by Oscar Wilde
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So from 1850 her letters are more distinctly literary. She discusses modern realism with Flaubert, and play-writing with Dumas fils; and protests with passionate vehemence against the doctrine of L'art pour l'art. 'Art for the sake of itself is an idle sentence,' she writes; 'art for the sake of truth, for the sake of what is beautiful and good, that is the creed I seek.' And in a delightful letter to M. Charles Poncy she repeats the same idea very charmingly. 'People say that birds sing for the sake of singing, but I doubt it. They sing their loves and happiness, and in that they are in keeping with nature. But man must do something more, and poets only sing in order to move people and to make them think.' She wanted M. Poncy to be the poet of the people and, if good advice were all that had been needed, he would certainly have been the Burns of the workshop. She drew out a delightful scheme for a volume to be called Songs of all Trades and saw the possibilities of making handicrafts poetic. Perhaps she valued good intentions in art a little too much, and she hardly understood that art for art's sake is not meant to express the final cause of art but is merely a formula of creation; but, as she herself had scaled Parnassus, we must not quarrel at her bringing Proletarianism with her. For George Sand must be ranked among our poetic geniuses. She regarded the novel as still within the domain of poetry. Her heroes are not dead photographs; they are great possibilities. Modern novels are dissections; hers are dreams. 'I make popular types,' she writes, 'such as I do no longer see, but such as they should and might be.' For realism, in M. Zola's acceptation of the word, she had no admiration. Art to her was a mirror that transfigured truths but did not represent realities. Hence she could not understand art without personality. 'I am aware,' she writes to Flaubert, 'that you are opposed to the exposition of personal doctrine in literature. Are you right? Does not your opposition proceed rather from a want of conviction than from a principle of aesthetics? If we have any philosophy in our brain it must needs break forth in our writings. But you, as soon as you handle literature, you seem anxious, I know not why, to be another man, the one who must disappear, who annihilates himself and is no more. What a singular mania! What a deficient taste! The worth of our productions depends entirely on our own. Besides, if we withhold our own opinions respecting the personages we create, we naturally leave the reader in uncertainty as to the opinion he should himself form of them. That amounts to wishing not to be understood, and the result of this is that the reader gets weary of us and leaves us.'

She herself, however, may be said to have suffered from too dominant a personality, and this was the reason of the failure of most of her plays.

Of the drama in the sense of disinterested presentation she had no idea, and what is the strength and life-blood of her novels is the weakness of her dramatic works. But in the main she was right. Art without personality is impossible. And yet the aim of art is not to reveal personality, but to please. This she hardly recognised in her aesthetics, though she realised it in her work. On literary style she has some excellent remarks. She dislikes the extravagances of the romantic school and sees the beauty of simplicity. 'Simplicity,' she writes, 'is the most difficult thing to secure in this world: it is the last limit of experience and the last effort of genius.' She hated the slang and argot of Paris life, and loved the words used by the peasants in the provinces. 'The provinces,' she remarks, 'preserve the tradition of the original tongue and create but few new words. I feel much respect for the language of the peasantry; in my estimation it is the more correct.'

She thought Flaubert too much preoccupied with the sense of form, and makes these excellent observations to him—perhaps her best piece of literary criticism. 'You consider the form as the aim, whereas it is but the effect. Happy expressions are only the outcome of emotion and emotion itself proceeds from a conviction. We are only moved by that which we ardently believe in.' Literary schools she distrusted. Individualism was to her the keystone of art as well as of life. 'Do not belong to any school: do not imitate any model,' is her advice. Yet she never encouraged eccentricity. 'Be correct,' she writes to Eugene Pelletan, 'that is rarer than being eccentric, as the time goes. It is much more common to please by bad taste than to receive the cross of honour.'

On the whole, her literary advice is sound and healthy. She never shrieks and she never sneers. She is the incarnation of good sense. And the whole collection of her letters is a perfect treasure-house of suggestions both on art and on politics. The manner of the translation is often rather clumsy, but the matter is always so intensely interesting that we can afford to be charitable.

Letters of George Sand. Translated and edited by Raphael Ledos de Beaufort. (Ward and Downey.)


(Pall Mall Gazette, April 12, 1886.)

That most delightful of all French critics, M. Edmond Scherer, has recently stated in an article on Wordsworth that the English read far more poetry than any other European nation. We sincerely hope this may be true, not merely for the sake of the public but for the sake of the poets also. It would be sad indeed if the many volumes of poems that are every year published in London found no readers but the authors themselves and the authors' relations; and the real philanthropist should recognise it as part of his duties to buy every new book of verse that appears. Sometimes, we acknowledge, he will be disappointed, often he will be bored; still now and then he will be amply rewarded for his reckless benevolence.

Mr. George Francis Armstrong's Stories of Wicklow, for instance, is most pleasant reading. Mr. Armstrong is already well known as the author of Ugone, King Saul and other dramas, and his latest volume shows that the power and passion of his early work has not deserted him. Most modern Irish poetry is purely political and deals with the wickedness of the landlords and the Tories; but Mr. Armstrong sings of the picturesqueness of Erin, not of its politics. He tells us very charmingly of the magic of its mists and the melody of its colour, and draws a most captivating picture of the peasants of the county Wicklow, whom he describes as

A kindly folk in vale and moor, Unvexed with rancours, frank and free In mood and manners—rich with poor Attuned in happiest amity: Where still the cottage door is wide, The stranger welcomed at the hearth, And pleased the humbler hearts confide Still in the friend of gentler birth.

