Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

vier have acquired the happiest influence and the Austrian Provinces would be, disat home over the mind of the French Em-tracted, if not persuaded, by the spectacle peror. Everything will once more neces- of a crusade for the cause of nationalities. sarily blow over, and the French nation be Even Garibaldi would feel a little uncertain consoled with the promise for the twentieth as to the path of duty, as he could not head time that the Edifice is now at last about at one and the same moment a guerilla war to be crowned, and a new law introduced in Poland and in Italy. To head such a about the public press. It is singular that Catholic league as this would be the Ema politician of the Emperor's grasp of mind perur's delight - that is to say, if it did not should be incessantly exhausting his own cost too many lives, and if he could calcutreasury and the patience of Europe by late with absolute certainty on its success. these indefinite prolongations and postpone- To have the Pope and the French Empress ments. War, it would seem, never is, but crying with joy at the news of alternate always is to be. The explanation is that Te Deums at Warsaw and Baden-Baden, to the Emperor cannot but perceive that the see French Marshals proudly prancing about war programme on which he is constantly at the head of military contingents from forcing himself to ponder is unsuited to the Catholic Spain and even Catholic Belgium, real wants of his age and country. He is and to be able to hope that the excitement by no means inaccessible to ideas of right about Poland might make the Roman quesand wrong, and a grain of conscience easily tion easier of solution, in which case Italian makes him sour. Those who are best ac- legions might yet be fighting with enthusiquainted with his habits and disposition ap- asm in the Polish forests side by side with pear agreed in thinking that he has no nat- the French Zouaves — all this is a sort of ural turn or inclination for engaging in a political picture which the Emperor of great and hazardous campaign. Handling course has often drawn at times in his rothe powder-barrel, and calculating the ef- mantic soul. The reconciliation of the Pafects of its explosion, is an occupation for pacy and of democracy would seem thus to which he bas even a predilection, but firing be complete; and France would get the it would be an act of fury from which his Rhine, with the approval both of the patribetter nature, at well as his ordinary in- ots and the priests of Southern Europe. stincts, both equally recoil. Napoleon III., This dreamy, misty, Napoleonic fancy has like Hamlet, might continue through whole been ruined, as it was sure in the ordinary years to brood over an enterprise which he course of things to be, by a very commoncould not bring himself to execute, if it place event. The Queen of Spain, who was were not for the natural tendency of political to have played the glorified part of at once clouds to precipitate themselves in wet lending men to France and contributing an weather. Englishmen know by experience air of sanctity to the undertaking, bas sudthe meaning of " drifting into war," and denly been deposed by her subjects, who the danger is lest the situation which the could not abide an intolerable mixture of Emperor has partly created should in its piety, misgovernment, and feminine deturn produce the catastrophe from which he pravity. The loss of an army on the eve shrinks.

of a desperate campaign is a serious affair, general impression that a movement especially when the army is one on whose upon the Rhine was meant to coincide (in co-operation at the nick of time depends case of Russian intervention) with a revival the whole success of the arrangement. of Polish agitation and a Franco-Austrian Anxious as the Spanish Revolution may be expedition in favour of Catholic Poland, is to appease or propitiate the French Empire, doubtless founded upon a modicum of fact. liberated Spain is scarcely likely to embark Such a combination was probably one on in a speculative filibustering adventure, which the Imperial fancy bas rested in its which at most could only end in the aggranpassage from one phase to another, and for disement of an already powerful neighbour. the present, like Beau Brummel's mangled And indeed, supposing that no such ingencravat's, must be considered to be one more ious scheme was seriously entertained at of the Emperor's failures. The advantage the Tuileries as a Franco-Catholic alliance, of the design, if it was ever really matured, still the explosion of a successful rebellion was doubtless that France might thus ex- in Spain has not been without its uses. pect to engage on her side a certain amount The dreams of an undecided person are of pious and a certain amount of revolution- easily disturbed. A rat behind the tapestry ary fervour. The Pope might bless the at the last might have kept IIainlet' from banners whose mission was to avenge the avenging his father's ghost. No one can Catholic Bishops of Poland; while the scat- feel sure what the French Emperor might tered spirits of sedition in France, Italy, or might not have attempted this winter, if

not

some

at the critical moment his resolution had one who heard Mr. Reverdy Johnson, and not been shaken by bearing a noise upon every one wbo has read what he said, his frontier.

