« ElőzőTovább »
of which is probably much stronger than most stolid and immovable, they appear to another, and to work which requires many notice nothing and admire nothing; but it more laborers than necessary, and over is said that nothing escapes their notice, which proper supervision is most difficult. and like the Red Indians of North Amer:
As soon as I had seen all that I could, ica, to whom they are probably a sort of we returned to the house, and I asked cousins, they can track game by marks Macgregor to play something, as he had in the forest which are totally invisible to spoken so much of his love for music. He the white man's eye. This they do withat once sat down to the piano, and began out an effort, just as we without an effort a dreamy waltz of Chopin's. While he gather sense from a page of print meanwas playing, a squat, long-haired, copper- ingless to the uneducated. colored man glided in, dressed in a pink As soon as these good people had gone cotton shirt, and ornamented (?) with blue away - and they left very soon without a tattoo marks. He sat down on an unoccu- word of thanks, and apparently not very pied chair, touched one of the keys, and well pleased at not having been offered a when he heard it sound said, Good, “schnapp -some of Macgregor's neigh.
The manager looked up and said, bors arrived, and we adjourned to the “How dye." He told me that this man was garden for a game at lawn tennis. I
prea “buck," or aboriginal Indian, and that ferred looking on, and soon we had to say there were probably several at the back good-bye, and drive away to catch the door with hammocks, parrots, crab-oil, and train to Georgetown. Ś. BELLAIRS. cassarup to sell. We went to the back galley, and found about six. Our friend was the only one who had conceded so far to civilization as to wear a shirt. The rest were tattooed, and had birds in wicker
From The Contemporary Review. work baskets, honey and cassarup, bows
REALISM AND ROMANCE. and arrows, and blow-pipes; but their THE question attributed to St. Bernard, costume was a morsel of blue cloth, fas-“ Whither hast thou come?” is agitating tened to a piece of string round the waist critical and literary minds. There has The women wore strings of beads and seldom been so much writing about the strings of the teeth of wild hogs, and one value and condition of contemporary lithad a small quantity of “tigers'" teeth erature - that is, of contemporary fiction. and claws. Their clothing consisted of a In English and American journals and small bead apron about the size of a sheet magazines a new battle of the books is of letter-paper. One indeed wore a petti: being fought, and the books are the books coat tied round her neck instead of round of the circulating library. Literary perher waist. We admired the birds, etc., sons have always revelled in a brawl, and and asked what they wanted. The gentle. now they are in the thick of the fray: man in the shirt, who appeared to be the Across the Atlantic the question of novel only one who spoke any English, said, or romance of romance or realism “Want sugar, want rum; good-bye." He appears to be taking the place of the old never smiled when making reinarks. Mr. dispute about State rights, and is argued Macgregor called them all in, and told the by some with polished sarcasm, by others butler to give them something to eat, and with libelous vigor. One critic and novthey began to eat bread and salt beef. elist makes charges, as desperate as that The spokesman sat at table, the men stood of Harry Blount at Flodden, into the round, behind stood the women, to whom serried ranks of the amateurs of adventurthe men handed food over their shoulders. ous legend. Another novelist and critic I was astonished at their cool manner, but compares his comrade to Mrs. Partington Mr. Macgregor said that when white peo- with her broom sweeping back the tide of ple went into the bush they walked into romance; the comparison is of the mus. the Indians' houses, and expected to be tiest. Surely - a superior person may be fed, and that the Indians expected to be excused for hinting contemporary littreated just the same when they came erature is rather overvalued, when all this down to the coast.
