Obrazy na stronie

forcing down the suggestions of timidity and pride.

** Good morning, Mr. Cranberry,” said she as the door opened, and she passed into the house.

Andrew Cranberry, Attorney-at-Law, went down to his office, and did a very confused day's work. I do not think he said any thing to any body that had not the strictest relation to business. In the intervals of work he looked into the little court beneath his window, in which the prospect consisted of the iron shutters and dingy brick wall of the stores opposite, and where the sunshine looked pale and sickly, and dead; and saw nothing there but June days in a pleasant country, with broad acres of wild flowers, and waving grain, and the edges of green woods, and a gentle lawn sloping to a river. He saw a house too, as he looked into the dead sunlight of the court, an easy, rambling, wooden country-house, with a piazza, and vines wreathing the columns, and pots of flowers in the windows. Upon the piazza, as he still looked, in the softest of summer days, sat a figure quietly sewing, and he thought he heard the murmur of a low song. If the deep dark eyes of that figure had ever been sad, they were so no longer,-if the sweet and noble manner had ever seemed to betray a habit of grief, it had utterly

lost it now,—there was pure summer in the sky, summer on the landscape, summer in those eyes and in the repose of that figure. But even while he gazed, two or three smaller figures came bounding up the gentle lawn from the river, with a huge shaggy black Newfoundland dog. He was sure he heard the loud and happy shouts of children,-he was

sure the figure, quietly working, raised the black eyes not surprised, but with a tranquil and maternal delight-and, wildest vision of all-he was sure that in the window of a library opening upon the piazza, and watching that group with eyes moist with happiness, stood, in a loose coat and slippers, and leaning against the side of the window, with his forefinger in a book, Andrew Cranberry Attorney-at-Law. And, by Jove! as he looked into that pale, sickly sunshine of the court, he was sure he heard that figure speak to the lady, and say

“Nerer, believe me,
Appear the immortals,
Never alone!"

-Whether all this had any thing to do with a certain card that was ordered to be engraved within six months of the dar that the veil was picked up, is a curious inquiry. That card ran thus :

Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Cranberry.


TRANCED on the calm Lagune,

. While the gondola glides

O’er the receding tides, Will I pray of your grace a boon. Oh! because in your eyes is that star, In your motions the free waves are,

Your grace will I pray

The sole word to say,
That would not the silence mar.

Low the waves lap on the prow,
Faint thy kisses touch my brow;

the still air beating;
Day along the sea retreating.
Our dark boat a bridal barque,
Threading the enchanted dark,
Floats, a murmurous love-ditty,
Through the ocean-hearted city.


[ocr errors]

LI BABA, when he entered the Cave materials for a volume ? Or is there

of the Forty Thieves, could not have any possibility of our forgetting those been more amazed by the wealth of its lines of Moore, how contents, than some people will be when they first read the title of this book; for

Bailiffs will seize his last blanket to-day,

Whose pall shall be held up by nobles to-morrow, it flies in the face of two very ancient and quite sacred traditions.

While the pretty fable of Schiller is apIt implies, firstly, that the ambiguous propriate,—the fable in which he repreclass of men called authors, may be in sents Jupiter as dividing all the wealth of the possession of Homes,-consequently the world among the different classes of of wealth, social position, and respecta his creatures. To the kings he gives taxes bility; and, secondly, that among the and tolls, to the farmers lands, to the three thousand American writers who merchants trade, and to the abbots and pretend to the name, there are some at monks most excellent wine ; but after least who are really authors, by which is having disposed of all, he espies a poet meant, literary creators or men of genius. wandering away from the rest, destitute Are not both of these, assumptions which and alone. "What ho! my good fellow," the general mind will regard as extreme exclaims the father of men, “ where wert ly hazardous ?

thou when the general distribution was The records of literary adventure have going forward ?” The bard modestly reproduced the impression the world over, plied, “Mine eyes were drunk with the that authors are a peculiar and exception glory of thy coming, and mine ears filled al class,-a race of shiftless, seedy and with the harmonies of heaven !" When improvident individuals, who, unable to the monarch of the gods, apparently no live by any of the recognized methods of less open to delicate flattery than any society, have betaken themselves to the mortal, -to him thus : “Well, it's a sad expedient of living by their wits. It is

case, my boy! I have nothing left on the understood that they reside, when they earth to give you, but as a compensation, reside any where, in some vacant corner you shall have, after deatḥ, the topmost of a garret, like grubs in a hole; that they round on my throne in the skies.” The pass their days in a pot-house or in lurk poet was doubtless pleased, and went ing out of the way of bumbailiffs and

away, and ever since, this has been the landladies; and that, after leading lives of inheritance of his tribe. We may obvicissitude, poverty, neglect, and sorrow, serve of it, that though a good reversion when they come to die, they revenge their for the next life, it is not one on which long quarrel with mankind by bequeath- money could be raised in Wall-street. ing to it certain inestimable treasures of Well, incidents and memories such as poetry, wit, or profound thought, over these have given rise to the unfavorable which it will gloat and glow for ever. estimate of authorship as a profession,

