« VorigeDoorgaan »
the use of which would be against the mandates of Buddhism.
It is difficult to predict the future of this unique region, the mineral resources of which might be greatly developed by the introduction of simple machinery combined with skilled management co-operating with native labor. This course would probably lead its destiny to uneventful but prosperous times. Mogok might again become a large business center, its caravans rivaling those of Bhamo in the carrying trade with China. On the other hand, if the district is thrown open to unrestricted competition, and to an influx of loafers and criminal classes, these beautiful valleys might for a time compare on a small scale with the palmy days of Ballarat and California; but their riches would soon be exhausted and their mines abandoned, except by the few who could afford to sink large capitals in an extensive system of scientific mining; what is now a peaceful and in a measure prosperous series of communities would be converted to a pandemonium, and this, though only temporary in its continuance, would leave permanent effects of the most injurious character. Much, however, remains to be done before civilization in either of the above forms can enter the district. A good road has to be constructed by which stores and materials can be conveyed all the year round. The friendship of the neighboring Shan States has to be gauged, and the military force relieved by police.
The ensuing rains, soon to begin, [March, 1887] and which possibly may cut us off from all communication, except at rare intervals, should allow Government time enough to
settle definitely the future of Burma's ruby mines. - G. SKELTON STREETER, in Murray's Magazine.
THE AGE OF "SENSIBILITY."
The eighteenth century is the butt of the nineteenth. From the high places of their culture most modern critics are in the habit of decrying the well-bred, the rational, the prosaic past. They never tire of pointing out to our flattered perceptions how void was the last century of anything like romance in thought, religion, politics, and art. They disparage it by a most unfair comparison with the age of Paradise Lost and Fifth Monarchy. For them the varying phases of Puritan revolution have attractions, but after 1688 they find nothing worthy their notice. In their opinion halfa-dozen names represent the eightcenth century, and those are names of prose. Butler is their typical religionist-typical because his moderate Episcopalianism is an affair of dry logic; the Pelhams, sleepy Whig borough-owners, are their politicians; "the age of the Walpoles and the Pelhams" is the phrase of the history books; Pope, Dr. Johnson, Sir Joshua, sum up the history of English literature and painting. Of music they say nothing, and advisedly, because the solitary foreigner who cared to compose in England was Handel, and he cannot be called prosaic.
In passing these criticisms your average modern is probably thinking of what Mark Pattison once called "the Age of Reason"; that is, the period of Whig supremacy, lasting
from the Revolution of 1688 down
But, in fact, throughout the period as a whole, the world was strongly under the influence of a movement which had very little to do with prosaic moderation. That ment or tendency was "sentimentalism."
and deeply. "Sensibility so charming" was at one time in everyone's mouth. It was right to evince sensibility. It was the proper thing to look upon every feeling as one might upon a newly-pinned insect in a collector's case. But, unlike the insect, the feeling was to be marked, learned, and inwardly digested. The genuine sentimentalist lived simply to collect and feed upon impressions and feelings. Society, especially the fair and irrational part thereof, was given over to this registering process for more than a century. Fielding's humor turned it to ridicule, Byronism gave it a death-blow. But its dying struggles were long and acute. The ultrasentimental trick of style, known as "Laura Matilda," and much affected by the novels printed in a certain Minerva Press, is still apparent in Bulwer and Beaconsfield. Lord Macaulay once wrote a little skit, which he called "The Tears of Sensibility," but the people to whom it was sent took it in sober earnest!
"C'était l'engouement," says a French writer. How shall the word be rendered? Clumsily, it may be move-interpreted to mean a state of fanciful interest in persons and things which is rather more serious than mere caprice, and a good deal less serious than genuine enthusiasm." Sensibility, the sentimental, was not of the nature of real passion, but it was more than sham. It was a stately game with rules, etiquette, and a jargon of its own, and for individual players it oftener than not verged on actuality.