The most ambitious poem in the volume is De Verdun of Darragh. It is at once lyrical and dramatic, and though its manner reminds us of Browning and its method of Maud, still all through it there is a personal and individual note. Mr. Armstrong also carefully observes the rules of decorum, and, as he promises his readers in a preface, keeps quite clear of 'the seas of sensual art.' In fact, an elderly maiden lady could read this volume without a blush, a thrill, or even an emotion.

Dr. Goodchild does not possess Mr. Armstrong's literary touch, but his Somnia Medici is distinguished by a remarkable quality of forcible and direct expression. The poem that opens his volume, Myrrha, or A Dialogue on Creeds, is quite as readable as a metrical dialogue on creeds could possibly be; and The Organ Builder is a most romantic story charmingly told. Dr. Goodchild seems to be an ardent disciple of Mr. Browning, and though he may not be able to reproduce the virtues of his master, at least he can echo his defects very cleverly. Such a verse as—

'Tis the subtle essayal Of the Jews and Judas, Such lying lisp Might hail a will-o'-the-wisp, A thin somebody—Theudas—

is an excellent example of low comedy in poetry. One of the best poems in the book is The Ballad of Three Kingdoms. Indeed, if the form were equal to the conception, it would be a delightful work of art; but Dr. Goodchild, though he may be a master of metres, is not a master of music yet. His verse is often harsh and rugged. On the whole, however, his volume is clever and interesting.

Mr. Keene has not, we believe, a great reputation in England as yet, but in India he seems to be well known. From a collection of criticisms appended to his volume it appears that the Overland Mail has christened him the Laureate of Hindostan and that the Allahabad Pioneer once compared him to Keats. He is a pleasant rhymer, as rhymers go, and, though we strongly object to his putting the Song of Solomon into bad blank verse, still we are quite ready to admire his translations of the Pervigilium Veneris and of Omar Khayyam. We wish he would not write sonnets with fifteen lines. A fifteen-line sonnet is as bad a monstrosity as a sonnet in dialogue. The volume has the merit of being very small, and contains many stanzas quite suitable for valentines.

Finally we come to Procris and Other Poems, by Mr. W. G. Hole. Mr. Hole is apparently a very young writer. His work, at least, is full of crudities, his syntax is defective, and his grammar is questionable. And yet, when all is said, in the one poem of Procris it is easy to recognise the true poetic ring. Elsewhere the volume is amateurish and weak. The Spanish Main was suggested by a leader in the Daily Telegraph, and bears all the traces of its lurid origin. Sir Jocellyn's Trust is a sort of pseudo-Tennysonian idyll in which the damozel says to her gallant rescuer, 'Come, come, Sir Knight, I catch my death of cold,' and recompenses him with

What noble minds Regard the first reward,—an orphan's thanks.

Nunc Dimittis is dull and The Wandering Jew dreadful; but Procris is a beautiful poem. The richness and variety of its metaphors, the music of its lines, the fine opulence of its imagery, all seem to point to a new poet. Faults, it is true, there are in abundance; but they are faults that come from want of trouble, not from want of taste. Mr. Hole shows often a rare and exquisite sense of beauty and a marvellous power of poetic vision, and if he will cultivate the technique of his craft a little more we have no doubt but that he will some day give us work worthy to endure. It is true that there is more promise than perfection in his verse at present, yet it is a promise that seems likely to be fulfilled.

(1) Stories of Wicklow. By George Francis Armstrong, M.A. (Longmans, Green and Co.)

(2) Somnia Medici. By John A. Goodchild. Second Series. (Kegan Paul.)

(3) Verses: Translated and Original. By H. E. Keene. (W. H. Allen and Co.)

(4) Procris and Other Poems. By W. G. Hole. (Kegan Paul.)


(Pall Mall Gazette, April 14, 1886.)

After a careful perusal of 'Twixt Love and Duty, by Mr. Tighe Hopkins, we confess ourselves unable to inform anxious inquirers who it is that is thus sandwiched, and how he (or she) got into so unpleasant a predicament. The curious reader with a taste for enigmas may be advised to find out for himself—if he can. Even if he be unsuccessful, his trouble will be repaid by the pleasant writing and clever character drawing of Mr. Hopkins's tale. The plot is less praiseworthy. The whole Madeira episode seems to lead up to this dilemma, and after all it comes to nothing. We brace up our nerves for a tragedy and are treated instead to the mildest of marivaudage—which is disappointing. In conclusion, one word of advice to Mr. Hopkins: let him refrain from apostrophising his characters after this fashion: 'Oh, Gilbert Reade, what are you about that you dally with this golden chance?' and so forth. This is one of the worst mannerisms of a bygone generation of story tellers.

Mr. Gallenga has written, as he says, 'a tale without a murder,' but having put a pistol-ball through his hero's chest and left him alive and hearty notwithstanding, he cannot be said to have produced a tale without a miracle. His heroine, too, if we may judge by his descriptions of her, is 'all a wonder and a wild desire.' At the age of seventeen she 'was one of the Great Maker's masterpieces . . . a living likeness of the Dresden Madonna.' One rather shudders to think of what she may become at forty, but this is an impertinent prying into futurity. She hails from 'Maryland, my Maryland!' and has 'received a careful, if not a superior, education.' Need we add that she marries the heir to an earldom who, as aforesaid, has had himself perforated by a pistol-bullet on her behalf? Mr. Gallenga's division of this book into acts and scenes is not justified by anything specially dramatic either in its structure or its method. The dialogue, in truth, is somewhat stilted. Nevertheless, its first-hand sketches of Roman society are not without interest, and one or two characters seem to be drawn from nature.