Who cannot recall a multitude of es to which we allude, so that in the minds says that has been written on the hapless of many, the writing of sonnets is equilot of the poet who “learned by suffering valent to going shirtless, and the perpewhat he taught in song ?" Blow often tration of a romance the next thing in have literary men bewailed the cruel in its social consequences, to the perpetrajustice of society to their order ? What tion of crime. And although the distinsighs have not been exhaled and tears guished successes of a few individuals, wept over the pitiful stories of miscon the facts, for instance, that Scott could ceived and unrewarded genius? Nor build a baronial castle, and Dickens live have these lamentations been wholly like a lord, and Disraeli achieve the chan- . without foundation. The sad experi cellorship, and Bancroft get to be a forences of Savage, the miserable death of eign ambassador, &c., have partially corOtway, and the more miserable death rected the opinion, there is reason to beof Chatterton, " the sleepless boy who lieve that a majority of the world still perished in his pride,” the miscarriages looks upon literature as no better than a of Burns, the indigence of Coleridge, the miserable and desperate dernier resort. protracted struggles of Hook and Hood, Only the other day, Mr. William Jerdan, the suicide of Blanchard, and a thousand himself pretending to be one of the liteother mournful histories have been a sta rary Corapheii of Great Britain, wrote ple product of the literary memoirs. a book which is one long wail over the Have not the calamities of authors fur unhappy conditions and prospects of wrinished the indefatigable Disraeli with the ters as a class, and an earnest appeal to

* The Homes of American Authors, &c. &c. G. P. Putnam & Co. New-York: 1853.

young men to avoid the professional pur luxury, or to wants that do not wear out suit of letters as they would avoid any the supply with such rapidity as to keep temptation of the devil. “Let no man, up a high and incessant demand. Both he says, “be bred to literature, for as it must be regulated, to some extent, by the has been less truly said of another occu vulgar law of supply and demand, and pation, it will not be bread to him. Fal their profits, by the same law, cannot be lacious hopes, bitter disappointments, un forced beyond the natural level of cost certain rewards, vile impositions, and cen and competition. “ The latter combines sure and slander from the oppressors, are the joint action of capital and labor; his lot as soon as he puts pen to paper for it feels a continual competition; it is publication, or risks his peace of mind on not dependent upon the humor or the acthe black, black sea of printers' ink. cidents of the time; no prosaic transiWith a fortune to sustain, or profession to tion of the public taste converts its stand by him, it may still be bad enough; productions, like poetry, into a drug; but without one or the other, it is as fool however people may become indifferent ish as alchemy or desperate as suicide.” to books, they are never likely to dispense

This is the old story, but we think with shirts, or to decline the advantage there is a great deal of misconception in of the steam engine; and although the it; at least we ought not, from Mr. Jer writer to whose merits the age is insensiden's failure, which, as a late foreign re ble, or whose merits are of no utility to view proves, is to be ascribed to his own the age, may be left to starve, the manuwant of capability and prudence-we facturer will thrive. Is it reasonable to must not infer the inevitable fate of the protest against a state of things which whole circle of authors; and, we cordial has been inevitable from the beginning of ly agree with that periodical further, that the world, and which will continue to be literature is as lucrative and promising as inevitable, so long as the material wants any other profession, to men who are re of the world must be served, let its intelally qualified to discharge its exacting lectual wants shift as they may ? The and lofty functions. One reason why it aims of the two classes are essentially records the disastrous rout of so many different, and each has its own reward. of its followers is, that so many rush into The literary man has a glory which is it without the requisite capacities, and denied to the manufacturer, nor could he then their defeats are chronicled, if not envy the latter his wealth, if he knew by themselves, by others, and so heralded how to appreciate his own position at its to the world. Hardly a shiftless Cory true value. He has fame, if he deserves don fails in walks of art that demand the it,- honor, if he merits it; nor need he loftiest endowments of the mind-and doubt of achieving the highest social diswhat crowds of such are there every year tinctions, if he asserts his right to them - that he or his friends do not parade as he ought, and maintains them with inhim as another example of melancholy tegrity and self-respect; while the other shipwreck, as if he deserved or could fairly may be left to the unenvied possession of have anticipated any other end. If the wealth and obscurity.” same note were taken of the miscarriages This is well said, and is true ; but it in law, medicine and divinity,—if every should also be admitted, in behalf of litebriefless barrister, every physician with rary men, to explain and excuse, if not to out a patient, and every clergyman with- justify their complaints, that with most of out a cure, could make his griefs the talk them, the difficulty is not so much the inof the town, as authors manage to do sufficiency of their incomes, as the liberalitheirs, the disadvantages of their voca ty of their outgoes. A thousand peculiar tions would swell inic the magnitude and temptations, springing partly from those enormity of those of letters, and literature mental susceptibilities which difference would no longer stand solitary in its ag them from others, and partly from their sogravations.

