« ElőzőTovább »
fuller, a clearer, but not a deeper or a camp of the French army in Spain; and purer expression in the matchless verse yet there is no third- not even Shelley, of Hugo. The adorable poem called and not even Coleridge - whose vision "Auguries of Innocence"-a series of was as the vision of these; right or wrong, such divine epigrams as angels might be mad or sane, wise or foolish. Hugo's, as imagined to dictate, by way of a lesson for we know, was to Sainte-Beuve a stumrepetition, to little children - has here, bling-block, and to Mérimée foolishness; for the first time, an echo or a parallel. Blake's, to all but two or three of his conThe wrongs and sufferings of our fellow- temporaries Wordsworth, to be sure, animals had been nobly and touchingly being one of the two or three was sheer denounced and lamented by such less in- lunacy. For less acute and intelligent spired voices as those of Cowper and of readers than the Sainte-Beuves and MériBurns, before they struck home to the mées and Matthew Arnolds it may be inheart of the great man who was only not teresting to compare the couplets above a great poet in the formal and executive cited with the passage of which these few sense because he was always altogether a lines may be taken as a sample:child at heart, and a vagrant denizen on earth of the kingdom of heaven; but the Pourquoi le héron gris, qui s'enfuit dans les brumes, pleading or the appeal of Burns as of Cowper was merely the expression of material compassion and compassionate indignation; to Blake as to Hugo these sufferings and these wrongs were the ciphers or the figures of a problem insoluble except by faith, and unendurable to contemplate unless by the eyes of faith. Not Blake himself is more extravagant, excessive, outrageous to the instincts or the inductions of common sense and practical reason
more preposterous, more puerile, more Manichean than the greatest and most inspired writer of our own day. Till now it would have been difficult to find a parallel for the divine absurdity, the insane and ineffable wisdom, of such sayings as these:
A robin-redbreast in a cage
A gamecock clipped and armed for fight
But the passionate pity, the fiery tenderness, and the sensitive intensity of faith, with which these couplets are informed and imbued as with life and meaning beyond the mere nakedness of words, are clothed by the genius of Hugo with yet fuller and loftier and more superb expression. And assuredly the vehemence of belief-the wilfulness, the positive. ness, the audacity of confidence is unmistakably identical in its constant and insistent ardor of affirmation. No two poets of the prophetic or evangelic order can ever have had more utterly unlike beginnings and surroundings than the London hosier's son and the child of the
Sent-il le noir faucon fouiller du bec ses
Plonges-tu les couteaux aux gorges des brebis?
Cours au désert, la vie est-elle plus joyeuse?
Entre la guêpe tigre et l'abeille du miel!
Aux caves des souris, aux ravins à panthères;
Il semble que l'azur égalise et confonde Jésus, l'âme de l'homme, et Dieu, l'âme du monde!
The adoring reverence of Hugo for the sacred name which is used here to express the ideal of divine or glorified humanity stands out singularly in contrast with the apparent aversion excited by its association with creeds and churches in the mind of such a contemporary student and fellow. republican as Michelet. But it is always more interesting, as it is always more profitable, to find instances of likeness than to find instances of contrast to the work of a poet or the speculation of a thinker; and in the following couplet one of the most perfect and magnificent in all the world of verse we hear again an unconscious echo of the spirit and indeed the very voice of William Blake. L'oubli que ferait Dieu du dernier et du
Suffirait pour ôter au jour le droit de poindre. But of course it is seldom that we find anything here which could have been written by any hand save one. The full and fiery torrent of Crashaw's sometimes turbid and morbid verse poured out in honor of a great Catholic saint has in it no pearl of praise that can be set against the single line which closes the following magnificent and transcendent passage:
Oh! vous l'avez cherché sans l'entrevoir, sibylles,
Ce Dieu mystérieux des azurs immobiles!
Albunée, et brûlant une torche de cire;
Celle d'Imbrasia; celle de l'Hellespont
Toi dont le regard fixe inquiétait Vesper, Larve d'Endor; et toi, les dents blanches d'écume,
Les deux seins nus, ô folle effrayante de
Rouler vos fauves yeux dans la profondeur noire,
Nulle de vous n'a vu clairement dans sa gloire Sainte Thérèse, avec un soupir, l'a trouvé. Ce grand Dieu du pardon sur la terre levé. Victor Hugo alone could have written that; and Victor Hugo alone could have put into the mouth of an angel such superhuman words as these:
Si tu ne l'entends pas, tu peux au moins le voir,
L'hymne éternel, vibrant sous les éternels
Les constellations sont des gammes d'étoiles; Et les vents par moments te chantent des lambeaux
Du chant prodigieux qui remplit les tombeaux.
