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between the sister kingdoms, there will always remain a large tract of debateable land. It is not easy to conceive of characters existing apart from feelings and manners; and though incidents may not always be deeds, we suspect a deed can never exist where an incident is not. But granting for a moment, that the dramatist might rest contented with the limits which Goethe has assigned to him, it is quite clear that the romancer never has done and never will do so. His most distinguishing excellence may lie elsewhere, but he cannot assuredly do without characters; and that characters may be developed in the drama, as well as in the romance, more by means of incidents and feelings than by what Goethe means when he speaks of deeds, we have one sufficient example in the Edipus Tyrannus, and another, still more complete and unanswerable, in Hamlet itself.
Our impression is that a careful examination of all that has been produced in either department, would terminate in perfect proof that there is no element of dramatic composition which may not be successfully employed in the romantic; but that the drama, being essentially a much more limited representation of life than the romance, many sources of interest are open to the latter from which the former is completely debarred. Indeed while it is easy to see that the drama takes in that only which may be embodied in the shape of action, and the dialogue of action, it seems to us to be altogether out of the question to limit in any manner whatever the dominion of the sister art. We may tell what has been done in it by the masters with whose works we are acquainted; but we have no belief that there is any
element of interest in human life itself, which might not be brought into the service of the romance. And it is in this very width of range, this unrivalled and unlimited capacity, this perfect power of adaptation, that we recognize one main source of the modern superiority of the modern form over the antique. The older the world grows, we have no doubt the imagination of mankind will get more and more cold, or at least more and more fastidious; and as nature is the end of art as well as the beginning, we should not be surprized, if, the habits of reflection widening along with those of reading, and gaining necessarily new strength and refinement with every step of extension, the result should be hereafter a triumph of the romantic form infinitely more striking even than has as yet been exhibited. In a word, we think that, as to materials, the empire of romance includes that of the drama, and includes therein perhaps its finest province; but that as to art, the department which has the more limited range of material is immeasurably the more difficult of the two. To a certain extent, perhaps, their relative situation may be compared to that in which sculp
ture and painting stand to each other. In one point of view, at least, painting includes the sister art—it includes all the dominion of form, although it cannot present form with the same bold and perfect projection of effect. In like manner, the romance includes action, and all the dialogue of action; and if it does not present these embodied in actual human organs, what it loses in that curtailment is more than made up for in the expanse of peculiar and unpartaken empire all around. The sculptor carves his group, and his art is at an end. The painter finishes his also, and if we cannot go round and round it, nor see it stand out from the canvass as if it were hewn from the rock, we have, to make us amends, tints and demi-tints, a fore-ground and a back-ground, and all the magic of the chiaroscuro. Such comparisons can never, of course, , be satisfactory as to all points; but they may serve occasionally as partial illustrations.
Thus regarding the literature of romance as fairly entitled to be ranked, in an intellectual point of view, with that of the drama, we cannot but express our dissent from the opinion which Sir Walter Scott appears to have formed as to its moral influence. Dr. Johnson said, men will not become highwaymen because Macheath is acquitted on the stage;' and our author says in the same strain, ‘men will not become swindlers and thieves, because they sympathize with the fortunes of the Picaroon Gil Blas, or licentious debauchees because they read Tom Jones.'
The professed moral of a piece,' he proceeds, “is usually what the reader is least interested in; it is like the mendicant who cripples after some splendid and gay procession, and in vain solicits the attention of those who have been gazing upon it. Excluding from consideration those infamous works which address themselves directly to awakening
grosser passions of our nature, we are inclined to think the worst evil to be apprehended from the perusal of novels is, that the habit is apt to generate an indisposition to real history and useful literature; and that the best which can be hoped is, that they may sometimes instruct the youthful mind by real pictures of life, and sometimes awaken their better feeling and sympathies by strains of generous sentiment, and tales of fictitious woe. Beyond this point, they are a mere elegance, a luxury contrived for the amusement of polished life, and the gratification of that half love of literature, which pervades all ranks in an advanced stage of society, and are read much more for amusement than with the least hope of deriving instruction from them. The vices and follies of Tom Jones are those which the world soon teaches to all who enter on the career of life, and to which society is unhappily but too indulgent; nor do we believe that in any one instance the perusal of Fielding's novel bas added one libertine to the large list, who would not bave been such had it never crossed the press. And it is with concern we add our sincere belief, that the fine picture of frankness and generosity, exhibited in that fictitious character, has had as few imitators as the career of his
follies. Let it not be supposed that we are indifferent to morality, because we treat with scorn that affectation, which, while in common life it connives at the open practice of libertinism, pretends to detest the memory of an author, who painted life as it was, with all its shades, and more than all the lights which it occasionally exhibits, to reliere them.'