pother is made about a few novels. There These people do no continuous work, have been considerable writers before Mr. and are of no use as laborers on a sugar Marion Crawford, and, if we are to love estate. They very rarely appear on the books, the masterpieces of the past might east coast, as they only care to travel by seem to have most claim on our attention. water, but they are very commonly seen But the world will not take Mr. Matthew near the creeks and rivers. They are | Arnold's advice about neglecting the
works of our fleeting age. I would make with two sides, the silver and the golden : a faint and hypocritical protest against the study of manners and of character, on regarding the novels of the moment as the one hand; on the other, the description of whole of literature, before I plunge into adventure, the delight of romantic narrathe eddying fray. “Children of an hour," tive. Now, these two aspects blend with I would say to my brethren, “it is not of each other so subtly and so constantly, literature ye are writing so busily, but of that it really seems the extreme of per. the bookish diversions of the moment.” versity to shout for nothing but romance Literature is what endures, and what will on one side, or for nothing but analysis of endure; of all the novels we fight over in character and motive on the other. Yet reviews and at dinner-tables, will even the for such abstractions and divisions people impulses and methods and sentiments en- are clamoring and quarrelling. On one dure? In changed and modified forms side, we are told that accurate minute de. doubtless they will go on living (like the scriptions of life as it is lived, with all its rest of us), but a little toss of the dust that most sordid forms carefully elaborated, is settles on neglected shelves will silence the essence of literature; on the other, we all our hubbub. Therefore do not let us find people maintaining that analysis is exaggerate the merit of our modern works; ausgespielt (as Mr. Bret Harte's critical only three or four of them will be raised shoeblack says), and that the great heart into that changeless world where - Tom of the people demands tales of swashing Jones” is and “The Bride of Lammer- blows, of distressed maidens rescued, of moor,” where “ Esmond” is and “Pick-" murders grim and great," of magicians wick.” This warning is merely a matter and princesses, and wanderings in fairy of conscience and caution, lest one should lands forlorn. Why should we not have be confused with the person of wide read. all sorts, and why should the friends of ing — whose reading is confined to the one kind of diversion quarrel with the monthly magazines. All of us, in fact, lovers of another kind ? A day or two are like the men of Homer's age — the ago, at a cricket match, I was discussing latest songs, the last romances are dearest literary matters with an amateur of fourto us, as to the Ithacan wooers of old teen, the inheritor of a very noble name time.
in English literature. We were speaking
of Mr. Stevenson's “ Kidnapped." " I For novel lays attract the ravished ears, But old the mind with inattention hears,
don't care for anything in it but the battle
in the Round House," said this critic. I as the ingenious Mr. Pope translates it. ventured to remark that I thought the wanHowever much we may intellectually pre- dering on the hills with Alan Breck was fer the old books, the good books, the very good. “ Then it is good for you,” classics, we find ourselves reading the answered the other, and that is the conbooks of the railway stall. Here have we clusion of the whole matter. That is good for travelling companions " The History which is good for each of us, and why and Adventures of Joseph Andrews and should I quarrel with another gentleman his Friend, Mr. Abraham Adams " (1743) because he likes to sadden himself o'er
one side, and “ Lady Branksmere" with the pale cast of Dostoieffsky, or to (1887), by the author of "Phyllis,” on the linger long hours with M. Tolstoi in the other. The diverting author of " Phyllis shade, while I prefer to be merry with will pardon me for thinking Henry Field- Miss Margaret Daryl, or to cleave heads ing a greater author than she, but it is with Umslopogaas or Sir Lancelot in the about the charming Margaret Daryl, in sunshine? What can be more ludicrous her novel, that I am reading just now, and than to excommunicate Thackeray, benot about the brother of Pamela. We are cause we rejoice in Dickens ; to boycott all like that, we all praise the old and Daisy Miller because we admire Ayesha? peruse the new; he who turns over this Upon my word, I hardly know which of magazine is in no better case.
these maidens I would liefer meet in the Hypocrite lecteur, mon semblable, mon frère ! paradise of fiction, where all good nove!.
