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made in 1799 and reached its twenty-sixth edition in 1800. Mean-
while there were also other fairly popular translations. Perhaps
Kotzebue's next most popular play was Menschenhass ufid Rene,
which, as the Stranger, remained for many years a favorite ; the part
of Mrs. Haller was one of Mrs. Siddons's most famous impersonations.
All these dramas indulged in much weak sentimentality, condemned,
at least implicitly, conventional morals, and represented passion as its
own justification. For the various translations of Kotzebue's works
see the British Museum Catalogue. Probably these were the plays
that Jeffrey had chiefly in mind, though he may even here be glancing
at vSchiller's Die Rduber, which he mentions a moment later.
The earliest English account of Die Rduber (1781) was that given
by Henry Mackenzie in a lecture before the Royal Society of Edin-
burgh in 178S. The first translation of Die Rduber was made by
A. F. Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee, in 1792 ; 4th edition, 1800. Two

192 NOTES.

other translations appeared in 1799, and still a third in 1800. See
the British Museum Catalogue.

33 31. The heroics only of the hulks. Within a year the first
two cantos of Childe Harold were published, and within five
years the heroics of the hulks had become the favorite cant of all

37. Second edition. The first edition of the Lady of the Lake
was published in May, 1810, and consisted of 2,050 copies; four
more editions, comprising 18,250 copies, followed in the same year.
Lockhart's Life of Scott, ist ed. II, 290.

37 3. The race of popularity. The tone of faint praise in this
article may have been in part prompted by Jeffrey's knowledge of
the leading part Scott had taken in the establishment of the Tory
Quarterly Review (Feb., 1809). At the same time, it should be
remembered that Jeffrey's article on Marmion (1808) was fully as
severe. " We must remind our readers," he says, in that article, " that
we never entertained much partiality for this sort of composition,
and ventured on a former occasion to express our regret that an
author endowed with such talents should consume them in imitations
of obsolete extravagance, and in the representation of manners and
sentiments in which none of his readers can be supposed to take
much interest, except the few who can judge of their exactness.
To write a modern romance of chivalry seems to be much such a
phantasy as to build a modern abbey or an English pagoda." A
day or two after the appearance of the Marfniofi article Jeffrey dined
at Scott's house. He was treated by his host with precisely the old-
time frankness and friendship. But as he was bowing himself out
Mrs. Scott took her woman's revenge by saying in her broken
English, "Well, good night, Mr. Jeffrey — dey tell me you have
abused Scott in de Review, and I hope Mr. Constable has paid you
very well for writing it." Lockhart's Scott, ist ed., II, 149. The
little sneer is interesting historically as illustrating the feeling prev-
alent for many years that paid reviewing was a disgraceful trade,
and that the reviewer was a bookseller's hack. It was his fear of
this prejudice that had made Jeffrey hesitate about becoming editor
of the Review ; soon after accepting the editorship he writes tartly
to Horner, "Do not fancy that I am to take your orders as if I
were a shopman of Constable's." In point of fact, it was owing to
the business policy of the Edinburgh Review, and to the high
character of the contributors it secured, that this prejudice against
writing review-articles for pay was finally broken down.

NOTES. 193

Ostensibly the publication of the Marmion essay made no differ-
ence in the personal relations between Jeffrey and Scott. Never-
theless, after this date Scott sent no more articles to the Edinburgh ;
and in about six months he was in active correspondence with
Canning and Gifford about the establishment of a new Tory Review.
The first number of the Quarterly Review was dated February, 1809.

44 8. Song by a person of qicality.

" I said to my heart between sleeping and waking,
Thou wild thing, that always art leaping or aching,
What black, brown, or fair, in what clime, in what nation,
By turns has not taught thee a pit-a-pat-ation ?

Thus accused, the wild thing gave this sober reply :
See the heart without motion, though Celia pass by !
Not the beauty she has, or tlie wit that she borrows.
Gives the eye any joys, or the heart any sorrows.

When our Sappho appears, she whose wit 's so refined,
I am forced to applaud with the rest of mankind ;
Whatever she says, is with spirit and fire ;
Ev'ry word I attend ; but I only admire.

Prudentia as vainly would put in her claim,
Ever gazing on heaven, though man is her aim :
'T is love, not devotion, that turns up her eyes ;
Those stars of this world are too good for the skies.

But Cloe, so lively, so easy, so fair.
Her wit so genteel, without art, without care ;
When she comes in my way, the motion, the pain,
The leapings, the achings, return all again.

