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The Amateur

COLLOWING so soon upon the death tertained. Perhaps nothing else ever seized R of Charles Eliot Norton, the death of and held the attention of so many of the 1 Donald G. Mitchell points the same candid youth of America as “Dream Life" moral. The moral is that it is perfectly and the “Reveries of a Bachelor." 'At any practicable for an American, given “the rate, the seizure and the holding were quite amateur spirit” in himself, and possibly some unmistakably attested. If it were really modicum of private means, to lead a retired weak health alone that induced the winner and gracious and beneficent life. This is of these successes to abdicate his victorious quite inconceivable to a foreigner, perhaps position instead of trying to repeat them, particularly to an Englishman, who, by very then one might find in the abdication an dint of his proximity, is, in certain essential re- abundant consolation even for a valetudinary spects, so much more a foreigner than the Con- condition. To turn from failure to “do tinental. To the foreigner in general and chores" and solace one's leisure with the the Englishman in particular the notion of a Georgics and Columella is one thing: to turn retired or retiring American is an anomaly from signal success to the same vocations and which he refuses to entertain. The Ameri- avocations is quite another, and immensely can who does not wriggle or strut toward the more exemplary. And to have this turning limelight, and mistake that progress for a away from “any of the objects of ordinary struggling toward the light, the American ambition" recognized as admirable and truly who does not strive nor cry, is, to the gen- successful, as it has been ungrudgingly reeral European appreciation, a solecism in cognized in our more thoughtful quarters, is

nature. Of course, he is a familiar, the attestation of what one may properly Spirit."

I though not a familiar enough call a triumph of right living. There is a

phenomenon to us others, us na- pathetic passage in one of the private letters tives. Unhappy he of us, even though him- of Donald G. Mitchell's contemporary, self engaged in what old Wiclif calls George William Curtis, cited in Mr. Ed“parlous battle,” who does not know at ward Cary's “Life," which is illuminating least one dear old man, or perhaps not so as well as pathetic. “How much I prefer old, who occupies some “quiet seat above these quiet hills," he writes at some political the thunder," “Like a sage escaped from the crisis, “and how I am driven out on the inanity of life's battle," who judges the cur- stormy seas." Not that Curtis was at all rent phenomena with an aloofness, who has no blamable for being "out on the stormy need to keep his ear to the ground or his nose to seas," but that Mitchell was all the more the ticker, and who is able to "shun the spawn enviable for being in the quiet nooks, "the of the press on the gossip of the hour" and still air of delightful studies." Enviable and lead his own dignified and individual life. also admirable, for he had shaped his life

One rejoices to see, in the obituaries of according to his requirements, and remained “Ik Marvel," that this capability is noted far, yet not too far, from the madding crowd's with admiration and even with envy. The ignoble strife, the master of his fate, the case is more compelling than that of Pro- captain of his soul. fessor Norton, because of his senior's and His own escapades into public life were survivor's early and unquestioned literary the merest avocations. "Julius Cæsar was successes. Professor Norton never made a consul; so was Napoleon Bonaparte; so such successes. It might be said with plausi- was I”-as he begins his record of his Ve. bility that his retiracy was as much enforced netian consulate by saying; and proceeds to as spontaneous. Indeed, that might be said show what a hollow mockery the consulate of Mr. Mitchell, too, though the enforcement was, Franklin Pierce consule. How admiin his case came from a valetudinary con- rable if it was willed, how enviable even if it dition. Certainly not from failure of any was imposed, that lifelong addiction after literary aspirations which he may have en- an initial success that would have turned most heads—that addiction to a course of prised if some British witling some day venlife that “kept him out of the common con- tures the suggestion that the author of “Every troversies of the street and of the forum,” Man in His Humor” was called Rare Ben and so incidentally gave rise to so much good Jonson simply and solely because his plays reading as to tempt the reader to insist, quite were not well done. in opposition to a recent contention, that all And now another vocable which we had literary men should be amateurs. “What cherished as our own is to be ravished from us. I wonder at," says Stevenson's practical man Could there be a more characteristic Americanto Stevenson's artist, “is that you should ism than rough-rider? Is not this hyphenated not want to do anything else.”

