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matter, July 3, 1917, at the post office at New York, N. Y. under th March 3, 1879
Single Copy, 50 Cents
e act of
and an interchange of compli- have long inflicted a pitiful ments between Ireland and injustice, for instance, upon Germany, her friend. Among the Victorian age. We have the latest of the documents seen it as a stout old gentleis a message from the German- man in a frock-coat, with a Irish Society sent to the Kaiser heavy “ Albert” chain and just before the offensive in side-whiskers, a Philistine conMarch 1918. “They expressed temptuous of amenity and the the hope," did the German- arts, seeking always a full Irish, “that the mighty Ger- breeches' pocket, and conman sword, having completed vinced that the tenets of Manthe liberation of the oppressed chester, to buy in the cheapest nations in the East, will now market and to sell in the in the West cleave asunder dearest, only would fill it. the chains which England has When this bugbear of our fancy forged round Ireland. For the was not ostentatiously engaged Freedom of the Seas will only in what he called " public worbe guaranteed when a free ship,” he was sanding the sugar Ireland steps forth the Watcher and watering the milk. If we of the Atlantic.” The Watcher cannot justify the false porof the Atlantic ! A fine part, trait, we can at least explain indeed, for Ireland to play! it. The Victorian age was Truly, in these words the Irish dominated in part by the comrebels explain why Ireland can mercial spirit of Manchester. never in any circumstances It loved the three P's-pence, be independent. In the At- profit, and plenty--more arlantic Great Britain cannot be dently than was good for it. safe unless she does her own Because the middle class had a watching, and the documents, well-organised majority at the published almost too late by polls, it believed with a touching the Government, not only re- simplicity, as Labour believes veal the traitorous conspiracy to-day for the same reason, hatched between Ireland and that it engrossed the wisdom Berlin, but also utters a word of the ages. A vast deal of of genuine warning, to which nonsense was talked about Great Britain will not turn a "freedom" and other heresies. deaf ear.
There was a commonness of
sentiment in many of the politiIt is our inevitable habit, as cal demagogues, which seems we look back upon the cen no better than the ignorant turies, to anthropomorphise Radicalism of to-day. But them, to see them in the vesture when we think of the literature and bearing of a man. Nor is of the Victorian age, we must it surprising that we should correct the portrait which has dress up the ages that are been too hastily drawn. We nearest to us in clothes that must cut off the side-whiskers do not belong to them. We from our bogey and take away his “ Albert ” chain. Why we about art, but hardly knew underrated the performances when he was an artist and when of the age nearest to our own he was not, leaving us to state would be inexplicable if we did that matter as best we may.” not remember the contempt But Tennyson, the author of bred by familiarity; and true“ (Enone” and “Ulysses," of it is that, as we recede from it, “ Tiresias” and “Lucretius," we are already taking a juster, of “Maud” and “The Lotushigher view of its admirable art. Eaters,” has long since taken
In the name of justice, then, his place among the great poets we commend to our readers of England, and need shrink Professor Oliver Elton's 'Sur- from no companionship of the vey of English Literature, 1830. past. 1880' (London: Arnold). A We cannot contemplate the mere glance at the index of Victorians without being astonthis work will show how rich ished at their courage. They in enterprise and accomplish- were not afraid of grandiose ment was the despised era. designs and big books. They The index not only contains loved a vast canvas and a large many names—it contains great brush. They were not content names; and it persuades us to carve cherry-stones or to to believe that the Victorian make baubles. They had a age was fit to be set side by great deal to say, and they side with the other ages named said it scmetimes in too loud after famous queens, the ages a voice. Such was their virtue, of Elizabeth and Anne. Like to which their vice was nearly its predecessors, the Victorian akin. Their vice was the vice age is dominated by one or of rhetoric. They fell to the two masters, who were flattered temptation of many words. (and injured) by patient imita- They wrote too often as the tors, and who thus paid the tub-thumper speaks, without inevitable penalty of grandeur. much self-criticism, and with At the head of the Victorian a too fervent desire to be heard age there stand Tennyson in immediately and at all costs. verse, Dickens in prose. Dickens Carlyle and Ruskin, for inis supreme above them all, and stance, used an intolerable numwhen we remember the achieve- ber of words to say very little. ment of Tennyson, it is difficult Their periods are far more to accept Professor Elton's massive than their sense, and statement that the great de- their opulent diction produced ficiency of the Victorian age the wholesome reaction to a was “the lack of any poet of more modest style, of which the highest order.” Tennyson we have all been witnesses. in his time was without rival. Allied to this vice of rhetoric Browning was a poet by acci- is the other vice of didacticism. dent, who, as Professor Elton The Victorians were always wisely says, “ talked endlessly preaching in verse or in prose. They had a natural love of the when he invented harmonies pulpit, and they showed a of prose new to our English steady determination to bring speech? There is not one of round their readers to their his books which is not packed own way of thinking. The with living persons, speaking historians one and all wrote each of them in the authentic to a thesis. Huxley and Tyn- language of his or of her own. dall would have been divines Of all the writers who have had they not strayed into been born in England, he most science. The great Matthew nearly resembles Shakespeare Arnold himself was “ deliver- in his universality and his ing addresses ” of improvement good humour. The resources even when theology was not of our tongue cannot be carhis topic. The novelists one ried further than they are and all were noisily grinding carried, for instance, in ‘Great their axes in the very act to Expectations, from whose amuse their readers. And yet opening chapters the whole art let us not be too sure that the of fiction might be reinvented, habit of the pulpit was exclu- were all lost but that. sively the vice of the Victorian All those doubters, thereage. It would not be difficult fore, who pretend to see in the to show that it has been the Victorian age little else than vice of the English throughout a hypocritical and interested the ages. When Lamb retorted Philistinism, we advise to read upon Coleridge, who asked him Professor Elton's volumes. On if he would like to hear him many a page they will find preach, that he had never opinions which they would heard him do anything else, like to controvert. They will he made a joke of general appli- find also a highly laudable cation. We can look into the faculty of appreciation, strained past and find a hundred artists rather too far (we think) for who were preachers in their Carlyle and Ruskin and some hours, and perhaps it were fair others. But the mere unfoldto say that the Victorian did ing of the panorama is enough but intensify a national habit. for conviction. Truly the age
But if they were preachers, which produced these masters they weremany of them, of verse and prose need not artists also. The age which fear the competition of the past, called Dickens its master need and may even make a light not fear any reproach. Dick- burden of the dissidence of ens preached incessantly to be dissent and the hot gospel of sure; but what does it matter, free trade, which it is doomed when he created a world of to carry upon its back through wit and humour all his own, all time.
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