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allusion is made to Addison's heavenly ode ("The spacious firmament on High"), whose "sacred music," known and endeared from childhood, none can hear "without love and awe". -verses that shine like the stars, "out of a deep great calm"-verses enriched with the holy serene rapture that fills Addison's pure heart and shines from his kind face, when his eye seeks converse with things above: for, "when he turns to heaven, a Sabbath comes over that man's mind: and his face lights up from it with a glory of thanks and prayer." We have not the heart to inquire, here, whether the portrait, as a whole-length, is not too flattering in its proportions, and too bright in colouring. But doubtless the lecturer might, and many, we surmise, expected that he would, take a strangely opposite view of Pope's "Atticus."
Steele is one of Mr. Thackeray's darlings. We have an imaginary record of Corporal Dick's boyhood-his experiences at the flogging-block of Charterhouse School-his everlastingly renewed debts to the tartwoman, and I. O. U. correspondence with lollipop-vendors and piemenhis precocious passion for drinking mum and sack-and his early instinct for borrowing from all his comrades who had money to lend. In brief, "Dick Steele the schoolboy must have been one of the most generous, good-for-nothing, amiable little creatures that ever conjugated the verb tupto I beat, tuptomai I am whipped, in any school in Great Britain." His recklessness and good-humour to the last, are fondly dwelt on-his cordial naturalness is eagerly appreciated-his tenderness and humanity gracefully enforced. "A man is seldom more manly," we are well reminded, "than when he is what you call unmanned-the source of his emotion is championship, pity, and courage; the instinctive desire to cherish those who are innocent and unhappy, and defend those who are tender and weak. If Steele is not our friend he is nothing. He is by no means the most brilliant of wits nor the deepest of thinkers: but he is our friend we love him, as children love their love with an A., because he is amiable. Who likes a man best because he is the cleverest or the wisest of mankind; or a woman because she is the most virtuous, or talks French, or plays the piano better than the rest of her sex? I own to liking Dick Steele the man, and Dick Steele the author, much better than much better men and much better authors." In the same manner that sad rake and spendthrift, Henry Fielding, is sure of a kind word. The great novelist is not made a hero of, but shown as he is; not robed in a marble toga, and draped and polished in a heroic attitude, but with inked ruffles, and claret stains on his tarnished laced coat-but then we are bid observe on his manly face the marks of good fellowship, of illness, of kindness, of care; and admonished, that wine-stained as we see him, and worn by care and dissipation, that man retains some of the most precious and splendid human qualities and endowments. Among them, an admirable natural love of truth, and keenest instinctive scorn of hypocrisy-a wonderfully wise and detective wit-a greathearted, courageous soul, that respects female innocence and infantine tenderness-a large-handed liberality, a disdain of all disloyal arts, an unselfish diligence in the public service. And then, "what a dauntless and constant cheerfulness of intellect, that burned bright and steady through all the storms of his life, and never deserted its last wreck!
It is wonderful to think of the pains and misery which the man suffered; the pressure of want, illness, remorse, which he endured; and that the writer was neither malignant nor melancholy, his view of truth never warped, and his generous human kindness never surrendered." Goldsmith, again, is reviewed in the same spirit-"the most beloved of English writers"- "whose sweet and friendly nature bloomed kindly always in the midst of a life's storm, and rain, and bitter weather"-" never so friendless but he could befriend some one, never so pinched and wretched but he could give of his crust, and speak his word of compassion"-enlivening the children of a dreary London court with his flute, giving away his blankets in college to the poor widow, pawning his coat to save his landlord from gaol, and spending his earnings as an usher in treats for the boys. "Think of him reckless, thriftless, vain, if you like-but merciful, gentle, generous, full of love and pity. Think of the poor pensioners weeping at his grave; think of the noble spirits that admired and deplored him; think of the righteous pen that wrote his epitaph, and of the wonderful and unanimous response of affection with which the world has paid back the love he gave it." Yet is Mr. Thackeray cautious not to dismiss the Steeles, and Fieldings, and Goldsmiths, and kindred literary prodigals, without a renewal of his muchdiscussed protest against the license claimed for them as such. For reckless habits and careless lives, the wit, he insists, must suffer, and justly, like the dullest prodigal that ever ran in debt, and moreover, must expect to be shunned in society, and learn that reformation must begin at home.
