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where, either in society or in literature, they | sort of charity which passes silver from hand grow morbid. to hand.
Yet, although it is useless to attempt to ele- Shortly after the termination of the great vate any human being above his own intel- Franco-German conflict, M. Taine suggested lectual level unless he gradually climbs him- in the Temps that subscribers to the better self as a man ascends a mountain, there are sort of journals might do a good deal for the nevertheless certain charities or condescend- enlightenment of the humbler classes by ences of the highly cultivated which may be merely lending their newspapers in their good for the lower intelligences that surround neighborhood. This was a good suggestion: them, as the streams from the Alpine snows the best newspapers are an important intelare good for the irrigation of the valleys, lectual propaganda; they awaken an interest though the meadows which they water must in the most various subjects, and supply not forever remain eight or ten thousand feet only information but a stimulus. The danger below them. And I believe that it would to persons of higher culture that the news. greatly add to the happiness of the intellect- paper may absorb time which would else be ual portion of mankind if they could more devoted to more systematic study, does not systematically exercise these charities. It is exist in the classes for whose benefit M. Taine quite clear that we can never effect by chance made his recommendation. The newspaper conversation that total change in the mental is their only secular reading, and without it state which is gradually brought about by the they have no modern literature of any kind. slow processes of education; we cannot give In addition to the praiseworthy habit of lendto an intellect that has never been developed, ing good newspapers, an intellectual man who and which has fixed itself in the undeveloped lives in the country might adopt the practice state, that power and activity which come of conversing with his neighbors about everyonly after years of labor; but we may be able thing in which they could be induced to take on many occasions to offer the sort of help an interest, giving them some notion of what which a gentleman offers to an old woman goes on in the classes which are intellectually when he invites her to get up into the rumble active, some idea of such discoveries and projbehind his carriage. I knew an intellectual ects as an untutored mind may partially unlady who lived habitually in the country, and derstand. For example, there is the great I may say without fanciful exaggeration that tunnel under the Mont Cenis, and there is the the farmers' wives round about her were con- projected tunnel beneath the Channel, and siderably superior to what in all probability there is the cutting of the Isthmus of Suez. they would have been without the advantage A peasant can comprehend the greatness of of her kindly and instructive conversation. these remarkable conceptions when they are She possessed the happy art of conveying the properly explained to him, and he will often sort of knowledge which could be readily re- feel a lively gratitude for information of that ceived by her hearers, and in a manner which kind. We ought to remember what a slow made it agreeable to them, so that they drew and painful operation reading is to the unedideas from her quite naturally, and her mind ucated. Merely to read the native tongue is irrigated their minds, which would have re-to them a labor so irksome that they are apt mained permanently barren without that help and refreshment. It would be foolish to exaggerate the benefits of such intellectual charity as this, but it is well, on the other hand, not to undervalue it. Such an influence can never convey much solid instruction, but it may convey some of its results. It may produce a more thoughtful and reasonable One of the best ways of interesting and incondition of mind, it may preserve the igno-structing your intellectual inferiors is to give rant from some of those preposterous theories them an account of your travels. All peoand beliefs which so easily gain currency ple like to hear a traveller tell his own tale, amongst them. Indirectly, it may have and whilst he is telling it he may slip in a rather an important political influence, by good deal of information about many things, disposing people to vote for the better sort and much sound doctrine. Accounts of forof candidate. And the influence of such eign countries, even when you have not seen intellectual charity on the material well- them personally, nearly always awaken a being of the humbler classes, on their lively interest, especially if you are able to health and wealth, may be quite as consider-give your hearers detailed descriptions of the able as that of the other and more common life led by foreigners who occupy positions
to lose the sense of a paragraph in seeking for that of a sentence or an expression. As they would rather speak than have to write, so they prefer hearing to reading, and they get much more good from it, because they can ask a question when the matter has not been made clear to them.
