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his happier days, a sympathy, an urbanity, a wit, and even a literary enthusiasm (for Lamartine and Racine), which cover a number of sins in the eyes of an Englishman. Thus, it is not sober soundness and correctness and sagacity alone that make the critic. It is rather originality, individuality, the possession of wide knowledge and of an interesting temperament, that enable a writer on books to write what shall be valuable. For writing about writing is not in itself a very noble profession, nor one very well worth devoting time and labor to, though the greatest writers, Goethe, Wordsworth, Hugo, Scott, have not disdained it. The laws and processes of all arts are interesting to artists, and to others who, without possessing genius, have knowledge, and taste, and discrimination. Criticism does very little, if anything, for any art, but man is so made that he takes pleasure in having his say. This say" is Criticism, and, at worst, Criticism adds some agreeable hours to life, offers some pleasant matters of thought, brings us nearer to some great minds than we can come when we study their creative work alone; and so far, I suppose, Criticism has a raison d'être and needs no defence of its existence. Few persons, I presume, can look back on their first reading of Lessing's Laocoon without pleasure, without remembering how their outlook was widened, how their ideas were clarified, how they had gained more in a few hours from a book than they could have extracted from experience in years. It is a commonplace thing to say, but it is true, that good Criticism does for art and works of art what art does for nature and the works of nature. It clears our eyes, it heightens and intensifies and makes more select our pleasures.

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But we are writing about excellent crit ics, men of taste, learning, temper, urbanity, and wit. The works of such authors, from Aristotle to Hazlitt, are, I suppose, very little read; are only read, as a rule, by people who have to occupy themselves professionally with literature, or who live much of their lives in literature's pale and shadowy, but enduring pleasures. The kind of Criticism which the world really reads is to be found in reviews of all sorts and sizes. "It is an ill bird which fouls its own nest," and heaven forbid that I should speak ill of the mystery of reviewing, whereby many of us make our inglori

ous, but not dishonorable, bread and butter. There are good reviews among the multitude which the Press, daily and weekly, brings to the birth. There are even reviews by men who are masters of their subjects, and who can give an author new facts, or new matter for thought. There are amiable reviews, which do their best to procure a hearing for a book admired by the reviewer. There are severe reviews, which honestly dance upon a book which the critic does not admire. There are candid, and temperate, and funny reviewers, for all of whom authors and readers may be thankful. They help (a little) to sell a book, or (a little) they help to prevent its sale. Theirs are the verdicts of public tasters, that is all, or nearly all. Occasionally modern reviews are essays worth reading. If the reviewer be a student and competent, he can hang a charming article on the revival of an old play or the success or failure of a new play. Even the review of a novel may show good manners, wit, knowledge, a happy knack of bringing ideas together, and of elucidating the grounds of liking and disliking. I cannot agree with Mr. Besant's theory that critics never instruct and never encourage an author. That they often encourage and often discourage authors, experience shows us. That they instruct is more difficult to prove, because an author must, at all costs, be himself; and the best advice may be bad, if it makes him self-conscious, makes him try to be other than himself. On the whole, reviewing by instructed and competent men and women is not worthless, I hope, to the public, to publishers, or to authors. On the other hand, a great proportion of our innumerable reviews are written by the ignorant, the hasty, the spiteful, the careless, the ineompetent. Some reviewers are merely flippant on all occasions; always with the same weary old secondhand flippancy, a bad imitation of a manner that never was good. Such are they who tell in a dozen lines of forced fun the plot of a novel. It may be a bad novel, but the best will not stand this process. Other reviewers there are, who appear to conceive gratuitous and causeless hates and loves for authors whom they never met, nor are likely to meet. They distribute blame or praise with a queer kind of personal animus, for which they probably could not account themselves. The book

reviewed is the last thing in their minds. They are denouncing or applauding their own personal ideal of the author. A good deal of envy, hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness goes into the manufacture of reviews, all combined in an aspic of ignorance. For the ignorance of the ordinary reviewer is only equalled by his confidence, and by the audacity with which he delivers his brawling judgments on a book, after a glance at the preface. In brief, reviewing may be, and often is, done by gentlemen and scholars, but it is, perhaps, as frequently the mere expression of ignorant and careless and envious dulness. And how could it be otherwise? Here is a hungry and eager nobody, who has never done, and never will do, anything. He has a pen in his hand, he has the work of someone who has made money and a name before him, and what is to prevent him from writing a review which amounts to a yell of " Yah !"