The Life's Mistake which forms the theme of Mrs. Lovett Cameron's two volumes is not a mistake after all, but results in unmixed felicity; and as it is brought about by fraud on the part of the hero, this conclusion is not as moral as it might be. For the rest, the tale is a very familiar one. Its personages are the embarrassed squire with his charming daughter, the wealthy and amorous mortgagee, and the sailor lover who is either supposed to be drowned or falsely represented to be fickle—in Mrs. Cameron's tale he is both in succession. When we add that there is a stanza from Byron on the title-page and a poetical quotation at the beginning of each chapter, we have possessed the discerning reader of all necessary information both as to the matter and the manner of Mrs. Cameron's performance.

Mr. E. O. Pleydell-Bouverie has endowed the novel-writing fraternity with a new formula for the composition of titles. After J. S.; or, Trivialities there is no reason why we should not have A. B.; or, Platitudes, M.N.; or, Sentimentalisms, Y.Z.; or, Inanities. There are many books which these simple titles would characterise much more aptly than any high-flown phrases—as aptly, in fact, as Mr. Bouverie's title characterises the volume before us. It sets forth the uninteresting fortunes of an insignificant person, one John Stiles, a briefless barrister. The said John falls in love with a young lady, inherits a competence, omits to tell his love, and is killed by the bursting of a fowling-piece—that is all. The only point of interest presented by the book is the problem as to how it ever came to be written. We can scarcely find the solution in Mr. Bouverie's elaborately smart style which cannot be said to transmute his 'trivialities' into 'flies in amber.'

Mr. Swinburne once proposed that it should be a penal offence against literature for any writer to affix a proverb, a phrase or a quotation to a novel, by way of tag or title. We wonder what he would say to the title of 'Pen Oliver's' last book! Probably he would empty on it the bitter vial of his scorn and satire. All But is certainly an intolerable name to give to any literary production. The story, however, is quite an interesting one. At Laxenford Hall live Lord and Lady Arthur Winstanley. Lady Arthur has two children by her first marriage, the elder of whom, Walter Hope-Kennedy by name, is heir to the broad acres. Walter is a pleasant English boy, fonder of cricket than of culture, healthy, happy and susceptible. He falls in love with Fanny Taylor, a pretty village girl; is thrown out of his dog-cart one night through the machinations of a jealous rival, breaks one of his ribs and gets a violent fever. His stepfather tries to murder him by subcutaneous injections of morphia but is detected by the local doctor, and Walter recovers. However, he does not marry Fanny after all, and the story ends ineffectually. To say of a dress that 'it was rather under than over adorned' is not very pleasing English, and such a phrase as 'almost always, but by no means invariably,' is quite detestable. Still we must not expect the master of the scalpel to be the master of the stilus as well. All But is a very charming tale, and the sketches of village life are quite admirable. We recommend it to all who are tired of the productions of Mr. Hugh Conway's dreadful disciples.

(1) 'Twixt Love and Duty: A Novel. By Tighe Hopkins. (Chatto and Windus.)

(2) Jenny Jennet: A Tale Without a Murder. By A. Gallenga. (Chapman and Hall.)

(3) A Life's Mistake: A Novel. By Mrs. H. Lovett Cameron. (Ward and Downey.)

(4) J. S.; or, Trivialities: A Novel. By Edward Oliver Pleydell-Bouverie. (Griffith, Farren and Co.)

(5) All But: A Chronicle of Laxenford Life. By Pen Oliver, F.R.C.S. (Kegan Paul.)


(Pall Mall Gazette, April 17, 1886.)

Antiquarian books, as a rule, are extremely dull reading. They give us facts without form, science without style, and learning without life. An exception, however, must be made for M. Gaston Boissier's Promenades Archeologiques. M. Boissier is a most pleasant and picturesque writer, and is really able to give his readers useful information without ever boring them, an accomplishment which is entirely unknown in Germany, and in England is extremely rare.

The first essay in his book is on the probable site of Horace's country- house, a subject that has interested many scholars from the Renaissance down to our own day. M. Boissier, following the investigations of Signor Rosa, places it on a little hill over-looking the Licenza, and his theory has a great deal to recommend it. The plough still turns up on the spot the bricks and tiles of an old Roman villa; a spring of clear water, like that of which the poet so often sang, 'breaks babbling from the hollow rock,' and is still called by the peasants Fonte dell' Oratini, some faint echo possibly of the singer's name; the view from the hill is just what is described in the epistles, 'Continui montes nisi dissocientur opaca valle'; hard by is the site of the ruined temple of Vacuna, where Horace tells us he wrote one of his poems, and the local rustics still go to Varia (Vicovaro) on market days as they used to do when the graceful Roman lyrist sauntered through his vines and played at being a country gentleman.

M. Boissier, however, is not content merely with identifying the poet's house; he also warmly defends him from the charge that has been brought against him of servility in accepting it. He points out that it was only after the invention of printing that literature became a money-making profession, and that, as there was no copyright law at Rome to prevent books being pirated, patrons had to take the place that publishers hold, or should hold, nowadays. The Roman patron, in fact, kept the Roman poet alive, and we fancy that many of our modern bards rather regret the old system. Better, surely, the humiliation of the sportula than the indignity of a bill for printing! Better to accept a country-house as a gift than to be in debt to one's landlady! On the whole, the patron was an excellent institution, if not for poetry at least for the poets; and though he had to be propitiated by panegyrics, still are we not told by our most shining lights that the subject is of no importance in a work of art? M. Boissier need not apologise for Horace: every poet longs for a Maecenas.