corresponding to their own. Peasants can the thirty-six; and so long as one of the eleven be made to take an interest in astronomy remained I ought to have contentedly taught even, though you cannot tell them anything him. The success of a teacher is not to be about the peasants in Jupiter and Mars, and measured by the numbers whom he immedithere is always, at starting, the great diffi-ately influences. It is enough, it has been culty of persuading them to trust science proved to be enough in more than one remarkabout the motion and rotundity of the earth. able instance, that a single living soul should A very direct form of intellectual charity be in unison with the soul of a master, and is that of gratuitous teaching, both in classes receive his thought by sympathy. The one and by public lectures, open to all comers. disciple teaches in his turn, and the idea is A great deal of light has in this way been propagated. spread abroad in cities, but in country villages there is little encouragement to enterprises of this kind, the intelligence of farm laborers being less awakened than that of the
corresponding urban population. Let us re- TO THE FRIEND OF A MAN OF HIGH CULTURE member, however, that one of the very highest and last achievements of the cultivated
WHO PRODUCED NOTHING.
intellect is the art of conveying to the uncul- Joubert--"Not yet time," or else "The time is past "-His
weakness for production-Three classes of minds-A more perfect intellectual life attainable by the silent student than by authors-He may follow his own geniusSaving of time effected by abstinence from writing-The unproductive may be more influential than the prolific.
tivated, the untaught, the unprepared, the best and noblest knowledge which they are capable of assimilating. No one who, like the writer of these pages, has lived much in the country, and much amongst a densely ignorant peasantry, will be likely in any plans of enlightenment to err far on the side of enthusiastic hopefulness. The mind of a farm laborer, or that of a small farmer, is almost always sure to be a remarkably stiff soil, in which few intellectual conceptions can take root; yet these few may make the difference between an existence worthy of a man, and one that differs from the existence of a brute in little beyond the possession of articulate language. We to whom the rich inheritance of intellectual humanity is so familiar as to have lost much of its freshness, are liable to underrate the value of thoughts and discoveries which to us have for years seemed commonplace. It is with our intellectual as with our material wealth; we do not realize how precious some fragments of it might be to our poorer neighbors. The old clothes that we wear no longer may give comfort and confidence to a man in naked destitution; the truths which are so familiar to us that we never think about them, may raise the utterly ignorant to a sense of their human brother-is too young," as Napoleon said of Ingres, or hood.
Above all, in the exercise of our intellectual charities, let us accustom ourselves to feel satisfied with humble results and small successes; and here let me make a confession which may be of some possible use to others. When a young man, I taught a drawing-class gratuitously, beginning with thirty-six pupils, who dwindled gradually to eleven. Soon afterwards I gave up the work from dissatisfaction, on account of the meagre attendance. This was very wrong- the eleven were worth
WHEN I met B. at your house la t week, you whispered to me in the drawing-room that he was a man of the most remarkable attainments, who, to the great regret of all his friends, had never employed his abilities to any visible purpose. We had not time for a conversation on this subject, because B. himself immediately joined us. His talk reminded me very much of Joubert-not that I ever knew Joubert personally, though I have lived very near to Villeneuve-sur-Yonne, where Joubert lived; but he is one of those characters whom it is possible to know without having seen them in the flesh. His friends used to urge him to write something, and then he said, "Pas encore." "Not yet; I need a long peace." Tranquillity came, and then he said that God had only given force to his mind for a limited time, and that the time was past. Therefore, as Sainte-Beuve observed, for Joubert there was no medium; either it was not yet time, or else the time was past.
Nothing is more common than for other people to say this of us. They often say "He
else 'He is too old," as Napoleon said of Greuze. It is more rare for a man himself to shrink from every enterprise, first under the persuasion that he is unprepared, and afterwards because the time is no longer opportune. Yet there does exist a certain very peculiar class of highly-gifted, diffident, delicate, unproductive minds, which impress those around them with an almost superstitious belief in their possibilities, yet never do anything to justify that belief.
