« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
neither to the prayers and tears of the woman he adores, nor to the practical warnings of the brother he loves. When the troubles they have foretold are come upon him, when he sees his wife and children starving, he breaks out in fierce invective against the man who has brought him to his ruin, forgetting that he had once refused the release from the conspiracy, which De Mauléon had offered him in a moment of compunction,
Shall a fellow-creature,' he demands, break into wild frag'ments my life hitherto tranquil, orderly, happy; make use of * my opinions, which were then but harmless desires, to serve * his own purpose, which was hostile to the opinions he roused
into action, and then vanish with the mocking cry—“ Fool, I • “ have had enough of thee; I cast thee aside as worthless « « lumber”!' Then we have him drowning despair in wine, and yet ‘had you known the man two years ago, you
would have been a brute if you felt disgust. You could only have · felt that profound compassion, with which we gaze on a great * royalty fallen. For the grandest of all royalties is that which * takes its name from nature, needing no accident of birth.** The passages like that last, and there are many of them interspersed through the volumes, should have betrayed the hand of Lord Lytton to those who were puzzling themselves over the authorship of the story while it was appearing anonymously.
Thoroughly French in their way, in their points of contrast and resemblance, in their mutual affection, in the generosity of their very different dispositions, are the two brothers Vandemar. Like De Rochebriant, both of them are debarred by their principles from seeking an outlet for their energies in public or professional life. So the lively Enguerrand throws himself into society, while the more thoughtful Raoul devotes himself to works of charity and religion. Each of them enthusiastically admires the other. Raoul, while he regrets that his brother's brilliant talents should run to waste, regards his frédaines with a toleration that almost trenches on pride; while Enguerrand, himself the most worldly of the worldly and the gayest of the gay, has nothing but reverence for bis brother's piety. In Raoul there is a perfect love for all his fellow-creatures, and a sub
Gregor Samorow (Herr Meding) has attempted a similar portrait of a Parisian ouvrier in his novel called Minen und Gegenminen,' which consists mainly of pictures of Parisian life under the Empire. The scene of the ouvriers meeting is excellent, and some of the political conversations are ingenious and interesting, but as a painter of social life and individual character, the German writer is immeasurably in erior to Lord Lytton.
limity of consistent self-sacrifice, without a tinge of asceticism or of pharisaical pride. In him alone, perhaps, the Frenchman's vanity and frivolity seem to have died out altogether in the steady contemplation of noble objects. In Enguerrand, and it is a characteristic trait, we have a young man of the nicest sense of Parisian honour, who is being loaded with love-gifts by the ladies he pays his court to, and who, thinking no shame, decks out his handsome person in magnificent jewellery that probably cost him nothing ; ‘he was one of those happy
Lotharios to whom Calistas make handsome presents'; while the two brothers, of whom one is extravagant in his follies and the other in his charities, have started a shop for the sale of flowers, under the charge of a servant, by way of eking out their narrow allowance. Last, although not least, we have the two great financiers, Louvier and Duplessis-abler men perhaps, certainly more practical politicians, than their predecessors who used to flourish under the old régime. The friends of princes, the patrons of nobles and aspirants for high office, they have attained a standing in the social scale very different from that of their predecessors under the old monarchy. Duplessis we have already heard of. We know how Vane expressed himself about him. Duplessis is making himself, but Louvier is made. The bluff millionaire is excellent, in the overweening purse-pride which is being perpetually flattered by men highly placed, and his sensitiveness to affront from those who were better born than himself. We are sorry that the premature conclusion of the story should have lost us the account of the battle between the rivals, when the estates of Rochebriant were to be the prize of the victor.
The Parisians' is so essentially a novel of character and incident, that perhaps there is the less need to say much of the plot. The interest of the story centres round the Englishman, who by the will of a relative is charged to do his best to get rid of the great wealth that should give him the woman he loves and the distinction he sighs for. His mission is to find out a missing young lady, in whose favour he is to despoil himself. But in the rush and bustle of scores of Parisian existences, and in those stirring times of war and revolution, how can we give up our minds to following the fortunes of a single individual ? At first, accordingly, our interest is faint ; often it flags, and sometimes it fails us altogether. However, when our attention has at last been recalled and fairly aroused, we recognise Lord Lytton's practised art. We perceive that plot, sentiment, study of character, and everything else have all been working together towards an end that has been all along foreseen. We acknowledge that everything has been carefully planned with a settled purpose; that our interest has been stimulated almost imperceptibly, and that before we have done with the book our curiosity will be keenly excited. So it happens, that after the most intricate interweaving of the clues we fancy we hold in our hands, we confess ourselves utterly puzzled as to what is to be the solution of the leading mystery. The missing heiress is either Isaura Cicogna or Julie Caumartin, and just when the dénouement was approaching fast, we must own that we decided for the wrong young lady. How it shall all turn out is matter of vital importance to Vane, and as it affects Vane it must affect the unselfish Isaura. And although we see where the fortune ought to vest in all romantic justice and propriety, we are left at the last doubting and wondering. For the conditions of the inconsiderate will that has placed Vane in a position so embarrassing continue to weigh upon
him still. Possibly they may urge him to keep possession of the money as a simple matter of honour and conscience, in place of impoverishing himself by giving it up. We can conceive how this mental conflict in such a man might have lent itself to subtle and powerful treatment in the hands of a writer like Lord Lytton; and although death conspiring with art has thrown a veil of impenetrable mystery over the close of the story, yet we fear that by a too abrupt termination we have lost a great deal more than we have gained.
