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the lastingness of such, delighting our age with the same startle of newness and beauty that pleased our youth. Is it his thought. It has the shifting inward lustre of diamond. Is it his feeling? It is as delicate as the impressions of fossil ferns. Nothing could be more accurate or even more suggestive than that some of Wordsworth's most memorable lines are the production of Nature. But how insufficient are the last lines when we read what may be called the answers to them which are given by Mr. Hutton!
The essence of Lowell's critical writings is a sympathetic and cultured common sense. Ambiguity of phrase, uncompleted thought producing embryonic ideas, a hostile frame of mind towards his subject, a narrowly bounded view, are never to be found in his writings. Thoughts are sometimes too quickly transferred from his brain to his paper, but they are always clear-not a very powerful stream, but pleasant, pure, and healthy. We have not to pause to think over his meaning-a proceeding which, however, is conducive to mental digestion—we see what he is aiming at in a moment. Concluding his essay on Pope he writes, 'He was the chief founder of an artificial style of writing, which in his hands was living and powerful, because he used it to express artificial modes of thinking and an artificial state of society. We may carp somewhat at the phrase "artificial 'modes of thinking, yet in this sentence we see at once Pope's interpretation of his age, which is the strength of a poet.
But if there are some shortcomings in Lowell's purely literary criticisms, on the other hand, as a critic of men, of the movements of society, of the literature of life, he is admirable. Perhaps nowhere is this better exemplified than in the brilliant address op Thoreau ; it is full of insight, it is marked by memorable and suggestive phrases. Thoreau
was not a strong thinker, but a sensitive feeler.' Of the transcendental movement in which he was so noticeable, Lowell said, Communities were established where every'thing was to be common but common sense. It would be difficult within the same space to find a keener yet a more sympathetic review of a remarkable man, and of a noticeable intellectual and moral movement, than is contained in this address. The same characteristic may be noted in the equally admirable essay on Gray, a writer as essentially English as Thoreau is American. There is much sound literary criticism in it, but throughout runs the same markedly personal note as attractive as it is suggestive : Perhaps the great charm of the Elegy is to be found in its
embodying that pensively stingless pessimism which comes 'with the first grey hairs; that vague sympathy with our
selves, which is so much cheaper than sympathy with others; 'that placid melancholy which satisfies the general appetite ‘for an emotion which titillates rather than wounds.'
It is natural that at the end of a century men should look back upon the past with a critical and a surveying eye. Among the writers known to the English-speaking race in the last fifty years no man arrests attention more than James Russell Lowell. If greatness be measured by signal achievements in a single branch of human endeavour, it cannot be declared that Lowell has attained the highest rank. But if with more catholicity of opinion we estimate greatness by remarkable efforts and results in various fields, Lowell reached a high position among men of letters of the nineteenth century. As a journalist in the best and widest sense, as an essayist and critic, and in some degree as a poet, he will long be memorable. But in a time of war, tumult, and international unrest, it may be that on both sides of the Atlantic his name will be most respected for helping to make America and Great Britain more closely united by national sympathies springing from a better knowledge of each other, and from the ties of a common literature.
ART. IX.-1. The Life and Letters of Sir John Everett Millais,
President of the Royal Academy. By his Son, John GUILLE MILLAIS. 2 vols. London : 1899. 2. Sir John Everett Millais, his Art and Influence. By A. L.
BALDRY. 1 vol. London: 1899. W e are still half barbarians in the memorials which we
raise to our dead. We measure them by their mass not their beauty, and as, when a renowned field-marshal dies, we exact that his funeral car, whatever the fashion of it, shall weigh seventeen tons, when great men's lives are written, the first consideration is that they shall be of a certain bulk; as if we affected, not human entombments, but 'the graves of giants under hilly and heavy coverings.' Whereas there is but one worthy memorial we can raise to any man, king or cobbler, who deserves to be remembered, and that is a portrait in stone or brass, or be it in literature, which may be more imperishable still. Though that, indeed, is little likely to-day, under our present habit of entrusting biographies to some near relation of the dead, without much consideration for the literary ability of the writer, and with the necessity laid upon him to paint his portrait, in Tudor fashion, without a shadow.