term redolent of the ferocious and lanate For the fruit of this learned and gentle Occident? Could any of us ever have the manlike leisure is so much more to the pur- slightest doubt as to its origin? Yet even if we pose than the entire “life-work” of many did invent it, we were anticipated by our literary exclusives. The “collective edition” cousins in that distant isle off the coast of which Ik Marvel had the honest pleasure France. An American may have devised of surveying during the last year of his long rough-rider off-hand as the best term to delife, was a worthy and merited tribute to scribe a thing that needed a name. But the what may be called, without any real contra- name itself was not novel; it can be founddiction in terms, the Earnest Amateur. To hyphen and all-in a novel, or at least, in a a man who had never written for his living, work of fiction written in London in 1843 or as one may say, to have the fruit of his thereabouts, by one George Barrow. The horæ subsecivæ set before him, sixty-one book is called “Lavengro"; it is a record of years, as he himself records, after he had adventures and a gallery of human character, begun to make that humane use of his which has long been the joy of all who delight spare hours, was a solatium senectutis such in a good fight sympathetically set forth. And as few men have and few men earn. There in the thirteenth chapter of this veracious stands “ Edgewood” still, looking eastward chronicle Lavengro is set astride of a fiery over the fields where are the young Yale bar- steed. He manages to stick on as best he can; barians all at play. Until its late occupant is and as he does not fall off, the groom sees fit to quite forgotten, it will stand to instil into cer- encourage him by crying out. “That's it, tain of the young barbarians, looking westward now abroad with you; I'll bet my comrade a up the hill, one of the most beneficent uses pot of beer that you'll be a regular roughwhich a “liberal education" can conserve. rider by the time you come back!” And

there's an end to our paternal pride in the

phrase. We did not beget it; at best we only DRIEND after friend departs, who has not adopted a bantling born to another sire.

lost a friend? Americanism after Amer

icanism is replevined by our kin across the sea, and we Yankees stand by helpless and

THE female American has been of late supine. What have we left for our very own, “catching it" in the columns of a if our indigenous vocabulary is proved to be serious, if visionary, London journal.

only a collection of transplanted Her assailant, a Scotch-Canadian, has manAn Adopted Americanism seedlings? A senator of the United aged to infuriate her British sisters also by

States—and from Massachusetts!— declaring that when he says the American has delighted in a scholarly collecting of the woman he does not mean the general AmerAmericanisms which he finds flourishing abund- ican woman, but only a type of womanhood antly in the pages of Shakspeare. And before which is highly developed in the United that traitorous deed was done, another Massa- States, but of which the representatives chusetts man, the author of a group of satirical abound in the United Kingdom. The type ballads called the “Biglow Papers," had gone he assails upon the ground that it is like the out of his way to show that many of our most lilies of the field in that it toils not, neither vigorous localisms of speech were mere sur- does it spin. Also it does not bear

The Male vivals. Even rare in the sense of underdone children. It is given, above other

American is not our own, since it was once known to the women, to fads and fancies. British, who chose to allow it to fall into innocu- Undoubtedly this type has been developed ous desuetude. Indeed, we need not be sur. so highly in this country that it is not unfair

