but in their full and unquestioned vigor they certainly belonged to the period when men wore cravats swathed half a dozen times round the neck, and when, as the author of ‘Pelham
’ wrote, there was safety in a swallow-tail.
It is not in the English
tongue alone that this emotional tendency was expressed, for Lamartine
was then much read, and even his travels in the East
were saturated with it; and so were the writings of Jean Paul
, who then rivalled Goethe
in the affections of the newly enrolled students of German
, his ‘Siebenkas’ which avowedly records the ‘life, death, and wedding’ of a hero who deliberately counterfeits death, that he and his mismated wife may each espouse the object of a loftier tenderness, was the climax of the sentimental; and yet this preposterous situation was so seriously and sympathetically painted, that probably no one who read the book at that day can now revert to it without emotion.
But it is necessary to bear all this in mind in order to understand how all this atmosphere of exaggerated feeling seemed blown away in an instant by the first appearance of Sam Weller
on the scene.