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good imitation of the historic original-witness the dialogues where Henry VIII., Queen Elizabeth, James I., and Bishop Burnet, respectively are introduced. On other occasions, he is tolerably successful in giving an idea of character, which, whether historically correct or not, is natural. We refer particularly to his women dialogists, all of whom, we think, present more or less of feminine characteristics, though, at times, not the most reputable. His
most laboured attempt at the creation of persons, is made in his Trial and Examination of Shakespeare, a piece of great merits and great absurdities, through which we do at times catch a glimpse of Shakespeare, such as we can conceive that he was in his youth-clownish, simple, ignorant, unconscious, yet happytempered, buoyant, exuberant, and vigorous. To the high dramatic faculty which creates beings as clearly defined, as lively, and as substantial as Nature's own, Mr. Landor has no preten-sions. He undoubtedly fails to present characters vividly and palpably before us, yet we think he generally attains the inferior merit of suggesting to the reader's fancy, and amusing it with the idea of separate personages being in converse. This he effects, partly by the mere force of the names the speakers bear
-partly by their being described as opposed to each other in opinions and tastes—partly by the topics on which they converse, and the facts they state, being historically appropriate-partly by the mention of incidents as occurring before their eyes and partly by the vivacity and spirit of the discourse, which rambles and diverges often as real discourse will do. By these means Mr. Landor often keeps up a distinction between his speakers, and accomplishes what, perhaps, is the utmost extent of delusion this sort of composition admits of, not a real possession of the imagination by his groupes, but a pleasing entertainment of the fancy, whereby a sort of dramatic and pictorial interest is added to that addressed to the intellect, in the substance of the conversation. Not unfrequently, however, even this merit is not reached. And often the delusion to which the reader is willing to surrender himself, is rudely dissipated by the plain protrusion of Mr. Landor's own visage from behind the mask of the charac
Who, for instance, but must be awakened from the dream that he is listening to Rousseau and Malesherbes discoursing on government and jurisprudence, when he hears one propounding reforms in the policy and judicial institution of England, and the other declaring his approval of such proposals as that the Lord Chancellor and the Justices of the Peace should be nominated by the people, and the Justices have the whole civil and criminal jurisdiction, with the pay each of twenty shillings per diem, and that in the following terms :
“ Your remarks, although inapplicable to the Continent, are appli
cable to England; and several of them, however they may be pecked, scratched, and kicked about, by the pullets fattening in the darkened chambers of Parliament, are worthy of being weighed by the people, loth as may be the Ministers of State to employ the scales of justice on any such occasion.”
So speaks M. Rousseau. Breaches of the character, similar, though seldom quite so violent—abound; and, indeed, the pages are few wherein Mr. Landor does not contrive to force himself into notice.
In a conversation with Southey, Mr. Landor makes Porson prescribe to critics this preparation for their work :
"I would seriously recommend to the employer of our critics, young and old, that he oblige them to pursue a course of study such as this : that under the superintendence of some respectable student from the University, they first read and examine the contents of the book : a thing greatly more useful in criticism than is generally thought; secondly, that they carefully write them down, number them, and range them under their several heads; thirdly, that they mark every beautiful, every faulty, every ambiguous, every uncommon expression. Which being completed, that they inquire what author, ancient or modern, has treated the same subject; that they compare them first in smaller afterwards in larger portions, noting every defect in precision and its causes, every excellence and its nature; that they graduate these, fixing plus and minus, and designating them more accurately and discriminately, by means of colours, stronger or paler. For instance, purple might express grandeur and majesty of thought; scarlet, vigour of expression ; pink, liveliness; green, elegant and equable composition: these, however, and others, as might best attract their notice and serve their memory. The same process may be used where authors have not written on the same subject, when those who have are wanting, or have touched it but incidentally.”—Vol. i. p. 11.
Reading this, we cast down our pens, and cry of Mr. Landor's prose, as Rasselas did of poetry :-“ Enough! Thou hast convinced us that no human being can be thy critic !” The topics which he discusses, or on which he touches, are innumerable ; the compiler of a Cyclopædia is scarcely more comprehensive. And then his course is erratic as a butterfly's, and his visits to each object of attraction as brief and impatient. This, with the want of any plain purpose in many of his conversations, makes them seem at first a device for unburdening the mind of the desultory information gradually collected by a man of general reading, and of the reflections, theories, and fancies, built upon it during intervals of meditation. But, perceiving with what confidence and familiarity this author handles every topic, we next conclude him to be learned beyond ordinary men, and
that his mind, saturated with knowledge, while it gives forth much, retains on every subject much more. This second impression, however, is somewhat weakened by that imposing air of confidence being maintained even when he is indubitably superficially informed. Undoubtedly, Mr. Landor is a very learned
We do not presume to take the measure of his knowledge. But our perusal of these volumes has impressed us with the opinion, that it is not so thorough as general ; that very much of all he has, is here displayed; and that of the grand divisions of knowledge there is perhaps one only wherein he is thoroughly instructed, and qualified to speak with authority. It is literature, especially the literature of England and Italy, among the moderns, and among the ancients, of Rome and Greece—the latter especially—including whatever of their history, laws, and manners, a complete knowledge of ancient literature implies. On this whole subject he speaks like one who has successfully explored it. Not, indeed, that he is a teacher of the higher philosophy of literary criticism-for in no department has he a genius for developing first principles and general laws; but that his education in literature having been elaborate, and his taste under good training, his knowledge of facts is unusually full, and his opinions unusually sound and coherent. Even here, however, the latter are often rash and questionable, while the former, or his learning, is, in extent, limited With Eastern literature and with much of Western, including the Germanic, he gives no signs of intimacy. And with the other branches of human knowledge, with science, with art, and with the philosophies of metaphysics, of politics, of economics, of history, of morality, of jurisprudence, of religion,-his acquaintance is, as far as we can discover, not extraordinary: being indeed, as to principles, only vague and general; as to details, desultory and accidental, although multifarious. Perhaps the reader may think this noting of defects in this particular invidious towards an author who professes only to produce poems and imaginary conversations. And in ordinary cases, it would be so. But this writer assures us regarding himself that—“What I write is not written on slate : and no finger, not of Time himself, who dips it in the cloud of years, can efface
“If I bore malice toward any man I should wish him to write against me." “ Whether they (my writings) are read in the present age, or in the next, occupies no more my speculation than whether it be this morning or this afternoon.” Then, on opening the pages to which immortality is thus confidently predicted, we find names the most venerated, and opinions the most cherished and important, “ pecked, scratched, and kicked about,” with the most scornful irreverence; and when, moreover, we perceive a disposition in some quarters to concede to him a title
thus to take liberties and dogmatize beyond the province of a mere writer of elegant prose and verse, it becomes our duty to look somewhat narrowly into his powers and qualifications.
