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of Rothbury, Morpeth; Canon Woodhouse; Mr. James Crossley, F.S.A.; and Mr. Richard Parkinson, a relative of "the Old Church worthy," now resident near this city. Canon Raines has also kindly supplied some material. Amongst his Lancashire MSS., so well known to investigators, are a series of Lives of Fellows of the Collegiate Church, including, of course, Parkinson. (Lanc. MSS., vol. xiii. pp. 155-179.) Thirty years ago the canon was sketched by the present writer in a gallery of literary portraits, in which he was "pilloried" between the Rev. J. P. O'Leary and Mr. Archibald Prentice, greatly to his
[Read October 8, 1877.]
`HERE is no equivalent in the English language for the German word Geist. I shall, in the first place, try to make clear to you what I conceive to be the meaning of the word, and if I succeed in doing this, I shall have little difficulty in making you feel with me that the discernment of geist in every kind of intellectual work, in literature, in art, and in music, is the great joy of culture.
Bear in mind that we live in two worlds, a spiritual real world, and a material unreal, or apparent, or phenomenal world. In one of Mr. Matthew Arnold's Oxford addresses he puts this question: "If England were swallowed up by the sea to-morrow, which, a hundred years hence, would most excite the love, interest, and admiration of mankind-would most, therefore, show the evidences of having possessed greatness-the England of the last twenty years, or the England of Elizabeth, of a time of splendid spiritual. effort, but when our coal, and our industrial operations depending upon coal were very little developed?" Of course there is only one answer to this question, and when, for the moment, I borrow the language of metaphysics, and speak of the spiritual real and the physical apparent, I want to startle you into realising this truth, that it is only the disciple of culture, and not the merely acute prosperous man, who sees things as they are and not as they seem, who sees the greatness of the Elizabethan age, and yet may look in vain for greatness in his own day in spite of the increased wealth and comfort which surround him. Clearly, then, if we want to ascertain how much of our world of to-day is real and imperish
able, what in it to admire and imitate, and what in it to discard, what part of it will survive the other part, seeing that we cannot look down upon it from the pinnacle of two centuries hence, are we left to grope in the dark, and have we no test that we can apply to the work of our contemporaries, as unerring as that other test, the survival of the fittest, which time applies to the great minds of the past? I shall have wasted your time this evening, I shall have utterly failed if I do not succeed in communicating to you some share of my own profound and cheering belief that we are not left in the dark, that we may, with some approach to confidence, say of man's work whether or no it contains the living germ. Geist is the name which we will agree to give to this condition, geist is the only salt which can save from putrefaction, and therefore if we are in the secret, and are able to discern geist, then we shall be able to get some reply to the momentous question: "What are we of this generation adding to the vast hoarded inheritance left to us by the generations that have passed away? Are we getting richer or are we getting poorer? Have we the necessary insight to see things as they are, and not as they seem? Can we distinguish in man's work the genuine from the spurious?"
In selecting the word Geist as the only word which, to me, adequately expresses at once harmony and perfection, I resist the strong temptation which presents itself to trace the causes of that singular transference of power from the French to the Germans, which has visibly taken place within the last twenty-five years. That precise degree of ascendancy held by the German mind over ours at the present day, was formerly held by the French. Evidences of the once powerful ascendancy of the French mind are plentiful on every side, in our language, in our manners and dress, in our arts and manufactures, on our stage, and in the doctrines of our political theorists, of Mill and Congreve and Frederick Harrison. But we are indebted to the influence of such opposite writers as Carlyle and Matthew Arnold, to say nothing of the theologians who have gone to David Strauss and the historians who have gone to Curtius and Mommsen, to be able to say that we have now outgrown this teaching, and our admiration of French wit has been succeeded by our love of German culture. Formerly when we wanted to express something wittier than wit, we called it esprit. Now, when we want to express that in a picture
or a poem which gives us complete satisfaction, which expands the mind and the feelings, a poem which makes us for the time greater than ourselves, a poem or a picture which belongs to the real, imperishable world, we speak of its geist. Anyone who has a slight acquaintance with the two languages will hardly fail to feel that the two words esprit and geist have a flavour of what is most distinctive in the natural characteristics of each. Esprit blossoms out most naturally into bon mots and epigrams. It gives nicety of discrimination, accuracy of aim, a clearly defined outline, and a high polish. Its light is focussed in a single point, and condenses its power into a flash. It is tormented (as Joubert says of himself) by the desire of putting a whole book into one page, a whole page into one sentence, a whole sentence into one word. Its sins are those of omission, rather than of commission. It shuts its eyes to that which would disturb the self-imposed unity of its work. Its neatness is sometimes poverty; its lucidity, shallowness. Like an unscrupulous beauty, its symmetry is that
of man, not of nature. It is at home in the streets of a gay city, but finds itself dépaysé in mountain solitudes.
