R. H. (Richard Henry) Horne.

Exposition of the false medium and barriers excluding men of genius from the public online

. (page 1 of 16)
Online LibraryR. H. (Richard Henry) HorneExposition of the false medium and barriers excluding men of genius from the public → online text (page 1 of 16)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

t : : ■ .


k '

I • ' : U • ■ • '.[







^ laatriot,





'' ^ J^^/ryy/^yy^- ^'^'^^


anir • Barriers




l-^ - ■• ^<J


'* What centuries of unjust deeds are here '"'

^\orE L/a^^^

r^ OF THE ^P\





(late T. DAVISON.)




I. Exordium ......

II. Of Epic Poets and Philosophers
III. Of Authors in general
IV. Disappointed Authors
V. Of Dramatic Authors ....

^T. Of Composers^ and instrumental Per

F0R31ERS ......

VH. Of Actors and Singers
Vm. Of Novelists, asb how to write a success-
ful Novel .....
IX. Of Painters and Sculptors
X. Men of Science, and original Projectors
AND Inventors ....
XI. The ?.Iarch of Intellect








I. General View
II. Defence of the Higher Orders

III. Our own Times

IV. Anatomy of false Oracles .





V. The British Drama and Theatres . . 184

VI. The Royal Academy . . ... . 224

VII. Science, Learning, and Colleges . . 234

VIII. Of Publishers . . . . . . 24i

IX. Of Private and Public Judgment . . 252


Exhortation ..... . 306

^ Of THE ^^^


Exordium. — A common stone meets with more
ready patronage than a man of genius. It may be
said to have its social home and proper place of
refuge in some Society, expressly established for its
discovery, polishing, classification, preservation,
&c., and all its numerous claims to notice and
learned consideration, are admitted instantly ; but
Genius is " sui generis," and a homeless outcast by
general consent, during the full term of its natural
life. Driven through the inhospitable desert of
mortality, or tossed upon its bleak and stormy
seas, the man of genius finds at length a haven
in posterity ; and there, after the due course of



precedence has fulfilled its progressive order, 1l\s
claim also is gradually admitted; the tenacious world
tbeing quite sure that he is dead "as any stone."

If the complex laws which direct and govern the
intricate workings of the human mind, could but
for a given period admit of a 'practical continuity
to the feelings which are excited in most men"'s
natures upon reading accounts of the long-suffer-
ing, fortitude, and desolate death-bed of all those
whose wisdom, virtue, and extraordinary intellect
have made posterity their eternal debtors; would
not the whole mass of humanity rise up, as with
one accord, to establish a community by whose
steady arrangements such ungrateful and mon-
strous results should be at once superseded, and
the barbarous anomaly made human for ever after ?
It seems, however, we are otherwise constituted ;
since nothing beyond an admission of the wrong,
and the relief of our feelings in giving vent to
indignant expressions, has ever yet transpired ;
although the same wretched fate has always pur-
sued and attended men of genius, since the wan-
dering days of Homer.

In vain, as relates to his own advantage^ has
a man made tlie most important discoveries in
Science : on the contrary, his reward has always
been profusely paid in persecution, and the current
coin of calumny, or ridicule. "We have seen this
conduct pursued towards the greatest Astronomers;
we have seen a similar patronage bestowed upon
the chief promoters of original knowledge in
Natural History ; in Medicine ; in Chemistry ; in
^Mechanics, &c. ; and if this has been the case
with sciences that depend upon demonstrable phy-
sical facts, what wonder that it should have been
the same with Philosophy or Metaphysics ? The
more important the truth, the more opposition it
has met with, and every distress {that lay in the
woj^ld's power) has been accumulated round its
advocate in return, with a promptitude that we
very rarely see manifested in a good cause of any
kind. Error always has its armed hosts, and
in all great discoveries prevails over the few oppo-
nent voices longer than the average period, even of
an imperturbed human life. Posterity is then said

B 2

to do men justice ! What! with a forced admis-
sion and acknowledgment of the value of their
life's labour, after that life has been extinguished
amidst penury, neglect, and oppression !

" Look at the Biography of Authors ! Except
the Newgate Calendar, it is the most sickening
chapter in the history of man." And these are the
beings to whom the world is intrinsically indebted
for the highest good: not to the vain-glorious crowd
whose multitudinous names, deeds, and powers,
throng with destruction through the panoramic
generations of the past.

