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From The Saturday Review. regular education, with a passion for animals, PAUL AND VIRGINIA.*
and a power like that which made the infancy The author of Paul and Virginia was a of Hartley Coleridge so remarkable, of living man with a fixed idea. From boyhood to in a world, visionary and yet methodical, of old age
he dreamt of founding a colony where his own. The great event of his early life nature was to be all beauty, and man was to
was reading Robinson Crusoe. His imaginabe all virtue. Strongly influenced by the tion was stimulated, and he soon invented an Utopian sentimentalism of the last century, island; but not content with the solitary existand avowing his belief, even under the Reign ence of his model, he peopled it with the sort of Terror, that the age of iron was past and of persons that he thought he should like to
of gold coming—dissatisfied with a live with. Already in this boyish fancy we state of society in which his want of birth and
see the germ of Paul and Virginia, where fortune, and his own impracticable temper the enchanted island that presents the scenery barred the way to advancement, and im- of the Isle of France is tenanted by persons pressed with a deep and lively sense of the who are lifelike but impossible. After attainwonders and the loveliness of the external ing some proficiency in mathematics, St. world—he spent his youth in purposeless Pierre was admitted as a pupil at the School wanderings and schemes beyond his strength, of the Ponts et Chaussées, and subsequently and his later manhood in creating. on paper entered the Corps of Engineers. He served what fact denied him. The idyl which has one campaign in Hesse, in 1760, but quarmade him famous is but “ a happy accident," relled with his superior officers ; and, leaving among a number of works which are like it the French army, he went to offer his services in kind, though not in success. This slight to Catherine of Russia, and subsequently to tale owes its principal charm to the manner the King of Poland. He was vain and irasciin which it invests an Arcadian pastoral with ble, and nothing that he could obtain would the reality and interest of definite and un content him; and as soon as he was appointed familiar scenery. It also charms us because to a post, he threw it up as unworthy of him. the melancholy, the love of solitude, and the In 1766 he returned to France, and after feeling of a bitter contrast between man and spending some time in soliciting and worrying nature that pervade it seem to come from a different Ministers, he was appointed Chief source deeper than sentimentalism, and ex- Engineer of the Isle of France. It is worth press at once the opinions vaguely held by observing that his first and most genuine imthe generation to which the writer belonged, pressions of that island had nothing in them and the intensity with which those opinions of that warmth of admiration which rims were held by the writer himself
. On such a through the idealized picture he afterwards tale as Paul and Virginia criticism cannot
gare to the world. In a series of letters say much. It pleases because it pleases. sent, or supposed to be sent, to a friend, he But still in this, as in eve other work, we describes the scenery of the Isle of France ; may find an interest—which may be called and these letters are full of regrets for the an interest of the second reading—in ex- Aowers and fruits of Europe, and for the amining the relation it bears to the mind of tranquil delights of rural France. “These the writer and the literature of the time. savage scenes,” he writes, “ are never enThe tale itself absorbs us when we read it for livened by the singing of birds or by the loves the first time, but on reperusing it we have of any peaceful animals. The ear is wounded leisure to inquire how it came to be written. with the croaking of paroquets, and the shrill To do this it is necessary to have before us cries of monkeys." In Paul and Virginia the outline of the writer's life.