Geist, on the other hand, is not an idea, an epigram, a brilliant lie, it is an atmosphere. The secret of esprit lies in its rapid movements, its surprises, its quick comprehension of a change of situation. But geist has no need to move, it is always there. It needs not to throw itself into your situation, for it has you and all developments of you within itself. You cannot point out geist; it is not gathered up into a single phrase, or hugged in a gem-like word. It diffuses itself in an intangible way throughout a literary work. It is felt in a general breath of treatment, a quiet mastery of the subject, a harmonising of many details. Indeed, esprit means neatness; geist means harmony. The work of geist is complex, and yet simple. Like the stars, it strikes the superficial observer as disorderly. But it is only disorderly as Nature is so, when seen in fragments. It has a wide perspective, and is open to the charge of extravagance, because it annihilates distance, and believes that all things are possible.
I am prepared to be told that my definitions simply prove the impossibility of defining geist. I, who consider obscurity in writing an impertinence where it is not due to incapacity, am prepared to be told that I am obscure. Before I proceed to
illustrate geist, I want to insist strongly upon two points. Geist, especially in literature, is the humane element, the element of continuity which enables us to carry lightly in our minds some knowledge of all the great productions of the last three or four thousand years. The other point, which I shall come to by-andby, is geist in reference to style. I address myself particularly to the artists and the art-critics, when I urge that geist knows nothing of academies and schools. Geist is not the new trick of a great painter, which any younger man may inherit without necessarily inheriting the master's genius. I believe there are still traditions of the studio which tell of the secrets of mixing colours possessed by the great masters of the sixteenth century. But I believe the only foreign ingredient they used was that one which Opie recommended his young friend to try. Is it not a marvellous thing that any man of average parts, who happens to have become enamoured of books at the enthusiastic period of life, can span the centuries, can lean back in his chair, and without any aid but that of memory possess himself of the only real, immortal parts of dead civilizations? Let us be wiser in our generation, and search in our own day for the only real evidences of greatness which we shall bequeath to posterity. Take a rapid survey of the world's history, and it is the history of geist. Of Hebrew writers I prefer Job and the author of the Book of Ecclesiastes. From this starting point, and without pausing to do more than to enumerate names, we have Homer, Plato, and Eschylus in Greece, and Lucretius, whose claim is somewhat doubtful, in Rome. Then St. Paul and St. Augustine; Dante and Savonarola, Leonardo and Michael Angelo in Italy; Cervantes in Spain; Shakspere in England; Spinoza in Holland; and Montaigne in France. Then comes the great German awakening, the dawn of Lessing, Schiller, Goethe, Richter, and Hegel, Mozart and Beethoven; immediately followed by our own renaissance, the advent of Scott, Byron, Shelley, Keats, Burns, Carlyle, and the Lake School. In our own day, we may safely add to this list, Turner, Thackeray, Balzac, George Eliot, and Herbert Spencer. This selection may appear to be a capricious selection, but remember nothing less than perfection, nothing less than harmony, has ever caught the ear of the centuries, so that I intentionally leave out names, equally celebrated, but attached to men who fall short of the full measure, men such as