Prior, Gay, and Pope are classed together in one lecture-a highly piquant and entertaining one, too. The ease and modern air of Mat Prior's lyrics are happily asserted, and Mat himself pronounced a worldphilosopher of no small genius, good nature, and acumen. John Gay is a favourite, as in life, and enjoys a good place. Such a natural good creature, so kind, so gentle, so jocular, so delightfully brisk at times, so dismally woe-begone at others-lazy, slovenly, for ever eating and saying good things; a little, round, French abbé of a man, sleek, soft-handed and soft-hearted. Honest John's pastorals are said to be to poetry "what charming little Dresden china figures are to sculpture-graceful, minnikin, fantastic, with a certain beauty always accompanying them. The pretty little personages of the pastoral, with gold clocks to their stockings, and fresh satin ribands to their crooks, and waistcoats, and boddices, dance their loves to a minuet-tune played on a bird-organ, approach the charmer, or rush from the false one daintily on their redheeled tiptoes, and die of despair or rapture, with the most pathetic little grins and ogles; or repose, simpering at each other, under an arbour of pea-green crockery; or piping to pretty flocks that have just been washed with the best Naples in a stream of Bergamot."
To Pope is freely conceded the greatest name on the lecturer's listthe highest among the poets, and among the English wits and humorists here assembled the greatest literary artist that England has seen the decrepit Papist, whom the great St. John held to be one of the best and greatest of men. Of course (and there is a warm compliment in this of course) Mr. Thackeray dwells admiringly on Pope's filial
devotion, on that constant tenderness and fidelity of affection which pervaded and sanctified his life. The closing lines of the "Dunciad" are quoted as reaching the very greatest height of the sublime in verse, and proving Pope to be "the equal of all poets of all times." But the satire of the "Dunciad" is charged, on the other hand, with generating and establishing among us "the Grub-street tradition ;" and the "ruthless little tyrant," who revelled in base descriptions of poor men's want, is accused of contributing more than any man who ever lived to depreciate the literary calling. Grub-street, until Pope's feud with the Dunces, was a covert offence-he made it an overt one. "It was Pope that dragged into light all this poverty and meanness, and held up those wretched shifts and rags to public ridicule," so that thenceforth the reading world associated together author and wretch, author and rags, author and dirt, author and gin, tripe, cowheel, duns, squalling children, and garret concomitants.
Smollett is assigned a place between Hogarth and Fielding, and is honourably entreated as a manly, kindly, honest, and irascible spirit; worn and battered, but still brave and full of heart, after a long struggle against a hard fortune-of a character and fortune aptly symbolised by his crest, viz., a shattered oak-tree, with green leaves yet springing from it. Without much invention in his novels, but having the keenest perceptive faculty, and describing what he saw with wonderful relish and delightful broad humour, and, indeed, giving to us in "Humphrey Clinker" the most laughable story that has ever been written since the goodly art of novel-writing began, and bequeathing to the world of readers, in the letters and loves of Tabitha Bramble and Win Jenkins, "a perpetual fount of sparkling laughter, as inexhaustible as Bladud's well."
But here we must close these desultory notes, and commend our readers to the volume itself, if they have not forestalled such (in either case needless) commendation. They may stumble here and there-one at the estimate of Pope's poetical status, another at the panegyric on Addison, and some at the scanty acknowledgments awarded to Hogarth and to Sterne. But none will put down the book without a sense of growing respect for the head and the heart of its author, and a glad pride in him as one of the Representative Men of England's current literature.
TURKEY AND RUSSIA; THE HOLY SEPULCHRE AND SYRIA.
IN discussing the question of the oft-repeated aggressions of Russia on Turkey, and the renewal of which excites so much interest at the present moment, the fact should never be lost sight of, that in Turkey in Europe and in Turkey in Asia there are other nationalities besides those of the Turks-a semi-barbarian race of Muhammadans, who have been now for five centuries rather encamped than truly settled in the richest and most fertile, as well as commercially most advantageously situated, provinces of Europe-to the almost total exclusion of civilisation and Christianity.
In the case of the crumbling to pieces of the ill-constructed empire of Osman-a power now for a long time past confessedly upheld only by the rivalry of European powers-the distinctive features of the Christian races ought always to be first considered. The Tsar of Russia has no more right, under the pretence of protecting one of these Christian populations, to establish his dominion over the crumbling empire of the East, than France would have to do the same, under pretence of enforcing the dominion of the Pope, over the ancient churches of Jerusalem and of Antioch, the seven churches of Asia Minor, and the churches of Alexandria and Constantinople. The nationality of Servians, Bulgarians, Wallachians, Moldavians, Albanians, Armenians, Chaldeans, Druses, Maronites, Montenegrins, and a host of others, must be considered without reference to the predominance of one church, one denomination, or one hierarch, be he pontiff or Cæsar.