to designate America as its special habitat. · element in his courtships, and the cultiThe discussion stirred up by this Habakkuk vated but unprovided Briton, though more Mucklewrath has brought out anew the spav- circuitous in his procedure, is equally perined adage that if America have no leisure suaded of the necessity that he must class, it has a leisure sex, and the corollary “marry money." Vide Anthony Trollope unfolded by the good Watts about the kind passim. of employment which is provided by abun Yes, we arraign him ; but he, the weary dant leisure. But, rather oddly, at the same Titan, with deaf ears and labor-dimmed time a cisatlantic discussion has arisen over eyes, continues, in short and in his own lothe social defects of the male American. cution, to “saw wood.” Perhaps it were Nobody pretends that the defects appertain- better for him if he were a little less strenuing to excessive idleness are his. On the ous, as certainly it were better for his Eurocontrary, the very complaint of him is that pean rival if he were a good deal less lazy. he is excessively given to business. Where- The male American may cherish an inarticufore his womankind are, in the estimation of late conviction that he has the makings of a many rapid tourists and of some more ma- better husband than the more ornamental ture observers, better educated than he, and male European who may yet put him to more addicted to the things of the mind. shame in a casual discussion on Shakespeare According to Mr. Perry Robinson, he fre- and the musical glasses. And, really, the quently has to ask his wife who painted the time seems to give it proof. An American, prides of his gallery, whereas the English to be sure not a very strenuous one, in Mr. wife has to resort to her husband for that Henry James's “Portrait of a Lady," warns class of information. But hence, so to speak, the American girl who is about to give herthe cultured American girl, revolting from self to an exemplar of culture, also an Ameriher uncultured though strenuous compatriot, can (although as the other American obfinds herself more at her ease with the culti- serves, “one forgets that, he is so little of vated and unstrenuous stranger, and even one"), that she was “meant for something the American matron, or pseudo-matron, better than to keep guard over the sensibiliit is more than suggested, finds satisfac- ties of a sterile dilettante.” She came, by tions, of course within the limits of becom- tragical experience, to the same conclusion. ing social intercourse, with the leisured In fact, the novelist, in the work in question, and cultured Briton, with the lively Gaul, anticipated and summed up the recent conwith the omniscient and nullificent Ger- tention. Caspar Goodwood and Gilbert Osman, which she cannot derive from the mond, respectively, embody the types of the companionship of her liege lord and coun- strenuous American and the cultivated tryman.

foreigner, and the distinct moral is that It is very odd, very "rum,” her congenial Isabel Archer chose the wrong man. When Briton would say, how the American girl in the poet Bunthorne, in Sir W. S. Gilbert's particular is deceived. (As to the American operetta, inquires of the rustic maiden, “Do matron, provided she keep herself out of the you not yearn?" she makes answer, “I yearn scope and purview of French fiction, it does my living." It is a pertinent answer for the not so much matter.) The American girl male American when he is challenged by is apt to forget or ignore that the very thing the female American. He may with some that makes her eligible in the eyes of the confidence expect that the other things foreigner is the very thing that she owes to she misses in him will be added unto him ; the disparaged American male parent, whose whereas this particular capability will surely limitations she finds irksome, the same limi- never be a by-product of graceful and cultitations which in the comparison with the vated ease. “ cultured ” and “leisured” foreigner discommend her ceval compatriot to her. For while it has been justly remarked that AN any one find a better instance of in affairs of the heart women are the more

the irony of fate than that afforded practical and men the more romantic, the

by a sale catalogue of the autograph remark is of a domestic significance and letters of authors? A writer may have gone will not bear exportation. The Continen- through life, constantly struggling with evil tal European frankly admits a mercenary fortune, and dying at last almost unknown, leaving behind him a novel or a book of po- “Life and Letters” which the natural vanity ems that wins at last a wide circle of ardent of these writers looks forward to. Missives


admirers. While he was alive he thus conscientiously composed are not so As to the Auto

Autor could not earn his living by his pen, much letters to the actual recipients as they graph Letters of Authors

and his writings went a-begging, are epistles to posterity. And perhaps, like

with no buyers. And then, when other epistles to posterity, they may not al. posthumous fame comes to him too late, the ways reach their address. imploring missives that he wrote in his gar But these are not the only letters that are ret to unappreciative publishers came to be written with an eye to the future autograph worth more in the market than he was paid collector. M. Porel, the manager of the for any of the works into which he poured vaudeville theatre in Paris, has recently been his soul. He himself may have received little narrating his recollections of the dramatic or nothing for his masterpiece while he was celebrities he met in his youth. And one of alive; and then when he is dead and gone, his anecdotes is a little disquieting to the every A. L. S. that can be discovered in the peace of mind of the autograph collector. waste-paper baskets of his contemporaries M. Porel tells us that he dropped in one is proffered for sale to eager collectors at morning to keep an appointment with the prices which would have made him laugh elder Dumas, and he found that the kindly aloud with incredulous self-mockery.