must have felt a conviction that the repre

sentative of the United States was It is not pleasant to think that the peace speaking mere smooth things to please for of Europe is at the mercy of any single a moment, but was uttering the genuine man; but no condition is without its con- sentiments of his own mind and of the soling side, and it is some comfort to feel minds of a vast number of his countrymen. that the French Emperor has his nerves. They wish, as we wish, to forget the past, Les nerfs, said the philosopher, voilà l'homme. and to go on better and more kindly for the Napoleon III. might have been a bold des- future ; and in nothing was Mr. Johnson's perado, with the spirit and determination speech more cominendable, nothing showed of a burglar. As it is, he is a sovereign the wisdom and generosity of a statesman who is reluctant to shed blood, who knows more, than the manner in which he dealt what military glory means to the poor and with the objection that there were industrious, and who in his heart, perhaps, present who ought not to have been there, is not sorry when something occurs to ren- and who while the civil war was going on, der it easy for him to put off his great con- had sympathized, and even perhaps coquests till another day. He would doubt- operated with the South. The partisans less rejoice, for the sake of humanity, if of the North in this country are even more Prussia at the last moment would give him American than the Americans themselves, a small, even the smallest piece of tribute and were in a state of great fury and agitamoney. What the representative of French tion because Mr. Laird and other Coppervanity requires is indeed rather consideration heads had been asked to be present. They and deference than concession ; and Napo- expected that Mr. Johnson would feel the leon III. often perhaps sighs (in the inter- same horror at sitting down to eat with ests of humanity) to think what a happy such persons as an American Republican family the Continent would be if France feels at sitting down to eat with a negro. might enjoy even the faintest shadow of But Mr. Johnson was much wiser than his hegemony. His policy, alternately bold and friends, and not only did not allow the tanid, humitarian and reactionary, conclu- presence of Mr. Laird to spoil his dinner, sively shows that despotic power cannot but went out of his way to express his satsafely be entrusted even to philosophers isfaction that the representative of the who have what is called the popular fibre. United States was treated as if the civil The Empire is not peace. It has not justi- war was now past and forgotten, and was fied the first blast of trumpets with which welcomed simply as the guest of English its chief entered the political arena. Neith- merchants and statesmen. How are outer, on the other hand, is the Empire war. standing difficulties ever to be surmounted, The Empire, to Europe, means suspense. how are Americans ever to get over the Ilow long Prussia will consent to have the soreness which they felt while the war sword of Damocles hang over her head has was going on, if the member for Birkenyet to be seen; but if she does not mind head is not to be asked to a Liverpool dinit, and if 1868 is to close quietly in spite of ner because the English friends of the all the rumours of the autumn, one cannot North have a too vivid remembrance of but allow that suspense is not so bad but his misdoings? If Mr. Johnson had shown that certainty might be worse.

himself petty enough to resent that the representative of one-half of the port of Liver

pool should have been asked to meet him, From The Saturday Review, 24 Oct.

he would not have been the man to estabMR. REVERDY JOHNSON AT LIVERPOOL.