to go; whether the little After this confession and apology, one pathetic butterfly who died in Rome or may enter the lists where critical lances she who shrivelled away in the flame of are broken and knights unsaddled; where Kôr. Let us be thankful for good things authors and reviewers, like Malory's men, and plenty of them ; thankful for this vast “lash at each other marvellously." The and goodly assembly of people who never dispute is the old dispute about the two were ; “ daughters of dreams and of sto
; sides of the shield. Fiction is a shield | ries,” among whom we may all make
- may we
friends that will never be estranged. Dear | ously on the dead body of our youth, on Dugald Dalgetty, and dear Sylvestre Bon- our festivity, on our enjoyment of exist. nard, and thou, younger daughter of Silas ence. The worst, not the best of it, is that Lapham, and Leatherstocking, and Emma these legends are all “ower-true tales," Bovary, and Alan Breck, and Emmy Sed- and are often written with admirable care ley, and Umslopogaas, and Sophia West. and attention. Again, there are stories in
meet you all! In the which the less desirable and delightful paradise of fiction there shall be “neither traits of human character are dwelt on, as bond nor free,” neither talk of analysis nor it were by preference, till a man feels of romance, but all the characters of story almost as merry as if he had been reading that live shall dwell together deathless. Swift's account of the Yahoos. For exOur heroes may sleep not, nor slumber,
ample, there is Mr. Howells's “ Modern And Porthos may welcome us there.
Instance.” Here is a masterly novel, and
a true picture of life, but of what a life! What is good, what is permanent, may All the time one is reading it, one is in be found in fiction of every genre, and the company of a gentleman of the press,
“crab” and underrate any genre who is not, and is not meant to be, a genbecause it chances not to be that which tleman in any other sense of the word. we are best fitted to admire ? 1, for one, He is mean, and impudent, and genial, and admire M. Dostoieffsky so much, and so unabashed; he has not the rudiments of sincerely, that I pay him the supreme taste or of breeding; he distresses and tribute of never reading him at all. Of diverts one beyond endurance. But even " Le Crime et le Châtiment,” some one he is an angel of good company compared has said that “it is good — but powerful.” with his passionate, jealous, and thirdThat is exactly the truth; it is too pow- rate wife, who may match, as a picture of erful for me. I read in that book till I the wrong sort of woman, with Thackwas crushed and miserable; so bitterly eray's Mrs. Mackenzie. The whole book true it is, so dreadfully exact, such a is a page torn out of life, as people say, quintessence of all the imaginable misery and it has wit as well as veracity and of man.
Then, after reaching the lowest observation. Yet it makes one miserdeep of sympathetic abandonment (which able, as Thackeray does not make one I plumbed in about four chapters), I miserable, because the book contains no emerged, feeling that I had enough of M. Clive, no Fred Bayham, no Colonel NewDostoieffsky for one lifetime. The novel, come, no J. J., and no portly father of J. J. to my thinking, is simply perfect in its No admiration, however enthusiastic or kind; only the kind happens to be too personal, of modern stories of adventure powerful for
my constitution. I prefer a can blind one to the merits of works of cigarette to that massive weed, with a realism like “A Modern Instance," or Spanish name, on the enjoyment of which “ Le Crime et le Châtiment,” or “ The BosMr. Verdant Green, greatly daring, ven- tonians." These are real, they are exceltured at a freshman's wine. To what pur- lent; and if one's own taste is better pose, then, should I run down Russian pleased by another kind of writing, none novels as tedious and lugubrious ? As far the less they are good for the people whom as I have wandered across the steppes they suit; nay, they should be recognized and tundras of Russian fiction, it is vast, as good by any one with an eye in his lit. wind-swept, chilly, with dark forests and erary head. One only begins to object if frozen expanses, and, here and there, a it is asserted that this genre of fiction is set of human beings at unequal war with the only permissible genre, that nothing destiny, with the czar, with the laws of the else is of the nature of art. For it is universe, and the nature of things. Noth- evident that this kind of realism has a ing can be more true, more masterly, more tendency to blink many things in life natural. But it is not exhilarating, and is which are as real as jealous third-rate not salutary for a nature prone to gloom, shrews and boozy pressmen. Of course and capable of manufacturing its own the distinguished chiefs of modern realpessimism on the premises without extra ism do not always blink what is pleasant, charge. The same remarks (purely per- gay, sunny, and kindly in human nature. sonal) apply to certain English and Ameri- The Misses Lapham, or the Miss Lapcan novels. There is a little tale, “A hams (grammarians may choose) seem to Village Tragedy,” by Mrs. Woods, which me delightful girls, despite their educaI view with dread. I know I shall drifttion. The lady of the Aroostook was (as into reading it, and adding another stone | the young critic might say) a brick. So to the cairn which we all pile so assiduo I was Verena, the fair lecturer in “The