the birds have learnt to sing, the animals Bernardin de St. Pierre was born at Havre, make the tenderest love, and the monkeys in 1737, of a family which originally came
are the fantastic and light-hearted children of from Lorraine, but which made pretensions, an abundant nature. In 1771, St. Pierre re not very precise nor very well founded, to turned to France, and began to form some descend from Eustache de St. Pierre of Calais. valuable literary friendships, and again to The anecdotes of his boyhood that have been solicit the patronage of Ministers. With handed down represent him as a child of little Condorcet and Rousseau especially he was on
* Paul el Virginie. Par Bernardin de St. Piorro. terms of intimacy; and feeling that literature
tar his true vocation, he began to apply him- there is that great fundamental accuracy oi, self to a serere task, and, in 1784, published description, the success of which consists in his Studies of Nature. Poor and unknown leaving on the mind of the reader a correct as he was before this work was published, he general impression of tropical nature, both in "woke one morning" and found himself its terrific and in its calmer aspect of the famous and provided for. The Studies suited solitary vastness of scenery where every thing the taste of the generation. Their gentle is on so prodigal a scale, of a great force both and vague piety, their true sensibility, even as measured by time and by space acting their faults, recommended them to the Court everywhere, he has given us a representation of Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette, to the which we feel to be true even before the testinumbers who believed themselves on the eve mony of travellers like Humboldt has assured of a poetical change, and to the literary critics us of its truth. This general truth of repre-, of that generation. In 1788, he published sentation defies analysis. It is derived only the fourth volume of the Studies, containing from poetical genius, and we cannot say why Paul and Virgiuia; and the beauty and it is there. But when we descend to particudelicacy of the tale made themselves felt at lar pieces of description, we can then ask how
In spite of the Revolution, the rest of far the degree of accuracy and of abundance his life was prosperous. He was appointed of details is satisfactory or not. The poetical intendant of the Jardin-du-roi; and in the novelists of more recent times have certainly year 3 of the Republic was installed as Pro- erred by the richness of detail which they fessor of Morals in the Ecole Normale. He have heaped on their descriptive passages. had also the domestic felicity of marrying in In Indiana, for example, where the same his old age two charming young wives, the scenery is painted as in Paul and Virginia, more recent of whom subsequently married we are fatigued and overcome by the lavish his idolizing biographer, Aimé Martin; so extravagance of descriptive language. In the that he had even a posthumous good fortune. English novels of the present day, we are apt He died in 1814, his last work, the Har- to find, on the other hand, too large a measmonies, being published a few months after ure of technical and prosaic accuracy. We his death.
have fatiguing lists of wildflowers with corHis taste for landscape beauty was. indis- rect computations of their stamens and pistils, putably genuine, and his skill in choosing the and heaps of stones indexed according to characteristic features of scenery is manifestly their geological eras. St. Pierre goes as far based on the vividness of his own observa- in this minor kind of accuracy as it is safe to tions. Baron Humboldt says that Paul and go. Sometimes, indeed, he exceeds it. Virginia was his constant companion in his When Virginia, for example, has a little tropical wanderings, and that he was repeat- money sent her, she buys all the different edly struck with the admirable truth of St. sorts of handkerchiefs, scarfs, shawls, and Pierre's representations. He especially men- coarse cloths made in the Isle of France and tions that a hundred times when the guides the adjacent countries. There is something informed him that midnight was passed by of an encyclopædic fulness in this, but it is looking at the position of the Southern Cross, rare, and generally we have to admire both he has called to mind the passage where the the moderation which limits the information last interview of Paul and Virginia is broken given and the neatness with which the informup by the warning that the Southern Cross is ation is conveyed. beginning to near the horizon, St. Pierre But it is not scenery alone that reigns subelonged to that class of observers who find preme in Paul and Virginia—it is scenery their own power of observation sufficient, and as viewed with the eyes of a sentimentalist. who reject as alien to their feelings any thing Nature is regarded in connexion with the like minute and scientific analysis. Baron thoughts of man, and as deriving life and Humboldt stands almost alone as a man who meaning from the tie. So far all poetical inhas combined both the power of scientific in- terpretation of nature must agree. But sen, quiry and the poetical comprehension of na- timental poetry narrows the range of feelings ture as a whole. St. Pierre felt that for the aud thoughts which it sees reflected in, or purposes of poetry the observation of nature illustrated by, the natural world. It takes may be too minute. In Paul and Virginia cognizance only of the affections and of the