lish the friendship of the two nations on a

firm basis. It must have been gratifying to The Liverpool banquet to Mr. Reverdy all the sensible portion of his audience to Johnson has been a complete success. find that he frankly dealt with the matter in Coming at exactly the right moment, when a graceful and generous manner. Perhaps, the minds of men on both sides of the At- however, his audience was even more gratlantic were prepared and anxious for some ified by the declaration which he took upon sign of reciprocal good-feeling and assured himself to make with regard to the public amity between the two nations, it has risen debt of the United States. It seems to into an event of real political importance, have been an afterthought, for it was only by affording a means of placing on record at the close of the entertainment that he the good relations now existing between touched on this point. Probably some of England and the United States. Every lhis Liverpool friends thought that, as he had said so much that was true, and had simple enough, and Englishmen are quite done so much to tranquillize the feelings as ready to accept it as Americans can be. of different kinds of people, it was a But the consequence of the rule in the sphere pity the bondholders should not come in of criminal law, in the sphere of family life and for a share of the good things going, and of inheritance, are not easy to foresee and to that a word should not be spoken to keep determine properly; and it is quite as much to up the price of Five-Twenties. Whether the interests of Americans that they should be Mr. Johnson was right in committing properly determined as it can be to that of himself and the nation he represents so Englishmen. The diseussion of the claims decidedly on a point which is still kept on both sides arising out of the war is not open in the battlefield of American poli- yet ended, but both Lord Stanley and Mr. tics, be alone can decide. We in England Johnson seem to think an agreement as cannot criticize his conduct in any way equitable as possible under the circumstanon this head. We can only accept his ces will very soon be come to; and it is declaration with the sincerest pleasure, and evident that Mr. Johnson and Mr. Seward rejoice to find so leading an American will be glad the matter should be settled statesman, placed in so responsible a posi- before the new President forms his Cabinet, tion, declare that even if the point in dis- and that Lord Stanley would like to have the pute is one that can be fairly raised be- credit of going out of office with the tween the debtor and the creditor, pru- credit of leaving so good piece of findence and honesty alike concur in deter- ished work behind him. Both sides, we mining that it shall be ruled in favour of suppose, will agree to admit to some extent those who have lent their money.

the claims of the other, and therefore both Lord Stanley was there to meet Mr. sides will have something to pay. The Johnson, and joined in giving the welcome balance may possibly be against England. assurance that all was going on as well as We may have to pay the money, but then possible between bimself and their guest, we shall have one great source of satisfacand that all the questions at issue betweention to comfort us. The Americans will be ourselves and the Americans were in a fair only settling those ordinary claims for repaway to be settled very shortly, and on ration which arise so easily and naturally out terms highly satisfactory to both parties. of every war where the interests and comOn two points — the possession of the island merce of a neutral are largely mixed up of San Juan and the naturalization of with those of a belligerent. But we shall aliens — an understanding seems already to be establishing a principle at once new and have been arrived at. It ought not to be greatly to our advantage. We shall be difficult to deal with such a subject as the binding over all neitrals not to inflict on island of San Juan. Very few Englishmen us the injury to which a great maritime have ever heard of the island, and our only Power is most exposed in time of war. feeling as to it must be that we do not wish We shall be insuring ourselves against to be bullied out of it, or out of anything depredations on our mercantile marine at else; but that really we have so many pos- the hands of neutrals or by their connisessions we know nothing about, and do vance; and this is a source of security and not know what to do with, that we should advantage to us which we shall be sure to be rather glad than otherwise to find our be purchasing very cheaply, whatever may title bad to some of them. Aš to naturali- be the exact amount of pecuniary satisfaction zation, it never was an international diffi- to the Americans which Lord Stanley may culty at all. A few violent Americans tried undertake we shall render. to make capital out of it, and to use it as a The good feeling prevailing between the means of hurting the feelings of Britishers; United States and England seemed so but we in England never saw it in that clearly established, the banquet went off so light at all. The difficulties that surround well, and it seemed such an excellent thing the subject are difficulties, not of na- to bave secured peace between the two national feeling or custom, but simply of law. tions on such pleasant terms, that Lord It so happens that, in this as in many other Stanley and Mr. Gladstone were both led cases, the rule which we are willing to ac- to speculate on the possibility of the examcept is siinple enough, but the application ple being followed elsewhere, and of Europe of it is by no means easy. Let us suppose being tranquillized in the same manner. that we and the Americans and every other Lord Stanley allowed it to be understood civilized nation are willing to adopt the that, in his opinion, the danger of war beprinciple that every male of full age may at tween France and Prussia had been exaghis pleasure, and by going through certain gerated, and it was principally because performs, change his nationality. This sounds sons had chosen to think war inevitable

From Saint Paul's.

