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names as done by Mr. Grote and Mr. Merivale, in their Histories of Greece and Rome, in favour of which much may be urged,
mi although it is by no means clear that even this is desirable.
One of Mr. Carlyle's peculiarities is, that he collects his materials in the view of his readers, and allows them to view him while engaged upon them. He may be seen as he moves about among them; sometimes venting his spleen upon them, but never wilfully attempting to make them appear something different from what they are, and rarely subduing them so as to make them fairly his own. In these respects his workmanship stands in remarkable contrast to that of another eminent meg
historian. Lord Macaulay's endeavour seems always to be to fuse his matter together to the utmost, and to exhibit only a finished performance of the highest polish. The covering is not withdrawn from it until it has received the last touches of the master, nor until every trace of the means employed in its production has been removed from sight. He, as it were, absorbs his material, and makes it part of himself, to be afterwards reproduced, cast in his favourite mould, and thoroughly impressed with the fresh shape he desires it to assume and retain. The artist may enjoy for the time the triumph of having created masterpieces of composition, but they represent rather what he wishes to be accepted as the truth than the truth itself. Mr. Carlyle has the merit of making no statements which cannot be tested, and, if he is wrong in his deductions, he supplies the means for his own correction. With too little perhaps, in this respect, of art, he invites the public to be fellow-labourers with him in his study-to turn to his authorities, and consult his note-books. There is no attempt to group the figures with dangerous skill—to determine which shall occupy the back and which the fore-ground-to throw the specious and well-adjusted light so as to bring as much into illumination, and to banish
a as much into shadow, as may suit
artist's ideas of the effect to be produced, and leave the spectator the least able to judge for himself of the real positions and characters of the personages exhibited. With all its faults, Mr. Carlyle's way of composing history is, of the two, the most faithful, and the most likely to be of use to his successors. Perhaps on the whole this instalment of the Life of Frederick
ca may be more fairly regarded as a vehicle for the expression of the author's opinions on men and things, than as a valuable contribution to a history which has been so often written, and which thus far he leaves much in the same condition as he found it. It is now long since Mr. Carlyle began first to deliver his message
to mankind. It would at any time have been difficult to ascertain the precise and positive purport of it; but it has been always couched in the same kind of language, the phrases of which have been so frequently used that they almost seem to have lost any meaning they may ever have carried with them. The wind-bags' and 'shams, and other stock property of words, have long served in the wars against impostures or supposed impostures of various kinds in which their employer has been engaged, and they seem now entitled to some repose.
So far as it is possible to extract the essence of Mr. Carlyle's philosophy, and reduce it to the narrow compass of a few words, it may perhaps not unfairly be described as a system of protest in favour of work against talk-of earnestness against triflingof sincerity against pretension. But when applying these principles, with which all must agree, in commenting on historical events, or in offering practical advice on the existing duties and difficulties of human society, Mr. Carlyle is constantly led into confounding the means with the end. He seems almost to hold it better to be working in a bad cause than only talking in a good one-to be more commendable to be earnest in vice than to be merely making a show of virtue-to be more praiseworthy to be energetic in wrong views than to be feeble with right ones. This philosophy leaves the great boundaries of good and evil undecided. It pronounces everything to be right, or the contrary, according as it is prosecuted earnestly and with vigour, or the
Success is seldom not justified: failure is always wrong. Mr. Carlyle's own nature, ever ready to sympathise with what is noble, and to scorn what is base-bis deep-seated instinct of reverence for Divine authority in the government of the world -- his love of duty and order, and his hatred of anarchy and Mammon-worship-sustain him for the most part on a lofty eminence above the demagogues, the sceptics, and the dealers in persiflage, who can unfortunately so often find passages suited to their purposes in his works. It is to be lamented that he should ever descend from this intrinsic superiority, and afford a pretext to the enemies of wisdom and truth for claiming him as a friend of themselves.
Art. II.-1. The Ballads of Scotland. By William Edmond
stoune Aytoun, D.C.L. 1858. 2. The Modern Scottish Minstrel. By Charles Rogers, LL.D.
1856. 3. Scottish Ballads and Songs. By James Maidment. 1859. NOT TOT the least interesting feature about the ballads and songs
of Scotland is that they represent-and stand almost alone in representing, to the mind of Europe—the native and indigenous literature of the ancient kingdom to which they belong. People in the South of tolerable cultivation, and the scholars of the Continent everywhere, are no doubt acquainted with the fact that Scotland has a body of writers as distinctively Scottish, as Shakspeare or Rabelais are English or French; using a language which is as naturally a growth of the soil of the Lowlands as the ash or the fir; and reflecting a nationality as clearly defined as that of any historic nation on record. But if it were not for the ballad section of that literature we suspect that this knowledge would go for little. The History of the Reformation' by Knox—the translation of the Æneid by Bishop Douglas-the Poems of Dunbar and Sir David Lindsay-are no more familiar to the Southern reader, than the literatures of Scandinavia or Russia. Eminent writers of Scottish birth-a Hume or a Scott-do not yield in celebrity to any writers in Europe; and Sir Walter especially, as much by deliberate intention as by instinct, has stamped his nationality on his works with an energy like that with which one of his favourite old barons sealed a charter with his sword-hilt. Yet what would Europe have said if Sir Walter had written his Napoleon' in the language in which the venerable Scottish Reformer has described the burning of Scone or the landing of Queen Mary in Leith? But the Songs and Ballads, and those modern imitations of them which every Scotsman of genius thinks himself bound to produce, are as thoroughly liviny as the graver old works in the same tongue are hopelessly dead. Brave youth and fair girlhood kindle at their strain. They make Scotland's fame smell sweet, as the breezes of the Levant smell of the lemon-groves; and embalm her nationality as the honey of the North tastes of heather. Scotland can never become a prosaic country while such a literature survives to keep alive the romance of her reputation.