To the ideal biography, Mr. J. G. Millais' two volumes of the life of his father, Sir John Millais--two quarto volumes, 957 pages-bears such relation as a stone of Avebury bears to a stelè in the Street of Tombs at Athens. The writer has no literary graces. Sometimes he offends positively against canons of taste and canons of style. More often he offends negatively by giving us little but trivialities, to the neglect of more important matter. It is indeed something of a feat to have filled so many pages as he has done, and to contrive at the end to present so ineagre a portrait of his subject. There are portions of this book which are not much else than an expanded catalogue; others that might be compiled from a visiting list, and a third series again which are like an angler's day book annotated and enlarged. But the writer is at least frank and manly; and, if perforce too uniformly a panegyrist, he is free from sentimentality and affectation. As regards the universal fault of biographies, their want of shade, this much must be said, that, by the consent of all who knew him, Millais' private character was as nearly free from blemish as a man's might be. Anthony Trollope, who in the course of his vast production wrote
many an excellent passage, never wrote anything finer or more pleasant to read than the record of his affection and admiration for Millais :
. To see him has always been a pleasure. His voice has been a sweet sound in my ears. Behind his back I have never heard him praised without joining the eulogist; I have never heard a word spoken against him without opposing the censurer.' * And then Trollope adds that which gives a force and a beauty to the foregoing : These words, should he ever see
them, will come to him from the grave, and will tell him of 'my regard as one living man never tells another.'
By the general testimony of Millais’ friends, there is no exaggeration in this praise; and his friends were all who knew him; he had no enemies. He was of that type of inan which is called clubable; ready to join heartily in the outside pleasures of life, generous, full of manliness and kindliness, with no need for close sympathies and no divine unfulfilled ambitions. If he had at times great searchings of heart and wrote of them to those who were about him, there is no record of such in this biography.
And then as regards the painter, he stands in no need of a monument, either of piled stones or piled sentences. His monument is all about us: in the 350 easel pictures which he has left, in the numberless illustrations in black and white of which the magazines of twenty or thirty years ago were full. Though he did not live to be old, Millais' achievement was immense; only Turner among English painters has left a greater mass of work behind him. The period of Millais' production extends over exactly half a century—from 1846 to 1896. During only two years out of the fifty was he in any degree in bondage to previous schools, or a follower of evil traditions. With the rise of the pre-raphaelite revolt in 1848, he shook off the last of these chains, and at once appeared a force and a presence. From that moment he obliged attention, even if it were the attention of abuse. And, from that moment till his death, no year has been without some important work from his hand ; usually out of all the pictures shown in any year his have attracted the most notice. Thrice we have seen galleries in London filled with his work alone: the Fine Art Gallery in 1881, the Grosvenor Gallery in 1886, and the Royal Academy two years after his death. In many other exhibitions, apart from the official shows, such as the Manchester Exhibition in 1887, those at
* Autobiography, vol. i. p. 199.
the Guildball during recent years, he has been fully repre. sented ; and certain of his works have been exhibited separately. It is probable that any amateur of pictures, reasonably diligent in his attendance at shows, must be familiar with three parts at least even of Millais’ vast production.
For all that, the reasoned criticism of Millais' work has not been great; the mere current notices of the year's exhibitions cannot be called reasoned criticism. Sir Walter Armstrong has devoted a number of the 'Art Journal' to the subject. Mr. Spielmann wrote a Catalogue Raisonné' to the Academy Exhibition of 1898, as Mr. Andrew Lang did to the Fine Art Exhibition of 1881. And now we have a work by Mr. Baldry, 'Sir John Millais, his Art and
Influence. In no one of these instances is a very judicial standpoint assumed; each of the four studies reads more like a panegyric than a criticism.* Perhaps it is too early yet to attempt a final judgement upon so vast a body of work; and time must be left to do its office of selection and oblivion. Perhaps the great popularity of the painter has blinded the eyes of his judges; and the half royal position which Millais long held, as by far the most noted among English painters, has almost compelled censure to keep itself out of sight. Millais was, likely enough, no whit more sensible to criticism than the great majority of the sensitive race of artists and poets and men of letters. But the frankness of his nature forbade his ever hiding what he felt. And he would have been other than human if he had not in his later days come to think that anything like censure in the mouth of a young man savoured of impertinence. Howbeit, there are probably added reasons for the contrast, in respect to the discussions which their pictures have evoked, between Millais and some of his contemporaries; between him and Rossetti for example. With the Frenchman, Jean François Millet, the contrast is still more marked.
In the outwardly quiet lives of artists, of students, of men of letters, that which supplies the place of adventure is the record of their early struggles and discouragements, often, to an understanding mind, a more moving history than one of physical suffering. Mr. Holman Hunt, in some delightful
* Many of the remarks in Mr. Lang's pamphlet and in Sir Walter Armstrong's study are, however, full of pertinence, more especially what the latter says of Millais' relation to the pre-raphaelites (p. 4). Later on his study degenerates into a catalogue.