O wonderful creature ! a woman of reason !
Never grave out of pride, never gay out of season !
When so easy to guess who this angel should be.
Would one think Mrs. Howard ne'er dreamt it was she .'' "

— Swift's Works, Scott's 2d ed., XIII, 331.

By the " person of quality " is said to have been meant the Earl
of Peterborough.

44 31. Those who first sought to excite it. It is in such passages
as this that Jeffrey's imperfect grasp of the historical method is most
apparent. Of course, he utterly fails to realize here the conditions
under which the earliest poetry was produced. He conceives of the
first makers of verse as men of the world, polished and educated
and reflective, consciously choosing their subjects and their methods
with a view to producing the best possible effects. For a suggestive

194 NOTES.

account of the conditions under which the earliest poetry of a race
or tribe is produced, see Wilhelm Scherer's Poetik, pp. 73-117.
Cf. the Introduction to Professor Gummere's selection of English
and Scottish Ballads ( Athen^um Press Series), pp. xxxv ff.

45 16. Some of them . . . set themselves. The chances seem to
be that in this rather superficial contrast between modern and ancient
poetry, Jeffrey had three or four very recent poets in mind as repre-
senting his classes of "after-poets." By those who "set themselves
to observe and delineate both characters and external objects with
greater minuteness and fidelity " he probably meant Cowper and
Crabbe ; by those who " analyze more carefully the mingling passions
of the heart, etc.," he probably meant Campbell ; and the poets of
the third sort, who distort nature or dissect it, were doubtless the
Lake poets. " Fantastical " is his favorite sneer for Wordsworth.
Cf. the essay on Mrs. Hemajis, where he speaks of " the fantastical
emphasis of Wordsworth," and the essay on Crabbers Poems, p. 57,
where he asserts that Wordsworth and his associates are trying to
bring back " the fantastical oddity and puling childishness of
Withers, Quarles, or Marvel."

46 7. Modern scnlptiwe. The superficiality of Jeffrey's art criti-
cism is most glaring when we contrast such passages as this with
the best work of German or French critics or with later English
criticism. Jeffrey's characterization of ancient and of modern poetry
should be compared with Hegel's treatment of the same subject in
the Introduction to his Philosophy of Fi^te Art (Bosanquet's trans-
lation) ; and the apologetic suggestion of a likeness between modern
poetry and modern sculpture should be contrasted with Hegel's
analysis of the two arts and of their relative fitness to give imaginative
expression to modern life. Jeffrey seems never to have attempted
any thorough comparative study of the fine arts with a view to
determining their relative limitations and scope.

52 3. The sudden light and colour of some moral affection. Doubt-
less Scott's descriptions are, as Jeffrey says, atmospheric and
suggestive of moods. But the suggestion usually depends on the
time of day, or the season, or historical associations, or the incidents
of the actual story. A morning landscape breathes hope and
cheerful confidence ; an autumn landscape is wan and dispiriting ;
a famous battle-field kindles a glow of patriotism. These moods
are very simple and the associations very obvious. As for any
more complex moods or subtler associations, we must look else-
where for them than in Scott.

NOTES. 195

53 5. We rejoice in his resurrection. The same reasons that led
Jeffrey to republish so many of his essays on Crabbe seem to justify
rather generous selections from those essays. The reasons are given
in Jeffrey's note, p. 53. Crabbe's unpopularity has been more than
made up to him by the devotion of his chosen admirers. " Women
and young people never will like him, I think ; but I believe every
thinking man will like him more as he grows older." Letters and
Literary Retnains of Edward EitzGeraid, ed. Wright, I, p. 398.
This was the verdict of one of Crabbe's most patient and insinuating
advocates, Edward FitzGerald, the translator of Omar Khayyam.
Jeffrey's admiration for Crabbe was probably somewhat stimulated
by detestation of what seemed to him unendurable affectation in
Wordsworth's treatment of every-day life and by the desire to make
Wordsworth's mysticism more grotesque by contrasting it sharply
with Crabbe's common sense.

54 1. Upwards of twenty years. Cf. the Preface to the third
edition of Crabbe's /'c^wj, London, 1808 : "About twenty-five years
since was published a Poem called The Library ; which, in no long
time, was followed by two others, The Village and The Newspaper.
These with a few alterations and additions are here reprinted; and
are accompanied by a Poem of greater length, and several shorter
attempts, now, for the first time, before the public." The " Poem
of greater length " was The Parish Register.

