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to be the revelation of horrors (though we by no means are saying that this appearance is real). We look upon Hamlet, in short, as a remarkable instance on this side of his character, of that 'extra-regarding impulse' which Mr. Sidgwick (in his mood more remote from Utilitarianism) declares sometimes to come into irreconcileable conflict' with the impulse towards one's own happiness (though that is not quite our own way of putting it). And those who read the play with fresh eyes will perhaps find more purpose and sequence in Hamlet's conduct throughout than is generally thought.

We conclude by putting into as clear a contrast as possible the Utilitarian view, with that which we ourselves hold. The Utilitarians say that all men seek happiness, and other things only as a means to happiness; but that some men seek their own happiness, some the happiness of others as well; that the best end, the end which duty prescribes, is the greatest happiness of the greatest number; and that the understanding of every man, when properly enlightened, accepts this as the ultimate end, and, when so enlightened, naturally aims at it. We hold, that all men follow and seek after certain objects of desire, not as means to happiness, but as ends in themselves, though unavoidably, and as a matter of course, presupposing that happiness is involved in their attainment: that, nevertheless, this presupposed happiness is imagined beforehand with very different degrees of vividness and force; that in the attainment of these objects of desire, the happiness of others is often commingled, sometimes to a much greater extent than our own happiness; that we have, not in our understandings, but in our hearts, a feeling which determines the scope and value of different objects of desire, and hence guides us towards the best choice; that this best choice is frequently not the one most obviously and vividly connected in our imaginations with happiness, either our own or that of others. We hold that God, as He has implanted, so strengthens this moral feeling in us; that, while the best choice is often not that which antecedently is most connected in our thoughts with happiness, it is the one which in the result brings most happiness to all; and that by a law of natural retribution that which we expend (without an ulterior thought of secret selfishness) on the happiness of others is always repaid to ourselves.


ART. VIII.—Essays and Studies. By Algernon Charles Swinburne. London, 1875.

N the flying island of Laputa it is said that architecture,

I tillage, and even tailoring, are regulated by abstract prin

ciples, and yet the houses are ill-built, the fields unproductive, and the dress out of shape. The finer arts, with the exception of music, are unknown in that airy region, for the inhabitants, we hear, are wholly strangers to imagination, fancy, and invention ;' but had these arts been practised, they would, no doubt, have started from the principle thus determined by Mr. Swinburne :

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'No work of art has any worth or life in it that is not done on the absolute terms of art; that is, not before all things and above all things a work of positive excellence, as judged by the laws of the special art to whose laws it is amenable.'

Of late years we have heard much talk of the Absolute in other places besides Laputa. Its supremacy in English art and politics has been boldly asserted, and among the loudest and most strenuous of its advocates it appears that we are now to reckon Mr. Swinburne. On the other side, we confidently affirm that the method of criticism propounded above is contrary to the constitution of nature, the teaching of experience, and the principles of the greatest critics. It is of course true that every work of art must obey the laws of the art to which it belongs. But Quintilian, reminding the orator that he is not to follow the precepts of rhetoric as immutable laws, says, 'The art of rhetoric would certainly be very easy if it could be comprised in so small a number of rules; but these rules admit of great alterations according to the nature of causes, times, circumstances, and necessity; so that the principal requisite of an orator is judgment, by which he shapes his course according to his conditions.' And Addison, speaking more generally, says, 'Music, painting, and architecture, as well as poetry and oratory, are to deduce their laws and rules from the general sense and taste of mankind, and not from the principles of those arts themselves; or, in other words, the taste is not to conform to the art, but the art to the taste. Music is not designed to please only chromatic ears, but all that are capable of distinguishing harsh from disagreeable notes. A man of an ordinary ear is a judge whether a passion is expressed in proper sounds, and whether the melody of those sounds be more or less pleasing.'

There are, however, two kinds of society in which the absolute is supreme; one is the coterie, and the other is the mob. The mob bows to the absolute because, always acting upon


impulse, it is incapable of seeing more than one thing at a time. Impatient of individuality and variety, and impressible rather through the senses than the imagination, it has no taste for the refinements of judgment and reason, and loves better to be astonished than even to be pleased. It likes loud colours in a picture, crashing sounds in a concert, and the art that 'tears a passion to tatters' on the stage. The coterie, on the other hand, exists for the purpose of being singular. Its object is to agree with itself, to disagree with everybody else, and to force its neighbours, as far as it can, to give up the use of common weights and measures in favour of its own metric system. Its belief in the absolute resembles that of the cock, who thought that the sun rose in the morning in consequence of his persistent crowing.

The influence of the coterie on modern English literature is various and wide-spread. Instead of the well-bred familiarity once subsisting between the author and society, and marked by the old-fashioned address to the 'kind reader,' or the 'courteous reader,' there is now a general tendency among our poets and novelists to make their position as 'professionals' as definite as possible. And when a critic of the enlightened class expounds the merits of a writer, he does not seem to speak as the representative of the reader, but addresses himself with the air of a professor to his audience, as to people who have hitherto had no share in the mysteries of art, which are now to be disclosed to them for the first time. How far this contempt of public opinion may extend is very well illustrated by the volume of criticism which we are about to examine. It is but fair to Mr. Swinburne to say that he emphatically repudiates all connection with the coterie. His book contains nine essays on poets, most of whom are still alive, and two papers on painting, one of which is entitled, Notes on some Pictures of 1868;' and he tells us that the one claim he cares to put forth on its behalf is, that it gives full and frank expression to what were at the time of writing his sincere and deliberate opinions.' 'I think,' he says, 'upon the whole that, having now gathered together these divers waifs of tentative criticism, I may leave the babblers and back biters who prate of mutual admiration and the cant of a coterie, absorbed in its own self-esteem, and fettered by its own pass-words, to the ultimate proof or disproof of simple fact and plain evidence.' Mr. Swinburne understands that the coterie is under a cloud; but we think he does not quite understand the reason why. We shall proceed to lay before our readers 'plain evidence' of the manner and matter of his book, which will enable them to judge whether he is so entirely a stranger to the coterie as he would have us suppose.

