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Providence. The extent of these objects, even before the discoveries of the telescope, were such as to give rise to the apprehension, that their multiplicity caused inuch .confusion in the distribution of the superintendance which was essential to thein. But when it was found that worlds upon worlds still subsisted in the celestial regions, when the microscope showed that around us every where the phenomena of life were abounding in myriads of objects deemed hitherto mere dross of the earth, when all this mighty division of new systems of life was laid open, under circumstances which showed that they were sustained with the minutest care, then the contemplative mind, confounded by such overwhelming proof of the power of the Creator, surrendered itself unhesitatingly to the conviction, that the origin of all these wonders could not be comprehended.
Again, what can more clearly show the intentions of the author of nature, in adapting the material world to man's organization, than this, that he sets a bounty, as it were, on man's researches into his mysteries, and gives him the opportunity of improving his own condition indefinitely, by opening to his industry and his curiosity some of the most valuable of his resources. And if we look to the history of science, how abundantly shall we find this reciprocity between study and discovery exemplified, and then also, how much such results serve to lead us to the conception and belief of the existence of a Supreme Being. Let us only follow Mr. Whewell whilst he traces the process which takes place in the mind of a student of nature, when he arrives at the discovery of some hitherto unknown subject, but which at once is a key to the appearances which formed the subject of his contemplations. A mass of facts, says Mr. Whewell, which before seemed incoherent and unmeaning, assume, on a sudden, the aspect of connexion and intelligible order. Thus, when Kepler discovered the law which connects the periodic times with the diameters of the planetary orbits; or, when Newton showed how this and all other known mathematical properties of the solar system were included in the law of universal gravitation, according to the inverse square of the distance; particular circumstances which, before, were merely matter of independent record, became, from that time, indissolubly conjoined by the laws so discovered. The separate occurrences and facts, which might hitherto have seemed casual and without reason, were now seen to be all exemplifications of the same truth. The change is like that which takes place when we attempt to read a sentence written in difficult or imperfect characters. For a time the separate parts appear to be disjointed and arbitrary marks; the suggestions of possible meanings, which succeed each other in the mind, fail, as fast as they are tried, in combining or accounting for these symbols : but at last the true supposition occurs; some words are found to coincide with the meaning thus assumed ; the whole line of letters
appear to take definite shapes and to leap into their proper places ; and the truth of the happy conjecture seems to flash upon us from every part of the inscription.
The discovery of laws of nature, truly and satisfactorily connecting and explaining phenomena, of which, before, the connexion and causes had been unknown, displays much of a similar process, of obscurity succeeded by evidence, of effort and perplexity followed by conviction and repose. The innumerable conjectures and failures, the glimpses of light perpetually opening and as often clouded over, by which Kepler was tantalized, the unwearied perseverance and inexhaustible ingenuity which he exercised, while seeking for the laws which he finally discovered, are, thanks to his communicative disposition, curiously exhibited in his works, and have been narrated by his biographers; and such efforts and alternations, modified by character and circumstances, must generally precede the detection of any of the wider laws and dependencies by which the events of the universe are regulated. We may readily conceive the satisfaction and delight with which, after this perplexity and struggle, the discoverer finds himself in light and tranquillity; able to look at the province of nature which has been the subject of his study, and to read there an intelligible connexion, a sufficing reason, which no one before him had understood or apprehended.
We need not pursue this theme further, for we have now sufficiently completed our purpose, which was to show the character and nature of the mode by which this author has illustrated the position of man in reference to his Creator. From many parts of our remarks it will be inferred by the reader, that the work, in our estimation, deserves to be placed in an exalted rank. As compared with the other productions which have appeared in conformity with the commission issued by the Earl of Bridgewater, we have no hesitation in assigning to this Treatise a decided preference, and that principally for the fidelity with which the author has adhered to the spirit of his instructions—for the completeness with which he has comprehended the whole of the facts involved in the consideration of the subject appropriated to him, and from the clear and orderly exposition which he has made of processes and natural facts, which hitherto appear to have been under far less skilful controul, but in him have found an accomplished and truly popular expounder.
Art. XIII.- Exposition of the False Medium and Barriers ex
cluding Men of Genius from the Public. I vol. London :
Wilson. 1833. We do not know, with all the real grounds which we possess for boasting of the advances made by us in knowledge, that we can show by any decided practical example, the least evidence of having at all improved or ameliorated the ancient treatment of Genius. In speaking of Genius, however, it is right to remember that the attribute which we mean in using the phrase has a modified meaning, which it is proper to keep in mind, for it is considered and discussed in most cases as representing individual faculties or peculiar powers, by which a man is enabled to confer the greatest benefits, in some particular department, on his fellow-creatures. Thus, the neglect of genius in this country, which forms the ground of the complaint put forth in the present volume, extends to many classes of the active portion of the community, comprehending Epic poets, Authors in general, Dramatic Composers, and Musical Performers—in short the whole of the higher order of Mechanics as we see it divided in these kingdoms.