CLARISSA, *

on,

66

Here, says Mr. Dallas to all English read

ers, is a great treasure. There are circumThis is indeed an old tale, and we should stances connected with it which seem to not now have thought of inviting the atten- make it unavailable to the public in its tion of our readers to one so old, were it present shape. Let us see if we cannot so not for the boldness and unambiguous

handle this piece of unsurpassed excellence, thoroughness of the challenge thrown down as to make it of general service to humanity. by Mr. Dallas, in his introduction to this

“Unfortunately,” says Mr. Dallas, “Richnew edition of Samuel Richardson's well-ardson has a great fault; he is prolix. known novel. He expresses an opinion,

He gives us indeed gold, but the gold is almost in so many words, that Richardson shapen into a goblet so huge that few of us

And then he goes is the greatest of all novelists, and “ Clar- can lift it to our lips." issa” the greatest of all novels. He quotes readers a simple abridgment of the marvel

“I have ventured to offer to English Macaulay, who is said to have expatiated lous tale, — matchless in the range of prose to Thackeray on the pleasures which he and fiction, - because, for the honour of literaothers took in reading “ Clarissa”. the hills in India. He tells us that Sir ture, I lament that the noblest of all novels

, James Mackintosh declared that it was the

the most pathetic, and the most sublime, finest work of fiction ever written in any

should be unread and well-nigh unknown language. He overwhelms us with French among us." To cure the evil of prolixity, admiration, naming Alfred de Musset, D'Al- therefore, Mr. Dallas has abridged the embert, Voltaire, Rousseau, and Diderot,

work by omitting such of the letters as he

deemed to be unnecessary to the developthough, as two out of these five were admittedly adverse critics, we hardly see to

ment of the story. what this leads. And then he tells us that

In this there is an admission that “Clar many besides Diderot put Richardson and issa,” as left to us by the author, is in the the Bible together. In fact, Mr. Dallas present day unreadable. Thus there arise means to assert that there is the strongest extreme amount of eulogy which he passes

two questions. Is Mr. Dallas right in the possible evidence which can be given by the

on a work which he admits to be beyond admiration of contemporaries and by the

the judgment of critics that · Clarissa" is the

power of English readers to digest in greatest of novels. But he goes on to add, in making that popular which is now ad

its present form; and will he be successful and this is the point at which he aims, that, though " Clarissa” is thus excellent,

mittedly unpopular by the simple work of it does not now receive that attention which abridgment? 'We notice the book think so excellent a work deserves, and does not ing that his judgment is wrong and that his administer to readers generally that delight the matter is of great importance, and be

labours will prove to be futile; because which it is capable of affording. This, indeed, is the very gist of the plea which he cause it may be worth while to inquire why puts forward. the noblest of all novels, the most pathetic, Now and again we hear the voice of a .. I lament,” he says, “ that nobody now reads Richardson's novels. In these days everybody reads novels

. and the most sublime, should be unread, and well-nigh unknown among us.”. And this popular reaction. Mr. Carlyle or the

thoughtful or earnest man raised against again, “ For the novelist who could so pre: Archbishop of York may endeavour to criticism, and in the regard of all his coun- prove that we are dissipating our minds, trymen, a reversal of the sentence of neglect wasting our time, and encouraging laxity from which he now suffers.". And again, but the preaching of the preacher is of no

and diffuseness in our intellectual powers; “I challenge for him in all the courts of avail. Men are as laborious as ever they English criticism and in the regard of all

Our wives and our daughters are his countrymen a reconsideration of his services."

more highly educated than were our miste There is an enthusiasm in this, a true ad

ers and grandmothers.

We work, and miration for an undoubtedly noble work, pray, and ride, and dance, and gandes and a true interest for the reputation of a But we all read novels; - lawyers, divine

and talk politics as assiduously as mir. great writer, which the lovers of English merchants, soldiers, sailors, courtiers, pudiliterature cannot but love. One's first feeling on reading Mr. Dallas's remarks is that ticians, — and what not. There is hir'is of sympathy, at any rate with Mr. Dallas, a man or a woman who can read who vies

not require that some amount of novel resto * “ Clarissa:" A Novel, by Samuel Richardson, ing shall be printed for the delight of tis in edited by E. S. Dallas. Tinsley, 1868.

her leisure hours. And so much is karded

were.