An essay on the Etruscan tombs at Corneto follows, and the remainder of the volume is taken up by a most fascinating article called Le Pays de l'Eneide. M. Boissier claims for Virgil's descriptions of scenery an absolute fidelity of detail. 'Les poetes anciens,' he says, 'ont le gout de la precision et de la fidelite: ils n'imaginent guere de paysages en l'air,' and with this view he visited every place in Italy and Sicily that Virgil has mentioned. Sometimes, it is true, modern civilisation, or modern barbarism, has completely altered the aspect of the scene; the 'desolate shore of Drepanum,' for instance ('Drepani illaetabilis ora') is now covered with thriving manufactories and stucco villas, and the 'bird-haunted forest' through which the Tiber flowed into the sea has long ago disappeared. Still, on the whole, the general character of the Italian landscape is unchanged, and M. Boissier's researches show very clearly how personal and how vivid were Virgil's impressions of nature. The subject is, of course, a most interesting one, and those who love to make pilgrimages without stirring from home cannot do better than spend three shillings on the French Academician's Promenades Archeologiques.

Nouvelles Promenades Archeologiques, Horace et Virgile. By Gaston Boissier. (Hachette.)


(Pall Mall Gazette, April 21, 1886.)

A philosophic politician once remarked that the best possible form of government is an absolute monarchy tempered by street ballads. Without at all agreeing with this aphorism we still cannot but regret that the new democracy does not use poetry as a means for the expression of political opinion. The Socialists, it is true, have been heard singing the later poems of Mr. William Morris, but the street ballad is really dead in England. The fact is that most modern poetry is so artificial in its form, so individual in its essence and so literary in its style, that the people as a body are little moved by it, and when they have grievances against the capitalist or the aristocrat they prefer strikes to sonnets and rioting to rondels.

Possibly, Mr. William Toynbee's pleasant little volume of translations from Beranger may be the herald of a new school. Beranger had all the qualifications for a popular poet. He wrote to be sung more than to be read; he preferred the Pont Neuf to Parnassus; he was patriotic as well as romantic, and humorous as well as humane. Translations of poetry as a rule are merely misrepresentations, but the muse of Beranger is so simple and naive that she can wear our English dress with ease and grace, and Mr. Toynbee has kept much of the mirth and music of the original. Here and there, undoubtedly, the translation could be improved upon; 'rapiers' for instance is an abominable rhyme to 'forefathers'; 'the hated arms of Albion' in the same poem is a very feeble rendering of 'le leopard de l'Anglais,' and such a verse as

'Mid France's miracles of art, Rare trophies won from art's own land, I've lived to see with burning heart The fog-bred poor triumphant stand,

reproduces very inadequately the charm of the original:

Dans nos palais, ou, pres de la victoire, Brillaient les arts, doux fruits des beaux climats, J'ai vu du Nord les peuplades sans gloire, De leurs manteaux secouer les frimas.

On the whole, however, Mr. Toynbee's work is good; Les Champs, for example, is very well translated, and so are the two delightful poems Rosette and Ma Republique; and there is a good deal of spirit in Le Marquis de Carabas:

Whom have we here in conqueror's role? Our grand old Marquis, bless his soul! Whose grand old charger (mark his bone!) Has borne him back to claim his own. Note, if you please, the grand old style In which he nears his grand old pile; With what an air of grand old state He waves that blade immaculate! Hats off, hats off, for my lord to pass, The grand old Marquis of Carabas!—

though 'that blade immaculate' has hardly got the sting of 'un sabre innocent'; and in the fourth verse of the same poem, 'Marquise, you'll have the bed-chamber' does not very clearly convey the sense of the line 'La Marquise a le tabouret.' The best translation in the book is The Court Suit (L'Habit de Cour), and if Mr. Toynbee will give us some more work as clever as this we shall be glad to see a second volume from his pen. Beranger is not nearly well enough known in England, and though it is always better to read a poet in the original, still translations have their value as echoes have their music.

A Selection from the Songs of De Beranger in English Verse. By William Toynbee. (Kegan Paul.)


(Pall Mall Gazette, May 13, 1886.)

The Countess Martinengo deserves well of all poets, peasants and publishers. Folklore is so often treated nowadays merely from the point of view of the comparative mythologist, that it is really delightful to come across a book that deals with the subject simply as literature. For the Folk-tale is the father of all fiction as the Folk-song is the mother of all poetry; and in the games, the tales and the ballads of primitive people it is easy to see the germs of such perfected forms of art as the drama, the novel and the epic. It is, of course, true that the highest expression of life is to be found not in the popular songs, however poetical, of any nation, but in the great masterpieces of self-conscious Art; yet it is pleasant sometimes to leave the summit of Parnassus to look at the wild-flowers in the valley, and to turn from the lyre of Apollo to listen to the reed of Pan. We can still listen to it. To this day, the vineyard dressers of Calabria will mock the passer-by with satirical verses as they used to do in the old pagan days, and the peasants of the olive woods of Provence answer each other in amoebaean strains. The Sicilian shepherd has not yet thrown his pipe aside, and the children of modern Greece sing the swallow-song through the villages in spring-time, though Theognis is more than two thousand years dead. Nor is this popular poetry merely the rhythmic expression of joy and sorrow; it is in the highest degree imaginative; and taking its inspiration directly from nature it abounds in realistic metaphor and in picturesque and fantastic imagery. It must, of course, be admitted that there is a conventionality of nature as there is a conventionality of art, and that certain forms of utterance are apt to become stereotyped by too constant use; yet, on the whole, it is impossible not to recognise in the Folk- songs that the Countess Martinengo has brought together one strong dominant note of fervent and flawless sincerity. Indeed, it is only in the more terrible dramas of the Elizabethan age that we can find any parallel to the Corsican voceri with their shrill intensity of passion, their awful frenzies of grief and hate. And yet, ardent as the feeling is, the form is nearly always beautiful. Now and then, in the poems of the extreme South one meets with a curious crudity of realism, but, as a rule, the sense of beauty prevails.

