« ElőzőTovább »
never been better painted than by Madame Reybaud in her last tale.* The impression of the tale is throughout painful and gloomy. Yet the very gloom and mystery lend to it fascination. The calmness of its tone and the moderation of its statements prevent is from suspecting any vindictive or personal motive. The larger part of the story passes within convent walls, and all of it is fastened to the idea of monastic life, which forms the basis of the discussions and the burden of the thought. A young boy, the offspring of illicit and adulterous love, is devoted from his birth to the seclusion of the cloister, is educated to that cenobite state, enters upon it naturally as the normal and proper condition of his being, choosing it as the best privilege, and only regretting that it separates him from his fond mother. His first years of novitiate life confirm his prejudice. He takes the vows, becomes a monk, and is exemplary in all his duties. But with the years of service within the convent walls a new sentiment springs up, which deepens and hardens into loathing and hatred of this secluded life, and a determination to escape from it. The escape is finally accomplished. The young monk is restored to life, to love, and to the pleasures of the world ; eludes for a while the vigilance of his monastic guardians ; but is betrayed, after a few weeks of rapturous worldly life, and restored to years of imprisonment in the dungeons of the cloister. The French Revolution, abolishing convent life, releases him, but only to expose him to those new dangers which await an aristocrat, a scion of nobility. He is compelled by the “ Terror” to a new and more distressing seclusion, from which he ventures out only to find her he loves in prison, and to see her die by the guillotine. He returns then voluntarily to the life he had quitted, finding in it his only relief. Such is the outline of this dark and sad, but very powerful story. The tints of the picture are those of Rembrandt.
Besides this main thread, there are several finely drawn accessory characters. Madame Godefroi, aunt of the monk Estève, a true type of the female philosopher of the last century, whose death-bed is consistent with her life ; M. de Blanquefort, the noble of the last century, proud, careless, jealous, and selfish ; Adelaide, the passionate devotee; Father Timothy, the blasé noble, turned monk in disgust with the world, but more disgusted with himself for his mistaken choice ; Madame de Champreaux and her granddaughter, specimens of the best society in the old régime ; – these side-sketches set off admirably the central figure of the convent, and its silent, grim, desolate monotony of prayer and labor, fast and penance. These are the lamps which illumine its darkness, and make the dreadful outlines of its walls more clear upon the sky.
Any book is timely which may serve to explain the delusion so current now under the name of “Spiritualism.” It is evidently the purpose of M. Blanc's little volume † to show what the religious insanity is, by
* Le Moine de Chaalis. Par Mme. Charles Reybaud. Paris : Hachette. 1859. 12mo. pp. 321. † De l’Inspiration des Camisards. Recherches Nouvelles sur les Phénomènes
showing what it was a century and a half ago. The “Camisard” extravagances have parallel in our time, not only in “Spiritualism," but in the phenomena of “revivals.” There were the same contortions, spasms, gifts of prophecy, ejaculations in unknown tongues, insensibility to pain, pretences of inspiration, which are now so marvellous. M. Blanc's conclusion, after a thorough and impartial examination of all the traditional accounts, Catholic and Protestant, of all the theories, medical and theological, concerning the cause of the manifestations, and of the character and acts of the pretended prophets, is, that the phenomena were real, that no physical explanation of their cause is adequate, that they must be referred to a supernatural cause, and that this supernatural cause is certainly not the Holy Spirit. He leaves it to Father Ventura to maintain boldly that Satanic possession is the cause of these ravings, and that they are identical with the “lunacy” of the Scriptures.
One of the noteworthy facts in this volume of M. Blanc is the catalogue of more than forty works concerning the fanaticism of the Camisards which he has given. No part of French history has been more frequently or more ably treated, than this delusion of a few Calvinist peasants in the Cevennes. It is not so much one of the dark chapters as one of the curious chapters in French history. We cannot, however, believe that all the Catholic statements concerning these madmen are reliable. Some of the crimes of which they are accused are evidently invented, and others are exaggerated. It is certain that the Camisard excesses will not compare with those of the St. Bartholomew massacre, or of the later revolutions. If some of the leaders, as Roland, Conderc, and Cavalier, were violent men, ready for any crime, others, like Astier and Elie Marion, were not less Christian in their methods than the priests whom they were impelled to denounce. The fact that English influence supported the Camisard insurrection, and that the exiled leaders were received with honor in London, is proof that it was not altogether the whim of a brutal madness. In its inception, the Camisard revival was such as the revivals of Methodism in England, Lutheranism in Sweden, and of many sects in America have been. It was driven to excess only by the circumstances of the time, and by the persecutions which Protestants in France had to suffer in the reign of the Great Louis.