Poetry, Ethics, History, the Fine Arts, and
Science in every department, how highly are they
applauded and encouraged ! But the me/i, who are
their Creators, are left to shift for themselves, and die
how they may. The comprehensive motto is, ' Do
all you can for mankind : mankind have established
a rule to do nothing for you ! ' What is the creative
principle of the present march of intellect ? Is it not
solely to be attributed to men of genius and ability ?
If the above heartless conduct is continued, the
March of Intellect becomes a Universal Type

of the innate ingratitude and meanness of our
human nature !

But the present Exposition is not merely intended
as a recapitulation of the distressing lives and fates
of those, whose lofty names in Martyrdom the world
bow down to, without blushing for themselves ; it is
not only a Choephoras in its libations to their hal-
lowed tombs, but a retribution upon the oppres-
sors' heads ; both past and present ; an analysis
and elucidation of the causes of these evils ; and
a condensed appeal to the collected 9ioza of ages,
in the hope of calling a fresh and startled atten-
tion to the vast heap of gigantic facts that stag-
nate and choke up the struggling current of
long-enduring humanity.


Of Epic Poets and Philosophers. — " Know
thyself,"" said the Greek sage ; and he was worthy
of being called wise, if he had never uttered any-
thing beside that laconic volume.

" Seven cities claim the birth of Homer dead,
Tliro' which the living Homer begg'd his bread."

Dante was imprisoned, banished, and sentence
of death passed upon him if he ever returned to
his country. Had Shakspeare been an epic poet,
we should have been almost induced to believe that
his banishment had been more especiall}'^ effected
to prove the consistency of Ignorance with respect
to writers of that class. As it is, however, we have
to conclude that he was outlawed, merely to make
good the Charter by virtue of which the highest
genius is held, and as though to show that the
world's accustomed rule of conduct towards its
most extraordinary benefactors, could admit of no
exception. If Milton had depended for his bread
upon the emolument to be derived from Paradise
Lost, or any of his other poems, it is quite clear
that he would have starved. His lono^ life of
literary labour, whether in keeping a day-school, or
in the exercise of his sublime intellect, never pro-
duced for him anything beyond the ordinary means
of existence. Chaucer was obliged to fly the
country, owing to a political disturbance, and

directly he ventured to return, was thrown into
prison. Spencer'^s poverty and ruined hopes,
form a long and melancholy story.

We shall speak of ancients and moderns, indis-
criminately, because men of genius belong to all
times and countries,

Socrates, Seneca, Longinus, Boetius, &c. were all
murdered with barbarous, systematic cruelty ; their
only crimes being their wisdom and virtue. Their
fortitude measured the baseness of their execu-
tioners with a smile. These unnatural tragedies,
however well known, cannot be too often mentioned.
Would that they could be invariably written upon
the sky at noonday ! Anaxagoras was condemned to
die ; his chief offence being an attempt to promulgate
a higher conception of the Divine Mind than hea-
thenism tolerated. This was considered as impiety.
He, however, treated his sentence of death as a
puerility, saying, " it had been pronounced upon
him by Nature long ago." When asked if he would
have his remains conveyed to his own country, he
declined the favour, remarking " that it would not
shorten the distance to the other side of the fj-rave."


i^robablj this high stoicism had quite as much
effect as the eloquent pleading of Pericles ; and he
was banished instead *. Zeno, the Eleatic, appears
to have been put to the torture, and to have endured
it with unshaken resolution ; and Aristotle, after
long persecution, (his life being often in danger)
according to Suidas, took poison. Julius Canius -j-
for his superior wisdom was condemned and suf-
fered death— which he met with equal superiority.

We shall not pause to enumerate the host of
great names that rise to our memory, having men-
tioned the greatest ; yet with respect to Poets, we
cannot refrain from alluding to the persecution,
imprisonment, and sufferings of many more — nearly
all the rest, we might have said — nor to the Italian
captain of banditti who kissed the hand of Tasso
when he had fallen into his power, after being
driven into exile by the Prince.

