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much more thought and speculation than romance or story; but even Les Opinions de M. Jerome Coignard have a strong thread of character which keeps up an interest less severe than that of philosophy and discussion of general questions. L'Orme du Mail is, as it calls itself, a chapter of Histoire Contemporaine, but it is one in which every suggestion of human interest is confined to the contrast of character in the talk of the notables of a small town,-from the skilful and suave Cardinal Archbishop to the bookseller in whose shop several of these worthies find a place of meeting, besides that of the bench under the great elm in the Mall, or public promenade, which gives the book its title. Not a female figure-except for a page or two, those inevitable to a dinner party crosses the busy street or airy terrace upon which ces Messieurs discuss their different interests which perhaps is a not unnatural reaction against the reign of women, generally improper, in previous French fiction; or perhaps the reaction is specially strong in M. Anatole France himself after his late profound descent into the boiling mud of the 'Lys Rouge.'

In the little town of Three Stars, which we are not sufficiently acquainted with French towns to identify, though there are many exactly like it, there is a kind of intrigue going on between two priests, both of the Seminary,-the Abbé Lantaigne, who is at its head, and an Abbé Giutral, who is one of the professors,—each striving to secure the appointment of bishop to a neighbouring see; but this is the sole thread of story, and it is a feeble one, breaking off fantastically at the end without any attempt to satisfy our natural curiosity as to which won in the struggle. The fat and unctuous

skill of the Cardinal Archbishop in foiling all attempts on the part of one of the candidates to secure an opinion from him, is very amusingly told; and each of the interlocutors, though some are dragged in by the head and shoulders to contribute their (often) quite irrelevant contributions to the talk, is as distinct to the reader as if he himself had been in the habit of meeting them day by day in le coin des bouquins, the corner of Paillot's bookshop in which he keeps a collection of old books, among which a treasure is sometimes discovered by the keen eyes of M. de Terremondre, the squire of the district, so to speak, who is a great collector and antiquary. The other habitual frequenters of this spot are M. Bergeret, a professor at the college, a sad but philosophical scholar, and the doctor, always full of stories of his patients, which give a momentary digression to the talk, as when he announces the birth which he has just accomplished of a baby with the mark of a strawberry on its breast, when they all immediately discuss the true origin of birth-marks. To show the twists and turns of this conversation, an old gentleman passing is brought in, on another occasion, to save him from the pressure of a crowd outside, and immediately, à propos des bottes, tells a story of his old experiences as an advocate, nobody listening to him the while, so far as the reader can perceive. Nothing more like the ordinary course of conversation, with its careless interruptions and quite fantastic succession of ideas, could well be.

The post under the Orme du Mail is the special meeting-place of the Abbé Lantaigne and Bergeret, whose conversation is better regulated but not so amusing. Here, however, is the professor's opinion

of the Republic, which is interesting. "I was bred under the Empire in the love of the Republic," he says. "The Republic is justice,' said my father, who was professor of rhetoric at the Lycée of Saint Omer. He did not know it."

"The Republic is not justice; but it is the most easy way (la facilité). Monsieur l'Abbé, if you had a mind less elevated, less grave and more open to gaiety, I would confide to you that the actual Republic- the Republic of 1896-pleases and touches me by its modesty. It consents to be not admired. It requires little respect, and even relinquishes esteem. It is enough for it to live-in that lies its desire, and it is a legitimate wish. The most humble creatures desire to live. Like the woodman of the fabulist, like the apothecary of Mantua who so much surprises that young idiot Romeo, it fears death, and that is its sole fear. It holds princes and soldiers at arm's length. If it ran risk of extinction, it might become dangerous. Fear would change its nature and make it ferocious, which would be a great pity. But as long as nothing touches its life, and it is

only its honour that is in danger, it is full of good humour. A Government such as this suits me, and makes me feel secure. So many other Governments were made merciless by their self-esteem (amour propre); so many others by cruelty assured their rights, their greatness, and their prosperity; so many others have shed blood for their prerogative, for their majesty! But the Republic has neither selfesteem nor majesty - happy defects which keep it innocent! Let it but continue to exist and it is content. It governs little, and I am tempted to approve it more for this than for all the rest. And since it governs little, I excuse it for governing ill."

We suspect that this philosophic view is a true one. The flutter of busy life in Paris at the Quai

D'Orsay and other places would almost seem to be as local as a fire or an inundation. The rest of France goes on quietly minding its own business, caring very little for the Government. Elle gouverne peu, as M. Bergeret says; and questions of this or that method of government have for the moment fallen into abeyance in the country. They shout for the Czar, but for their own account neither King nor Emperor makes any strong diversion in the popular mind.

