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for his gay sallies, his humorous rejoinders, his keen sarcasms.
The majority of Molière's plays, like his nation's tragedies, are written in the jingle of rhyme, and here, in this case, it adds vivacity to their sprightliness. There is a buoyancy in Molière's style that harmonises with the excellence of his wit. His ideas, so rich and comic, are always expressed with the most sparkling playfulness, the most sportive whimsicality, and in the most high-bred spirit of aristocratic demeanour. His diction is easy, unforced; the very perfection of lively impulse naturally uttered. Hazlitt did not do justice to Molière, or rather, perhaps, I ought to say, that I think he did not fully understand the French nature from which Molière drew nature, when he denies him naturalness. He talks of his plays being in general, "mere farces, without scrupulous adherence to nature;" and of his people as being "gratuitous assumptions of character; fanciful and outrageous caricatures of nature." But he should have known that Molière was essentially true to the nature which was around him. He painted society as he found it, and his dramas form faithful pictures of the scenes amid which he lived, as his characters are accurate portraits of the people with whom he associated. His position at court (his father was valet as well as upholsterer to the king) and the large share which he possessed of the royal favour, gave him access to the great world of Louis the Fourteenth, and the polite circles of Paris, under the Grand Monarch, and here he had ample opportunity of studying the fine ladies and gentlemen-the fopling Marquises, and the high-flown gossamer beauties-who figure in his plays; while his broad, rich sketches of philosophic life were collected during his experience as actor and manager of a theatre. Neither gentry nor town people were overcharged, if we may judge from the traditionary accounts that have reached us of the
manners of the period. However ridiculous and grotesque some of Molière's personages may appear, there is very little doubt that they were correct transcripts of then existing absurdities of social life. It is a moot question what is absurd and anomalous in the social world. But Hazlitt, on the other hand, gives honour due to Molière where he pronounces him to be unquestionably "one of the greatest comic geniuses that ever lived"; and upon another occasion he ranks him not only equal with, but almost above, Shakspere in the one single particular of farcical writing.
The most celebrated French writers have pronounced the highest panegyrics upon Molière's writings. Laharpe enthusiastically observes, "The more we know of Molière, the more we love him; the more we study him, the more we admire him. If differing with him on some points, you are sure to end by being of his opinion,-which is because we then know better;" a very honourable combination indeed of homage and true modesty. It is recorded of Goethe that he never suffered more than two years to elapse without re-reading Molière's works, and if we would store our minds with profound knowledge of human nature, with exquisite wit and humour, with the most original ideas, clothed in the most fervent and lively diction, with abundant sources of fruitful and delightful thought, we cannot do better than adopt this same course of frequently renewing our acquaintance with the pages of the masterworks of Molière.
[We must reserve Mr. Clarke's descriptive analysis of Molière's Comedies, given in his second lecture, for a future number.]
THE ESSAYIST & UNIVERSALIST:
THE TENDENCY OF HIS TEACHING.
BY MR. JOSEPH JOHNSON.
[Read before the Manchester Excelsior Society, Nov., 1856.]
Emerson's English Lectures, 1847. Emerson as an Essayist and Universalist. Not to be taken as a religious guide. His teaching. Poetic spirit. Hatred of what is false and base. "Representative Men." "English Traits.”
In the year 1847, an American,-tall, pale, and thoughtful,- at the invitation of the Union of Mechanics' Institutions, in Lancashire and Yorkshire, occupied, for a season, their several platforms. Before his lecturing tour he was celebrated; his lectures made him eminent. Singularly deficient in "bounce," the quality for which his countrymen are so famed; he would have passed muster amongst common-place people as an ordinary mortal. The intense feeling of expectancy amongst those who came to hear, was almost sure to give place to disappointment when he first presented himself, as
seemingly unconscious of their presence, he quietly unfolded his manuscript, and, without a prefatory word, commenced his lecture. But before Ralph Waldo Emerson had uttered a dozen sentences, the attention of the audience was riveted; every stray thought was banished. The spell continued until the last word was pronounced, the manuscript refolded, and the gifted speaker had quitted the lecture room as unobtrusively as when he entered. If we were asked, "What was the secret of his success," we should reply that it must not be sought in the lecturer's appearance; not in his dress, style, or any special mannerism; but in the value of the words spoken; in their import and signification would the charm only be found.
Of course there was the usual interest about Emerson which always attaches to the personnel of celebrities; for however plain and unassuming the person may be, a charm and interest attach to it where any celebrity has been attained. We read a book with more interest after we have seen its author: his words seem more significant than before.
At the period of Emerson's visit, the lecturer's chair was too much occupied with the solution of material problems, and scientific phenomena;' everything except religion and politics. In excluding these, according to Algernon Sidney, everything was excluded worth talking about. No wonder that men turned a deaf ear. They had considered long and wisely man's physical, or first nature; they now demanded a consideration of his spiritual, or second nature. After the study of bones, muscles, and nerves, they needed an acquaintance with the Will—the force by which the nerves, muscles, and bones were moved. From the question, "What am I?" they had gone on to demand a solution of the problem, "Whither am I tending?" They said, "Satisfy us in matters which concern ourselves, and then we will examine your calculations and phenomena."
Until this inquiry is satisfied,-until every man is sustained and strengthened by true spiritual or selfknowledge, chemical combinations, electric forces, and gravitating powers will be of small account. No sooner, therefore, did Emerson appear,-speaking from the spiritual side of nature-than men flocked around him; for he spoke words and thoughts which found a reflex in the innermost heart of his hearers; they listened and learned, though they might not be convinced.
We have to speak of Emerson as an Essayist. He appeared as a public lecturer, but then his lectures. were spoken essays, as his poems are essays in metre, -if they can be said to be in any known metre. "The true essay," says Hazlitt, "comes home to the business and bosoms of men; it takes minutes of our dress, looks, words, thoughts, and actions; shows us what we are, and what we are not; plays the whole game of human life over before us, and by making us enlightened spectators of its many coloured scenes, enables us to become tolerably reasonable agents in the one in which we are to perform a part. It does not try to prove all black or all white as it wishes, but lays on the intermediate colours as it finds them blended with 'the web of our life, which is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together.' It inquires what human life is and has been, to show what it ought to be. It follows it into courts and camps, into town and country, into rustic sports and learned disputations, into the various shades of prejudice, or ignorance, of refinement or barbarism; into its private haunts or public pageants; into its weaknesses and littlenesses, its professions and its practices-before it pretends to distinguish right from wrong, or one thing from another.
Who, of the past or present,-always excepting Lord Bacon,- -so completely realises this ideal as Emerson? Who has a deeper insight into man and nature; and who more fearlessly writes his every