Some of the Folk-poems in this book have all the lightness and loveliness of lyrics, all of them have that sweet simplicity of pure song by which mirth finds its own melody and mourning its own music, and even where there are conceits of thought and expression they are conceits born of fancy not of affectation. Herrick himself might have envied that wonderful love-song of Provence:

If thou wilt be the falling dew And fall on me alway, Then I will be the white, white rose On yonder thorny spray. If thou wilt be the white, white rose On yonder thorny spray, Then I will be the honey-bee And kiss thee all the day.

If thou wilt be the honey-bee And kiss me all the day, Then I will be in yonder heaven The star of brightest ray. If thou wilt be in yonder heaven The star of brightest ray, Then I will be the dawn, and we Shall meet at break of day.

How charming also is this lullaby by which the Corsican mother sings her babe to sleep!

Gold and pearls my vessel lade, Silk and cloth the cargo be, All the sails are of brocade Coming from beyond the sea; And the helm of finest gold, Made a wonder to behold. Fast awhile in slumber lie; Sleep, my child, and hushaby.

After you were born full soon, You were christened all aright; Godmother she was the moon, Godfather the sun so bright. All the stars in heaven told Wore their necklaces of gold. Fast awhile in slumber lie; Sleep, my child, and hushaby.

Or this from Roumania:

Sleep, my daughter, sleep an hour; Mother's darling gilliflower. Mother rocks thee, standing near, She will wash thee in the clear Waters that from fountains run, To protect thee from the sun.

Sleep, my darling, sleep an hour, Grow thou as the gilliflower. As a tear-drop be thou white, As a willow tall and slight; Gentle as the ring-doves are, And be lovely as a star!

We hardly know what poems are sung to English babies, but we hope they are as beautiful as these two. Blake might have written them.

The Countess Martinengo has certainly given us a most fascinating book. In a volume of moderate dimensions, not too long to be tiresome nor too brief to be disappointing, she has collected together the best examples of modern Folk-songs, and with her as a guide the lazy reader lounging in his armchair may wander from the melancholy pine-forests of the North to Sicily's orange-groves and the pomegranate gardens of Armenia, and listen to the singing of those to whom poetry is a passion, not a profession, and whose art, coming from inspiration and not from schools, if it has the limitations, at least has also the loveliness of its origin, and is one with blowing grasses and the flowers of the field.

Essays in the Study of Folk-Songs. By the Countess Evelyn Martinengo Cesaresco. (Redway.)


(Dramatic Review, May 15, 1886.)

The production of The Cenci last week at the Grand Theatre, Islington, may be said to have been an era in the literary history of this century, and the Shelley Society deserves the highest praise and warmest thanks of all for having given us an opportunity of seeing Shelley's play under the conditions he himself desired for it. For The Cenci was written absolutely with a view to theatric presentation, and had Shelley's own wishes been carried out it would have been produced during his lifetime at Covent Garden, with Edmund Kean and Miss O'Neill in the principal parts. In working out his conception, Shelley had studied very carefully the aesthetics of dramatic art. He saw that the essence of the drama is disinterested presentation, and that the characters must not be merely mouthpieces for splendid poetry but must be living subjects for terror and for pity. 'I have endeavoured,' he says, 'as nearly as possible to represent the characters as they probably were, and have sought to avoid the error of making them actuated by my own conception of right or wrong, false or true: thus under a thin veil converting names and actions of the sixteenth century into cold impersonations of my own mind. . . .

'I have avoided with great care the introduction of what is commonly called mere poetry, and I imagine there will scarcely be found a detached simile or a single isolated description, unless Beatrice's description of the chasm appointed for her father's murder should be judged to be of that nature.'

He recognised that a dramatist must be allowed far greater freedom of expression than what is conceded to a poet. 'In a dramatic composition,' to use his own words, 'the imagery and the passion should interpenetrate one another, the former being reserved simply for the full development and illustration of the latter. Imagination is as the immortal God which should assume flesh for the redemption of mortal passion. It is thus that the most remote and the most familiar imagery may alike be fit for dramatic purposes when employed in the illustration of strong feeling, which raises what is low, and levels to the apprehension that which is lofty, casting over all the shadow of its own greatness. In other respects I have written more carelessly, that is, without an over-fastidious and learned choice of words. In this respect I entirely agree with those modern critics who assert that in order to move men to true sympathy we must use the familiar language of men.'

He knew that if the dramatist is to teach at all it must be by example, not by precept.

'The highest moral purpose,' he remarks, 'aimed at in the highest species of the drama, is the teaching the human heart, through its sympathies and antipathies, the knowledge of itself; in proportion to the possession of which knowledge every human being is wise, just, sincere, tolerant and kind. If dogmas can do more it is well: but a drama is no fit place for the enforcement of them.' He fully realises that it is by a conflict between our artistic sympathies and our moral judgment that the greatest dramatic effects are produced. 'It is in the restless and anatomising casuistry with which men seek the justification of Beatrice, yet feel that she has done what needs justification; it is in the superstitious horror with which they contemplate alike her wrongs and their revenge, that the dramatic character of what she did and suffered consists.'

In fact no one has more clearly understood than Shelley the mission of the dramatist and the meaning of the drama.