But a writer like this is to be estimated most accurately not by the quantity of his knowledge, but by the quality of his thoughts and opinions. Mr. Landor has not furnished us with much direct evidence of these for while he warns the reader not to attribute any opinions to him but what are spoken in his own name, he appears only in five conversations, of which three are devoted to literary criticism, which is his forte. Even in these, however, one encounters opinions and observaticns, betraying much more of vivacity and keenness than of strength and solidity of judgment. In one with the Abbé Delille, Mr. Landor having complete power over the talk, turns it first upon Voltaire, whom, after many detractive comments, he leaves sadly shorn of his literary splendour. He then assails Boileau by a series of verbal hyper-criticisms,* which he winds up with the question,66 What then is Boileau worth ?” and the answer," A smile from Louis.” That Voltaire is vulnerable as a philosopher, an historian, and a moralist, and that Boileau's department in literature is limited in extent, and not high in order, all the world knows; but to deny that the latter is in his department exquisitely excellent, and to think of the literary powers and achievements of the former, without wonder and warm admiration, is a singularity not much to be praised. Yet we are not surprised that Mr. Landor should not relish these, or French writers in general. He hates France, and therefore nothing good comes out of her. Besides, the literature of France desires, above all other things, lucidity, exactness, and propriety of thought. We speak of the older literature, not so confidently of that since the Revolution, when the French mind underwent a strain, from which some extravagance and cloudiness of thought have found their way into its later productions. A French classic trained his feelings and emotions to be subordinate to his reasoning or intellectual faculty; a passion or feeling which could not be expressed in thoughts clear, definite, and, in a literary sense, decorous, he suppressed or rejected. The working of Mr. Landor's mind is altogether different. In him the conceiving faculty
* Take a sample. On the lines
“ Enfin un médecin fort expert en son art,
Le guérit-par adresse ou plutôt par hazard.” Mr. Landor thus comments :-“ To say that he was furt expert en son art, and subjoin that he effected his cure plutôt par hazard, proves that the poet must have taken his expressions altogether at hazard.” A less ingenious writer than Mr. Landor might have seen that the satire in plutôt par hazard is aimed, not at the physician, but at tlie medical art.
is the slave of his temper, and that is keen, strong, and immoderate. Easily aroused, it compels the intellect to furnish it on the instant with a vehicle of ideas and words; and if these are lively and vehement, and have a show of rationality to serve the temporary purpose, it suffices. Mr. Landor's progress through works constructed on the principle of perpetual perspicuity, exactness, propriety and order, and from which jerks of temper and suggestions half formed, are rigidly excluded, could not but be painful. And of whatever annoyed him, it was essential that his opinion should be immoderately low.
In a conversation between Mr. Landor and two visitors, one English and one Florentine, wherein a variety of topics are handled, he gives other evidence of his passion or temper being an overmatch for his reason, in advocating with much animation, the extinction of despots by assassination, and the formation of associations to protect the assassins.
“Far am I from the inclination of lighting up a fire, to invite around it the idle, the malevolent, or the seditious. I would, however, subscribe my name to ensure the maintenance of those persons who shall have lost their country for having punished with death its oppressor, or for having attempted it, and failed. Let it first be demonstrated that he hath annulled the constitutional laws, or retracted his admissal or violated his promise of them, or that he holds men not born his subjects, nor reduced to that condition by legitimate war, in servitude and thraldom, or hath assisted or countenanced another in such offences. No scorn, no contumely, no cruelty, no single, no multiplied injustice, no destruction is enough, excepting the destruction of that upon which all society is constituted, under which all security rests, and all hope lies at anchor-faith. Public wrongs may and ought to be punished by private vindication, where the tongue of law is paralyzed by the bane of despotism: and the action which in civil life is the worst, becomes, where civism lies beneath power, the most illustrious that magnanimity can achieve. The calmest and wisest men that ever lived, were unanimous in this sentence; it is sanctioned by the laws of Solon, and sustained by the authority of Cicero and Aristoteles.
Teachers, the timid and secluded, point it out to youth among a thousand pages; colleges ring with it over chants and homilies ; piety closes her thumbed lesson, and articulates less tremulously this response.
The street cries Cæsar, the study whispers Brutus. Degenerate men have never been so degenerate, the earth is not yet so effete, as not to rear up one imitator of one great deed. Glory to him! peace, prosperity, long life, and like descendants !-Remember, brave soul ! this blow fixes thy name above thy contemporaries. Doubt not, it will have its guard to stand under it, and to fill the lamp that shows thy effigy. Great actions call forth great eloquence, as great eloquence calls forth great actions.
Ours is the time for associations to reward the extinction of despots, since it is certain