Of this great new song which comes to us from the grave of Victor Hugo there is so much more to be said than any man could say at once that it may be well to disclaim all pretence of giving an analysis or even a summary of its component parts. Those who would know what it contains and what it conveys its dramatic force, its philosophic insight, its evangelic passion-must be content and thankful to study it reverently and thoroughly for themselves.
ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE.
From The Spectator.
THE number of animals which with
ordinary tact and kindness can be tamed by man is so great, that the range of possible pets would seem almost co-extensive with the limits of the animal world. The Turkestan tiger whose good temper was mentioned recently in the Spectator, owed its passage by rail from the Caspian to the Black Sea, to its cleverness in performing tricks before the little daughter of the Russian railway superintendent, after it had been sternly refused by the subordinate officials on the ground that tigers were not scheduled in the fare-list of the Tiflis Railway; and a bear may be made an interesting and intelligent companion. But tame tigers must, as a rule, remain a luxury for sultans and Sarah Bernhardts, and the amiable bear be left to the professional gentlemen who make a living from his society. We say "as a is hardly any limit to the Englishman's rule," not without reason, because there fancy for pets. The writer was requested last year to act as friendly broker to bid for the bear which found its way so often to the London police-courts after being
leverets from the hill, and hid them in a straw-stack near a farm, and remained constantly near them all day, coming to them regularly as soon as the twilight made it safe. They are bold as well as affectionate, and have been known to drive off a hawk which was carrying away a young one, springing up and striking the bird as it flew low above the ground; and their attachment to locality is so great, that even if kept at large, they would probably not leave their owner's grounds.
exhibited before the queen at Windsor, is a clever, affectionate creature, as far a bear which so won the heart of the po- above the rabbit in the scale of intelligence liceman who "took it up" from a stern as it is in physique. Last spring, after a sense of duty, that he "made a collection "late fall of snow, an old hare brought her to defray its expenses after the summons. The would-be purchaser was a worthy butcher before whose shop the bear was being exhibited, while the writer heard its history from the genial and dirty foreigner who owned it. "Sir," said the butcher, "excuse the liberty; but would you kindly ask that Frenchman what he will take for the bear?" 46 Certainly," we replied, "if you will say why you want it; is it for professional purposes?"- for the bear was fat. "Oh, no! I should not think of such a thing," said the butcher. "I want him for a pet." Very well; how high will you go?" we asked. “Up to ten pounds," the butcher replied. But though we did our best, the owner would not accept less than eight hundred francs, to the great disappointment of the would-be purchaser. What is required for an everyday pet is that it shall be beautiful and intelligent; that it shall neither be too large nor too delicate; and, if a bird, that it shall sing or talk, preferably both. The two first requirements will not go far to limit the choice. Beauty of form and harmony of color are the almost inseparable attributes of that physical perfection which the natural life of animals demands; and he would be a rash man who classed any of the more highly organized animals as "stupid" without trial.