57 28. Whimsical and nnheard-of beings. Cf. Coleridge, Bio-
graphia Literaria, chap. 14: "The thought suggested itself . . .
that a series of poems might be composed of two sorts. In the
one, the incidents and agents were to be, in part at least, super-
natural ; and the excellence aimed at was to consist in the interesting
of the affections by the dramatic truth of such emotions, as would
naturally accompany such situations, supposing them real. . . . For
the second class, subjects were to be chosen from ordinary life ; the
characters and incidents were to be such as will be found in every
village and its vicinity where there is a meditative and feeling mind
to seek after them, or to notice them when they present themselves."
Jeffrey's words in the text are almost a parody, unconscious, of
course, on this passage. Jeffrey's " unheard-of beings " and " in-
credible situations " are Coleridge's " incidents and agents ... in
part at least supernatural": and Jeffrey's "strained and exaggerated
moralization " is what Coleridge and Wordsworth regard as the
natural commentary of " a meditative and feeling mind " on " subjects
. . . chosen from ordinary life." Coleridge's Ancient Mariner seemed

196 NOTES.

to Jeffrey an " unheard-of being," and Wordsworth's Resolution and
l7idependence, with its interpretation of the leech-gatherer's life,
seemed full of " strained and exaggerated moralization."

58 11. Their own capricious feelings. It is to the subjectivity of
Wordsworth's poetry that Jeffrey takes exception. Wordsworth,
he insists, gives us never the actual fact but always his somewhat
grotesque reaction on the fact. He puts before us, not the actual
leech-gatherer of real life, but a fantastical creature into which the
leech-gatherer is transformed when seen through the poet's mists
of emotion.

60 13. A lover trots aivay. This is, of course, an utterly unfair
account of the famous little poem, " Strange fits of passion
have I known." The poem illustrates the way in which an over-
mastering mood colors all nature with its own hue and wrests all
natural sights and sounds into symbols. The moon setting over
his mistress's cottage seems to the lover in the poem to portend
disaster. A similar interpretation of nature in. terms of an over-
mastering mood may be found in Tennyson's Maud, xiv, 4 : " I
heard no sound where I stood."

61 6. An old nurse, . . . or a nionk, or parish clerk is always at
hand. These are the conventional spokesmen for tales of misery.
Jeffrey pleads for conventions and condemns Wordsworth's realism.
He regards poetry as something artificial, to be consciously wrought
out in harmony with laws and precedents and conventions. Jeffrey
never wholly escaped from this shallow view of the poet's art. Cf.
Wordsworth's Preface to the Lyrical Ballads, where he takes to
task the " men who talk of Poetry as of a matter of amusement and
idle pleasure ; who will converse with us as gravely about a taste for
Poetry, as they express it, as if it were a thing as indifferent as a
taste for rope-dancing, or Frontiniac or Sherry." Wordsworth's
Poems, Macmillan, 1890, p. 855.

68 15. Little fragments of sympathy. Cf. Jeffrey's essay on
the Nature and Principles of Taste, pp. i 51-2.

88. John Keats. This article was published in August, 1820.
The notorious attacks on Keats had appeared about two years
earlier in Black%vood''s Magazine and in the Quarterly Review. That
in Blackwood^ s is supposed to have been by Lockhart ; at any rate
the article made use of information about Keats's early life that
Bailey, an intimate friend of Keats, had supplied in confidence to
Lockhart in the hope of securing for Keats fair treatment in Black-
wood'' s. The article in the Quarterly has been usually attributed to

NOTES. 197

the editor, William Gifford. The Blachwood article is much the
more savage and abusive, but the Quarterly article has been longer
and more widely remembered because of Shelley's allusions to it in
Adonais, and because of Byron's well-known epigram :

" Who kill'd John Keats ?
' I,' says the Quarterly,
So savage and Tartarly,
' 'T was one of my feats.' "

The story that Keats's suffering under these attacks sent him into
a decline is no longer credited. See Colvin's Life 0/ Keats, chap. 6,
and cf. the very careful review of all the evidence in the case in
Rossetti's Life 0/ Keats, chap. 5. Mr. Rossetti thinks that Jeffrey's
article in the Edinburgh had an important influence in righting
Keats with the public.

88 4. That imitatioti of our old writers. Cf. 1-19.

88 19. The Jlozuers of poetry. Cf. note, 96-8, and Introduction,
p. xxii. Keats's poetry lends itself more readily than the poetry of
Wordsworth, Shelley, or Byron to interpretation as merely decorative
work. It is in this way that Jeffrey conceives of it, and hence he can
reconcile himself to its richness and gorgeousness and patronize it
with a safe conscience. He finds it no more revolutionary than the
poetry of Campbell or Moore. In point of fact, Keats's Roman-
ticism was a vital principle, as has been shown by his influence in
developing modern aestheticism.