At the best, I suppose Criticism does authors very little good. Archdeacon Farrar, I think, though I have not the reference at hand, once told the world that Criticism had done him no good. This, perhaps, is an extreme case.

But review

ing may do one's books good, if it be favorable. It may, if it be sincere and competent, give the public a hint as to what to read and what to avoid, though the public usually prefers its own selections. On a lower level, if it be witty (which is not common), Criticism may amuse, and to amuse a few readers is not wholly to waste time, ink, and paper. Such seem to me to be the humble duties of everyday reviewing work. You may benefit a new author a little, though, to be sure, in doing so you make all Grub Street detest him. You may cause a pretender to dance at the Torture Stake, though this again is an entertainment in which only the young braves and the squaws should take part. You should, at least, be "indifferent honest," and speak your mind. Here is an opportunity for a story about that eminent female critic, Mrs. Carter, the learned lady, the translator of Epictetus. On September 5th, 1746, Mrs. Carter wrote to Miss Talbot. She had been reading the Odyssey, and thought it a very mean performance. "It really does not seem of any great importance to the reader whether Telemachus hung his clothes upon a peg, or was sloven enough to throw them

on the floor; or whether Mr. Trulliber (I have forgot his Greek name) took exact care of the hogs. If it was not an incontestable fact that Milton wrote Paradise Regained, one could never believe Homer wrote the Odyssey.'

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Here we find Mrs. Carter an honest, if not, perhaps, an acute or sympathetic critic. But her Editor, a clergyman, tells us that

Mrs. Carter's criticism was not designed for the public;" she would have spoken very differently if she had written for the public. In that case Mrs. Carter would have been dishonest, a knave: we prefer her honest, and not very wise. Let all critics imitate the outspoken private manner of Mrs. Carter, remembering, also, to avoid the literary arts unknown to Mr. Clough. "He had not yet traduced his friends, nor flattered his enemies, nor blamed what he approved, nor praised what he despised.'' Criticism would be more amusing if all critics were like Mrs. Carter; it is vain to hope that they will all be like Mr. Clough. But, when all is said, I own that I can scarcely conceive of a topic less momentous than Criticism. We are all but Goniobombukes ;* though some buzz a little longer or louder than others, and in a more spacious corner. Who reads Boileau now, and is Quintilian much in men's minds? Does Mr. Pinero consult the

"Prefaces of Dryden,

For these our critics much confide in ?"

Where is Burke on the Sublime, and where is Mr. Morritt's Vindication of Homer, and Blackwell's treatise on the same author? Quite a mild little poem or of our Criticisms, and the critic's lot, on a third-rate play outlives and outlasts most the whole, is not a happy one. Mr. Henry James and Mr. Saintsbury find Perhaps it more satisfactory than I do.



There is a great deal too much waste of powder and shot in the current attacks of no use at all to fight against the purely which authors make upon critics. It is irresponsible, incompetent, or indolent exbody of what are commonly called " Press pressions of opinion, which form the main

*For the benefit of Grub Street, let us translate this hard word. It means 46 persons who buzz in a corner."

notices." These, be they genial or spiteful, if written by persons without literary training on books the subjects of which lie outside their knowledge, mean less than nothing. No leafage of the printing press can be so utterly deciduous. It is better to leave this mass of imitative opinion untouched, and to consider only what is of its kind sincere, original, and competent. Of literary criticism which we can discuss with gravity, criticism which may presumably be of some service to its readers, there are two main species. The first of these, and the least important, may be briefly dismissed.

The books of the day, copies of each of which are poured forth into the editorial offices of half a hundred newspapers, meet with a certain number of critics who are trained to form an opinion of their qualities which is relatively just and precise. The nature of this kind of criticism it should be easy to define. The critic has to take the book on its own merits, to describe succinctly its contents or the line of its argument, and to give a judgment on its execution. This work is strictly impersonal. He must not air his own opinions, he should not, in this elementary kind of criticism, compare the author's book with those of his contemporaries, or even with his own earlier productions. The critic is here merely employed to tell the newspaper-reader what is the nature of this or that particular volume which has just been published. His duty is to be truthful, to be unprejudiced, to guard against riding any of his own hobbies unfairly, in short, to give the book before him a fair field and no favor. This is the inferior class of criticism, which, in my opinion, is always more effective when unsigned. It is not of a pretentious order; but if honestly and competently performed, in the spirit of a gentleman, it may be of extraordinary public utility. But it is uncomparative, and it is of necessity a mere indication of fleeting opinion.