There is not even a General Boulanger on the horizon. An occasional gleam of ardour on the colonial question excites the lighter spirits, but otherwise nobody cares much. It is scarcely a state of things that could have been thought possible thirty years ago.

The third volume of Messrs Henley and Henderson's Centenary edition of Burns 1 is occupied with the songs, and comes before the world with a very grave, not to say solemn, aspect. This does not seem on the face of it very suitable to the contents of the volume, but it is perfectly justified from the editors' point of view. They are so much concerned, indeed, and so conscious of having performed a painful duty, that our best sympathies are due to them in the meantime, as martyrs to that stern sense of duty which is no doubt one of the most noble of inspirations. What these gentlemen are painfully conscious of is that, much against their will, and in spite of every reverential and admiring sentiment, they have altered the position of Burns as a lyric poet, and indeed almost shattered his pretensions to be considered in that light. Their

1 The Centenary Burns. By W. E. Henley and T. F. Henderson. T. C. & E. C. Jack: Edinburgh.


trouble is so genuine, and they regard their iconoclastic work with so much real alarm, that they have even allowed themselves to be interviewed by an enterprising newspaper in deprecation of the universal outcry which they believe their book about to produce. We do not, however, hear of any such outcry, outside of Messrs Henley and Henderson's troubled apprehension and we can only imagine that the dust of their pulling-down operations, though imaginary, has got into their eyes and confused their faculties more or less. The sorrowful statement of their discoveries, which they make with so much feeling, shows that to them these discoveries were unexpected and distressing in the highest degree. Explorers of this description generally express themselves with a certain triumph when they show us the altar pulled down and the idol prostrate: but if there is any triumph here it is of a rueful description, and nobody can be so sensible of the disaster as the poet who is, alas! the unhappy cause of its occurrence.

What can we say to comfort Mr Henley? We much doubt whether it will be consolatory to him to be told that he has done no such harm as he fears; that these discoveries were all made before he was born-nay, that there can be no discoveries where there never was any concealment. The present writer has probably been acquainted with Burns for a longer period than is possible to Mr Henley, and was aware of the correspondence in 'Johnson's Musical Museum' and 'Thomson's Scottish Airs' from the beginning of time: for which reason probably it is that he receives the shock of Mr Henley's spear without even a quiver of his vieux moustache, much less any sensation

of being unhorsed or unsettled in his saddle. These correspondences show, we think, very clearly that Burns's primary position in respect to both these works was that of a devoted lover of Scots song, really more interested in raising up and putting forth to advantage the ancient music and poetry of his native district, the pastoral airs to which he was cradled, the snatches of verse which were like the natural breath of the countryside, than to find a medium of utterance specially for himself. He took up the old chorus lightly, without an arrière pensée, the broken lines of the old songs danced through his brain, more occupied with them than with himself, and it was more delightful to him to retain them for their own sake than to throw them away for his. We think this idea is very clearly traceable throughout the whole series of his letters, especially to Johnson: though we have not seen these letters for years, yet our understanding of them remains so assured that Mr Henley's distress strikes us with a surprise which is not devoid of amusement. Dear poet! we say involuntarily, all this we were very well aware of before had ever you laid a hand on Burns, or regarded with dismay a single broadsheet from the collections of Herd or Lord Rosebery. Take courage! if you have altered the position of a poet greater than yourself, it must simply be with the new generation, which, we grant you, is singularly ignorant of many things very simple to its fathers, though no doubt immensely learned in many other things which its fathers did not know. Burns, so far as we were aware, never concealed nor attempted to conceal the origin of many of his songs. Je prends mon bien où je le trouve,

said Molière, and what was ever the property of a poet more than those wild fragments which floated on every breeze, broken, incomplete, imperfect, like the fragrance from the hawthorn bushes, or the honey of the gorse, articulate only in a word or two, suggestions, recollections which formed the very atmosphere of the rural mind?

We wonder whether the first student who found Macbeth and a great deal more in Holinshed, felt himself in the same tremendous position in which Mr Henley is now conscious of standing. Did he feel that the position of Shakespeare was likely to be painfully affected by his discovery? He had certainly a great deal more reason than our too sensitive critic and poet. But we doubt

whether he was afflicted by this delicate sentiment. And we think we can assure Mr Henley that he has told us very little if anything that we did not know before. We know it probably as Burns himself knew it, which was not as Mr Henley knows it. For Burns was no student, and if ever any thing was certain in this world, it is (in our humble opinion) certain that the young Ayrshire farmer, who had indeed too much time for "daffin'," and enough for poetry, had but few spare hours left to employ in the study of Herd's manuscripts in order to find material for his work. If he had done so determinedly and with conscious effort, as Mr Henley thinks, we do not know that our opinion would have been different. We hope he had as good a right to take possession of his biens, wherever he found them, as Molière or Shakespeare.