Bostonians.” But (to my mind) the ten. One would as lief explore a girl's room, dency of realism in fiction is often to find and tumble about her little household the unpleasant real in character much treasures, as examine so curiously the more abundant than the pleasant real. I poor secrets of her heart and tremors of am a pessimist myself, as the other Scot her frame. Mr. Christie Murray, an ad
a leear,” but I have found little but mirable novelist, has said this, and said good in man and woman. Politics apart, it well. Such analysis makes one feel men and women seem almost always to uncomfortable in the reading, makes one be kind, patient, courteous, good-humored, feel intrusive and unmanly. It is like and well-bred in all ranks of society - overhearing a confession by accident. A when once you know them well. I think well-known book of M. E. de Goncourt's that the realists, while they certainly show is full of the kind of prying that I have in us the truth, are fondest of showing that my mind. It is, perhaps, science aspect of it which is really the less com- be art; and to say that it is extremely mon as well as the less desirable. Per- disagreeable may be to exhibit old-fashhaps mean people are more easily drawn ioned prejudice. Good it may be, clever than generous people; at all events from it is; but it is not good for me. the school of realists we get too many So much one who is not of their school mean people — even from a realist who is may say for the realists of our time. Of as little a realist as the king was a royalist their style one would rather say little,
from M. Zola. These writers appear because naturally each has his own style. not to offer up Henry Fielding's prayer to The common merits, on the whole, are the muse, “Fill my pages with humor, till carefulness, determined originality, lamankind learn the good nature to laugh bored workmanship in language, and ener, only at the follies of others, and the hu- getic nicety of speech. The natural mility to grieve at their own.' There is defects that attend these merits are innot much humor in their works, and little verted adjectives, “preciousness,” affecta. good humor is bred of them. That is the tion, "a nice derangement of epitaphs.” difference between work like Thackeray's, For one, I do not much object to these where there are abundant studies of the errors, or I might be obliged to dislike infinitely little in human nature, and work Charles Lamb and Sir Thomas Browne. like that of many modern amateurs of But I do object to the occasional apparirealism. “ It takes all sorts to make a tion, among all the chiselled niceties, of a world,” and all sorts, by virtue of his burly piece of newspaper slang, of a gross, humor, Thackeray gives us. He gives us palpable provincial idiom, or a cliché of Captain Costigan and Harry Föker, as the American reporter. Style, by all well as the crawling things in “Lovel the means, let us have; but don't let it be so Widower.” He gives us gentlemen and mixed. The realistic style is now and ladies, as well as tuft-hunters and the then thus mixed – that is the pity of it. George Brandons of this world. Fieiding In trying to estimate modern, especially and Scott have this humor, this breadth, English and American, realistic fiction as this greatness. Were I in a mood to dis- a whole, one has first to admit that it is parage the modern realists (whereas I never fair to do anything of the sort. It have tried to show that their books are, in is a rough, clumsy way of dealing, to give substance, about as good as possible, a name or a nickname to a crowd of writgranting the genre), I might say that they ers, and then to decide offhand upon their
I not only use the microscope, and ply ex- common qualities. Many of them may periments, but ply them, too often, in object to the name of realists altogether. corpore vili. One does not dream of de- They all vary as much as other people in nying that they do exhibit noble and their natural talent, education, and characsympathetic characters - now and then. ter. But, as far as any modern English But happy, and jolly, and humorous peo- and American novels have been written ple they hardly ever show us; yet these with an avowed æsthetic purpose, and that have their place among realities. And, purpose the unrelentingly minute portraiton the whole, they do prefer to be busy ure of modern life and analysis of modern with the rarer sort of realities, with the character, the unrelenting exclusion of Cousine Bettes, and the like. And they exciting events and engaging narrative, show a sort of cruelty and coldness in we may say that these novels, though their dealings with their own creations. often fúll of talent, are limited in scope, If I were to draw up an indictment, I might and are frequently cramped in style. The add that some of them have an almost pretension that all modern novels should unholy knowledge of the nature of women. I be composed in this genre, and that all
others are of the nature of original sin, the tale. But the natural man within me, seems to be an impossible pretension. the survival of some blue-painted Briton
At this moment the strife is between or of some gipsy, was equally pleased with the partisans of realism thus understood a true Zulu love story, sketched in two and the partisans of stories told for the pages, a story so terrible, so moving, in story's sake. Now, there is no reason at the long, gallant fight against odds, and all why stories told for the story's sake the awful unheard of death-agony of two should not be rich in studies of character Zulu lovers, that I presume no civilized
peopled by men and women as real as fancy could have invented the incidents Mr. and Mrs. Bartley Hubbard, both of that actually occurred. If one were wholly whom you may (if you are unlucky) meet civilized, and “ cultured” to the backbone any day.