89 17. l77iagination . . . subordinate to reason. Cf. Brandl's
account of the process of poetic composition : '* A deeply felt
situation is the starting point. Kindred representations join, often
by means of external associations, and add new features, and thus
the image grows. The combining power consists in an excitation of
feeling, supported by a richly endowed memory. The understanding
has only to watch that no inconsistency creeps in. To which side of
these two qualities the balance shall incline depends chiefly on the
taste of the day. In the pseudo-classical era feeling was too much
controlled by reflection. The original mental picture did not
spontaneously grow, but had to be helped on by conscious,
capricious aids, according to mechanical rules; so that the work,
despite the careful arrangement of the parts, gives rather the
impression of an artificial than of an organic product. The writers
themselves felt this, and selected by preference subjects addressed
to the understanding — such as moral poems and satires. The
Romantic school, on the other hand, failed from not being critical

198 NOTES.

enough," Brandl's Life of Coleridge (Lady Eastlake's translation),
chap. 4. Cf. Dilthey's Das Schaffen des Dichtei's, in Philosophische
Aufsdtze, Editard Zeller . . . gewidmet^ I>eipzig, 1887.

90 15. A}iy one zvho would . . . represent the whole poem as
despicable. Of course, it is to the author of the Quarterly article on
Keats that Jeffrey is here paying his compliments.

90 29. The true genius of English poetry. Cf. the passage on
Pope, p. 10, and that on Shakspere, p. 15. These passages mark
unmistakably Jeffrey's advance beyond the point of view of the
pseudo-classicists. Poetry must be something more than rhymed
rhetoric ; it must be the work of the imagination. So far Jeffrey
was willing to go with the Romanticists in their criticisms on the
pseudo-classicists. He also admitted that poetry might well enough
take us into a land of enchantment, as it often does in the works of
the Elizabethans. But when a poet tried to find this land of
enchantment in the very midst of every-day life by looking on
common things merely as symbols of an infinitely beautiful spiritual
world, Jeffrey at once refused to follow; his common sense rebelled;
he was too much of a man of the world to tolerate transcendentalism.

91 27. Those mysterious relations, etc. Cf. Selections; pp. 150
and 152.

94. Childe Harold^s Pilgrimage. The first and second cantos
had been published in 18 12.

95 15. The Lake poets. Jeffrey has an inkling here of an
important truth that he never thoroughly grasped. Byron's madly
egoistic revolt and Wordsworth's high spiritual conservatism were
alike attempts to give life greater richness of coloring and wealth of
emotion than it had had in the eighteenth century. The full
significance of this similarity of aim Jeffrey never realized; but he
noted the greater imaginativeness of style, intensity of temper, and
fervor of utterance that are characteristic of both poets and that
distinguish their portrayal of life from that of the pseudo-classicists.

96 8. Lofty flights. This is another of those tricks of speech
that betray Jeffrey's theory of poetry. Certain subjects, he implies,
furnis'n the poet with more or less favorable "occasions" for making
verse; and on these "occasions" the poet "takes his flights." If
he has "good taste," these occasions will never be "mean," particu-
larly in case his " flight " is to be " lofty." Poetry is, in other words,
merely the pretty pastime of clever men. Cf. 100-27 and 103-4.

99 33. A fnoral teacher. This essay is a good illustration of
Jeffrey's criticism of literature from the ethical point of view.

NOTES. 199

Jeffrey boasted of having first made this kind of criticism current in
England. Cf. the Introduction, p. xxv, and note p. 155-lG. The
ethical critic of to-day pushes his analysis far beyond the point where
Jeffrey stopped. Compare with this essay of Jeffrey's Mr. John
Morley's essay on Byron in his Critical Miscellanies, vol. I. Jeffrey
is content with an analysis of Byron's typical hero and a warning
against the type. Mr. Morley shows why the type originated, and
why it was so popular. Jeffrey regards Byron's ethics as merely the
expression of the poet's own self-will ; Mr. Morley points out the
connection between Byron's ethics and the social conditions in
the midst of which the poet wrote, and brings the spirit of Byron's
work into intelligible relation with the spirit of the times.

