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against the Prince Regent which it printed, he was imprisoned for two years.
He made his room in the jail a bower of taste, painting the ceiling like the sky, cloud-covered, and papering the walls in patterns of flowers; and with books, piano, statuary, and all sorts of bric-à-brac made the visitors who came to see him feel as if they had entered a fairy-land. Here all the principal men of the time visited him, — Byron, Moore, Hazlitt, Lamb, William Godwin,
, Shelley, and many others, till his cell seems like the meeting-ground of the wits of that day.
His works are too great in number even for the titles to be mentioned. Some of his shorter poems are very pretty ; among them I am sure you will know the little fable of Abou Ben Adhem. One of his longest poems, Rimini, is on an Italian subject. He was very fond of Italy and her poets, and his translations from them, and tales paraphrased from Ariosto, Tasso, and the other great poets, are among his best works. He was, like Hazlitt, a good critic of the drama and literature. He is a graceful writer, with so much enthusiasm for that which he likes in his favorite writers that he makes his reader share his own pleasure in reading them.
His prose works, such as A Book for a Corner, Imagination and Fancy, and Tales from the Italian Poets, will outlive his reputation as a poet; and it is as prose-writer and journalist that we shall best remember him. WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR, who was the friend of Words
worth, Lamb, and Coleridge, and the life-long and 1775–1864
intimate friend of Southey, was a man who outlived his associates and companions by almost a generation of time. He was born in 1775, and lived to be nearly ninety.
Like most of this group, he was poet and prose-writer both, his first works in poetry proving too subtle in meaning for the ordinary reader. He took up prose-writing in a style which, though still remote from common understandings, found much more appreciation than did his poetry. But his works have always found warm admirers among poets and scholars. Shelley, Lamb, Hazlitt, all read his first
poem, Gebir, with delight; Southey hailed him as a great poet, and showed for him an admiration which Landor returned with interest; and in an essay on Poetry that Poets Love, Miss Mitford places Landor's poetry at the head of the list.
Landor's admirers stretch down through the century into our own time. Dickens loved him with enthusiasm, and has given some touches of his character in Lawrence Boythorn, in the novel of Bleak House ; while Ralph Waldo Emerson, who has recorded a visit to Landor's home in Italy, in the English Traits, says: “Year after year the scholar must go back to him for a multitude of elegant sentences, for a wisdom, wit, and indignation which are unforgettable.”
The best part of Landor's writing, indeed, is found in detached sentences in his prose, or short passages from his poetry. I think there are few writers in English whose works would furnish sentences for so large a book of aphorisms as his.
He was very much in sympathy with the Greeks and Romans. A good deal of his poetry is written in Latin, and many of his characters, in prose especially, are Greeks, drawn to the life. Of all his works, the general reader would be most interested in the Imaginary Conversations, which embrace several series of conversations between the historic characters of the past, between Queen Elizabeth and Burleigh ; Lady Jane Grey and Roger Ascham ; Philip Sidney and Lord Brooke ; Milton and Marvell. One of the most beautiful among all of these is the Pericles and Aspasia, in which appear the wonderfully life-like characters of Pericles, Aspasia, Anaxagoras, Alcibiades, and other Greeks of that time.
Landor had undoubted genius. A want of self-discipline seems to have hindered both his character and his work from coming to full perfection. It is a great deal to say of him that he is a poet for poets; it would be still better to be able to say that he touched the deep heart of humanity. One feels of him that he just missed a height he might have gained. And yet there are few books I would so unwillingly leave unread as the Imaginary Conversations. THOMAS DE QUINCEY, who is most famous for his Confes
sions of an English Opium-Eater, belongs among 1786-1859
these men of the Lake School. He lived for years among the lakes of Westmoreland, and after Wordsworth left his cottage at Grasmere to live at Rydal Mount, where the last of his life was passed, De Quincey took the Grasmere house, and lived there many years. In London his friends were, all of them, in the group of which I have just been speaking. Like Coleridge, he was many years an opium-eater, and his Confessions are tinged by the wonderful hues his fancy took on under the influence of this drug. There are passages from his prose which have few equals in the language for eloquence and imagination. And, notwithstanding the diseased state of mind which his habit of opium-eating induced, he did a great amount of work, and has left behind him
volumes. This group of men of varied talents were contemporaries of the new school of poetry, and upheld its doctrines. They were all writers for the current periodical literature of the time, and the prose-writing of each has a distinct originality. But the master among prose-writers of this time, the magician who cast his spell over his age and over future times, is Walter Scott, the publication of whose historical novels forms an epoch in English literature.