"The production," says Mr. Saintsbury, "was one of the social triumphs of literature." It was an instance of literary feeling escaping from the world of books into that of everyday existence, where it became so fashionable as to pass from an affectation into something very like a habit. Like pre-Raphaelitism in our own time, it came clear of the merely literary and artistic world, but, unlike modern æstheticism, it influenced society far more widely
Sensibility is first found in the literature of the seventeenth century. The era of the "Grand Monarque, which produced so many graceful
descend the social ladder; the hero is a footman of sensibility. The thing is becoming democratic, and men are being prepared for the liberalism with which the century ends. Of such liberalism Madame de Genlis is, perhaps, the chief literary exponent. She and Benjamin Constant, Napoleon's revolutionary antagonist, may be said to close the long roll of distinctively sentimental novelists.
In France the literature of sensibility is never too much in earnest; hence its longevity. In England, Fielding laughs it down, but in Germany it becomes the grim "literature of suicide." In Madame de la Fayette's novels the people are always dying, but you have a suspicion that they will get up and walk away directly the curtain is well down. Not so in the case of German Werther. Extravagant as we may think Goethe's budding Lutheran pastor, who committed suicide because he couldn't marry a noble's daughter, we must admit that there was something painfully real in him.
shams-the long wig, the high red heel of the beau, the fan of the lady of quality, the taste for old china, for rare gardening, for Indian patterns, for chocolate and epigramproduced also sensibility. In the interminable novels of Madame de la Fayette we first find the sighs, flames, platonic affections and conventional absurdities of the précieuses ridicules, whom Molière satirizes, reducing themselves into literary form. "Zaïde" is her great book. The scene is, we believe, oriental, but the men and women are of the most approved seventeenthcentury French type. Here, then, is one of the distinguishing features of the novel of sensibility. Unlike the romantic school, which tries to cast itself heart and soul into mediævalism; unlike the realistic school, which is altogether materialist and of the present, the sentimentalist writers never for a moment try to reproduce any but their own peculiar form of idealism. The same jargon and the same opinions are fitted to the most diverse scenes and epochs. Madame de la Fayette of the seventeenth was succeeded by the Ricco- So much for the mere literary hisbonis and Marivauxs of the eight- tory of sentimentalism. Its influeenth century. Marivaudage be- ence on men and things is far more came the nickname for sensibility, hard to gauge. That it is every just as sensiblerie came to designate where is evident. You have only to its quintessence and apotheosis under go into an old curiosity shop, and to Napoleon. Marivaux adorned the look there at the antique carved furperiod of the Regency dating from niture-the Chippendale, the mar1715, and it is to him, perhaps, that quetry, the buhl-the old china, the one may trace the spread of literary old medals, the old snuff-boxes and sensibility beyond the borders of musical instruments, the old miniaGaul. His two novels, "Marianne" tures, the old prints (those by Barand the "Paysan Parvenu," were tolozzi especially), and you will see respectively the models, though in the spirit of sentimentalism as it different senses. for Richardson's influenced the art people who worked "Pamela" and Fielding's "Joseph to suit a fashionable taste. In BarAndrews." In the "Paysan," we 'tolozzi's engravings and their imita
tions you have the pictorial epitome of sentimentalism. The taper fingers, the constrained attitudes, the improbable classicism, the looks of languishment in these last-century prints, and withal the exceeding lightness of execution and halfsincerity of feeling, are so many symbols of the spirit of the thing.
Take, too, the isolated sayings of eighteenth-century worthies. Take Wolfe's curious little recitation and speech before the victory of Quebec. It is said of him that he recited Gray's Elegy all the while the boats under his command were making with muffled oars to the river side where he and many another brave Englishman were to die. "I had rather be the author of that poem than take Quebec," said he, closing the quotation. Which of her Britannic Majesty's officers would say such things now? Take any of Pitt's little reported sayings; take that episode in which Edmund Burke brandished a knife before the not too astonished House of Commons. Burke was a moderate Whig; but the wildest Home ruler would not do such things now.