But there are "diversities of gifts," and the exquisite beauty of the silky little chinchilla must be held to compensate for the want of the lively cleverness of the coati-mundi or the capuchin. The limits set by size and constitution are the main consideration in the choice of pets. Yet even so the possible range is very great, and might well extend far beyond the species which form the main body of those usually seen in this country. To begin with our native animals, who has seen a tame hare? Most schoolboys have kept tame rabbits by the dozen - singularly uninteresting pets when shut up all day in a box munching cabbage-stalks and generally turned over to younger sisters in favor of a terrier puppy after brief possession. Yet even after the experience of tame hares so charmingly told by Cowper, the most domestic of poets, the hare is neglected as a pet. Yet its form and fur are beautiful, and so far as the writer has been able to judge of this, perhaps one of the least carefully observed, except for persecution, of our wild animals, the hare
A charming little foreign pet for the house is the suricate. This pretty creature, which, if we remember rightly, was among the number of Frank Buckland's animal companions, isan active and vivacious little fellow, some ten inches long, with greenish-brown fur, large, bright eyes, a short, pointed nose, and dainty paws, which, like the squirrel's or the racoon's, are used as hands, to hold, to handle, and to ask for more. Eloquent in supplication, tenacious in retention, the suricate's paws are expressive, plaintive, and wholly irre sistible. The creature is made for a pet, and is so affectionate to its master that it can undergo any degree of "spoiling" without injury to its temper. A larger, more beautiful, and most charming creature, not unlike the suricate in some respects, though in no way related to it, is the brown opossum from Tasmania. "Sooty Phalangist" is the elegant name given to it by naturalists; but except when the specimen kept by the writer discovered that a chimney made a good substitute for a hollow tree for its midday sleep, there was nothing in its appearance to justify the scientific adjective. The fur is of the richest dark-brown, and covers its prehensile tail like a fur boa. Its head is small, with a pink nose and very large, brown eyes; and it has a "compound hand, with claws on its fingers, and an almost human and clawless thumb, with the aid of which it can hold a wine-glass, or eat jam out of a teaspoon. That owned by the writer was, without exception, the most fearless and affectionate pet he has ever known. In the evening, when it was most lively, it would climb on to the shoulder of any of its visitors, and take any food given it. It had a mania for cleanliness, always "washing" its hands after taking food, or even after running across the room, and was always anxious to do the same office by the hands of any
one who fed it. It made friends with the dogs, and would "wash" their faces for them, catching hold of an old setter's nose with its sharp little claws, to hold it steady while it licked its face. The staircase and bannisters furnished a gymnasium for exercise in winter, and in summer it could be trusted among the trees in the garden. This opossum is becoming scarce, owing to the demand for its fur; but there is little doubt that specimens could still be bought for a moderate sum. That owned by the writer cost three pounds. The American grey squirrel is a common and hardy species, which becomes very tame, and is even prettier than our red squirrel; and the South American coatis, especially the small kinds, are most amusing pets; though, like the mongoose, they need to be kept warm. All the coatis are sociable, lively creatures, quite omnivorous, and with as many odd tricks as a monkey. The mongoose, that "familiar " of Indian households, has such a natural bias for human society, that, according to Mr. Kipling, it will often come into a house from the jungle, and voluntarily enrol itself among the members of the family. It is a slim, active little animal, varying from a foot to nearly two feet in length, of a curious mottled silvery-grey color, and so amazingly rapid in its movements that its victory over the cobra is not surprising. Provided that it is kept warm in winter, it will live well in an English home, and loses none of those domestic qualities which make it such a favorite in India. The marmot and the viscacha, or prairiedog, are amusing little fellows, and if allowed the use of a small enclosure in which the marmots can burrow and make hay for the winter, and the viscachas make their "collections" of curiosities, either species would, no doubt, add to the interest of an English country house. But as both the marmot and the viscacha hibernate in winter, their owner must be prepared for their disappearance underground from Christmas until March.
There is only one monkey which we can thoroughly recommend as an indoor pet, the beautiful and intelligent little capuchin. The marmozets, even more beautiful and equally pleasing, are too delicate for our climate, and die of colds and coughs after the first fogs of winter. the lively little capuchins may be kept for years in an English house; and no monkey approaches their good temper and pretty, winning ways. They all have good round heads, with black fur on the top and light-brown on the cheeks. Some have
pinkish faces, and others dark-brown skin, with eyes like brown jewels. Their faces are most expressive, and seldom still, for they take deep and abiding interest in everything in or about their cages. The writer has seen one from a large house in Leicestershire, which had learnt to put out burning paper. This it did most adroitly by beating it with its hands or knocking it against the floor. Another, which was kept at the Zoo, would, if it got a match, collect a heap of straw, strike the match, light its bonfire, and dance round it. This dangerous accomplishment led to its removal from the cages on Saturdays and bank-holidays, when the crowd makes it difficult to keep a watch on its movements. The capuchin is so small, so pretty, and so clever, that it seems to embody all the good and none of the bad points of monkey nature.
Those who possess an aviary may be interested to hear that at the Zoo, blackcaps, whitethroats, garden-warblers, and nightingales, all birds of passage, are living in excellent health through the winter; and one nightingale was singing on December 29th, but the song, though very beautiful, was not a true nightingale's note, but largely borrowed from that of the bulbul in the next aviary, the bird being a young one caught in the autumn. It is evident, from the experiment at the Zoo, that our summer warblers may be kept as pets. But the bird of all others suited for the aviary, but neglected as a rule in England, is the bulbul. The Persian variety has the finest song, but the Indian is an even prettier bird, and sings exquisitely. In appearance, the bulbuls are not unlike the Bohemian waxwing, with a black conical top-knot, cinnamon-colored backs, red and white or yellow and white cheeks and white breasts, with some bright color near the tail. The note is most liquid and beautiful, and the bird has a pretty habit of varying the volume of the sound, singing loudly in the open, and almost whispering its song to its master or mistress if confined in a room. We might do worse than follow the example of the Persians, and make the bulbul our favorite cagebird, instead of the canary.
