Authors at Work
Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009 - 216 pages
This historic book may have numerous typos, missing text or index. Purchasers can download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from the publisher. 1872. Not illustrated. Excerpt: ... SIR JAMES MACKINTOSH. RE men generally greater or less than their works? That is to say, is the speech or the poem, the novel or the picture, the song or the criticism, superior or inferior to the man who made it? It is easier to ask the question than it is to answer it. And yet it is a question that must suggest itself to all of us in turn, as we take up the pleasantest of our companions--in calf or Russia--light our cigar and throw ourselves hack in an easy chair with our feet on the fender, to enjoy a quiet hour's chat with Bacon or Montaigne, with Elia or Eothen, with Scott or Thackeray, with Dickens, Ingoldsby or the poets, and try to spell out hetween the lines what manner of men these companions of ours were in the flesh to their own friends--what we should have thought of them if we had met them at dinner, over a rubber of whist, or in the smoking-room of the Garrick--what they thought upon the ten thousand topics of the day that men never write about, what were their tastes and habits, what wines they liked, what books they read, and how they wrote, whether they carried their MSS. about in their pockets, like Thackeray; altered and corrected, and re-wrote, like Dickens and Tennyson, or threw it off at a dash, and sent it to the printer without a second thought or single erasure like Scott, and Byron and Shelley. Of many of these men--of Shakespeare, and Bacon, and Milton, for instance--one may venture, I think, to say offhand, without a second thought, that it is impossible that any of them should have been superior to their writings, or that they should have been anything at all to their own friends, even in their best moments, what they are to us as Voices of the Air, because their writings bear in every line, not only marks of the file, but signs of ...
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