The other class of literary criticism, and the only one which it is of serious interest to discuss, is comparative and composite. To this class belongs all the criticism that enjoys even a brief existence as in itself a species of literature. At its best, this is one of the most exquisite of intellectual products, and only a little below the creative work of the novelist or poet. It has come into existence much later than

the other forms of belles-lettres; it is hardly two hundred years old. Yet it takes every day a greater prominence, and it becomes inore and more desirable to insist on its importance and to ensure its welfare.

The best criticism must, I conceive, be intelligent, sympathetic, and personal. The critic must first of all be intelligent. His mind must act with rapidity. It must be trained to receive a succession of delicate impressions promptly and precisely. He must be agile in intellectual movement. If he misunderstands his author for a moment, he must be ready instantly to retrace his steps; he must not push on, obstinately force the sense, and delight in his own robustness. Misplaced vigor of this kind is a very English fault in criticism. Half the honest fellows who come up from both Universities, ready equipped to be critics, prove mere bulls in the china shop of imaginative literature. What is subtle and evanescent escapes them, what is unfamiliar to their narrow experience they are able to prove has never, and could never have, existed, and when it is their business to be attentive they are merely waking the echoes with their own formulas. The best critic is quick of ear and eye, slow to believe that he has exhausted his theme, anxious to comprehend from all points of view the product presented to him.


The critic must be sympathetic. must have some of the qualities of the purely creative writer-insight, imagination, a sense of relative values. It is not enough to be clearly aware of the meaning of the writer under discussion, nor of the exact tendency of his work. With this, and with nothing more, some very interesting results have been obtained, particularly in France. But this is far from being enough. The critic, if he is to be of the highest class, must know why his author wrote thus and thus. Even when he detests what the author has written, he must comprehend what led to such manifestations. He must be capable of leaving his own plane and of moving in the very atmosphere of his subject. By an imag inative process, he must see the mind of the author at work, and appreciate not merely the product but the process.

Most thoughtful readers will admit that criticism must be intelligent and even sympathetic. I anticipate more opposition.

when I insist that it must be personal, that is to say, individual to the critic. It appears to me that there can be no valuable criticism of the composite order, nothing comparative or elaborate, that does not depend for its value on the personal authority or personal charm of the critic who pro duces it. What we do not want, what gods and men abhor, is the absence of personality in criticism, a colorless statement of second-hand opinion, not due to any individual impression, not the result of personal judgment, but a kind of average opinion, nebulous and unassailable, formed indolently and ignorantly on the unreasonable likes or dislikes of the public. It is impossible within the space allotted to us here to do more than touch on one or two desultory points. I pass, therefore, without apology, to a general consideration. Nothing seems to be more lacking to the ordinary literary criticism of this country than the sense of proportion. It would be a great benefit to this branch of literature if those who practise it would realize more clearly the dignity of the art they undertake to cultivate and the natural

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an exaggerated laudation of minor points where you agree with him. It is not a series of instances in which he has made grammatical errors or erred from the paths of punctuation. It is not any exclusive inspection of lesser points, whether for fault-finding or the reverse. The consideration of these minor matters has its place in the course of minor criticism, but even there it should be kept in proportion with the general outlines of the theme. An insistence upon these lesser details, to the disregard of the larger matters of literary interest, must always be the indication of an ill-balanced judgment.

Most of the faults of current critics would be avoided if they, and if we, their readers, would, as I have said, realize the dignity of the art they practise. Where would be the room for acrid recrimination, for slovenly obiter dicta, for exhibitions of unabashed ignorance, for all the species of criticism falsely so-called from which we suffer, if writers regarded this department of letters as gravely as they do the others? We have to demand in those who discourse to us on literature certain definite qualities. Without a lifelong knowledge. of books, without absolute judicial rectitude, without the mental habit of urbanity, without a determined cultivation of suppleness and independence of mind, no one ought to have the presumption to present himself to us as a critic.

-New Review.