The reader need scarcely be reminded that Mr. D’Israeli has left upon record one of the most melancholy series of personal misfortunes that can be found in any language, in his clever work entitled “ Calamities of Authors." The nature of the narrative may be judged of by a glance at a summary of the contents of that curious production, which, if rapidly taken and accurately noted, may produce something like the following catalogue raisonnee, which might be very useful as a warning to future generations :
Collins, publishes his Odes without sucɔess, and afterwards indignantly burns the edition.—Cowley, his remarkable lamentation for having written poetry.-Dryden, in his old age, complains 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 disappointments! wished to change his name and his country.-Logan, the history of his literary disappointments; dies broken-hearted.-Milton, more esteemed (in the first instance) by foreigners than at home.Prior, felicitated himself that his natural inclination for poetry had been checked, Sale, the learned, often wanted a meal while translating the Koran:-Selden, compelled to recant his opinions, and not suffered to reply to his calumniators,-Smollet, confesses the incredible labour and chagrin he had endured as an author.-Stowe, the chronicler, petitions to be a licensed beggar! &c. &c.-p. 22.
Now, as to the cause of these unhappy incidents, the writer of the present volume seeks to account for it, as also for the other examples related by himself to a similar effect, by the following reasoning. There is, he says, scarcely a “stock book,” in the various libraries of the booksellers, that has not had the luck to have been declined when first presented for publication. All the best books we have in England are declared by the writer to have encountered this inauspicious' ordeal, so that we may estimate in some measure the disappointment of a great many well-founded hopes, and the suppression, too, of a great many beneficial productions, in consequence of the existence of such a system of ignorant selection as that implied in the facts just stated. But this assumption may be perfectly justified, although it is by no means sufficient to explain all the calamities endured by authors. Circumstances can easily be conceived which would embitter the life of many a man of genius, and render it impossible for him, up to the hour of death, to taste the cup of happiness. In general we may say, indeed, that authors, merely professional authors, seldom rise to wealth or even competency, and unfortunately we have too many facts, to require the authority of Mr. D’Israeli to show that if the letters of the widows and children of many eminent authors were collected, they would demonstrate this fact, that the man who is a husband and a father ought not to be an author. There are scarcely half a dozen persons throughout the whole history of British authorship, who can be set down as having enjoyed a permanent and respectable maintenance solely as the product of his writings.
In speaking of Dramatic authors, the writer of the present work is of opinion that it is an unjust reproach on the country to say that dramatic genius is extinct in this country, and that the public is no longer in a disposition to encourage it. The contrary he believes to be the fact, and the reason why genius in this department of art is not developed at present is to be found in the vicious state of the medium through which the fruits of genius are to be presented to the examination of the public. It is scareely necessary to say, that the import of this accusation is to involve the “ managerial purveyors” of the two principal theatres, whose blind policy, united with a still more perverse obstinacy, have plunged not merely the properties themselves, but the high character of the drama into one common gulf of ruin.
After some reflections on actors and musical composers, the author proceeds to consider novels and novel writers. In this portion of the work he undertakes to give us a regular recipe for the construction of a modern romance. As the ingredients appear to be all drawn from the materials chiefly employed by the most popular practitioners in this very productive department, the prescription will necessarily have the advantage of being a very fair representation of the characteristics of this sort of literature, and as such it may be worth a few moments' attention. For a romantic novel, the writer desires us to " select from some sources little known, if you cannot invent, a story which possesses interest from its admitting of tolerably striking situations to the external eye; place the scene” he continues, “ where you are well acquainted, by books or
from actual observation, with the localities, which you will find an excellent neutral ground, whenever at fault. If you commit errors in all the passions you attempt to bring into play; or work up monentities to a high point, till at last they are obliged to confess themselves by ending in an evasion, or a mistake; it is of no consequence---provided you make a picturesque opening, where the reacler can stand, and cry out-“ the scenery!-the scenery!-and what romantic decorations !” Fill up the plot with incidents made important by their mystery and minuteness of detail. As many crimes as may be thought effective, can be committed throughout; wasting no time about the mere subtleties of consistency, or in making invisible references to the secret workings of nature, and such unintelligible stuff (of which we are made) but carefully avoid all serious final results of passion. For example; if you have portaayed your hero as a powerful character, let him act up to it in progress as much as possible ; see, however, that he compromise it in the end, or else evade the final point and question altogether. This is necessary, or your novel will certainly find no publisher. In short, let it be interesting in progress, highly finished in literary execution; touching the finesse of present style ; and without anything essentially tragic in its conclusion. If the writer be a man of genius, he can hardly bring himself to concede the last point : there is, “for a' that," one method, which, though attended with an awkward embargo, would perhaps obviate the necessity of marring an impassioned story with an impotent result. Let him draw out a skeleton of the whole, with an abstract of the progressive contents of each chapter, and then give it to some friend or ally, of talent only, to fill up. Let the title (which all publishers of such works consider as half the battle) be romantically striking ; elucidating in laconics what young ladies from boarding schools feel on first seeing Wallack in the Brigand; or any other stage hero who can play the head Turk in the afterpiece ; such as the Bandit's Home, or Won and Worn, &c. If it be not, however, a story of love entirely, and that much damage is done, and a number of lives lost abont other matters, let something desperate and dreadful be expressed in the shape of a warning, or else followed by a weak, or a trite conventional moral.”
With respect to the fashionable novel, it appears that in this species of production the selection of a striking title is the surest of all resources towards success. The principal points, however, to be attended to here are narratives, amusing and interesting, appropriated to localities and individuals in high life, who may be publicly known for any peculiarities ; flattery or racy scandal can be throwp in at discretion ; alternations between France and England for the scenes; and, only that Lady Morgan has rendered the practice perfectly execrable, the occasional introduction of French phrases might help an author of moderate talents. But in giving these recipes the author has had the singular sense of justice to