And yet I hardly think that the production of The Cenci, its absolute presentation on the stage, can be said to have added anything to its beauty, its pathos, or even its realism. Not that the principal actors were at all unworthy of the work of art they interpreted; Mr. Hermann Vezin's Cenci was a noble and magnificent performance; Miss Alma Murray stands now in the very first rank of our English actresses as a mistress of power and pathos; and Mr. Leonard Outram's Orsino was most subtle and artistic; but that The Cenci needs for the production of its perfect effect no interpretation at all. It is, as we read it, a complete work of art—capable, indeed, of being acted, but not dependent on theatric presentation; and the impression produced by its exhibition on the stage seemed to me to be merely one of pleasure at the gratification of an intellectual curiosity of seeing how far Melpomene could survive the wagon of Thespis.

In producing the play, however, the members of the Shelley Society were merely carrying out the poet's own wishes, and they are to be congratulated on the success of their experiment—a success due not to any gorgeous scenery or splendid pageant, but to the excellence of the actors who aided them.


(Dramatic Review, May 22, 1880.)

One might have thought that to have produced As You Like It in an English forest would have satisfied the most ambitious spirit; but Mr. Godwin has not contented himself with his sylvan triumphs. From Shakespeare he has passed to Sophocles, and has given us the most perfect exhibition of a Greek dramatic performance that has as yet been seen in this country. For, beautiful as were the productions of the Agamemnon at Oxford and the Eumenides at Cambridge, their effects were marred in no small or unimportant degree by the want of a proper orchestra for the chorus with its dance and song, a want that was fully supplied in Mr. Godwin's presentation by the use of the arena of a circus.

In the centre of this circle, which was paved with the semblance of tesselated marble, stood the altar of Dionysios, and beyond it rose the long, shallow stage, faced with casts from the temple of Bassae; and bearing the huge portal of the house of Paris and the gleaming battlements of Troy. Over the portal hung a great curtain, painted with crimson lions, which, when drawn aside, disclosed two massive gates of bronze; in front of the house was placed a golden image of Aphrodite, and across the ramparts on either hand could be seen a stretch of blue waters and faint purple hills. The scene was lovely, not merely in the harmony of its colour but in the exquisite delicacy of its architectural proportions. No nation has ever felt the pure beauty of mere construction so strongly as the Greeks, and in this respect Mr. Godwin has fully caught the Greek feeling.

The play opened by the entrance of the chorus, white vestured and gold filleted, under the leadership of Miss Kinnaird, whose fine gestures and rhythmic movements were quite admirable. In answer to their appeal the stage curtains slowly divided, and from the house of Paris came forth Helen herself, in a robe woven with all the wonders of war, and broidered with the pageant of battle. With her were her two handmaidens—one in white and yellow and one in green; Hecuba followed in sombre grey of mourning, and Priam in kingly garb of gold and purple, and Paris in Phrygian cap and light archer's dress; and when at sunset the lover of Helen was borne back wounded from the field, down from the oaks of Ida stole OEnone in the flowing drapery of the daughter of a river-god, every fold of her garments rippling like dim water as she moved.

As regards the acting, the two things the Greeks valued most in actors were grace of gesture and music of voice. Indeed, to gain these virtues their actors used to subject themselves to a regular course of gymnastics and a particular regime of diet, health being to the Greeks not merely a quality of art, but a condition of its production. Whether or not our English actors hold the same view may be doubted; but Mr. Vezin certainly has always recognised the importance of a physical as well as of an intellectual training for the stage, and his performance of King Priam was distinguished by stately dignity and most musical enunciation. With Mr. Vezin, grace of gesture is an unconscious result—not a conscious effort. It has become nature, because it was once art. Mr. Beerbohm Tree also is deserving of very high praise for his Paris. Ease and elegance characterised every movement he made, and his voice was extremely effective. Mr. Tree is the perfect Proteus of actors. He can wear the dress of any century and the appearance of any age, and has a marvellous capacity of absorbing his personality into the character he is creating. To have method without mannerism is given only to a few, but among the few is Mr. Tree. Miss Alma Murray does not possess the physique requisite for our conception of Helen, but the beauty of her movements and the extremely sympathetic quality of her voice gave an indefinable charm to her performance. Mrs. Jopling looked like a poem from the Pantheon, and indeed the personae mutae were not the least effective figures in the play. Hecuba was hardly a success. In acting, the impression of sincerity is conveyed by tone, not by mere volume of voice, and whatever influence emotion has on utterance it is certainly not in the direction of false emphasis. Mrs. Beerbohm Tree's OEnone was much better, and had some fine moments of passion; but the harsh realistic shriek with which the nymph flung herself from the battlements, however effective it might have been in a comedy of Sardou, or in one of Mr. Burnand's farces, was quite out of place in the representation of a Greek tragedy. The classical drama is an imaginative, poetic art, which requires the grand style for its interpretation, and produces its effects by the most ideal means. It is in the operas of Wagner, not in popular melodrama, that any approximation to the Greek method can be found. Better to wear mask and buskin than to mar by any modernity of expression the calm majesty of Melpomene.

As an artistic whole, however, the performance was undoubtedly a great success. It has been much praised for its archaeology, but Mr. Godwin is something more than a mere antiquarian. He takes the facts of archaeology, but he converts them into artistic and dramatic effects, and the historical accuracy that underlies the visible shapes of beauty that he presents to us, is not by any means the distinguishing quality of the complete work of art. This quality is the absolute unity and harmony of the entire presentation, the presence of one mind controlling the most minute details, and revealing itself only in that true perfection which hides personality. On more than one occasion it seemed to me that the stage was kept a little too dark, and that a purely picturesque effect of light and shade was substituted for the plastic clearness of outline that the Greeks so desired; some objection, too, might be made to the late character of the statue of Aphrodite, which was decidedly post-Periclean; these, however, are unimportant points. The performance was not intended to be an absolute reproduction of the Greek stage in the fifth century before Christ: it was simply the presentation in Greek form of a poem conceived in the Greek spirit; and the secret of its beauty was the perfect correspondence of form and matter, the delicate equilibrium of spirit and sense.