100 27. Necessary agents. This passage is a perfect illustration
of the view of poetry, described in note 96-8. A poet " deals in
heroes," he has certain " extraordinary adventures to detail," and he
must " bring about the catastrophe of his story " properly. In other
words, a poet merely invents more or less mechanically an ingenious
fable for the delectation of his readers, and clothes this story in
richly imaginative language.

101 17. We had the good fortune. Jeffrey discreetly omits all
mention of the first encounter between the Edinburgh Review and
Lord Byron. Brougham's contemptuous article on Byron's Hours of
Idleness had appeared in the Edinburgh in 1808, and had provoked
from Byron in 1809 the fiercest and most effective satire in English
since Churchill, English Bards and Scotch Reviezvers. '' As to the
Edinburgh Reviewers " Byron says in his Preface to the second
edition (Oct. 1809), "it would indeed require a Hercules to crush
the Hydra; but if the author succeeds in merely ' bruising one of
the heads of the serpent,' though his own hand should suffer in the
encounter, he will be amply satisfied." It should be noted, how-
ever, that Jeffrey himself did not fare badly in the Satire : he is
termed, and justly termed, "self-constituted judge of poesy," is
charged with a reckless eagerness for clever articles, true or false,
and, as arch-critic of his time, has to suffer indirectly when Byron
sneers at the typical reviewer. Otherwise, he comes off with little
damage. Byron's account of the qualities of the successful reviewer
should be noted :

" A man must serve his term to every trade
Save censure — critics all are ready made.
Take hackneyed jokes from Miller, got by rote,
With just enough of learning to misquote ;

2 00 NOTES.

A mind well skill'd to find or forge a fault ;
A turn for punning, call it Attic salt ;
To Jeffrey go, be silent and discreet
His pay is just ten sterling pounds per sheet :
Fear not to lie, 'twill seem a sharper hit ;
Shrink not from blasphemy, 'twill pass for wit ;
Care not for feeling — pass your proper jest.
And stand a critic, hated, yet caress'd."

101 26. Official observer. Jeffrey's various descriptions of his
duties as critic are worth careful comparison. Here he speaks of
himself as merely an official observer, bound to watch lest the public
overlook some good thing. In the essay on Scott's Lady of the
Lake, p. y]y he pretends " to be privileged, in ordinary cases, to
foretell the ultimate reception of all claims on public admiration."
In his essay on Scott's novels in 1817, he professes to believe it
impossible ' to affect by any observations of his, the judgment which
had been passed upon ' those works of fiction. Similarly, in the
present instance he deems it hardly worth while to comment on
Byron's poems, inasmuch as the world has already pronounced so
decisively in their favor. From all these passages it is plain that
Jeffrey regarded himself as having authority chiefly as the represent-
ative of the best taste of the most cultivated people ; he was the
spokesman of the intelligent public. Whenever, then, he felt this
intelligent public behind him he played the austere and pitiless judge
to perfection. It was in this high mood that he dealt with Words-
worth; " This will never do," he declares of the Excursion; later,
he laments Wordsworth's disregard of " all the admonitions he has
received " ; and he finally refuses to " rescind the severe sentence "
he has passed on Wordsworth's work. In these attacks Jeffrey
feels that he has *' the world " behind him, and it is as the highest
exponent of the most cultivated taste that he claims authority. In
this spirit he later takes Goethe to task. His confidence in his
public leads him to substitute abuse for argument. He accuses
Goethe of "affectation," "vulgarity," "childishness," "mere folly,"
"sheer nonsense," etc., etc. These terms are merely violent ways
of expressing dislike ; they have no scientific value ; they are not
open to discussion. In such essays, Jeffrey is the dogmatic critic,
pure and simple ; he dogmatizes boldly because he is sure of his
public ; he dogmatizes picturesquely because he has humor, infinite
readiness in illustration, and a sparkling style ; and he dogmatizes
serviceably because of his acuteness, his tact, and his close sympathy


with the public he serves. It was a great relief and a great advan-
tage to the public c?f Jeffrey's day to know just how they felt about
the books that they read ; and it was part of Jeffrey's fnission to
tell them this picturesquely and amusingly.

103 4. Great force of writing. In such passages as this Jeffrey
fails to appreciate the organic relation between literature and life.
He regards Byron as catching the popular taste by clever devices of
style ; he does not see that Byron was the product of his time and
that he received so eager a welcomg because he was giving utterance
to ideas and feelings that had long been fermenting in the minds and
hearts of many people. If Jeffrey had thoroughly grasped this

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Online LibraryFrancis Jeffrey JeffreySelections from the essays of Francis Jeffrey → online text (page 18 of 21)