M. Blanc's book is simply written, with no superfluous ornament, and is interesting rather from its facts than its style.
We have received another handsome volume of selections from that storehouse of educational matter, Dr. Barnard's Journal of Education.* It contains biographies of thirty-two distinguished American
extraordinaires observés parmi les Protestants des Cévennes à la fin du XVIIe et au Commencement du XVIIIe siècle, pour servir à l'Intelligence de certaines Manifestations modernes. Par HIPPOLYTE BLANC.' Précédé d'une Lettre adressée à l'Auteur. Par le T. R. P. VENTURA DE RAULICA. Paris : Henri Plon. 1859. 16mo. pp. 223.
* Memoirs of Teachers, Educators, and Promoters and Benefactors of Education, teachers, and is illustrated with twenty-six admirable steel portraits. Besides those honorably distinguished for success in this calling, the list contains the names of many who have largely aided in promoting the interests and increasing the effectiveness of our popular system of education, - pre-eminent among them that of Horace Mann. The brief sketch here given (originally published in Livingston's Law Journal) is the best account we have of one whose name will endure as a benefactor of his country long after the ephemeral fame of hundreds of popular favorites shall have perished forever. We trust the time is not far distant when this brief sketch will be superseded by a faithful and adequate biography.
It is an indication of the part New England plays in the educational history of this country, that, of the thirty-two distinguished teachers whose names are here given, twenty-eight are New England born and bred; and of these twenty-eight, fifteen are from Massachusetts and eight from Connecticut.
The portraits contained in the volume deserve a word of notice. They are admirably engraved, and truly adorn the work; and, so far as we are qualified to judge, are excellent likenesses.
We are glad to notice, among recent English publications, the Life of Rev. George Armstrong, late of Bristol,* in a handsome and goodsized volume. Mr. Armstrong was one of the marked and strong men of his profession and sect. In theology, — having seceded from “ the Established Church of Ireland,” — an able and earnest expounder of old-school Unitarianism, and a worthy successor of the honored ministry of Lant Carpenter; as a preacher energetic and commanding, if not of the highest order of eloquence, or of the finer shades of spirituality ; vehement and even radical in antislavery conviction ; and a prominent leader among those who sought to give denominational strength and coherence to the Unitarian communion. A man more marked, perhaps, in character than in special graces or forces of intellect, and therefore of more account to his own generation and people than to posterity and strangers. Yet it is a brave and good man's life, and this monument of it richly deserves its place.
LITTLE, BROWN, & Co. have published a third volume of Everett's Orations and Addresses. Since the Address before the Phi Beta Kappa in 1824, the printed words of which we read in the light of the still lingering tradition of their brilliancy and grace, there has hardly been any marked occasion or event or man among us that has not been commemorated by Mr. Everett's ample and accomplished rhetoric. This volume, beautifully printed, with a copious index to all
Literature, and Science. Reprinted from the American Journal of Education, edited by HENRY BARNARD, LL.D., Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin. Part I. Teachers and Educators. Volume I. United States. 8vo. pp. 524. New York: F. C. Brownell. 1859.
* A Memoir of the late Rev. George Armstrong. By ROBERT HENDERSON. London: E. T. Whitfield. 8vo.
+ Orations and Addresses on Various Occasions. By EDWARD EVERETT. Vol. III. Boston: Little, Brown, & Co.
three, has accordingly a special value, as a richly illustrative monument of the period which it covers, and as the permanent witness of its author's fame.
' 76 . SHELDON & Co., of New York, render a timely and valuable service in their series of brief biographies,* — manuals for popular reading, yet not compilations, but chapters from standard historians. “Hannibal” is the portion of Arnold's Rome which bears testimony to his rather undue admiration, as we think, of the genius and patriotism of the great Punic captain ; and “ Thomas à Becket” is one of the noble chapters from Milman's masterly History of the Church of the Middle Age. The great histories can never quite become the popular ones ; and the general public is excellently served by such an introduction to them.