As for the play, it had, of course, to throw away many sweet superfluous graces of expression before it could adapt itself to the conditions of theatrical presentation, but much that is good was retained; and the choruses, which really possess some pure notes of lyric loveliness, were sung in their entirety. Here and there, it is true, occur such lines as—

What wilt thou do? What can the handful still left?—

lines that owe their blank verse character more to the courtesy of the printer than to the genius of the poet, for without rhythm and melody there is no verse at all; and the attempt to fit Greek forms of construction to our English language often gives the work the air of an awkward translation; however, there is a great deal that is pleasing in Helena in Troas and, on the whole, the play was worthy of its pageant and the poem deserved the peplums.

It is much to be regretted that Mr. Godwin's beautiful theatre cannot be made a permanent institution. Even looked at from the low standpoint of educational value, such a performance as that given last Monday might be of the greatest service to modern culture; and who knows but a series of these productions might civilise South Kensington and give tone to Brompton?

Still it is something to have shown our artists 'a dream of form in days of thought,' and to have allowed the Philistines to peer into Paradise. And this is what Mr. Godwin has done.


(Pall Mall Gazette, August 4, 1880.)

Sixty years ago, when Sir Walter Scott was inaugurating an era of historical romance, The Wolfe of Badenoch was a very popular book. To us its interest is more archaeological than artistic, and its characters seem merely puppets parading in fourteenth-century costume. It is true our grandfathers thought differently. They liked novels in which the heroine exclaims, 'Peace with thine impudence, sir knave. Dost thou dare to speak thus in presence of the Lady Eleanore de Selby? . . . A greybeard's ire shall never—,' while the hero remarks that 'the welkin reddenes i' the west.' In fact, they considered that language like this is exceedingly picturesque and gives the necessary historical perspective. Nowadays, however, few people have the time to read a novel that requires a glossary to explain it, and we fear that without a glossary the general reader will hardly appreciate the value of such expressions as 'gnoffe,' 'bowke,' 'herborow,' 'papelarde,' 'couepe,' 'rethes,' 'pankers,' 'agroted lorrel,' and 'horrow tallow-catch,' all of which occur in the first few pages of The Wolfe of Badenoch. In a novel we want life, not learning; and, unfortunately, Sir Thomas Lauder lays himself open to the criticism Jonson made on Spenser, that 'in affecting the ancients he writ no language.' Still, there is a healthy spirit of adventure in the book, and no doubt many people will be interested to see the kind of novel the public liked in 1825.

Keep My Secret, by Miss G. M. Robins, is very different. It is quite modern both in manner and in matter. The heroine, Miss Olga Damien, when she is a little girl tries to murder Mr. Victor Burnside. Mr. Burnside, who is tall, blue-eyed and amber-haired, makes her promise never to mention the subject to any one; this, in fact, is the secret that gives the title to the book. The result is that Miss Damien is blackmailed by a fascinating and unscrupulous uncle and is nearly burnt to death in the secret chamber of an old castle. The novel at the end gets too melodramatic in character and the plot becomes a chaos of incoherent incidents, but the writing is clever and bright. It is just the book, in fact, for a summer holiday, as it is never dull and yet makes no demands at all upon the intellect.

Mrs. Chetwynd gives us a new type of widow. As a rule, in fiction widows are delightful, designing and deceitful; but Mrs. Dorriman is not by any means a Cleopatra in crape. She is a weak, retiring woman, very feeble and very feminine, and with the simplicity that is characteristic of such sweet and shallow natures she allows her brother to defraud her of all her property. The widow is rather a bore and the brother is quite a bear, but Margaret Rivers who, to save her sister from poverty, marries a man she does not love, is a cleverly conceived character, and Lady Lyons is an admirable old dowager. The book can be read without any trouble and was probably written without any trouble also. The style is prattling and pleasing.

The plot of Delamere is not very new. On the death of her husband, Mrs. De Ruthven discovers that the estates belong by right not to her son Raymond but to her niece Fleurette. As she keeps her knowledge to herself, a series of complications follows, but the cousins are ultimately united in marriage and the story ends happily. Mr. Curzon writes in a clever style, and though its construction is rather clumsy the novel is a thoroughly interesting one.

A Daughter of Fife tells us of the love of a young artist for a Scotch fisher-girl. The character sketches are exceptionally good, especially that of David Promoter, a fisherman who leaves his nets to preach the gospel, and the heroine is quite charming till she becomes civilised. The book is a most artistic combination of romantic feeling with realistic form, and it is pleasant to read descriptions of Scotch scenery that do not represent the land of mist and mountain as a sort of chromolithograph from the Brompton Road.

In Mr. Speight's novel, A Barren Title, we have an impoverished earl who receives an allowance from his relations on condition of his remaining single, being all the time secretly married and the father of a grown-up son. The story is improbable and amusing.

On the whole, there is a great deal to be said for our ordinary English novelists. They have all some story to tell, and most of them tell it in an interesting manner. Where they fail is in concentration of style. Their characters are far too eloquent and talk themselves to tatters. What we want is a little more reality and a little less rhetoric. We are most grateful to them that they have not as yet accepted any frigid formula, nor stereotyped themselves into a school, but we wish that they would talk less and think more. They lead us through a barren desert of verbiage to a mirage that they call life; we wander aimlessly through a very wilderness of words in search of one touch of nature. However, one should not be too severe on English novels: they are the only relaxation of the intellectually unemployed.