from novels, — so much of good and of evil, has undertaken on our behalf to make it - so very many of the details of everyday less so. We will acknowledge, as we pass life are done honestly or dishonestly, self- on, that he has so far done his task well, ishly or unselfishly, in a manner divine or that he has omitted nothing necessary to diabolical, as the mind of the doer may the story, and that, in the three volumes have been operated upon beneficially or in- now under notice, Clarissa" is a better juriously by the novelist's art, that the pro- novel than it was as left by Richardson. duction and possession of good novels We will not pause to assert that an author instead of bad, that is of novels that will should be judged by his works as he himteach good lessons instead of novels that self leaves them, and will acknowledge, will teach bad lessons, is a matter of vital also, as we proceed, that the world of importance to the nation. We think that readers is indebted to the editor or comwe are right in asserting that the novels of mentator who will make that which fitted the day have more effect on the national the taste of one age fit also for the taste of mind than either the sermons or the poetry; later ages by his labours. But we venture more probably than any other branch of to express our opinion that, even in this literature with the exception of newspapers, abridgment, Clarissa ” is so prolix, that - even if we except them. In speaking of the impatience of the times will not endure the novels of the day, we mean the novels the book; and also that, as a work of art, which are now read, and should count Rich- it is not only prolix, but is so replete with ardson's among those if they were in daily other faults which have been condemned by use.

If this be so, it would be a great the ever-advancing literary education of the thing to redeem from darkness and bring day, that it can never again become popuout into meridian light a work, of which the lar. lessons are undoubtedly moral, — if that There are those, among whom, however, work be, as it is asserted, of all novels the we do not think that we should reckon Mr. best and most charming.

Dallas, - lovers of literature too, who It is confessed that nobody reads " Clar- will tell us that our education and taste as issa." Richardson's novels must, indeed, to that which we read have gone backwards ; be classed among those standard national that men and women who prefer Macaulay works of literature with which men in gen- to Burnet, Tennyson to Dryden, or Thackeral think it no harm to profess an acquain- eray to Richardson, do so because to their tance, although they have never read a line attenuated intellects and sickly judginents of them, and have never opened the volume. tinsel shines brighter than gold. These are There are many such national works. We the “ lauditores temporis acti,” the Conserdon't mean to say that men and women lie vatives in literature, for there are Conabout them. If asked to put their hands servatives in literature as in politics, men on their hearts and say whether they had who are very serviceable to us in saving us perused this or that book from end to end, from too quick a desertion of things that the truth would come from them clearly and are old, because they are old,

the drag rapidly. But in the ordinary conversation upon our wheels which might otherwise run of the world, it is customary to presume an down the hill too quickly. But we hold acquaintance with these happy literary own- them to be altogether wrong in their judgcrs of brevet rank. Beaumont and Fletcher ment of men's intellects.

As age succeeds are a great example. We are disposed to age, that which is most worthy keeps its believe that Spenser might be named in the hold upon us. As it is in matters political, list; Bunyan's * Pilgrim's Progress" should so it is also in matters of literature. Trial be inserted; and De Foe's writings, with by jury remains, and is likely to remain, the exception of “ Robinson Crusoe.” Dry- let Messrs. Beales and Odgers be ever so den's poems, Chesterfield's letters, and Dr. triumphant; and Shakspeare is still known Johnson's works, — of course we do not in- to us at least as intimately as in any previclude his dictionary, may be added. In ous age. The very admission that "Clarthis catalogue Richardson's novels must issa ” is not read, 'is of itself proof to us certainly find a place. All these are books that Clarissa " is unreadable. which it is assumed that every man has

Mr. Dallas admits that this work is proread, which all men have on their book- lix, and endeavours to cure the fault. But shelves, but which nobody ever reads. If unfortunately the book is weighted with a " Clarissa " is so pre-eminently the best of double prolixity. It is prolix in all its novels, and as novels are now more popu- parts, as well as in its whole. Cut it to lar than ever, why is “Clarissa” among pieces as you will, and it will still be prolix. the books that are never opened ?

The telling of every incident is done with a Mr. Dallas tells us that it is prolix, and prolixity that to us is amazing; and, as the

66

« ElőzőTovább »