As we observed before, there can be no more crucial test of literary power, than the successful analysis of the influence of public calamity on the host of individual characters it affects. Different men are so differently acted upon by identical circumstances, when the conventional masks that they have worn in quiet times are rudely torn away. Lord Lytton ventured on one of the most complicated studies of the kind that we remember in the range of fiction. The most vainglorious nation in the world, entering in supreme self-complacency on a campaign that was to crown the glories commemorated in the Arch of Triumph, is suddenly cast down to the lowest depths of humiliation. The gayest and most impulsive capital in the world is isolated from the external excitement that was the breath of its nostrils, and reduced to such straits and privations as were denounced by the Hebrew prophets against the cities of Nineveh and Babylon. Despondency, depression, or despair reacted on all the individuals who crowd Lord Lytton's pages, each of them being influenced according to his or her idiosyncrasy. Lord Lytton, we say, made a most daring venture, and if perfect success was
beyond the power of man, we may assert that he has succeeded far beyond all reasonable expectation. His broad effects are of course matter of history, for we know how well the different classes of Frenchmen came out, under the terrible ordeal they invited. But no knowledge of the history of the times, no information obtained from eye-witnesses, not even the closest personal observation,—nothing short of long and careful study of character, ripe experience, and a most familiar acquaintance with the recesses of the human mind-could have enabled him to make his various personages exhibit themselves, so as to leave us with so vivid an impression of their reality. It is a gloomy picture, and yet the artist's genial views of humanity relieve it with touches of pleasing colour. The loftier natures are ennobled by their trials and, at least for the time, they grow purer and better. Even those of the baser sort break out in occasional flashes that show a capacity for better things, or else they can plead something in extenuation of their follies or their crimes. Victor De Mauléon forgets his intrigues for a dynasty in taking thoughts for his country, De Rochebriant leaves his betrothed bride to take service in the ranks, Enguerrand de Vandemar dies the death of a hero. His brother Raoul becomes a saint on earth, as he seeks out the suffering in the dens of the city or tends the wounded among the falling shells on the battle-field. No less true to their natures are the Epicureans. Each of them exhibits in his peculiar way the ardour of his attachment to his country, while consoling himself under his personal privations with a courageous gaiety that is painfully ghastly. Nothing can be better than Lemercier, emaciated with privations, playfully describing his service on the ramparts as captain of the National Guard ; than Savarin and De Brézé haunting like idle ghosts the scenes of their former bustling happiness, greeting with sad smiles and hollow laughter the melancholy jokes the sad situation inspires them with. In contrast to sardonic philosophers like these, we have the women kneeling in the churches, seeking for the strength that prepares them for pious endurance. The good-humoured, loving bourgeoise, Madame Rameau, is almost as engaging in her way as Isaura : there is great truth to Parisian nature in the toleration that she, a spotless spouse, expresses for her son's liaison with Julie. While among those whose errors predestine them to retributive punishment, we have Gustave Rameau and Armand Monnier, gliding steadily down the fatal slope into the pit of destruction they have done their best to dig.
We have little or nothing left to add, except that as the
results of fine observation and delicate feeling are scattered broadcast through the volumes, · The Parisians' is emphatically a book to be read carefully. While it fascinates the fancy, and carries you insensibly along on the smooth flow of its diction, it arrests attention and provokes thought. Genuinely French in the flavour, it is of no city or country in its broad experience and its knowledge of life. It would almost appear as if the accomplished author had some presentiment of his approaching end, and lavished with unsparing hand the stores he had been accumulating since early manhood ; and of the many books he has written, there is none a dying author might regard with more complacency than · The Parisians. It is the happy climax to a series of fictions, which have conferred upon him a brilliant, and, we think, a lasting place in English literature.
ART. V.- Introduction to the Science of Religion. Four
Lectures delivered at the Royal Institution, with two Essays on False Analogies, and the Philosophy of Mythology. By
F. Max MÜLLER, M.A. London: 1873. MA:
ANY of our readers will remember the interest excited by
the announcement of these lectures. The well-known ability of the Professor, the charm of his style, his facility of illustration, his unrivalled linguistic attainments, were sufficient to justify the highest public expectation. But beyond this the very nature of the subject treated contributed to this result. An introduction under the guidance of the first comparative philologist of the age to a Science of Religion forms, it will readily be admitted, a programme of incomparable attraction. Three years have elapsed since the delivery of the course, which is now first published in a separate form with the additions and corrections of the author.* Throughout the work his sincerity and candour of purpose are abundantly evidenced, as also his unshaken faith in the future of the science which he delineates.
'I feel certain,' he writes (p. 22), 'that the time will come when all that is now written on theology, whether from an ecclesiastical or philosophical point of view, will seem as antiquated, as strange, as unaccountable as the works of Vossius, Hemsterhuys, Valckenaer, and
The Lectures have been already translated into French and Italian ; and a German version has just appeared at Strasburg, entitled Einleitung in die vergleichende Religionswissenschaft.' VOL. CXXXIX. NO. CCLXXXIV.