Around the corner from the Park Row shop, the Shakespeare Tavern was conducted by Thomas Hawkins Hodgkinson, the actor; a resort for the actors, the artists, the writers, the talkers of the town; a popular rendezvous quite in contrast to Reynolds's quiet inn.
There is, of course, a saving limit set by the Casino Company upon the play. It is to the interest of the Casino to cultivate the idea, and the letter writers are willing tools. Not only at Monte Carlo, but everywhere, in dearth of news, gambling stories come cheap and easy. And the cheaper the story the bigger the play. "The Jedge raised him two thousand dollars.
The details of a negotiation of this kind are not of a character to call for very particular attention a century afterward, but the letters between the parties many of them now for the first time published are not without considerable interest from the light they throw upon the characters and motives of their writers.
One should love great writers and great artists not because of their great thoughts there are plenty of inferior writers who traffic in great thoughts but because great artists and writers are the people who can irradiate with a heavenly sort of light common thoughts and motives, so as to show the beauty which underlies them and the splendour that breaks from them.
Perhaps his greatest merit is that he kept his independence in an age when writers fawned upon patrons or accepted bribes from Whig or Tory. Pope held on his own way, looking for favors neither from one side nor from the other. And when we think of his frail little body, this sturdy independence of mind is all the more wonderful.
There are portraits of Dickens and Schopenhauer and Fet as a young man on the walls, too, and the well-known group of writers of the Sovremennik circle in 1856, with Turgenieff, Ostrovsky, Gontcharof, Grigorovitch, Druzhinin, and my father, quite young still, without a beard, and in uniform.
So much do they excel in this, that one would be tempted to ask these writers, what the African woman asked a French lady, who wore a large pannier under a long dress: 'Madam, is all that a part of yourself? In short, what real existence is there in all this pomp of words which one true expression would dissipate like a vain prestige."
I find a S. Tryphonius, but only as a grown man; not a word of his tender years and his grotesque attendant. How amusing it would be to forget the halo and set the picture as a theme among a class of fanciful fantastic writers, to fit it with an appropriate fairy story! For of course it is as absolute a fairy tale illustration as the dragon pictures on the other wall.
The question of woman's Dress, for instance, is never to be solved by approaching it from the outside. Earnest and vigorous writers may tell women what they ought to do, and we all know perfectly well that if the skirts of our dresses ended at the tops of our boots, and we were warmly clad beneath in the full trousers proposed years ago by Mrs.
A high soul is not given to all writers of fiction, and yet there is an obligation on them all to aspire to the praise bestowed on Sophocles as one who "saw life steadily and saw it whole."