bitterly for abolishing it at the cost of our own heart's blood, only completed the emancipation.
The way out of provincialism is to be frankly and even brutally criticised; we thus learn not merely to see our own faults, which is comparatively easy, but to put our own measure on the very authority that condemns us; voir le monde, c'est juger les juges.
We thus learn to trust our own temperament; to create our own methods; or, at least, to select our own teachers.
At this moment we go to France for our art and to Germany for our science as completely as if there were no such nation as England in the world.
In literature the tie is far closer with what used to be called the mother country, and this because of the identity of language.
All retrospective English literature—that is, all literature more than a century or two old—is common to the two countries.
All contemporary literature cannot yet be judged, because it is contemporary.
The time may come when not a line of current E
be in Paris during the Exposition of 1878 remember well the astonishment produced in the French mind by the discovery that any pictures were painted in England; and the French Millet was at that time almost as little known in London as was his almost namesake, the English Millais, in Paris.
If a foreign nation represented posterity, neither of these eminent artists appeared then to have a chance of lasting fame.
When we see the intellectual separation thus maintained between England and France, with only the width of the Channel between them, we can understand the separation achieved by the Atlantic, even where there is no essential difference of language.
M. Taine tries to convince Frenchmen that the forty English immortals selected by the readers of the Pall Mall Gazette are equal, taken together, to the French Academicians.
You do not know them, you say?he goes on. That is not a sufficient reason.
The English, and all who speak English, know them well, but, on the other han
papers commend, the critic may be very friendly or very juvenile; but when the post brings you a complimentary letter from a new-born village in Colorado, you become conscious of an audience.
Now, suppose the intellectual aspirations of that frontier village to be so built up by schools, libraries, and galleries that it shall be a centre of thought and civilization for the whole of Colorado,—a State which is in itself about the size of Great Britain or Italy, and half the size of Germany or France,—and we shall have a glimpse at a state of things worth more than a national metropolis.
The collective judgment of a series of smaller tribunals like this will ultimately be worth more to an author, or to a literature, than that of London or Paris.
History gives us, in the Greek states, the Italian Republics, the German university towns, some examples of such a concurrent intellectual jurisdiction; but they missed the element of size, the element of democratic freedom, the element of an
e cultivated Cambridge circle of that day, that she spoke disrespectfully of Menzel in the Dial, and called him a Philistine—the first introduction into English, so far as I know, of that word since familiarized by Arnold and others.
We fancy France to be a place where, if governments are changeable, literary fame, fortified by academies, rests on sure ground.
But Theophile Gautier, in the preface to his Les Grotesques, says just the contrary.
He declares that in Paris all praise or blame illuminated foreheads are extinguished and obscure brows grow bright.
Posterity means night for some, dawn to others.
Who would to-day believe, he asks, that the obscure writer Chapelain passed for long years as the greatest poet, not alone of France, but the whole world (le plus grand poete, nonseule-ment de France, mais du monde entier), and that nobody less potent than the Duchesse de Longueville would have dared to go to sleep over his poem of La Pucelle?
Yet this was in the time of Cor
iety of antecedents, usually involving some knowledge of men, with which the older students have come together.
In a nation where small mechanics and country shopkeepers become millionnaires and presidents, it is not strange that the student whose early life was perhaps not very different from theirs should also have his practical side.
It must be remembered that the supposed prejudice against educated men in practical affairs is not confined to our own country, but exists in England, in France, in Germany; and in each case with the additional condition which I have pointed out, that it is found more among other educated men than in the general public mind.
We think of England as a place where they put authors forward in public life; and we instance Beaconsfield, Gladstone, Morley, and Bryce, by way of illustration.
But the acute Sir Frederick Elliot wrote to the poet Sir Henry Taylor, in 1876: I think that literati, when they have not been exercised in practical affairs (note t
that word to represent a certain rather melodramatic self-consciousness, a tender introspection in the region of the heart, a kind of studious cosseting of one's finer feelings.
Perhaps it is not generally recognized how much more abundant was this sort of thing forty years ago than now, and how it moulded the very temperaments of those who were born into it, and grew up under it. Byron had as much to do with creating it as any one in England; but more probably it goes back to Rousseau in France; hardly, I should think to Petrarch, to whom Lowell is disposed to attribute it, and who certainly exerted very little influence in the way of sentimentality on his friend Chaucer.
But the Byronic atmosphere certainly spread to Germany, as may be seen by the place conceded to that poet in Goethe's Faust; although Goethe's Werther, and Schiller's Die Rauber showed that the tendency itself was at one time indigenous everywhere.
In England, Bulwer and the younger Disraeli aimed to be prose By