It is in the presence of these nationalities that the different theories broached, of a division or partition of the vast realms of the Osmanli among European nations, stand in reality as mere political phantoms of the brain. Slavonia to Austria, the Danubian provinces and Persia to Russia, Asia Minor to Prussia, the African coast and part of Syria to France, Egypt and Mesopotamia to England, or other modifications we have seen proposed, sound well enough on paper as a solution to the great Eastern question, but they fail in not having any regard to the claims of the natives themselves. It were far wiser and more political on the part of European governments, to ensure the independence of the separate nationalities, than to endeavour to bring their discordant elements into fusion by foreign dominion. The states that would arise under such a common protectorate would possess that which the republics that were founded on the breaking up of the Spanish Empire in Central and Southern America never did possess-a thoroughly distinct religious and social existence, to which that of a political recognition is alone wanting to be superadded. It would in most instances only be the revival of the great nations of antiquity-the Assyrian, the Syrian, the Greek, the Armenian, the Macedonian, the Slavonian, the Bulgarian, and the Dacian.
If any provision should remain to be made by European nations in reference to the future progress and civilisation of the nations of the East, it would be to ensure, under a common guarantee, the advantages of railway communication and open sea and river navigation. We are particularly concerned in such an eventuality, but nothing also would tend so much to assist in the revival of the great nations of antiquity; nothing would tend so beneficially to turn the teeming produce of the finest lands
in the world to useful purposes and the advantage of all people, as increasing the facilities of intercommunication; and it is a remarkable fact, that it would only require one great and central artery from Constantinople to Pekin or Nankin, to open all Western, Central, and Eastern Asia to commerce and trade, and to the blessings of civilisation.
The necessity of upholding the integrity of the Turkish Empire, hitherto imposed upon the European powers by the ambitious aspirations of the Tsar, is the most gigantic humbug of the present century—a disgrace to Christianity. The Turks are incapable of real improvement, their faith is opposed to all intellectual aggrandisement or progress of any kind. Witness, for example, in the present crisis, they have openly appealed for aid to their Christian allies, while they have secretly and in greater sincerity aroused the bigotry and fanaticism of the Muhammadan populations, Egyptian, Syrian, Arab, Turkman, and Kurd. The Turkman horsemen are gathering together in their hordes of thousands of irregular and rapacious warriors. Everywhere they are letting loose the bloodhounds of Christianity. Pashas, dyed by crimes of deepest hue, are recalled from island banishment or dragged from dungeon depths to head the fanatic population; their bigotry and intolerance have now become virtues in the eyes of their terrified khalif. The terrible Badir Khan Bay, he who massacred the Nestorians-men, women, and children—and whose crimes have been so often denounced in these pages, has been permitted once more to put himself at the head of his fanatic mountaineers. Europeans must not misunderstand the nature of the feeling with which the Turks receive their succour and aid—it is as a sad necessity, but as a thing totally opposed to their feelings and sentiments, and at the best looked down upon with arrogance and contempt. Any one who is seduced by a gracious-smiling Turkish diplomatist to imagine the contrary, knows nothing of the Turkish character, still less of the true spirit of Islamism.
It is not to a partition of the Turkish Empire that Europe should direct its attention, but to the emancipation and protection of its Christian populations, not disregarding the rights of those of other denominations, whether Turks, Turkmans, Arabs, Kurds, Druses, or Albanians. If the Tsar will persist in over-running the rich and fertile territories that adjoin his own, and that are ruled by a decrepit power only upheld by foreign aid, the smouldering embers of war will never be extinguished, but will be ever ready to be fanned into a flame upon the most paltry and frivolous pretences, as in the present instance. It is, then, of the utmost importance to put a stop to such a perilous state of things; it cannot be done at once, but the seeds of a safe and promising future might be laid by inducing the autocrat of Russia to join in recognising the claims of all the Christian denominations, as well as those of the "Orthodox Eastern Church," and the rights of all the separate states which constitute the "integrity" of the Turkish Empire. Any aggressive movement that the Tsar might be forced to take by the obstinate perverseness of the Ottoman Porte (and the demands of the Russian government have in the present instance been far more reasonable than other nations in their dread of Russian aggrandisement have been ready to admit), as well as any sudden or accidental breaking up of the Ottoman government within its own territories, would be anticipated in a way to put an end to any possibility of a general war. For example,