enter into the spirit of those movements, who will feel their influence not only passively, but actively, will throw themselves into the struggles which are to carry them onward and forward, and like so many contributory streams serve to swell the mighty current, which is to bear our race on to far off shores. No writer, however rare his talents, can hope to leave an abiding influence behind him, who is not possessed by the spirit of the age he lives in, to whom the earnest convictions of his generation are of no consequence, or only objects of good natured laughter, who fails to realise the under-current of seriousness which is always present beneath the follies and frivolities of the most foolish and frivolous of ages, and whose art, however amusing and entertaining, does not reflect, in its higher moods, the inner longings and aspirations, the hidden trends and tendencies of his generation. Ratan Nath Dar lived in most exciting times; in a welter of dogmas and beliefs he stood between a world not quite dead, and another struggling to be born, but he remained unmoved and untouched and watched the mighty transformation as one watches the shifting scenes of a pantomime. To him the whole thing was a show--a funny showó at which he could laugh and make his readers laugh, but the serious and pathetic side of which he never understood, nor could he make his readers understand.
Still, although Ratan Nath Dar did not heed "the obstinate questioning" of the age, and was not moved by the passions which thrilled through every nerve and fibre of his generation, yet they all cast their reflections upon his mind, as upon the bosom of a calm and clear lake, and as from there they are transferred in vivid and realistic colours to his pages with photographic exactness, the unwary reader is apt to fall into the delusion that the objective picture before him is a representation of the subjective state of the writer's mind. But let him realise once the tone in which the most serious subjects are discussed, his profane jestings at the most sacred things, the studied contempt with which the most venerable institutions are treated, the Rabelaisian laughter with which he greets the agonies of dying faiths and ruined convictions, the jokes, the ribaldries, the profane allusions with which he covers the tenderest of sentimentsólet him realise all this once and he will find it forever impossible to believe that the writer of these things ever knew what he was writing about, was at all capable of understanding the serious aspects of matters over which he has poured his ridicule in torrents and could ever have felt in his own mind the shock of the new forces that have thrown into confusion the peace and the happiness of millions of Indian homes.
Everybody is more or less a child of his age; and although Ratan Nath was incapable of feeling within himself and therefore of interpreting to others the influence of subtler and deeper forces which are shaking the Indian society, yet the levity, the spirit of irreverence and iconoclasm, the epicureanism, and the discontent, though of a passive sort, with the existing order, that mark his times he fully shared; and nobody need cast a doubt upon his utter sincerity when he saturates his works with them and invests them with a thousand charms which his art can supply. But in this respect he renders no ineffective aid to the new liberal movement which is dissolving the bonds of traditional beliefs and time-honoured conventions. In the evolution