And with what beautiful unconscious art he put in those floating fragments, as pleased and

proud, who can doubt, to set the little jewel in a lovely place, and deck it with his own bright springing fancies, as ever man was! At the same time, it is curious and interesting to ponder the proof of his assertions which Mr Henley produces, and which he so frankly and loyally permits us to test in every instance. We feel disposed to adopt that double plea of law which permits a defendant to plead at the same time never indebted, and that the debt is paid. Burns himself tells us in the most genial manner that he does owe the debt; but Mr Henley's evidence tends to establish that both Burns and his critic were mistaken. The book opens upon a characteristic specimen of this disagreement.

"I remember,' Burns writes to Thomson, 'two ending lines of a verse in some of the old songs of "Logan Water" (for I know a good many different ones) which I think pretty

'Now my dear lad maun face his faes,
Far, far frae me and Logan braes.'

"It may be," says Mr Henley with exist in an old song; but in any case an implied doubt, "that these lines they were used as a refrain in the

Logan Water' of John Mayne, author of the Siller Gun,' and joint editor with Peter Stuart of The London Star,' which was popular at Whitehall some years before Burns wrote."

Does Mr Henley mean to imply that Burns knew what was going on at Whitehall, and plagiarised wilfully from the recent play instead of simply adopting the o'erword of the old song? We do not object to his theory, but we think that his mode of proving it is very futile. Let us follow him through the history of some other

individual songs. We may as well add that in the great majority of cases the most insignificant of

the songs are those which fit Mr Henley's conclusions best. Does any one consider the authenticity of "The Captain's Lady" of great importance?—

"Oh mount and go,

Mount and make you ready;
Oh mount and go,

And be the Captain's lady!"

Mr Henley devotes a whole page to the elucidation of the older songs that made up this jingle or suggested it. Does he really think that will alter Burns's position as a lyric poet?

Here is another instance. "Musing on the Roaring Ocean" is a song of which our childhood, which knew Burns by heart, has left us wholly ignorant, as will probably

be the case with most readers. It is a copy of correct English verses, in which Burns was never very happy. Mr Henley tells us they are "reminiscent of divers Jacobitisms."

"Stanza ii. line 4. Compare the Jacobite song 'Lewie Gordon'—

Altho' his back be at the wa',
Here's to him that's far awa'.'

This is Stanza ii.—

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Hope and Fear's alternate billow,
Yielding late to Nature's law,
Whispering spirits round my pillow
Talk of him that's far awa'."

If that was modelled on any thing, Mr Henley might as well have adduced a host of other songs as well as "Lewie Gordon," indeed the greater part of the songs of Scotland, in which there occur a multitude of lads who are far awa'. "Lewie Gordon,'" he adds, " is, however, itself borrowed from an older 'Song on the Birthday of King James the Eighth, 10th June 1709.'" He might have gone a great deal further, and quoted a whole page full of references. Is this a likely thing

to alter among us the reputation of Burns?

It touches us, however, more than these, which are of the least possible consequence, to find one of Burns's most impassioned lyrics treated with the same curious and niggling criticism,

"Ae fond kiss, and then we sever; Ae farewell, and that for ever."

"The germ of 'Ae Fond Kiss,'" says Mr Henley, "is found in The Parting Kiss,' by Robert Dodsley (17031764), which was set by Oswald :— 'One fond kiss before we part,

Drop a tear, and bid adieu;
Though we sever, my fond heart
Till we meet shall pant for you.'"

Can any imagine that the noble verses of Burns's song, including that which is perhaps the profoundest note of the lover's despair

man in his senses

"Had we never lov'd sae kindly,
Had we never lov'd sae blindly,
Never met and never parted,
We had ne'er been broken-hearted".

derived anything, much less found their germ, from a doggerel verse, the first three words of which corresponded more or less with the first three words of the poem ? This is to insult the ordinary intelligence. We opine that Mr Henley had no share in these pedantic follies. A poet surely could scarcely ever, even in his aberrations, be of so shallow a wit.

We began by freely admitting, to a great measure, the point which Mr Henley fears he is the first to disclose: but as we go on to consider his evidence our mind changes. Burns indeed was the first to disclose the pseudo-fact, and did so cordially in almost every one of the letters which accompany these songs. The ancient songs inspired him, sang themselves in his ears,

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