Camoens, after passing a life of dangerous vicis-
situdes, and meeting with no reward, either for his

* Diogenes Laertius. Pint, in Nicia, 8zc.
t Seneca, De Tranquil, c. 14.


acknowledged poetical genius, or for his military
services and wounds, was supported during his
latter days by the begging of a slave who had pre-
viously saved him from shipwreck, and who con-
tinued faithful to him amidst hunger and misery.
Camoens died of penury and disease in an alms-

His epitaph conveys a severe reproach, which we
ought all of us to feel, for there is no saying how
near our own times may '' turn out" to resemble
his. " Here lies Louis de Camoens. He excelled
all the poets of his time. He lived poor and
miserable, and he died so."" A few years after-
wards, a high-sounding inscription was engraved
upon the same tomb ! This was an example of
the utter absence of conscience and shame ! There
are many similar instances. The epitaph upon the
Persian poet Ferdausi, who met the usual fate, is
more definitely pointed. " When the great Sultan
died, all his power and glory departed from him ;

* This is disputed by some biographers, who affirm that
he died in " his own miserable hovel close to the church."
See Sirangford's Life of Camoens.



and nothing remained whereby he could be recol-
lected, except this single historical fact — that he
knew not the worth of Ferdausi ! "

We were about to observe, however, that the
writers of epic poems are a class distinct from all
other authors ; although part of what follows will
equally aj3ply to great Moralists and Metaphy-
sicians. They devote themselves to a sublime
application of the result of profound feeling and
knowledge, and a severe examination of their own
power ; their fame, even as their inspiration, is
more lofty and apart from their human condition
with all its contingencies, and they do not hunger
for the vain-glory of immediate applause. They
" know themselves,"" and do not seek to be ad-
mired by the million of the day. They must be
content to wait in the tomb for the secure reward
of leaden-footed posterity.

The reflections that arise from the above view
of the heirs of immortality, must excite a melan-
choly sense of the innate grandeur of the chosen of
Humanity, in those readers whose imagination and
sensibility can sympathise with the picture in all


its vital bearings. They cannot but see that the
highest gifts of intellect, only lead to a martyrdom
from the meanest causes — stones instead of bread.
The reflection should make us scorn the setting up
of the posthumous monument, viewing it as a mere
epitome of mankind^s imbecility, and a selfish salvo
to the conscience of Ingratitude.

But setting aside this marble-hearted love — to
men capable of erecting stupendous idealisms of
moral power, we can only give a solemn warning in
the tremendous language of Shelley in his address
to Time :

Unfathomable sea ! whose waves are years ;
Ocean of Time ! whose waters of deep woe

Are brackish with the salt of human tears !

Thou shoreless flood, which in thy ebb and flow

Claspest the limits of MortaHty I

And sick of prey, yet howling on for more,
Vomitest thy wrecks on its inhospitable shore,
Treacherous in calm, and terrible in storm.
Who shall put forth on thee.
Unfathomable sea ?



Of Authors in ge:neiial. — In the fresh spring
time of our existence ; when the eagle wing of sun-
ward hope is strenuous in the glorious dawn, and
the rich and rosy dews fall heavy on the opening
flower that begems the path over which, with
swelling bosom and unbaffled energies, we bound
with feet that feel not the earth beneath them, while
the voice is uplifted in full enjoyment of Nature'^s
free and heartfelt presence — it is a good thing to be
a ploughman. But to become an Author, is to
poison the sacred draught of heaven, and to bring
down Olympus in desolate ruins over the highway
of life ! Under what stupendous dreams are all
his hopes buried for ever ! To till the whole-
some earth;, and reap the tawny harvest of the
year, is a somewhat sturdy task " in the eye of
Phoebus," and often felt to be a heavy manual toil :
but it hath no certain heart-aches for its reward ;
and is a blythe and jocund labour, compared with


his, who through the painful day, and dead en-
during night, struggles and yearns towards the goal
of Immortality. The energies of his heart, are as
the horses of the sun — his course around the vast
empyrean, is at length accomphshed — his reward, is
squalid human misery ; with giant despair striding
forwards in the clearing distance !