But may it not be doubted whether these
ble in their way, but they are really, and not apparently, sterile.
And why would we have it otherwise? When we lament that a man of culture has "done nothing," as we say, we mean that he has not written books. Is it necessary, is it desirable, that every cultivated person should
minds have productive power of any kind? I believe that the full extent of Joubert's productive power is displayed in those sentences of his which have been preserved, and which reveal a genius of the rarest delicacy, but at the same time singularly incapable of sustained intellectual effort. He said that he could only compose slowly, and with an ex-write books? treme fatigue. He believed, however, that the weakness lay in the instrument alone, in the composing faculties, and not in the faculties of thought, for he said that behind his weakness there was strength, as behind the strength of some others there was weakness. In saying this, it is probable that Joubert did not overestimate himself. He had strength of a certain kind, or rather he had quality; he had distinction, which is a sort of strength in society and in literature. But he had no productive force, and I do not believe that his unproductiveness was a productive-student who never publishes, and does not inness checked by a fastidious taste; I believe that it was real, that he was not organized for production.
Sainte-Beuve said that a modern philosopher was accustomed to distinguish three classes of minds
On the contrary, it seems that a more perfect intellectual life may be attained by the silent student than by authors. The writer for the public is often so far its slave that he is compelled by necessity or induced by the desire for success (since it is humiliating to write unsaleable books as well as unprofitable) to deviate from his true path, to leave the subjects that most interest him for other subjects which interest him less, and therefore to acquire knowledge rather as a matter of business than as a labor of love. But the
tend to publish, may follow his own genius and take the knowledge which belongs to him by natural affinity. Add to this the immense saving of time effected by abstinence from writing. Whilst the writer is polishing his periods, and giving hours to the artistic exigencies of mere form, the reader is adding to his knowledge. Thackeray said that writers were not great readers, because they had not the time.
1. Those who are at once powerful and delicate, who excel as they propose, execute what they conceive, and reach the great and true beautiful-a rare élite amongst mortals. 2. A class of minds especially characterized The most studious Frenchman I ever met by their delicacy, who feel that their idea is with used to say that he so hated the pen as superior to their execution, their intelligence scarcely to resolve to write a letter. He regreater than their talent, even when the tal-minded me of Joubert in this; he often said, ent is very real; they are easily dissatisfied "J'ai horreur de la plume." Since he had no with themselves, disdain easily won praises, and would rather judge, taste, and abstain from producing, than remain below their conception and themselves. Or if they write it is by fragments, for themselves only, at long intervals and at rare moments. Their fecundity is internal, and known to few.
3. Lastly, there is a third class of minds more powerful and less delicate or difficult to please, who go on producing and publishing themselves without being too much dissatisfied with their work.
profession his leisure was unlimited, and he employed it in educating himself without any other purpose than this, the highest purpose of all, to become a cultivated man. The very prevalent idea that lives of this kind are failures unless they leave some visible achievement as a testimony and justification of their labors, is based upon a narrow conception both of duty and of utility. Men of this unproductive class are sure to influence their immediate neighborhood by the example of their life. Isolated as they are too frequently in the provinces, in the midst of populations destitute of the higher culture, they often establish the notion of it notwithstanding the contemptuous estimates of the practical people around them. A single intellectual life, thus modestly lived through in the obscurity of a country-town, But Sainte-Beuve believed that Joubert be- may leave a tradition and become an enduring longed to the second class, and I suspect that influence. In this, as in all things, let us trust both Sainte-Beuve and many others have the arrangements of Nature. If men are at credited that class with a potential produc- the same time constitutionally studious and tiveness beyond its real endowments. Minds constitutionally unproductive, in must be that of the Joubert class are admirable and valua-production is not the only use of study. Jou
The majority of our active painters and writers, who fill modern exhibitions, and produce the current literature of the day, belong to the last class, to which we are all greatly indebted for the daily bread of literature and art.
bert was right in keeping silence when he felt | most perfect solitude, and even people who no impulses to speak, right also in saying the live in the same house know very little, reallittle that he did say without a superfluously, of their intellectual habits. word. His mind is more fully known, and The truth seems to be, first, that the momore influential, than many which are abun-ments of high excitement, of noblest invendantly productive.
