciation for the druna, his theatrical criticism was thought highly of. When Fanny Keible appeared, Ballantyne (who knew that she had been intended for the stage, even from childhood, had been educated with that view, and therefore was by 10 means the genius. inspired novice who was impelled by filial duty to appear as an actress) refused to recognise her as the successor of Mrs. Siddons, her aunt, and described her merely as “a clever girl, who might probably arrive at distinction when practice had worn away her mannerisms." --James Ballantyne was himself an adınirable reader. He died in 1833, surviving Scott only a few trouths.-M.
feathery is the crow I have to pluck with him, about Miss Fanny Kemble.
Omnes. Miss Fanny Kemble-Miss Fanny Kemblo-Miss Fanny Kemble !
North. A bumper, gentlemen, to the health, and bappiness, and fame, of the promising young niece of glorious old Sarah !
(It is drunk with enthusiasm.) Buller. The Paid Press in town placed the blushing girl on a pedestal from which her own native modesty (and when was youthful female genius ever unadorned by that charm?) would have been fain, with faltering steps, and confusion of face, to have hurriedly descended. She felt that such forced elevation was as unfeeling as it was unjust coarsely cruel.
Shepherd. After an hour's sittin', a' men get yeloquent at a Noctes. Wha wad hae expeckit “Bletherin' Buller”—as we used to ca' him in the Tent
Buller. Blether and Buller! What is the meaning of that, thou Cherokee ?-paid partly, I presume, in pounds, shillings, and pence; partly in victuals, and partly in free tickets
Seward. To accept which, under any circumstances, is, I spine, beneath the dignity of a gentleman.
Shepherd. What! a free ticket?
Seward. Yes, sir, a free ticket-admission all your life to a place of public amusement, without putting your hand in your pocket, and paying your own way, like other gentlemen. Demme, if I would be on any manager's pauper-list! Were I so poor as not to be able to pay for the gratification of my passion for theatricals, for the indulgence of my “strong propensity for the dwama,” as our matchless Mathews says, I should think it more honourable to steal than to beg, to pick a rich squire's pocket at the outside of the door, rather than a poor manager's within, and to run the chance of escaping the imputation of being a prig, rather than incur the certainty of being known to be a pauper.
Shepherd. You're just twa prood fules.
Seward. Mr. Hogg, there is a greater difference than merely of one syllable-between humility and humiliation. The receiver of such charitable donations, my dear Shepherd, as he struts into pit or boxes, can have no perception either of the το καλον, or the το προπον. IHis proper place is—at half price--the one shilling gallery.
Shepherd. But he wudna see there, sir.
Seward. Let him smoke his cigar for supper in his garret in Grub Street.
Shepherd. But what wou'd become o’a newspaper without a theatrical critic?
Seward. Ha! I have Socratically brought you to the point, Jem.
Let them get critiques written by gentlemen. Nothing ungentlemanly in living by one's wits. All professional men do so—and why not critics? If a critique on Miss Fanny Kemble's Juliet be worth a guinea to the proprietor of a newspaper, out of his fob with it, into the fob of the gentleman that does the article.* And if a ticket to the boxes be worth a crown to gentlemen in general, let the said critic melt his guinea, and disburden his fob of a crown at the receipt of custom, like gentlemen in general; or, if not, then, that there may be no deception, let him, like a Blue-gown, wear a badge on his breast, inscribed, “ Free admittance," and then, instead of being elbowed on a full night, by pauper-paper-puppies aping the airs of play and paywe shall know the pensioners; and to prevent ourselves from being incommoded, show them, with all appropriate ceremony, to the door.
Shepherd. You're just baith o' you twa prood fules.
North. My dear Mr. Ballantyne, your Journal is a jewel. But has Miss Kemble, or has she not, in tragedy, genius ? Her attitudes—her whole personal demeanour—are beautiful. They are uniformly appropriate to the character and to the situation-and in exquisite appro. priateness lies—Beauty—the poetical word—in one sense-for it has many-for-adaptation. But the power of such adaptation cannot be without a fine and profound feeling of that to which it lends outward and visible form; and that feeling, since it regards the impersonations of the highest poetry, can exist only in a mind that has been inspired by the breath of imagination. Now, like affects like ; and therefore the actress who sits, stands, looks, smiles, sighs, shrieks, swoons, and dies-like Juliet—is a girl of genius--and that girl, were there not another such in the world, is the daughter of that accomnlished actor, perfect gentleman, and excellent man, my friend Jha is Kemble.t
North. But not only are Miss Kemble's attitudes—I use that term to express her entire action--her appearance, her apparition—beautiful; they are also classical,--that is to say, the spirit of Art breathes in and over the spirit of Nature,—for both are alike divine, since they have one common origin, -and thus she often stands before our eyes,
* Free admissions to theatres and other places of amusement should be abolished. Editors are as much entitled to free loaves and free legs-of-mutton, from bakers, and butchers, as to free seats from managers. The free-admission, or dead-head system, is the fruitful parent of news. paper puffery. It prevails slightly in Paris, and is going out in England.-M.
† Charles Kemble, now (1854) in his eightieth year, was not intended for the stage, but his brother and sister were such distinguished performers, that he quitted the government office to which he was appointed, and took to acting. He was many years on the stage in the provinces and in London), before he became a favourite, and it is questionable whether, under ary other management than that of John Kemble, his brother, he could have been allowed such a long probation as he had. Frum 1815, however, until age incapacitated him, Charles Keible--albeii he ever whined and ranted too much took the lead at Covent-garden Theatre, in tragedy lovers and genteel comedy. Ilis best characters were Mercutio, Benedick, Cassin (his drunken scene showing what may be called gentlemanly intoxication), Falconbridge, Pierre, Marc Antony, Edgar, Mirabel, Doricourt, Captain Absolute, and Charles Surface. In Haralet Macbeth, and other lofty Shaksperian heroes, he was drawling and monotonous.-M.