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against the classical attitude which had been sovereign in all European literature for nearly a century." He does not pretend that it is a good poem, but "here, for the first time, we find unwaveringly emphasized and repeated what was entirely new in literature, the essence of romantic hysteria." It is in Joseph Warton, according to Mr. Gosse, that we first meet with "the individualist attitude to nature." Readers of Horace Walpole's letters, however, will remember still earlier examples of the romantic attitude to nature. But these were not published for many years afterwards.

The other essays in the book range from the charm of Sterne to the vivacity of Lady Dorothy Nevill, from a eulogy of Poe to a discussion of Disraeli as a novelist. The variety, the scholarship, the portraiture of the book make it a pleasure to read; and, even when Mr. Gosse flatters in his portraits, his sense of truth impels him to draw the features correctly, so that the facts break through the praise. The truth is Mr. Gosse is always doing his best to balance the pleasure of saying the best with the pleasure of saying the worst. His books are all the more vital because they bear the stamp of an appreciative and mildly cruel personality.


IT is rather odd that two of the ablest American critics should also be two of the most unsparing enemies of romanticism in literature. Professor Babbitt and Mr. Paul Elmer More cannot get over the French Revolution. They seem to think that the rights of man have poisoned literature. One suspects that they have their doubts even about the American Revolution; for there, too, the rights of man were asserted against the lust of power. It is only fair to Professor Babbitt to say that he does not defend the lust of power. On the contrary, he damns it, and explains it as the logical and almost inevitable outcome of the rights of man! The steps of the process by which the change is effected are these. First, we have the Rousseaus asserting that the natural man is essentially good, but that he has been depraved by an artificial social system imposed on him from without. Instead of the quarrel between good and evil in his breast, they see only the quarrel between the innate good in man and his evil environment. They hold that all will be well if only he is set free-if his genius or natural impulses are liberated. "Rousseauism is . . an emancipation of impulse-especially of the impulse of sex." It is a gospel of egoism and leaves little room for conscience. Hence it makes men megalomaniacs, and the lust for dominion is given its head no less than the lust of the flesh. "In the absence of ethical discipline," writes Professor Babbitt in Rousseau and Romanticism, "the lust for knowledge and the lust for feeling count very little, at least practically, compared with the third main lust of human nature-the lust for power. Hence the emergence of that most sinister of all types, the efficient megalomaniac." In the result it appears that not only Rousseau

and Hugo, but Wordsworth, Keats, and Shelley, helped to bring about the European War! Had there been no wars, no tyrants, and no lascivious men before Rousseau, one would have been ready to take Professor Babbitt's indictment more seriously.

Professor Babbitt, however, has a serious philosophic idea at the back of all he says. He believes that man at his noblest lives the life of obligation rather than of impulse, and that romantic literature discourages him in this. He holds that man should rise from the plane of nature to the plane of humanism or the plane of religion, and that to live according to one's temperament, as the romanticists advise, is to sink back from human nature, in the best sense, to animal nature. He takes the view that men of science since Bacon, by the great conquests they have made in the material sphere, have prepared man to take the romantic and boastful view of himself.

had not been so heartened by scientific progress they would have been less ready, we may be sure, to listen to Rousseau when he affirmed that they were naturally good." Not that Professor Babbitt looks on us as utterly evil and worthy of damnation. He objects to the gloomy JonathanEdwards view, because it helps to precipitate by reaction the opposite extreme-"the boundless sycophancy of human nature from which we are now suffering." It was, perhaps, in reaction against the priests that Rousseau made the most boastful announcements of his righteousness. "Rousseau feels himself so good that he is ready, as he declares, to appear before the Almighty at the sound of the trump of the Last Judgment, with the book of his Confessions in his hand, and there to issue a challenge to the whole human race, 'Let a single one assert to Thee if he dare: "I am better than that man.' Rousseau would

have been saved from this fustian virtue, Professor Babbitt thinks, if he had accepted either the classic or the religious view of life for the classic view imposes on human nature the discipline of decorum, while the religious view imposes the discipline of humility. Human nature, he holds,

requires the restrictions of the everlasting "No." Virtue is a struggle within iron limitations, not an easy gush of feeling. At the same time, Professor Babbitt does not offer us as a cure for our troubles the decorum of the Pharisees and the pseudo-classicists, who bid us obey outward rules instead of imitating a spirit. He wishes our men of letters to rediscover the ethical imagination of the Greeks. "True classicism," he observes, "does not rest on the observance of rules or the imitation of modes, but on an immediate insight into the universal." The romanticists, he thinks, cultivate not the awe we find in the great writers, but mere wonder. He takes Poe as a typical romanticist. "It is not easy to discover in either the personality or writings of Poe an atom of awe or reverence. On the other hand, he both experiences wonder and seeks in his art to be a pure wondersmith."

One of the results of putting wonder above awe is that the romanticists unduly praise the ignorant-the savage, the peasant, and the child. Wordsworth here comes in for denunciation for having hailed a child of six as "Mighty Prophet! Seer blest!" Christ, Professor Babbitt tells us, praised the child not for its capacity for wonder, but for its freedom from sin. The romanticist, on the other hand, loves the spontaneous gush of wonder. He loves day-dreams, Arcadianism, fairy-tale Utopianism. He begins with an uncontrolled fancy and ends with an uncontrolled character. He tries all sorts of false godsnature-worship, art-worship, humanitarianism, sentimentalism about animals. As regards the last of these, romanticism, according to the author, has meant the rehabilitation of the ass, and the Rousseauists are guilty of onolatry. "Medical men have given a learned name to the malady of those who neglect the members of their own family and gush over animals (zoöphilpsychosis). But Rousseau already exhibits this 'psychosis.' He abandoned his five children one after the other, but had, we are told, an unspeakable affection for his dog." As for the worship of nature, it leads to a "wise passiveness'

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instead of the wise energy of knowledge and virtue, and tempts man to idle in pantheistic reveries. "In Rousseau or Walt Whitman it amounts to a sort of ecstatic animality that sets up as a divine illumination." Professor Babbitt distrusts ecstasy as he distrusts Arcadianism. He perceives the mote of Arcadianism even in "the light that never was on sea or land." He has no objection to a "return to nature," if it is for purposes of recreation: he denounces it, however, when it is set up as a cult or "a substitute for philosophy and religion." He denounces, indeed, every kind of "painless substitute for genuine spiritual effort." He admires the difficult virtues, and holds that the gift of sympathy or pity or fraternity is in their absence hardly worth having.

On points of this kind, I fancy, he would have had on his side Wordsworth, Coleridge, Browning, and many of the other" Rousseauists" whom he attacks. Professor Babbitt, however, is a merciless critic, and the writers of the nineteenth century, who seemed to most of us veritable monsters of ethics, are to him simply false prophets of romanticism and scientific complacency. "The nineteenth century," he declares, "may very well prove to have been the most wonderful and the least wise of centuries." He admits the immense materialistic energy of the century, but this did not make up for the lack of a genuine philosophic insight in life and literature. Man is a morally indolent animal, and he was never more so than when he was working "with something approaching frenzy according to the natural law." Faced with the spectacle of a romantic spiritual sloth accompanied by a materialistic, physical, and even intellectual energy, the author warns us that "the discipline that helps a man to self-mastery is found to have a more important bearing on his happiness than the discipline that helps him to a mastery of physical nature." He sees a peril to our civilization in our absorption in the temporal and our failure to discover that "something abiding" on which civilization must rest. He quotes Aristotle's anti-romantic saying that "most men would

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