TO A STUDENT WHO FELT HURRIED AND DRIVEN.
tion, are rare, and not to be commanded by the will; but, on the other hand, that in order to make the gift of invention produce its full effect in any department of human effort, vast labors of preparation are necessary, and these labors may be pursued as steadily as you like. Napoleon I. used to say that battles were won Some intellectual products possible only in excitement-By- by the sudden flashing of an idea through the ron's authority on the subject-Can inventive minds work brain of the commander at a certain critical regularly? Sir Walter Scott's opinion-Napoleon on the instant. The capacity for generating this winning of victories-The prosaic business of men of genius-"Waiting for inspiration "-Rembrandt's advice to a sudden electric spark was military genius. young painter-Culture necessary to inspiration itself- The spark flashed independently of the will; Byron, Keats, Morris-Men of genius may be regular as the General could not win that vivid illumination by labor or by prayer; it came only in the brain of genius from the intense anxiety and excitement of the actual conflict. Napoleon seems always to have counted upon it, always to have believed that when the critical instant arrived the wild confusion of the battle-field would be illuminated for him by that burst of sudden flame. But if Napoleon had been ignorant of the prosaic business of his profession, to which he attended more closely than any other commander, what would these moments of supreme clearness have availed him, or would they ever have come to him at all? If they had come to him, they would have revealed only the extent of his own negligence. Instead of showing him what to do, they would have made painfully evident what ought to have been done. But it is more probable that these clear moments would never have occurred to a mind unprepared by study. Clear military inspirations never occur to shopkeepers and farmers, as bright ideas about checkmates occur only to persons who have studied chess. The prosaic business, then, of the man of genius is to accumulate that preparatory knowledge without which his genius can never be available, and he can do work of this kind as regularly as he likes.
In my last letter to you on quiet regularity of work, I did not give much consideration to another matter which, in certain kinds of work, has to be taken into account, for I preferred to make that the subject of a separate letter. There are certain intellectual products which are only possible in hours or minutes of great cerebral excitement. Byron said that when people were surprised to find poets very much like others in the ordinary intercourse of life, their surprise was due to ignorance of this. If people knew, Byron said, that poetical production came from an excitement which from its intensity could only be temporary, they would not expect poets to be very different from other people when not under the influence of this excitement. Now, we may take the word "poet," in this connection, in the very largest sense. All men who have the gift of invention are poets. The inventive ideas come to them at unforeseen moments, and have to be seized when they come, so that the true inventor works sometimes with vertiginous rapidity, and afterwards remains for days or weeks without exercising the inventive faculty at all. The question is, can you make an inventive mind work on the principle of measured and regular advance. Is such counsel as that in my former letter applicable to inventors?
The one fatal mistake which is committed habitually by people who have the scarcely Scott said, that although he had known desirable gift of half-genius is "waiting for many men of ordinary abilities who were ca- inspiration." They pass week after week in pable of perfect regularity in their habits, he a state of indolence, unprofitable alike to the had never known a man of genius who was mind and the purse, under pretext of waiting So. The popular impression concerning men for intellectual flashes like those which came of genius is very strong in the same sense, to Napoleon on his battle-fields. They ought but it is well not to attach too much impor- to remember the advice given by one of the tance to popular impressions concerning men greatest artists of the seventeenth century to of genius, for the obvious reason that such a young painter of his acquaintance. "Pracmen come very little under popular observa- tise assiduously what you already know, and tion. When they work it is usually in the in course of time other things will become
clear to you.' The inspirations come only to the disciplined; the indolent wait for them in vain.