This, indeed, is a feature about the Ballads and their popularity which we should be sorry to see lost sight of by our generation. These Ballads represent feudal Scotland—not the Scotland wbich the satirists of England have taught us to associate with a too eager pursuit of money and a too keen grip of it
- but the brave old romantic Scotland of Sir James Douglas, the Admirable Crichton, and the Marquis of Montrose. So long as they are read, or sung, or talked about, so long will young Scotsmen feel that they must not give way entirely to the Utilitarianism in thought and action to which too much in the present national character and position inclines them. For, if it be true, that Scotland retained more of the
than most countries, to a later period, it is also true that, once having begun to change, she is changing and has changed more rapidly. One of the most marked characteristics of the ingenia præfervida Scotorum is that they never do things by halves. Their history lies in light and shadow, and is conspicuously picturesque. Froissart, who tells us that the French knights found ,
their poverty of living intolerable, admits that at Otterbourn they won the most brilliant chivalry-fight of the day. At the Reformation, they changed the most aristocratic democratic church in Europe. In the seventeenth century they began the revolt against Charles, and produced the greatest of the Cavaliers at the same time. They had only just abolished heritable jurisdic
. tions, when they inaugurated political economy. And this is the way in which they have gone on down to our own time. The English Church has been vexed by dissent; the Scotch Kirk in the disruption was torn in half by it. A Montgomery holds a tournament, and a Napier sits for Southwark. Accused of drinking too much whisky, they pass an Act to check it, which in London would cause a revolution. Nor let it be thought an extravagant supposition that the unusual beauty of their ballad poetry, infusing its influence from childhood, should have power to stand against a tendency to deify material prosperity which threatens to abolish all respect for antiquity and all romance of sentiment throughout their land. Luckily, the smoke from their chimneys has not yet blotted out the whole sky... Bonny Scot
, land'-- Old Scotland'--still whispers to the hearts of her children through her song; and the notes of her songs can be traced upwards in time, till they are lost like those of a skylark in the distance.
Of all branches of literature, this is the least capable of satisfactory treatment from a merely æsthetic point of view. Though there is plenty to be said in the way of criticism proper about the ballads, the interest attached to the fact that they exist takes precedence of the interest which belongs to showing what their beauties are. They are the literature of a pre-literary period—the voices of forgotten ages, and of a society that has passed away.
And this fact constitutes more of their charm than people generally think. He who should prove any one of
the best ballads modern would destroy—not its literary meritbut more than half the pleasure with which it is read. Once, in a country village, the neighbourhood used to assemble to hear a particularly sweet-singing nightingale. Presently it appeared that the supposed bird was a very skilful musician, who hid himself in the tree and amused himself by the imitation. Why did this destroy the choicest part of the pleasure of his hearers ? The singing was no worse because the fact was known. No-but the associations were destroyed; and if these are analysed, the most important will be found to be that we are secretly affected by the unconsciousness which we attribute to the bird of its power of pleasing us. Now, this is what the old ballad has-what the new ballad imitates—and it induces us to give to the historical associations of minstrelsy precedence over all the other points of view from which it may be regarded. Let us glance at the literary history of our subject, therefore, which has thus the first claim on our attention."
Definition is dangerous; but if asked to define Minstrelsy, we should call it the Poctry of Feudalism. It rose under that system Lit clung to it for its protection, like the creepers along castle walls, and it has waned as that form of life has waned. The fragments which still exist, and which have been gathered by antiquaries, from nooks and corners-sometimes in a fossil state, from MS.—sometimes living, in retired districts, from recitation -are the only relics of feudal literature which an age like ours can enjoy. Chronicles and romances may be read from curiosity -ballads and songs alone are read for pleasure. Nor, have they always enjoyed the degree of vitality which they do now. They were for a long time quite out of fashion, and waned before such influences as the classics, the Reformation, and the social changes accompanying these. If they never died out altogether, this is partly because the learning which was one cause of their obsoleteness kindly took them by the hand and helped them to flourish again. Very patronising was the manner in which Learning assisted Minstrelsy ; but Minstrelsy, by giving a new inspiration to modern poetry, has most generously paid her back.
The old ballads and songs, we say, went out of fashionsuffered an eclipse in fact which lasted from the time of the Reformation down to the end of the seventeenth century. This phenomenon was common to England and Scotland, but in Scotland it was more marked, because of the terrible severity which the Reformation assumed in that country. Scottish development at all times has had an abrupt character—has not presented that beautifully gradual appearance, that tranquil air of growth, which belongs to the history of civilization in England. So the Vol. 105.-No. 210.