cial eligibility, beset them to spend more For, it is not true that literature is a than they make. The very qualities peculiarly unkind and unnatural mother. which form their greatest glory, are those Her favors to those children that are often which lead them into the deepest pain worthy of her, if not exuberant, are yet and humiliations. If they were as hard, not stinted. It is true, that writing is not as unimaginative, as careful of the main so productive money as cotton spin- chance, as the cotton spinner or the merning or merchandise, because, as the Re chant, they would grow rich like the cotview we have just quoted well argues, the ton spinner or the merchant; but they conditions of literary and of ordinary are not so constructed. That delicacy of commercial labor, are

very different.

organization, which makes them alive to The latter supplies a constant want, the those finer perceptions out of which liteformer ministers only to an intellectual rature-comes, renders them keenly sensi


tive also to the pressures and discomforts thing : on the contrary, we know that of existence,—those sands which drop in works of the most unquestionable exceland grit between the shell of our outward lence have often to wait for appreciators, condition and the fleshy sensibilities. -in fact, that genius, as a general thing, They yearn consequently to bring their must create its own audience; but this is surroundings into a better correspondence as true of other professions as it is of literawith their tastes and aspirations, and their ture. It is true in art; true in science ; perpetual tendency is to gather costly ap true in mechanical inventions; and somepliances and comforts about them, to shut times true in practical enterprise ; and all out the actual existence by one of ideal that we design to urge is simply that refinement; or, as our young poet Stod authorship is no exception to other purdard has it, in his “ Castle in the Air," suits. We believe that if competent men they would sport among

engage in it with industry, patience, and “The garnered excellence of Earth and Time," consistent purpose, conducting their af

fairs with average foresight, they will Besides, with superior powers to enter reap at the least the average pecuniary tain, or an elevated fame to render their

rewards. The depreciating view that acquaintance a distinction, authors are

prevails is an unjust as well as an injumore sought for than others by general rious one,-and one therefore that ought society, where, whether they learn refined to be removed. It is unjust because it or dissipated habits, they equally expose exaggerates the disparagements of a true themselves to expense. "It is impossible and worthy literary life, and injurious, to keep up a varied and generous inter because it happens in this world, that the course, without falling into more or less

respectability of a pursuit too much deextravagance ; and genius with its irrita

pends upon what the Californians call the ble fancies and impetuous impulses, is least prospecting,” or the chance of turning of all likely to resist the allurements of

up some genial and ravishing deposit of luxurious living, or to temper the seduc

sunny ore. tions of taste with the cold discipline of Nowhere has the literary profession judgment. Not that genius is ever des been supposed to be more hopeless than titute of judgment,-seeing that the most in the United States ; and yet, we are subtle, strong, unerring judgment is its persuaded that here as elsewhere, in spite very essence,—but then its judgment is of all the drawbacks, adventitious or nethe theoretic judgment, which is dis cessary, a career of honor and profit is played in the creation and providence of a open to all who engage in it with the great drama or poem, and not the prac proper qualifications, and pursue it with tical judgment, which controls every-day fidelity and self-control. We do not say affairs. It is in danger therefore of run that the pecuniary rewards of it are as ning into prodigality, or, for want of ap generous as they ought to be, or probably propriate and ample nourishment, is be will be hereafter; we do not say that it trayed into questionable indulgences. will become in the present state of socieAh! then the clouds darken about it : the ty as fertile as trade, or even as the present grows comfortless and the future

learned professions ; but we do say that, minatory : and poor genius, losing its besides its peculiar harvests in the way freshness and glow, is genius no more. of reputation and influence on the great It utters its wail into the uncaring uni cotemporary and prospective movements verse, like one who falls at midnight from of thought, it holds out the guerdon of some on-rushing steamship, and hearing reasonable pecuniary success, -and of sono reply but the plash of its own sinking, cial compensations that ought to satisfy goes down into the unyielding depths! reasonable desires.