In Mr. White's brilliant volume of French History † is just the encouragement and help one needs in tracing his way through the perplexed and enormous annals of Modern Europe. If the life of any one nation is to be taken for the central and leading one to connect the tale of ancient civilization with our own, surely it is that of France; and yet there is none, perhaps, for which it has been so difficult to refer to a satisfactory guide. The very multitude of admirable and copious recent histories in French has hitherto made it still more perplexing. This volume is strictly meant for popular reading, — is lively, racy, witty, evidently well booked, but sacrificing nothing to the dignity of history; if it has a fault, it is in being a little over “smart,” and if anything is likely to mar the clear, vivid impression of its paragraphs, it is the multiplying of proper names inevitable when a thousand years are told in half as many pages. We trust the publishers will speedily follow this by a republication of Mr. White's “ Eighteen Christian Centuries.”
76.cn The seventh volume of the “ New American Cyclopædia ” almost merits a special notice under the department of History and Biography, so rich is it incidentally in these departments. An alphabet is as arbitrary a thing as statistics; yet, like these, it groups its material in unexpected and not quite irrational ways. The series of historic Edwards and Edwardses, Elizabeths and Francises, with the great chapters of England, France, and Europe, and the American names of Everett and Franklin, here found, are illustrations of this subtile fact. We have spoken already of the literary and mechanical style of this most serviceable publication ; and need only record the fact of its steady progress towards completion.
It is with regret that we have been obliged to pass by the really extraordinary series of novels and tales in which recent English literature displays such wealth and vigor. We trust at least to record and
* Hannibal ; Thomas à Becket. New York: Sheldon & Co.
† History of France, from the Earliest Times to 1848. By Rev. James White. New York: D. Appleton & Co. 8vo. pp. 571.
characterize those few which have been conspicuous in the book-lists of these past months. The school of fiction to which the present period is giving birth seems to us as marked a phenomenon as that presented by any one age or school of literature. The last, and one of the very best, is a New England story,* just put forth in its completed form, of which we only chronicle the publication, presuming it to be already familiar to all readers.
A very pleasant sort of parlor literature receives an addition in the volume of “ Home Dramas” † collected by Mrs. Follen. Our old friends, Berquin and Miss Edgeworth, are introduced here to new generations of children; and along with them we have a very entertaining collection of plays, charades, &c., helping out the intellectual, witty, and painstaking fashion of home diversions so happily in vogue.
The " Vicissitudes of Italy ” I has been pronounced to be the best summary that has appeared of recent Italian history. It is detailed enough, accurate, and on the whole well told, although we miss the picturesqueness and life that the subject would admit of. The point of view is the moderately conservative, and the sympathies are with the Sardinian monarchy. But, while full praise — and none too high — is awarded to D'Azeglio, Cavour, Garibaldi, and Victor Emanuel, Mazzini and his followers are throughout treated, not merely in a spirit of antagonism, but with bitter, and we think unfair hostility. It should be considered that Charles Albert's conduct, which can now be explained, but could not at the time, gave Mazzini good reason to distrust him, and that Mazzini is as honest in his republicanism as D'Azeglio in his preference for a monarchy. Mazzini's present position proves that he is not an impracticable visionary, as represented.
In the late Dr. Alcott's forty years' experience $ we find a great amount of shrewdness, good sense, and entertaining anecdote; a good deal, also, of that sincere, half-morbid, one-sided, and crotchety notion of men and things, — forbidding meats, and holding that no apology can justify the use of butter, — so common with a large class of popular medico-critics. For some of Dr. Alcott's writings we have a sincere respect, and for his “Young Man's Guide” in particular, recollections of personal gratitude besides. But his experience as a man of unhealthy habit, struggling with disease as well as ignorance and error, in the capacity of patient too as well as doctor, is no fair gauge of the sensations of robuster men. The book is a very curious and amusing picture of a rather obscure side of modern New England life, and is a mark honestly made in a needed direction.
* The Minister's Wooing. By Mrs. H. B. STOWE. Boston: Brown, Taggard, and Chase.
† Home Dramas for Young People. Compiled by Eliza LEE Follen. Boston and Cambridge: James Munroe & Co.
I The Vicissitudes of Italy since the Congress of Vienna. By A. L. V. GRETTON. London and New York: Routledge, Warner, and Routledge. 1859. 16mo. pp. 320.
Forty Years in the Wilderness of Pills and Powders. Boston: J.P. Jewett & Co.