The Odyssey is the typical (if one may mention that feature), the sav. example of a romance as probable as the age tale would have failed to excite. If “ Arabian Nights,” yet unblemished in the one were all savage, all Zulu, “ Through conduct of the plot, and peopled by men one Administration” would leave one a and women of Aesh and blood. Are we little uninterested. The savage within us to be told that we love the Odyssey be calls out for more news about the fight cause the barbaric element has not died with the Apache, or Piute, who killed the out of our blood, and because we have a soldier-man. childish love of marvels, miracles, man. The advantage of our mixed condition, eating giants, women who never die, "murcivilized at top with the old barbarian unders grim and great,” and Homer's other der our clothes, is just this, that we can materials ? Very well. “Public opinion,” enjoy all sorts of things. We can enjoy in Boston, may condemn us, but we will "John Inglesant” (some of us), and others get all the fun we can out of the ancestral can revel in Buffalo Bill's exhibition. Do barbarism of our natures. I only wish not let us cry that, because we are “culwe had more of it. The coming man may tured,” there shall be no Buffalo Bill. Do be bald, toothless, highly “cultured,” and not let us exclaim that, because we can addicted to tales of introspective analysis. read Paulus Silentiarius and admire RuI don't envy him when he has got rid of finus, there shall be no broadside ballads that relic of the ape, his hair; those relics nor magazine poetry. If we will only be of the age of combat, his teeth and nails; tolerant, we shall permit the great public that survival of barbarism, his delight in also to delight in our few modern rothe last battles of Odysseus, Laertes's son. mances of adventure. They may be “ I don't envy him the novels he will ad-age survivals,” but so is the whole of the inire, nor the pap on which he will feed poetic way of regarding nature. The fut bearsomely, as Mr. John Payne says of ter in the dovecots of culture caused by the vampire. Not for nothing did nature three or four boys' books is amazing. leave us all savages under our white skins; Culture is saddened at discovering that she has wrought thus that we might have not only boys and illiterate people, but many delights, among others “ the joy of even critics 'not wholly illiterate, can be adventurous living," and of reading about moved by a tale of adventure. “Treasure adventurous living. There is a novel of Island” and “ Kidnapped "are boys' books Mrs. Burnett's, “Through one Adminis- written by an author of whose genius, for tration,” which the civilized person within narrative, for delineation of character, for me, the man of the future within me, style, I hardly care to speak, lest enthusiheartily delights to peruse. It is all about asm should seem to border on fanaticism. a pretty, analytic, self-conscious American But, with all his gifts, Mr. Stevenson in. married lady, and the problem is to dis-tended only a boys' book when he wrote cover wliom she is in love with, and why. “ Treasure Island” and restored romance. Is it her husband, or the soldier, or the He had shown his hand, as a novelist of government clerk?' Does she know which character and analysis, in “ Prince Otto." it is herself? As they are all “moral But he did not then use just the old im
like Werther, and would do noth mortal materials of adventure. As soon ing for to hurt her,” the excitement, to a as he touched those, he made a boys' book civilized mind, is extremely keen. They which became a classic, and deserved to all talk about their emotions forever, and be a classic. “ Kidnapped” is still betthe pleasure which this affords to the ter, to my taste, and indeed Scott himself man of the future in each of us is almost might have been the narrator of Alan too poignant. I nearly cried when a prop Breck's battle, of his wanderings, of his erty Red Indian (not coram populo, of quarrel with the other piper. But these course) scalped the true lover, and ended I things are a little over the heads of boys