But is the world to blame for such In proof of this, we appeal to the exmiscarriages ? Is the literary profession, perience of those writers among us, who as a practical pursuit, to blame? Is have shown by their works, their fitness this lot worse, in its external liabilities, for their vocations. They are nearly all than that of other men; and would not in comfortable positions, and many of the chimney-sweep or the lawyer, who them are affluent. Mr. Putnam's book should forget the actual conditions of so contains an account of some twenty of cial existence, to indulge in dreams and them (announcing others that are to folidealizations, fail as signally as the au low-and scarcely one of the number thor ?

can be said to be poor. Mr. Prescott enLet us not be understood, however, to joys a princely income, a part of it inhermaintain in the foregoing remarks, that ited, it is true, but the other part derived want of success in authorship is always from his books: the old age of Irving is evidence either of want of merit, or of made glad by more than competence, want of prudence. We mean no such worthily won by his pen: Mr. Cooper's


[ocr errors]

novels enabled him to live generously How long the latter will submit to this
during his whole life : Bancroft is indebt injustice, we cannot say,—but let us ex-
ed for his political and social position press the hope, by way of episode, that
to his merits as a historian: Bryant, now, when we are about to have in the
though not altogether by his poetry, yet chief seat of political power a gentleman,
by the exercise of his literary abilities, for one of whose distinctions it is, that he is
the newspaper is a branch of literature, the warm personal friend of our most il-
has been placed at his ease: while among lustrious tale writer,-he will signalize
those not included in this volume, Mel that friendship by exerting his influence
ville, Mitchell, Headley, Stephens, Curtis to secure to the craft of Hawthorne its
and others, have reaped large rewards just and long-delayed rights. Let him
from their publications. On the other do this, and the authors of America, —
hand, if Hawthorne and others are not destined to a longer life than its politi-
yet at the summits of fortune, they have cians,—will take care of his good fame.
at least a glimpse of the golden heights. But all these considerations take for

These results are the more remarkable, granted the second assumption of Mr.
because in this country, success is ren Putnam's book, to which we alluded in
dered difficult by an artificial obstruction the outset, viz., that we have genuine
thrown in its way. The American au American authors. Is it so? We know
thor has to contend against two rival that a different opinion obtains, and that
ries, — both formidable — first, that of foreign writers declare, with some degree
his native competitor; and second, that of emphasis, that, as yet, we are mere
of the foreign writer. And in respect to imitators, – unfledged provincials,
the latter, he enters the lists under the peating the copies set in the Old World,
additional disadvantage, that while his and quite destitute of originality, inde-
own works must be paid for by the pub pendence or native force. It is not three
lisher, those of the foreigner are furnished months since a callow Scotch critic,
like the showman's wonders, " free gratis speaking ex cathedra, in the North Bri-
and for nothing.” No sooner is a litera tish Review, conceded to us only three
ry venture of Bulwer, Thackeray, or poets, and those, as he dogmatically al-
Dickens afloat, than a whole baracoon leged, were servile echoes of Wordsworth
of "bookaneers," as Hood called them, and Tennyson. Other writers before
rushes forth to seize it, and so long as they him have repeatedly and triumphantly
may do this, they will not spend money, asked for our dramatists, novelists, essay-
noť much of it certainly,-in any regular ists, and wits; and Monsieur Philarete
merchandise. Who will buy domestic Chasles, in his late self-complacent French
goods when he can import foreign goods summary of American literary achieve-
without price? It is not in human na ments, finds it difficult to drum up more
ture to drive so thriftless a trade. Our than half-a-dozen authors on whom he
manufacturing friends of the protectionist bestows any thing like praise. There is,
school, declaim dolorously against the poli- therefore, considerable unanimity in the
cy of government which exposes their arts judgment against us; and, though the
to the cheap competition of Europe ; but London Times in its recent notice of the
what a clamor would they raise if the ex “Blithedale Romance," relaxes a little of
otic productions, which come into market its accustomed severity, and warns its co-
against their own, were admitted, not temporary British writers to bestir their
merely duty free, but without having pens, it must be confessed that there still
been subjected to an original cost ? Yet exists a general incredulity abroad, if not
this is precisely the sorrow of the Ameri a lurking contempt, in respect to our lite-
can author! At great expense himself, he rary pretensions.
works against an antagonism which costs We will not gainsay the partial justice
nothing; for the slight per centage al of the sentence, nor endeavor to hide the
lowed to foreign writers by our Ameri rags and tatters of our poverty; and yet,
can publishers, for the privilege of a first whether moved thereto by overweening
copy, is virtually nothing.

national pride or by an egregious ignotherefore, is even worse than that of the rance,—let others decide-we are disposed broomseller of the old anecdote, who, to maintain that our literature is wrongly stealing his raw materials, wondered how depreciated, and that we have at least his rival could undersell him ; until he done as much as could have been expectwas told that the cunning rogue stole his ed from us under the circumstances of brooms ready-made. Thus, the publish our national history and development. er gets his commodity ready-made, and The issue, it seems to us, has never floods the market with it, while the poor been accurately stated, and, the discusAmerican producer hawks and sings his sion in consequence has been needlessly articles about the streets in vain !

embarrassed. As we conceive them,

His case,

« PoprzedniaDalej »