The labours of an Author are far more grievous
than those attending the humblest occupations of
mankind. The manufacturer, who sits at his Ixion-
like task, from twelve to sixteen hours a day, never
began with the hopes of an Author ; never had such
prospects as his imagination has often shown him
was his forthcoming reward. But fresh moun-
tains rise at every eminence he has surmounted ; he
finds that his capability, both natural and hard-
earned, is a thing apart from ' the nick of time,'
which gives success ; and beset with hydra-headed
difficulties and opponents (besides being made the
bye-word of all his acquaintance) the object ever
seen, never reached, he thus grows grey and infirm.
Such is his life ; he dies in penury and wretched-
ness ; and it is well if his wife and children do not


have the horror of seeing his corpse seized by his
matter-of-fact, lawful, respectable creditors, ' who
have been too patient with him all along, or they
would not have been placed in such a disagreeable
situation ! '

The above is a bitter literal picture; and the
trampled feelings and profound thoughts that may
be said to constitute the foreground, are only com-
pensated in the abstract, by the glorious edifice
dimly seen in the hazy distance, with the possible
apotheosis of its human architect. Humanity drops
tears of blood over the obscure and lonely grave,
where intellectual Passion lies cold and consumed
away ; while slow in the ascendant majesty of time,
the mighty Promethean shadow begins its resurrec-
tion towards sublime futurity !

An Author devotes the incessant efforts of his
whole life, and amidst every worldly difficulty; either
of which, commonly induces bodily sickness and
premature infirmity ; in order to produce works of
which the world reaps the benefit. The world's
reply in return for this, is concise and conclusive —
* Starve — rot — and we will feast upon your Re-
mains ! '


To be banished or imprisoned, is among the
h'ghter part of the hardships to which genius has
ever been subject. Demosthenes, Cicero, Ovid,
&c. were banished. The former was eventually
driven to poison himself. How painful are the letters
of Cicero to his family ! There is a passage in
one of them, where he says, " I wish for nothing
but to see you, and to expire in your arms, since
both gods and men are equally insensible, and
overlook all our services ; the former disregarding
the purity of our reverence and adoration, the
latter forgetting all that I have done for my
country and fellow-citizens." — " I know not what
condition you may be in ; whether you have any
means left, or are stript of everything * ! " He
was finally condemned to death, and slaughtered
while endeavouring to eifect his escape. The
above writers, however, more particularly Ovid,
betrayed great weakness of character under their
sufferings, and we would far rather allude to the
towering conduct of Dante ; who, when proposi-

* Letter to his wife Terentia, to Tullia and Cicero, his


tions were made for his return, with every worldly
advantage, provided he would compromise his
principles, disdainfully refused, sternly concluding
his answer, with the hope that " in the mean time
he should not want for bread."

" Plautus, the comic poet, lived by turning a
mill-wheel. Xelander sold, for a little broth, his
Commentary upon Dion Cassius. Aldus Manu-
tius was so poor that he was rendered insolvent,
merely by the small sum he borrowed to enable
him to transport his library from Venice to Rome.
Sigismund Galenius, John Bodinus, Lelio Giraldo,
Ludovico Castelvetro, Archbishop Usher, and a
multitude of other learned men, died in poverty.
And how melancholy is it to see Cardinal Benti-
voglio, the ornament of Italy and the belles lettres,
and the benefactor of the poor, after so many
important services rendered to the public by his
embassies and his writings, languishing in poverty
in his old age, selling his palace to pay his
debts, and dying without leaving wherewithal to
bury him * ! "

* Vigneul Marvilliana. Constab. Miscel., vol. x.


We have presumed to honour our pages by
placing this nobleman's head in the frontispiece.

Voltaire was imprisoned in the Eastile, where
he wrote the greater part of the Henriade. Being-
rich by his own private property, something more
efficient than neglect or ridicule was requisite for
his many persecutions. Although Corneille met
with considerable reward for his writings, he died
in distress. Rousseau fared much worse ; and
Vaugelas, the elegant scholar, left his corpse to
be dissected, for the benefit of his creditors ! In
Spain, there has been abundance of cruel instances.
It is true we cannot include Garcilaso, or Ancillia
— both noblemen ; nor Lopez de Vega — a man of
rank; nor Calderon — why not? — he possessed
some fine church Hvings. All the principal historians
&c., were Jesuits ; and most of them ' padres mais-
tres.*' In modern times, the patronage of the
' literates ' is chiefly confined to the ecclesiastics.
As to Germany, we shall content ourselves with
quoting Weisser's epigram. On the suppression of
Mendicity. Literally rendered thus :



How cruel it is of thee, Germany,

To forbid begging among thy people :

Thus thou surely takest away from thy best heads,

The last means of obtaining food * !