With all deference we must take the liberty to believe that both Dr. Johnson and Sir Walter Scott have judged as to these matters more from the vigour of their own masculine minds than from actual observation of the world at large as it was, and is. The Beg: gars' Opera did, we may admit, no harm in the boxes, but we suspect the galleries, if they could speak, might tell a very different tale. Schiller's Robbers did, all the world knows, seduce certain enthusiastic Burschen from the German universities to the highway; and the records of our police courts and of graver tribunals are ready to prove that while Tom and Jerry were crowding the streets with brawlers, the Memoirs of Messrs. Moffat and Hag. gart were leading or hurrying their victims to the gallows. truth, to deny the influence of artificial representations of human life upon the manners of those who contemplate them, appears to us to be not very different from denying absolutely the effect of example. There are men and women, and there are boys and girls too, who may keep bad company with impunity; but such happy strength of mind and still happier purity of nature are, to say the least of the matter, by no means universal possessions. Our author, moreover, seems to speak rather inconsistently:—He admits that romances
may instruct the youthful mind by real pictures of life, and awaken our better feelings and sympathies by strains of generous sentiment.' But if they may be thus powerful for good, we fear it follows, as an unavoidable consequence, that they may be equally powerful for evil. And again, he tells us that
the vices and follies of Tom Jones are those which the world soon teaches to all who enter on the career of life, and to which society is unhappily but too indulgent.' But he has not told us that such novels as Tom Jones are read by many long before they enter the career of life, anticipating, and with fatal skill paving the way for its lessons of licentiousness ; nor has he made any estimate of the extent to which the overindulgence of society in regard to certain classes of vice may be the effect of an immoral literature operating through a long course of years on the individual minds of which society is composed. And when he excludes from consideration those infamous works which address themselves directly to awakening the grosser passions,' we suspect he excludes a class of books by no means so
generally injurious, as those which insinuate cunning doses of such stimulants, amidst materials which the wisest must admire, and the gravest cannot condemn.
It may seem strange to find the masters of literature thus undervaluing its influence; but our wonder will be diminished when we reflect how strongly such persons are tempted to overlook, in the midst of their habitual study of art and analysis of its productions, the extent to which the creations of genius affect everyday natures, incapable of tracing how or for what purposes these are formed. Clairon, as Grimm tells us, whispered gaily to the partner of her bier, while all the parterre before them was full of sobbing and sighing: and it is not improbable that the tragic queen was quizzing the sensibilities she had moved. Was he then a silly statesman who said, ' Let who will frame the laws of the people, so I have the making of their songs'?. Or has no one ever had better reason than Cowley to complain of the slackening of his nerves' by reason of their having
-so oft been made to be
"When the new mind had no infusion known,
But never will reduce my native wbite.' Our author, as we have already seen, betrays the dictates of his better reason in the midst of his apology for Tom Jones; but what importance he really attaches to the influence so undervalued in the passage we have quoted, is distinctly proved and abundantly illustrated in his preface to the works of a very inferior novelist, Robert Bage. The writer whose works have thus been recalled from an oblivion which we cannot help thinking they merited, wrote at the period of the French revolution; and though he had been born and bred among the primitive and virtuous sect of our quakers, he systematically made his novels the vehicle of all the anti-social, anti-moral, and anti-religious theories that were then but too much in vogue among the halfeducated classes in this country. Sir Walter, after exposing with just ridicule the style of gross and senseless caricature in which Mr. Bage, the son of a miller, and himself a paper-maker in a little country town, has thought fit to paint the manners of English gentlemen and ladies, proceeds, as follows, to notice the far graver offences of which his pen had been guilty.
* This misrepresentation of the different classes in society is not the only speculative error in which Bage has indulged during these poetie narratives. There is in his novels a dangerous tendency to slacken
the reins of discipline upon a point, where, perhaps, of all others, society must be benefited by their curbing restraint.
* Fielding, Smollett, and other novelists, have, with very indifferent taste, brought forward their heroes as rakes and debauchees, and treated with great lightness those breaches of morals, which are too commonly considered as venial in the male sex; but Bage has extended, in some instances, that license to females, and seems at times even to sport with the ties of marriage, which is at once the institution of civil society most favourable to religion and good order, and that which, in its consequences, forms the most marked distinction between man and the lower animals. All the influence which women enjoy in society,—their right to the exercise of that maternal care which forms the first and most indelible species of education; the wholesome and mitigating restraint which they possess over the passions of mankind; their power of protecting us when young, and cheering us when old, -depend so entirely upon their personal purity, and the charm which it casts around them, that to insinuate a doubt of its real value is wilfully to remove the broadest corner-stone on '
which civil society rests, with all its benefits and with all its comforts. It is true, we can easily conceive that a female like Miss Ross, in Barham Downs, may fall under the arts of a seducer, under circumstances so peculiar as to excite great compassion, nor are we so rigid as to say that such a person may not be restored to society, when hersubsequent conduct shall have effaced recollection of bererror. But she must return thither as a humble penitent, and has no title to sue out her pardon as a matter of right, and assume a place as if she had never fallen from her proper sphere. Her disgrace must not be considered as a trivial stain, which may be communicated by a husband as an exceeding good jest to his friend and correspondent; there must be, not penitence and reformation alone, but humiliation and abasement, in the recollection of her errors. Tbis the laws of society demand even from the unfortunate; and to compromise farther, would open a door to the most unbounded licentiousness.
* Having adverted to this prominent error in Mr. Bage's theory of morals, we are compelled to remark, that his ideas respecting the male sex are not less inaccurate, considered as rules of mental government, than the over indulgence with which he seems to regard female frailty. Hermsprong, whom he produces as the ideal perfection of humanity, is paraded as a man, who, freed from "all the nurse and all the priest have taught," steps forward on bis path without any religious or political restraint, as one who derives his own rules of conduct from his own breast, and avoids or resists all temptations of evil passions, because his reason teaches him that they are attended with evil consequences. the expressive words of our moral poet, Wordsworth, he is
“A reasoning self-sufficient thing,
An intellectual all-in-all.”But did such a man ever exist? or are we, in the fair construction of bumanity, with all its temptations, its passions, and its frailties, entitled to expect such perfection from the mere force of practical philosophy? Let each reader ask his own bosom whether it were possible for him