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'Noscitur a sociis' is a maxim which may sometimes be inverted; and if Mr. Swinburne's companions are to be guessed at from his method of delivering an opinion, we should judge that the society in which he has mixed must have been of a strictly provincial character. Indeed, we know of nothing that at all approaches in intolerance and acrimony the style of our critic when dealing with an adversary, unless it be, longo intervallo, the style of German editors of the classics. Our readers who have studied the manners of this industrious and, we fear, fast-diminishing tribe, may remember many a pitched battle, fought in the obscure recesses of a foot-note, in which the commentators contend about the merits of a particle with all the jealousy of lovers, and all the exasperation of partisans. All the energy and invective of the Latin language are exhausted in the encounter of the rival readings; 'animas in vulnere ponunt.' This, for instance, is the kind of note which is to be found in (let us say) Professor Drangundsturm's edition of the Frogs' of Aristophanes: 'Koȧę ВрEкEKEKÈй KOȧ§. Locus corruptissimus. Splendide corrigit Koblerus, vir optimus et meus amicus, Βρεκεκεκεξ κοάξ κοάξ. Putide Shavius, κοάξ κοάξ βρεκεκεκεξ. Vesane, ut solet, frutex ille Briggsius, ВрeкeкeкÈ Koά. These amenities of criticism Mr. Swinburne has reproduced in the vulgar tongue, with an intensity of feeling and a richness of vocabulary, that make the Latin of his German models appear timid and benevolent. Thus a recent editor of Shelley, having taken upon himself to alter the line

'Fresh spring and summer and winter hoar,'

by adding the word autumn' after summer,' Mr. Swinburne exclaims: A thousand years of purgatorial fire would be insufficient expiation for the criminal, on whose deaf and desperate head must rest the original guilt of defacing the text of Shelley with this most damnable corruption.' Those unhappy readers who fail to share our critic's passion for Victor Hugo's poetry must be prepared to find themselves described as 'bogwater,’ 'toads,' 'centipedes,' 'polecats,' 'nighthawks,' 'vampires,' and twenty other species of vermin, all in the space of a single page. And if there be any tasteless wretch who thinks with us that Mr. Rossetti's ideas are scarcely worth the labour he gives to expressing them, he must bear to be told that this flattering unction the very foolishest of malignants will hardly be able to lay upon the corrosive sore which he calls his soul.'

Passing from these personal compliments, which, perhaps, may be absolutely' just (and Mr. Swinburne tells us in a footnote that he insults no man'), common sense, we should have Vol. 141.-No. 282. thought,

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thought, would have kept an author from throwing mud at the public, whom, by the printing of his book, he is presumably anxious to propitiate. A great critic gives the following advice to a pleader: All contumelious, spiteful, haughty, calumniating expressions should be avoided. To be so imprudent as to attack the judges themselves, I say not openly, but even indirectly, would be a folly in me to comment on, did it not happen.' Mr. Swinburne, on the other hand, has taken the 'absolute' measure of his countrymen, and is good enough to give them 'his frank and full opinion' of their character.

'Heaven knows in his dull dumb way the Briton stands ahead of all men, towers above all men, in stolid and sublime solitude, a massive, stupid, inarticulate god and priest in one; his mute and majestic autolatry is a deeper and more radical religion than the self-love of other nations, the more vocal vanities of France and America.'

What would Quintilian have said to this?

Again, our readers may judge of the ideas of absolute justice and liberty which are likely to prevail in the Universal Republic, whose approach Mr. Swinburne and M. Hugo are so fond of announcing, by the former's defence of Shelley's act of describing himself as atheist' in the visitors' book of a Swiss inn.


'The cause of provocation was clear enough; for on the same leaf there appears, just above his signature, an entry by some one who saw fit here to give vent to an outbreak of overflowing foolery, flagrant and fervid with the godly grease and rancid religion of a conventicle, some folly about the Alps, God, glory, beneficence, witness of nature to this or that person, and such like matter.'

We suppose, then, that if a barrel-organ were to disturb Mr. Swinburne when writing an ode, he would think the circumstance a 'clear cause of provocation' for rushing into the streets and breaking his neighbours' windows.

These specimens of frank and free speaking are, we venture to think, very much what a coterie would be likely to admire. But we trust that even a coterie would decide that Mr. Swinburne had been too 'absolute' (if we may use the expression) in the following foot-note, which we print without comment, only premising that the text on which Mr. Swinburne is enlarging is the necessity of articulate utterance' in poetry (a point on which we entirely agree with him), and that the example from which he draws a warning is a young poet-not long dead-called David Gray.

"This was a poor young Scotchman, who may be remembered as having sought, and found help and patronage at the hands first of Mr. Dobell, and afterwards of Lord Houghton. In some of his sonnets


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