If you have genius, therefore, or believe
TO AN ARDENT FRIEND WHO TOOK NO REST.
you have, it is admitted that you cannot be On some verses of Goethe-Man not constituted like a planet
-Matthew Arnold's poem, "Self-dependence "-Poetry and prose-The wind more imitable than the stars-The stone in Glen Croe-Rest and be thankful.
perpetually in a state of intense excitement. If you were in that state without ceasing, you would go mad. You cannot be expected to write poetry in the plodding ox-pace manner "RAMBLING over the wild moors, with advocated for intellectual work generally in thoughts oftentimes as wild and dreary as my last letter. As for that good old compari- those moors, the young Carlyle, who had son between the hare and the tortoise, it may been cheered through his struggling sadness, be answered for you, simply, that you are not and strengthened for the part he was to play a tortoise, and that what is a most wise pro- in life, by the beauty and the wisdom which cedure for tortoises may be impracticable for Goethe had revealed to him, suddenly conyou. The actual composition of poetry, es- ceived the idea that it would be a pleasant pecially poetry of a fiery kind, like— and a fitting thing if some of the few admirers in England forwarded to Weimar a trifling token of their admiration. On reaching home Mr. Carlyle at once sketched the design of a seal to be engraved, the serpent of eternity encircling a star, with the words ohne Hast, ohne Rast (unhasting, unresting), in allusion to the well-known verses-
"The isles of Greece, the isles of Greece,"
of Byron, is to be done not when the poet will, but when he can, or rather, when he
But if you are a wise genius you will feel how necessary is culture even for work of that kind. Byron would not have felt any enthusiasm for the isles of Greece if he had not known something of their history. The verses are an inspiration, but they could never have occurred to a quite uncultivated person, however bright his inspirations. Even more obviously was the genius of Keats dependent upon his culture. He did not read Greek, but from translations of Greek literature and from the direct study of Greek art he got the sort of material that he needed. And in our own day Morris has been evidently a very diligent student of many literatures. What I insist upon is, that we could not have had the real Keats, the real Morris, unless they had prepared themselves by culture. We see immediately that the work they have done is their work, specially, that they were specially adapted for it-inspired for it, if you will. But how evident it is that the inspiration could never have produced the work, or anything like it, without labor in the accumulation of material!
Now, although men of genius cannot be regularly progressive in actual production, cannot write so many verses a day, regularly, as you may spin yarn, they can be very regular as students, and some of the best of them have been quite remarkable for unflinching steadiness of application in that way. The great principle recommended by Mr. Galton, of not looking forward eagerly to the end of your journey, but interesting yourself chiefly in the progress of it, is as applicable to the studies of men of genius as to those of more ordinary persons.
'Wie das Gestirn,
(Like a star, unhasting, unresting, be each one fulfilling his God-given 'hest.')"*
This is said so beautifully, and seems so wise, that it may easily settle down into the mind as a maxim and rule of life. 'Had we been told in plain prose to take no rest, without the beautiful simile of the star, and without the wise restriction about haste, our common sense would have rebelled at once; but as both beauty and wisdom exist together in the gem-like stanza, our judgment remains silent in charmed acquiescence.
Let us ask ourselves, however, about this stella example, whether man is naturally so constituted as to be able to imitate it. A planet moves without haste, because it is inca
pable of excitement; and without rest, because it is incapable of fatigue. A planet makes no effort, and encounters no friction or resistance of any kind. Man is so constituted as to feel frequently the stimulus of excitement, which immediately translates itself either into actual acceleration or into the desire for acceleration-a desire which cannot be restrained without an effort; and whatever man undertakes to do he encounters friction and resistance, which, for him, always sooner or later inevitably induce fatigue. Man is neither
constituted like a star nor situated like a star,
* Lewes's "Life of Goethe," Book vii. chap. 8.