The lives, too, of historical personages; take these. Catherine of Russia, two or three Popes, the petty princes of Germany, Joseph II., Louis XVI., Marie Antoinette, Robespierre and friends, Frederick the Great, the typical king of the century, all did homage to sensibility. Lastly, there are the great authors whose genius and individuality keep them from being numbered among the genuine sentimentalists, but who nevertheless could escape only partially from the contagion. Goethe wrote the Sorrows of Werther; Voltaire was sentimental in life if not in
authorship; Madame de Staël was rather sensible than sensible; Laurence Sterne, and, later, Miss Austen, both introduced some form of the word into titles of books, and are really to a vast extent carried away by its influence. And, finally, St. Pierre wrote Paul and Virginia, Napoleon's favorite book. This
Tale of grief and gladness
Told by sad St. Pierre of yore,
This tale is too full of real passion to be a work of mere sensibility, but the turning-point of it is a genuine instance of sensiblerie. The hero and heroine are the children, the one of a peasant woman, the other of a noble lady, whom very unfortunate circumstances have driven to live in the Isle of France. The two children are brought up together in a most romantic way. Finally, the time comes for the nobly born Virginia to finish her up-bringing at the house of a wicked modish aunt in Paris. All the allurements of Louis XV.'s court only teach her an exalted sort of prudery. On her return to the beloved Paul, and when the ship is in sight of home, a storm springs up. A sailor swims out to save Virginia, and Paul is watching on shore; but she, well brought up to the last, refuses to take off certain portions of her raiment, and so sinks in the attitude of prayer, while the distracted mariner swims back alone. It is perhaps a sign of St. Pierre's genius that he makes this bathos the peg on which to hang all the great pathos of the book.
But perhaps the typical instance sentimentality, of the last century
a good index of popular movements and prejudices because an unreason. ing one-play tennis and often even cricket where their mothers did embroidery-work. Our whole training, and the ideals it puts before us, combine to make us hardy artificers, sinewy pioneers. The old-fashioned liberal education, which, whatever its faults, was essentially gentlemanlike and humanizing, is rapidly giving way before a technical schooling. Printing, chemistry, carpentering, scientifically-taught batting, bowling, and swimming are part of a curriculum which was once described by the one word "grammar"-i.e. Latin verses and the harmless game of marbles. Cambridge University gives point to the tendency by instituting a Civil Engineering Tripos!
on had almost said, is Madame de Genlis. Brought up in the approved Rousseauite fashion by parents of the ancien régime, the father, who was scientific, coercing her into patting toads and kissing frogs in order to eradicate prejudice, the mother sending her to church dressed like Cupid, she lived to be the mistress of the revolutionary Duke of Orleans, as well as the most serious, the most approved, sentimental instructress of liberal and well-born French children. She lived long into the present century, but she belonged to the last. Reading Mrs. Opie's description of her visit to her in 1830, one cannot help being struck by the contrast between two centuries of average social life-the eighteenth with its love of wit, conversation, stateliness of manner, wildness of opinion, artificiality of Of course one ought to suppose passion; the nineteenth with its that all this care for the material adoration of commonplace and com- side of existence-for the body, in mon sense, its contempt for talk, or fact is necessary in order that Engaffectation, or doctrinaire opinion or lishmen may remain masters of that sentimentality, its athletic military-extensive archipelago, that oceanic isms, its British matrons, its competitive materialisms.
We of the present generation are under no influence quite like that of sentimentalism. Ritualism, or goody-goody, or æstheticism, or the spirit of modern science, has each its crowds of votaries, but they all fall short of an everyday social force. Perhaps the nearest approach to this is "Muscular Christianity." We talk and think of thews and sinews much as our great-grandfathers did of sentiment. "What does he do?" now means "what form of muscular exercise does he take?" "He does nothing" means, in the language of young Englishmen, that so-andso is not athletic. The other sex-
Venice, the British Empire. But it is curious also to reflect that this same Saxon Empire was won for us some hundred and thirty years ago by the swords and tongues of officers and civilians who wrote verses, danced gavottes, dressed with the wildest foppery, paid stilted compliments, shed the tear of sensibility when needful, talked Johnsonese, drank more wine than was good for them (and were consequently never "in training"), took only horse exercise, and knew positively nothing about cricket and football save that they were the sports of villagers. For these same officers and civilians lived during the age of sentimentalism.-Cornhill Magazine.