Yet, although there are but too many instances
in France during its earlier period of literature,
they may almost be suffered to pass as melancholy
exceptions, when compared with the undeviating
rule that has been observed in England ! Oh,
favoured island of intellectual glory, to whom have
you chiefly owed your superiority over other
nations ? — and how has your gratitude been mani-
fested ? What has been the life and death of your
greatest men ?

Stowe, the learned antiquary and chronicler,
after passing a life of extraordinary labour amidst
worldly privations, when in his eightieth year,
petitioned James the First for a licence to collect
alms. He received a grant, giving him permis-
sion to do so during one twelvemonth ! The
unfortunate old man gained so trifling a sum, that
he obtained an extension of the period to a second

* Wie grausam ist's von dir Germanien, &c.


twelvemonth ! In the first grant, the King may
be taxed with cruel meanness, or brute insensibi-
lity ; but the second, looks like *' malice prepense ! "
De Lolme's fine work on the English Constitution
found no encouragement, either from booksellers,
or, when it was eventually printed, from the public.
Its author was frequently imprisoned for debt.
The same neglect attended Djayton's Polyolbion.
Raleigh's History of the World was written during
his many years of confinement. Bunyan wrote his
Pilgrim's Progress in a similar situation. De Foe
was imprisoned in Newgate for some political
treatise. Rushworth, after receiving the thanks
of the King, on his restoration, died of a broken
heart in the King's Bench, " having neglected his
own affairs for his Historical Collections."

" Evil is the condition," says Ockley, the orien-
talist, while imprisoned for debt, " of that historian
who undertakes to write the lives of others before
he knows how to live himself ! " Ockley bore his
hard lot, however, with noble philosophy. He died
in debt, and left his family in great distress. Yet
this was the man whose fine enthusiasm was such,

that, speaking of the Persian language, he exclaims,
" How often have I endeavoured to perfect myself
in that language, but my malignant and envious
stars still frustrated my attempts ; but they shall
sooner alter their courses than extinguish my reso-
lution of quenching that thirst, which the little I
have had of it hath already excited ! " A senti-
ment that must have made the soul of Zoroaster
yearn to rise from the womb of ages to assist him.

A detailed account of nearly all the above bene-
factors of our ungrateful England will be found in
Mr. Disraeli's '* Calamities of Authors *."" Two
entire volumes are filled with these histories of
undeserved wretchedness, and all of modern times,
and in our own country ! He might have filled
more than double that number, with the same
limitations of time and place; nor would the in-
stances and information be very difficult to obtain ;
but how many volumes would it occupy if we could
give an account, however brief, of all those whose
sufferings have never come to light ?

* A fresh edition of this work is greatly wanted, as it has
become scarce, and difficult to be puichased.


We extract this harrowing letter from the same
work. It is enough to appal any young poet who
has not quite lost his reason in his rhymes. It was
written by a young gentleman named Pattison.


'*If you were ever touched with a sense

of humanity, consider my condition ; what I am,

my proposals will inform you ; what I have heeii,

Sydney College in Cambridge can witness ; but

what I slicdl be some few hours hence, I tremble

to think — spare my blushes — I have not enjoyed

the common necessaries of life for these two days,

and can hardly hold to subscribe myself,

" Yours, Sec.*'"

Not enjoyed the common necessaries of life !

The following extracts are taken at random
from the Index ; the whole of which ought to
be engraved on a brazen obelisk, and set up in
Westminster Abbey, by way of antithesis to the
monuments !

* D'lsraeli. The Despair of Young Poe^s.

*' Collins^ publishes Iiis Odes without success,
and afterwards indignantly burns the edition. —
Cowley^ his remarkable lamentation for having
written poetry. — Dri/den, in his old age, com-
plains of dying of over-study ; regrets he was
born among Englishmen. — Grainger's complaint
of not receiving half the pay of a scavenger! —
Hume, his literary life how mortified with disap-
pointments; wished to change his name, and his
country. — Logan, the history of his literary disap-
pointments ; dies broken-hearted. — Milton, more
esteemed''*' (in the first instance) " by foreigners
than at home. — P?'ior, felicitated himself that his
natural inclination for poetry had been checked. —
Sale, the learned, often wanted a meal while
translating the Koran. — Seiden, compelled to re-
cant his opinions, and not suffered to reply to his
calumniators. — Smollet, confesses the incredible

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Online LibraryR. H. (Richard Henry) HorneExposition of the false medium and barriers excluding men of genius from the public → online text (page 1 of 16)