From All The Year Round. MRS. DIFFIDENCE.
MRS. DIFFIDENCE, as readers of that almost unequalled classic, "The Pilgrim's Progress," will remember, was the wife of
Giant Despair; and so, we may suppose, part owner of Doubting Castle. Her name has been a puzzle to many. Diffidence we may have been used to look upon as an amiable weakness; in the young, indeed, as almost a virtue. But Mrs. Diffidence is an awful character, a Jezebel, or Lady Macbeth, who stirs her husband to cruelty. In the curtain conferences that Bunyan describes so graphically, it is the wife who suggests all the husband's barbarities. It is she who recommends the use of the grievous crab-tree cudgel, and the insidious persuasion to suicide, and the exhibition of the bones and skulls of those who had before been slain. It was through the counsel of the artful old giantess that the escape of the giant's captives had almost been prevented.
"I fear," said she to her husband, "that they live in hope that some will come to relieve them; or that they have pick-locks about them, by means of which they hope to escape."
"And sayest thou so, my dear?" said the giant they were a loving pair; we must say that for them. "I will, therefore, search them in the morning."
But happily, in the morning, the birds were flown.
It was a curious notion of Bunyan's, to kill off the giant and giantess in the second part of the allegory, and destroy Doubting Castle. We cannot but conclude that there has been a marvellous resurrection of the fond couple, and a rebuilding - by voluntary subscription, or otherwise of their venerable habitation. The reason why the name of Diffidence appears to us inappropriate to the terrible old lady is that the word has changed in the two centuries since Bunyan wrote, if not in its literal meaning, in its ordinary use. From fide, to trust, we get confide, the opposite to which is diffide - a word not out of use in Bunyan's time. Confidence, therefore, is trust, and diffidence is unbelief. In Bunyan's eyes, nothing was worse than unbelief, or even doubt. As to Tennyson's "honest doubt," it would have made Bunyan furious. "When Diffidence, the giantess, came up to help," her husband, as in duty bound, "old Mr. Honest cut her down at one blow." Honesty and unbelief were in Bunyan's view of things flat opposites. At first, diffidence was mainly distrust of others, now it is distrust of ourselves. And this, I dare say, Bunyan would have said is retribution. We begin by doubting the higher powers, we end by renouncing faith in ourselves.
Taking diffidence in its modern sense, it is pretty evident that it must be conquered before a man can do anything great and good; or anything great and bad. A diffident person would never have won for himself favorable notice in De Quincey's "Essay on Murder." If he had begun a murder well, he would have become panic-struck as it proceeded, and huddled it up at the close. A diffident burglar would never retire upon his savings. He would even run the risk of being driven in the end to earn his living honestly. We may be diffident in welldoing, and that is a pity; or we may be diffident in evil-doing, and that may keep us out of mischief.
The diffident people will not count for very much in the battle of life. When they were boys at school and sides were tossed for at any game, they were always the last selected. And now who would choose a diffident soldier to command an army, or a diffident sailor to direct a fleet? Who would submit to be operated upon by a diffident surgeon, or would wish to have his portrait painted by a diffident artist? A man has no chance in any walk of life without some measure of confidence, and we may almost go on to say that in proportion to his confidence will be his success. We first overcame our diffidence when we learned to walk and to talk - in the walking we displayed our physical courage, in the talking our moral courage; and it is very doubtful if we have ever done anything more heroical since. What clever little chaps we must have been, to balance ourselves longways, and then to lift one foot into the air, thus disturbing the balance so painfully acquired, and so through all the complicated evolutions which constitute the science of walking! And talking-think of the decision of character required in order to the making of uncouth sounds with the mouth and throat that shall be intelligible to the stupid, grown-up creatures around us! You have to make a dash at it, or you will never be able to do it at all. Especially you must set loosely by all considerations of personal dignity. So also in mature life; no man has achieved distinction who has been afraid of making a fool of himself. The public never thoroughly appreciate a man until he has made an exhibition of himself. Some idols of the multitude repeat the performance annually, but the worst of this plan is, that properly to strike the mind, each performance must be more outrageous than the last, and that calls for rare inventive power, and is a ter