associations which attach themselves to the mutual hatred of Europeans." Sometimes tenderer and softer side of life. Sentimental- the author even sinks into platitudes so absoism, therefore, when it is genuine and free lutely commonplace as the suggestion that rom affectation, has a sphere in which it is the spirits of Paul and Virginia love to wanlegitimate, and it is only when it attempts to der over the “roofs of straw where industri bring the whole human life into its domain ous virtue dwells." But the great blot of the that it is faulty. The innocence of early book, if we wish to assign its place in idyljic years, the purity of young affection, the literature, is, thai it is all out of the region of peaceful current of obscure happiness, may the possible, and that its reality is entirely find their counterparts and congenial acces- derived from the accuracy of the scenery. sories in the external world, as well as any These good and perfect inhabitants of the other portions or qualities of human exist- Happy Valley are not real human beings
It is the merit of Paul and Virginia They are not more like possible people tham that it elaborates this harmony ingeniously, Arcadian shepherdesses are like living keepers evenly, and quietly. The cocoa-nuts which of flocks. The whole tale is colored by the mark the ages of the children, and the rapid theory, so prevalent in France when it was growth of the tree of which Virginia has written, that men would be perfectly good sown the seed just before her departure, and if left to the unperverted teaching of naturc. which, by the suddenness of its gigantic Paul has attained a marriageable age when development seems to magnify the term of he asks his old friend what is virtue, and is her absence, are remarkable instances of the told, "My son, you who sustain your parents felicity with which St. Pierre binds the by your labor need not hare it defined." scenery he loved to remember with the ideal Paul, it is implied, had been virtuous from persons whom he loved to create. And the his cradle upwards. The true idyl should life of the young couple, bound up so inti- always rest on a basis of real life. In the mately as it is with the grandeur and peace- most perfect idyllic composition of modern fulness of one dear secluded spot, is inspired times, the Marė au Diable, the characters with a morality that evidently gave it meaning are as real as the scenery. Every thing is in and reality to the mind of the author. That keeping, and it is because the harmony is so “the goodness of God endureth yet daily," perfect, while the theme is so simple, that we and that doing good is a luxury, were two call the tale idyllic ; but if it had been less thoughts that lay deep in the heart of St. well and artistically written, it would still Pierre and shine through Paul and Virginia. have been a pleasing story of rural life. It
The tale is full of weaknesses, and even is not the fruit of any theory about humanity. puerilities. The death of Virginia, who is Paul and Virginia is ideal, not because comdrowned because she is afraid lest a sailor mon things are idealized in it, but because the should see her half-dressed, and who is ac- sphere in which it is placed is imaginary. cordingly praised for her angelic modesty, To understand this sphere we must go back crosses the line which separates the sublime to the time in which it was written, and to from the ridiculous. The old man who tells the life of the author; and great and many the story goes off into anathemas of French as are its merits, and abundantly as it has society which are evidently dictated by the deserved its place in popular estimation, it personal disappointment of St. Pierre, and must still be pronounced subject to consider
able drawbacks when criticism attempts to stigmatizes all writing of books as profitless, appreciate its relative value as compared because “ the Gospel, the best of books, has with that of the masterpieces of idylic writserved for centuries only as a pretext for the ing.
A DRUNKEN ELEPHANT.–Our men seemed were not drunk yourself?”
Certain ; but the to fraternise most with the Rifles, at least I two Rifles with ine were in an awful state." "I judge so from the following :—Private Blank dare say, but I never heard of an intoxicated is brought in much bruised. “Well, Pat, elephant before." “At any rate, your honor, how have you been hurt?” "Why, a drunken the driver, who ought to know, said that the beast of an elephant knocked me down, and beast had been drinking,” Inquiry here ceased. then dunched me with his head." “Ah! Paddy was quite too strong in mother-wit.that is singular. Are you quite sure that you Blackwood's Dlagazine.
From The Athenæum. to be unsuitable to their habits. Sir John's Salmon-Casts and Stray Shots, being Fly- plan was excellent, had it only succeeded.