and robust author had spent the whole night A single note of Milton's, or even a sig- in a vain effort to make a thousand francs, nature sprawled in an odd volume, will now which he needed to help the son of an old bring more than the poet received for “Para friend and which a dealer had promised him dise Lost." Charles Lamb was not cast in return for five hundred autograph letters. down by the simplicity of his scale of living, He had toiled over these never-to-be-sent and he was sustained by his sense of humor and never-to-be-received missives until he and by the manliness of his character; but had exhausted every possible epistolary form he would have had the smile of the unbe- and until he was absolutely exhausted himself. liever if a prophesying friend had told him To an observer on this side of the Atlanthat the manuscript of any single one of his tic familiar with the history of the stock exessays would be more valuable than the pay change this anecdote recalls the method of he probably received for all his contributions Gould and Fisk printing off shares of a new to the London Magazine lumped together. issue of Erie stock as fast as these could be Thackeray again, with his modesty which sold. To emit five hundred letters by a did not prevent now and again a suspicion single writer appears to be a painful example as to his own work, would have been pleas- of over-production. But probably the dealer antly flattered if he could have foreseen that who made the bargain knew his business, his charming little notes, with the casual and he intended to lock up this mass of corcaricatures he liked to scrawl in the blank respondence and to float single specimens spaces, would be quoted in the market at into circulation slowly and skilfully, keeping prices far outreaching that which he himself his price up by every method known to the was paid for his more carefully composed trade. This adroit French merchant in contributions to the reviews.

MSS. would never have been guilty of unThere are authors of our own time who have derselling-unlike one of a later American now awakened to the possibility of this future dealer who recently proffered for only nine inquiry for their stray correspondence, and dollars a letter of Artemus Ward, written who are therefore most fastidious in their and dated in 1885-a score of years after the letter-writing, never permitting even the least decease of Charles F. Browne! Now, a important note to go forth that is not fit to be letter in the handwriting of a dead man rewelcomed in the most exacting collector's ferring to events that took place long after library. The letters of these authors are al- his demise is absolutely unique. To ask ways neat in chirography and perfect in or- only nine dollars for it was to give it away; thography. They are all of them what the for in reality it was priceless, since it dealer will delight to call “characteristic proves the immortality of the soul and also specimens," and they will also take their the control of pen, ink and paper by disemplace at once and without any editing in the bodied spirits.

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JORE EXAMPLES OF THE ENGLISH is of a certain conventional mellowness, it is SCHOOL AT THE METROPOLITAN

still acceptable, and, for the period, good. MUSEUM OF ART.

To those interested in following the se(T is a pleasure to return to this school,* quence of the practice of painting in Eng

and to note the effort that is being made land this canvas is an example they will 1 at the Museum to extend the list and enjoy, and is a desirable possession for the range of the British painters who must always Museum. be of peculiar interest to Americans.

There is a portrait by Sir Martin Archer That ill-starred genius, George Morland, Shee, P.R.A., of that handsome man, the is represented by a homely theme character- “Irish Liberator," and master of popular istic of the subjects that appealed to him. eloquence, Daniel O'Connell, painted in a The “Midday Meal" is the picture of a pig- conventional way and conventionally lighted sty shaded by a group of large trees; a young -interesting, however, as showing an interfarm hand, carrying a pail of feed and fol- mediate period in English portraiture analolowed by three hungry swine, approaches gous to the lapse in our own art after Stuart the sty. Swineherd and swine are given with and others of our early painters; a merely a light touch which reveals the pleasure some well-painted but colorless performance. In of these early Englishmen took in the mere describing his dress would not the catalogue manipulation of paint; and while the color read better if "waistcoat” were to replace *See the Field of Art for January of this year.

the word vest? Elsewhere we come to anVol. XLV.-42


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