ON WALTER SCOTT AND THE WAVERLEY NOVELS.
ROM the time of Miss Burney's Evelina, in 1778, until
the year 1814, I think it will be conceded that the best novels were written by women. Women had found their field, and they held it well. Among the masculine contemporaries of Miss Edgeworth, Mrs. Radcliffe, Jane
and Anna Maria Porter, and Miss Austen, were MATTHEW LEWIS, whose lurid story, The Monk, followed in the track of Anne Radcliffe ; THOMAS HOLCROFT, the author both of plays and novels which gained popularity in their day; CHARLES MATURIN, an Irish clergyman, the author of romantic and improbable fictions, and the tragedy of Bertram ; WILLIAM BECKFORD, who wrote the weird Eastern story of Vathek, a story to be classed in the group of fiction in which Johnson's Rasselas belongs. But none of the works of these authors are equal in interest to those of Maria Edgeworth or Jane Austen.
If there is any exception to the pre-eminence of the novels of this period written by women over those
1756-1836 of men, it should be given to WILLIAM GODWIN'S Caleb Williams, which is to be noted, not only as a popular novel, but as one of the first English fictions written for a purely philanthropic purpose. Godwin had written a work on Political Justice before he wrote this novel, and no doubt saw he could reach more minds by a novel than by a philosophic argument. He was one of the first who used fiction to hold up to view social abuses and unjust laws; but he has had many followers, and a large part of the novelists of to-day have followed in Godwin's footsteps.
Caleb Williams is a book which every one ought to read who is interested in the growth of the English novel. It is a powerful book, and will hold the reader's interest from first to last. That it is dramatic is proved by the fact that a play-writer of the time, George Coleman, founded on it his drama of the Iron Chest, still an acting play.
These names of men and women which I have just mentioned were the leading names in fiction when, in 1814, an anonymous novel, called Waverley, appeared,
a novel whose authorship for years was a subject of doubt and curiosity. Waverley was only the first of a series known as the Waverley Novels, — a series appearing at rapid intervals for sixteen years, till they numbered thirty-two novels. All these tales were founded on historical facts, swarmed with historical characters drawn with all the lines of truth, and were placed among scenery and surroundings which seemed to be accurate studies from nature and life. The scenes of these romances are laid in England, France, Germany, the lands of the East, to the very door of the Holy Sepulchre ; in time they cover a period which begins at the close of the eleventh century, and comes down to the opening year of the nineteenth ; in action they enter upon almost every great historic field, from the wars of the Crusades in Syria, to the more peaceful scenes of the reign of George III. in England. Such a work, so wonderful in its scope, so varied in place, time, and action, was that of Walter Scott in the Waverley Novels.
The success of Byron as a poet turned Scott from a poet into a novelist. He printed his poem of Rokeby at the same time that Byron's Giaour appeared. Scott read the poem, whose popularity cast his own into the shade. When he laid down the book, he said, with the generosity which was natural to him : 6
“Byron hits the mark where I don't even pretend to fledge my arrow."
Several years before this, Scott had begun the novel of Waverley, but had thrown it aside, and it had lain apparently half forgotten for years. Shortly after the publication of Rokeby, he took up this manuscript and went to work to finish it. In the evenings of three weeks in summer, when he was busy during the day with other affairs, he completed his first novel.
John Lockhart, who was his son-in-law, and after Scott's death wrote his life, relates that a party of young men, who lived in Scott's neighborhood at the time he was finishing Waverley, were having a jovial dinner together. They had adjourned to the library from the dining-room, and one of them, who sat opposite a large window which looked out upon the windows of an adjoining house, was observed to change in manner, and his whole face to become clouded and melancholy.
One of the party intimated a fear that he was not well.
“No,' said he, ' I shall be well enough presently, if only let me sit where you are and take my chair; for there is a