Leaves from the Note-Book of John Col- He employed London bird-fanciers to procure quhoun. (Blackwood & Sons.)
nightingale eggs, and Caithness shepherds to HERE is another pleasant brother of the find the nests of the equally soft-billed robinrod and gun occupying his leisure hours, as the Caithness ones, and robin carefully
redbreast. The London eggs soon displaced he has previously done in “The Moor and the and reared the embryo melodists. 'In sumLoch," by narrating his experiences, angling mer, numbers of young nightingales were seen for public favor, and successfully hitting the about the bushes, but at the autuinn migration object at which he aims. In all books like they disappeared, never to return." the one before us, there is a similarity of mat- From salmon and nightingales turn we to ter and manner, varied only by the larger or "Men,” not men generally, but to the terrible less amount of incident and by the difference dignitaries so-called, who in the northern parts of skill displayed in the narration. In most of Scotland constitute themselves the judges cases the halieutical literature is one of con- of their ministers, and who, with as small an siderable pleasantness. The self-complacency amount of general knowledge as they have of of the authors, who take their calling for one divinity, presume to set their baneful mark on which is above all other vocations or amuse
any “clergyman” whom they disapprove, ments of mankind,- the grave conviction of with the sure conviction that, after such a each sportsman that whatever is to be done branding, the people will refuse to attend that
way of doing it is the best,—the unaltera- minister's service. Oh, restive and earnest, ble good-humor,—the healthiness of tone,- eager and uneasy young curates, whose mild the moderate and salubrious jollity,—and the anger is awakened when bishops gently hint anecdotes, more or less colored, of flood and at faults and almost pray for your amendfield,—all these matters combined go well to ment,-think, young gentlemen, what you the making up of a book over which sports- would be, and how sorely your meekness men may spend a useful, and general readers would have been tried, if, in place of signing an agreeable, hour. Mr. Colquhoun discourses the Thirty-nine Articles and submitting to as much to pleasant purpose as the pleasant- episcopal ordination, you had subscribed to est and most skilful of his brethren,-in proof the Westminster Confession, received the of which assertion we cannot do better than Larger and Shorter Catechisms, and had aite a few passages from many that illustrate known of no other church government and his salmon-casts, and his stray shots. Mr. discipline but those connected with elders, Colquhoun is not sanguine as to the success kirk sessions, presbyteries, provincial synods, of those who are attempting to artificially and general assemblies ! Here is a Friday's breed salmon in Scottish rivers hitherto un- scene, at which Mr. Colquhoun was present, frequented by that king among fish. In con- for a certain keeper would not attend him to nexion with this he has an amusing trait in the Lochs till the “ Men's Service” was conallusion to an endeavor to supplant the well- cluded :known breed of Scotch Nightingales":
" The tent was pitched in a secluded spot, “Salmon anglers are regarding with much beside a little brook among the hills. A large interest the artificial propagation of salmon in primitive congregation surrounded the young the Tay and other rivers where the experi- Highland minister, who, with violent gesture ment is being tried; but whether the increase and defiant tone, was fiercely shouting a will ever reward the trouble of raising them, Gaelic exhortation. Before him sat the has yet to be proved. Should the plan fully Men,' in full camlet canonicals. Only two succeed, it will no doubt be adopted in all our had the cotton hood; the rest wore red or first-class salmon rivers. To stock a stream brown scratch-wigs, which so enhanced their originally destitute of this fish, would be a natural or assumed gravity, as to be perfectly signal triumph; and some people are even grotesque. They were considerably above sanguine enough to attempt it. I rather think middle age, though not very old. The most they are expecting too much, and that—like prominent was the best specimen. the effort of my late patriotic grandfather, Sir cluded with a prayer in a low tone, and was John Sinclair, to enliven the Caithness muirs really a prepossessing old man.
