« AnteriorContinuar »
The work of this writer demands notice in any sketch of Canadian literature, however brief, because he was prominent as a Canadian author when these were few in the land.
Since 1880 a new school has arisen which has done much for a distinctive literature of its country. Most of the leaders are living. The excuse for mentioning them must be the very recent emergence of any Canadian literature as a conscious national expression. CHARLES GEORGE DOUGLAS ROBERTS (b. 1860) has the honor of primacy in the new group. His work embraces poetry and prose. Chief of his volumes of artistic verse are The Book of the Native (1897), and Songs of the Common Day (1894). In a triology of novels he weaves the picturesque Acadian traditions into some finely written romances. He is the author of a scholarly History of Canada-the best of its kind. BLISS CARMAN (b. 1861) has published no prose in book form. His collections of poetry are few, but sincere in music and feeling. The name of Behind the Arras: A Book of the Unseen (1895), indicates its scope. Ballads of Lost Haven sing of the sea and By the Aurelian Wall of Keats and Rome. ARCHIBALD LAMPMAN (1861–1899), too early lost, stands high among Canadian poets. Among the Millet (1887) and Lyrics of Earth (1896) comprise his poetical output. His inspiration is lofty and pure. WILLIAM WILFRID CAMPBELL (b. 1861) evinces strong traits in his poetry. The Dread Voyage (1895) contains some
BEGINNINGS.- "THE EDINBURGH REVIEW."-ITS BOLDNESS
THE beginning of periodicals falls without our range. But their development is one of the most interesting movements of the nineteenth century. In literature, as in life, they played a very important part. Especially is this true in English literature. The first approximation to the modern periodical is found in the Edinburgh Review, 1802. From that time the growth of magazines and reviews has been unprecedented, so that now they are almost innumerable, and spread throughout the world. The importance of the Press has been very great, and for the most part entirely beneficial. On no account can it be omitted from even a brief survey of literature. Most of the great writers of the past hundred years are indebted for their appearance to the
magazines; and much valuable criticism has found vent in the pages of reviews.
Of the foreign press we shall have room for only a word. The periodicals written in English claim our chief attention and interest because it is perfectly true that, during the nineteenth century, "there is no single feature . . . which is so distinctive and characteristic as the development of periodical literature."
There are three broad classes of periodicals. They treat, respectively, of general literature, of political and social news, and of science and art, or special subjects. Only the first class can receive notice here. The second comprises what we call newspapers; this, with the third, must be overlooked entirely. The magazines of general literature are those which have exercised the greatest influence during the past century from a literary point of view. The distinction between the magazine and the review may be indicated. The review was critical alone, the magazine, with a wider range, as its name implies, covered creative work as well as critical. The period of their appearance was the first thirty years of the century. By the end of that time they were fully established. Their spread and popularity are the more noticeable when we remember that before 1800 there was practically nothing of the kind. The newspaper, indeed, had been originated, though upon a modest scale. Addison and Steele, in the Tatler and Spec
A lawyer of considerable attainments, he was essentially a critic and frequently a very unwise one. He ridiculed Scott and Wordsworth and Coleridge, and attempted to kill out of hand the romantic school of poetry. But at the same time he wrote much good, sound criticism, and said many a kindly word to young venturers in the great world of letters. He saw at once the high promise of Macaulay's prose, and later on, with equal insight, he gave Carlyle his introduction to literary success. The weakness of Jeffrey's reviewing was that he considered it a duty to find the faults of the work under consideration, rather than its virtues. His motto, "The Judge is condemned who frees the guilty"— sufficiently indicates his limitations as a critic. In his opinions he was absolutely without fear or favor. Altogether, it is well to remember the opinion of Carlyle-himself no gentle viewer of men: "He was not deep enough, pious or reverent enough, to have been great in literature: but he was a man intrinsically of veracity: said nothing without meaning it to some considerable degree; had the quickest perceptions; excellent practical discernment of what lay before him." And again: "Jeffrey was by no means the supreme in criticism or in anything else; but it is certain there has been no critic who has appeared amongst us since who was worth naming beside him."
The Edinburgh Review liberal political footing.
commenced upon a very Tories and Whigs alike
contributed. But by and by the latter element began to predominate. For some six years the great Review held sole sway, expressing its ideas in politics and letters unchallenged by any rival. But presently the Tory party, now practically excluded, began to realize the value of an adjunct of this nature. Accordingly, in 1809, was established a Tory magazine-The Quarterly Review. It had headquarters in London, and was very different from the Edinburgh in the manner of its origin. The Edinburgh was the daring, almost impromptu, raid of a handful of brilliant and inexperienced young men; the Quarterly was carefully planned and thought out beforehand. Two names come up as especially connected with it-WILLIAM GIFford, (1756-1826), and JOHN GIBSON LOCKHART (1794– 1854).
Gifford was the first editor of the Quarterly and held his position until 1825. He was a "self-made" man (his numerous enemies did not let him forget that he had been a shoemaker), and the general tenor of his criticism lacked the finer qualities. He followed the Edinburgh critical methods, but was far more brutal. His heavy hand was beneficial in one or two instances; but his often savage reviews, and his rancor against the new school, are quite unjustifiable. Gifford belonged to a class which today is fortunately rare the literary hack, ready and thinking himself able to do anything that came to his hand. In 1797-8 he had edited the Anti