WHEN people speak of the East, of Oriental languages, Oriental literature, Oriental art, or Oriental religion, their idea generally seems to be that all that belongs to the East is extremely old and very mysterious. There is a charm which it is difficult to account for, but there certainly is a charm that attracts us to everything that is supposed to be very old, and to everything that seems wrapt in mystery. If, then, these lectures which I have the honor to inaugurate to-night are meant to * Inaugural Address, delivered before the Royal Asiatic Society, on Wednesday, March

4, 1891.

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draw the attention of the public at large toward Oriental studies, and to arouse an interest in the languages, the literatures, the art, and the religion of the East, not only among scholars, but among the everwidening circles of intelligent men and cultivated women, it may not seem very wise to say anything that might break that charm, that might reduce the enormous antiquity so often claimed for Oriental literature to more modest limits, and dispel those golden clouds of mystery which are supposed to surround the sanctuary of the primeval wisdom of the East.

And yet, if I were asked to say what in

our own time is the distinguishing feature of Oriental research, I should say that it was the endeavor to bring the remote East closer and closer to our own time, and to dispel as much as possible that mystery which used to shroud its language, its literature, and its religion. Oriental scholarship is no longer a mere matter of curiosity. It appeals to higher sympathies, and teaches us that we can study in the East as well as in the West the great questions of humanity-those questions that furnish the first impulse and the highest purpose to all human inquiries. So long as the Egyptian is a mere mummy to us, the Babylonian a mere image in stone, the Jew a prophet, the Hindu a dreamer, the Chinaman a joke, we are not yet Oriental scholars. The Wise Men of the East are still mere strangers to us, coming we know not whence, going we know not whither, and leaving behind them nothing but gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

It is only when these strangers cease to be strangers, when they become friends, people exactly like ourselves in their strength and in their weakness, in their ideals and their failures, in their hopes and their despairs-it is then only that we can claim to be Oriental scholars, real students of the East, true lovers of humanity which is always the same, whatever its age, whatever its language, whatever the many disguises which it has assumed in the different acts of the great drama of history. What charm is there in mere antiquity? Antiquity seems difficult to define. Very often what is old is despised, however good it may be; at other times, what is old is valued, though its merit seems to consist in nothing but its age. A book printed in the fifteenth century is competed for by all collectors, while many a manuscript of the same date will hardly tempt a buyer. A Greek work of art, say, of 500 B.C., finds a place of honor in any museum. An Egyptian monument of the same age is referred to the decadence of old Egyptian art. When we come to one thousand years, two thousand years, or, as some will have it, to three or four thousand years B. C., everything that can claim descent from those distant ages is valued, and almost worshipped. And yet, what are four thousand, what are six thousand years, when we become geologists? What are the oldest Egyptian mummies compared to the megatheria embalmed in the sar

cophagi of nature! And again, how modern are those stratified cemeteries on the surface of our globe, nay, even the unstratified foundations of this earth, in the eyes of the astronomer, to whom our globe dwindles away into a mere infinitesimal globule that has not yet been touched by the rays of light proceeding from more distant suns! Mere antiquity, it has always seemed to me, can lend no real charm to Oriental studies.

First of all, what we call ancient in literary productions is not so very ancient after all. Our libraries and museums contain little that is more than four thousand years old. If one century is easily spanned by three generations, a little more than one hundred generations would span the whole history of the literature of the world. What the Egyptians said to the Greeks we must learn to say to ourselves-" We are as yet but children."' is only in its beginnings. The future before him is immense; the past that lies behind us is but the short preface to a work that will require many volumes before it is finished, before man has become what he was meant to be.

Man's life on earth

Secondly, we must not forget that when we speak of literary works of two, or three, or four thousand years before our era, we are not really on what is properly called historical ground. I am by no means a sceptic as to the remote antiquity assigned to Chinese, Egyptian, Babylonian, and Indian literature; but I think we are too easily tempted to forget the important difference between authentic and constructive history. Authentic history, as Niebuhr often pointed out, begins when we have the testimony of a contemporary, or an eye-witness, testifying to the events which he relates. history and constructive chronology rest on deduction. Constructive history may be quite as true as authentic history. Still we should never forget the difference between the two.


If we bear this difference in mind, I should say that the authentic history of India does not begin before the third century B.C.

We have at that time the inscriptions of the famous King Asoka, the grandson of Chandragupta, the Sandrokyptos of Greek historians. Everything in the history of India before that time is purely constructive. But is it therefore less certain? I believe not. The language

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