His neighwith nightingale music-after the first migra- bor on the right was a truculent fellow, whose tion the fish will come back no more to a red swollen face too plainly intimated that stream which their previous neglect showed | neat whisky was the spirit that oftenest moved
while he on the left, with a fiery red such a dirty state.'—' Me dirty! What if ye wig and sharp-cut features, had that sinister saw hir!'" expression of sly cunning, so especially repul- Well that was unclean sincerity at all sive, and most frequently found among the lower orders. They appeared to sit in judg: find miserable shams amid the divine magnifi
events. What surprises us, however, is to ment on the preacher; and you could almost read in their critical faces tħat they thought cence of nature, and intelligent men stamphim 'a fine lad, if he had exparience. The ing them with approval. Here is an in
' women were most dressed in cloak, hood, and stance : coif, which added to the simple effect of the
Hearing from our dinner company that whole; and when the nasal Gaelic psalm rose there was a real live hermit in the neighbor from the heathery brae, it was, barring the ing grounds of Sir James Matheson, we had Men,' almost sublime. After the congregation the curiosity to visit his cell. He was a more broke up and the three ministers descended favorable specimen than his better-known from the tent, they, like good school-boys, brother anchorite of the Holy Loch. At the sheepishly shook hands with their masters, caye among the rocks, a short distance from
the Men,' in turn. None of the ministers his house, with his sheep-dog · Lassie' at his under the Men's' surveillance wear either foot, the gentle old man was seated. His gown or bands. Popish vestiges themselves, white beard and contented expression har they call the gown and bands Popish in a monized exactly with the stillness around minister, and are jealous, I suppose, of this in- His only trouble appeared to be the mous fringement on the prerogative of camlet and tache, which annoyed him when supping his scratch-wig! A northern presentee to a church kale. Looking earnestly at mine, he inquired took his revenge on going South, by mounting if his would grow out the same way when bands as a flag of triumph, and never doffing they were lang. Upon my saying there them till he reached the end of his journey at was a kind of pomatum would set them right, Dunkeld. Another less fortunate aspirant he was eager to find out whether the doctors for bands supplied their place at the trial' sold it. We had a sight of his little library sermon, by pinning his Crimean medal outside of Gaelic books, and a draught out of his his gown, to enlist the sympathy of his audi- spring well. On returning to the town, Sir
That the bands have some mysterious James's ferryman civilly offered power, a late Free Church professor fully across the river, and when we told him the proved, and fairly owned. For, when preach- hermit's trouble— He gets three shillings ar ing in the Isle of May, seeing the lighthouse week for that beard o' his; he may weel buy keeper's wife completely overcome, he asked the sauve for his mistachies.' That hermit is what part of the discourse had touched her an excellent idea; be is such a perfect finish feelings. It's the baands, sir—it's the baands ; to the rocky scene, and a peep at his quiet I hae na seen them sin’ I was a lassie.' Pub- life might calm for a moment the most turbi lish it not in the North—tell it not to the lent votary of this noisy world.” Men'!"
- Which we beg leave to doubt. The ferry. With all the vigilance of these extremely offensive and inevitable“ Men,” the people are such a mountebank amid the everiasting bills
man better understood the worthlessness of not more clean in spirit or in body than folks than Mr. Colquhoun. Fancy a used-up roué ecclesiastically cared-for after another fashion. finding' even temporary peace of mind from The guid boddies at Stornaway seem to be
contemplating a mock hermit perplexed with preëminently dirty :
the growth of his “mistachies," and only “The whole fishing-village-to borrow a submiting to these impediments to the sun phrase from one of themselves—seemed indulging in dirt? The herring-fishers bad ping of his kale, for the consideration of enough; the women curers worst, if possible. three shillings a week! They brought to my mind the predicament of Mr. Colquhoun has much to say about his an Édinburgh clergyman (always particularly dexterity and success in the excellent sport of neat and trim in his own attire), when an ap- shooting foxes! There are few sportsmen plicant for marriage presented himself in the more to the south who will read this portion most disgusting figure that ever darkened his of his attractive volume without feelings of study door.
• When is it to take place ? ?* Directly, sir.? You mean after you have angry impatience ; for however necessary is cleaned yourself?'—(Looking down at him- may be to get rid of foxes among the mounself with evident satisfaction). "Och, I'm tains, the idea of shooting them outright, weel enough.'—You could'nt be married in when they might be preserved and sent