(1) The Wolfe of Badenoch: A Historical Romance of the Fourteenth Century. By Sir Thomas Lauder. (Hamilton, Adams and Co.)

(2) Keep My Secret. By G. M. Robins. (Bentley and Son.)

(3) Mrs. Dorriman. By the Hon. Mrs. Henry Chetwynd. (Chapman and Hall.)

(4) Delamere. By G. Curzon. (Sampson Low, Marston and Co.)

(5) A Daughter of Fife. By Amelia Barr. (James Clarke and Co.)

(6) A Barren Title. By T. W. Speight. (Chatto and Windus.)


(Pall Mall Gazette, September 13, 1886.)

Many years ago, in a number of All the Year Round, Charles Dickens complained that Balzac was very little read in England, and although since then the public has become more familiar with the great masterpieces of French fiction, still it may be doubted whether the Comedie Humaine is at all appreciated or understood by the general run of novel readers. It is really the greatest monument that literature has produced in our century, and M. Taine hardly exaggerates when he says that, after Shakespeare, Balzac is our most important magazine of documents on human nature. Balzac's aim, in fact, was to do for humanity what Buffon had done for the animal creation. As the naturalist studied lions and tigers, so the novelist studied men and women. Yet he was no mere reporter. Photography and proces-verbal were not the essentials of his method. Observation gave him the facts of life, but his genius converted facts into truths, and truths into truth. He was, in a word, a marvellous combination of the artistic temperament with the scientific spirit. The latter he bequeathed to his disciples; the former was entirely his own. The distinction between such a book as M. Zola's L'Assommoir and such a book as Balzac's Illusions Perdues is the distinction between unimaginative realism and imaginative reality. 'All Balzac's characters,' said Baudelaire, 'are gifted with the same ardour of life that animated himself. All his fictions are as deeply coloured as dreams. Every mind is a weapon loaded to the muzzle with will. The very scullions have genius.' He was, of course, accused of being immoral. Few writers who deal directly with life escape that charge. His answer to the accusation was characteristic and conclusive. 'Whoever contributes his stone to the edifice of ideas,' he wrote, 'whoever proclaims an abuse, whoever sets his mark upon an evil to be abolished, always passes for immoral. If you are true in your portraits, if, by dint of daily and nightly toil, you succeed in writing the most difficult language in the world, the word immoral is thrown in your face.' The morals of the personages of the Comedie Humaine are simply the morals of the world around us. They are part of the artist's subject-matter; they are not part of his method. If there be any need of censure it is to life, not to literature, that it should be given. Balzac, besides, is essentially universal. He sees life from every point of view. He has no preferences and no prejudices. He does not try to prove anything. He feels that the spectacle of life contains its own secret. 'II cree un monde et se tait.'

And what a world it is! What a panorama of passions! What a pell-mell of men and women! It was said of Trollope that he increased the number of our acquaintances without adding to our visiting list; but after the Comedie Humaine one begins to believe that the only real people are the people who have never existed. Lucien de Rubempre, le Pere Goriot, Ursule Mirouet, Marguerite Claes, the Baron Hulot, Madame Marneffe, le Cousin Pons, De Marsay—all bring with them a kind of contagious illusion of life. They have a fierce vitality about them: their existence is fervent and fiery-coloured; we not merely feel for them but we see them—they dominate our fancy and defy scepticism. A steady course of Balzac reduces our living friends to shadows, and our acquaintances to the shadows of shades. Who would care to go out to an evening party to meet Tomkins, the friend of one's boyhood, when one can sit at home with Lucien de Rubempre? It is pleasanter to have the entree to Balzac's society than to receive cards from all the duchesses in May fair.

In spite of this, there are many people who have declared the Comedie Humaine to be indigestible. Perhaps it is: but then what about truffles? Balzac's publisher refused to be disturbed by any such criticism as that. 'Indigestible, is it?' he exclaimed with what, for a publisher, was rare good sense. 'Well, I should hope so; who ever thinks of a dinner that isn't?' And our English publisher, Mr. Routledge, clearly agrees with M. Poulet-Malassis, as he is occupied in producing a complete translation of the Comedie Humaine. The two volumes that at present lie before us contain Cesar Birotteau, that terrible tragedy of finance, and L'lllustre Gaudissart, the apotheosis of the commercial traveller, the Duchesse de Langeais, most marvellous of modern love stories, Le Chef d'OEuvre Inconnu, from which Mr. Henry James took his Madonna of the Future, and that extraordinary romance Une Passion dans le Desert. The choice of stories is quite excellent, but the translations are very unequal, and some of them are positively bad. L'lllustre Gaudissart, for instance, is full of the most grotesque mistakes, mistakes that would disgrace a schoolboy. 'Bon conseil vaut un oeil dans la main' is translated 'Good advice is an egg in the hand'! 'Ecus rebelles' is rendered 'rebellious lucre,' and such common expressions as 'faire la barbe,' 'attendre la vente,' 'n'entendre rien,' palir sur une affaire,' are all mistranslated. 'Des bois de quoi se faire un cure-dent' is not 'a few trees to slice into toothpicks,' but 'as much timber as would make a toothpick'; 'son horloge enfermee dans une grande armoire oblongue' is not 'a clock which he kept shut up in a large oblong closet' but simply a clock in a tall clock-case; 'journal viager' is not 'an annuity,' 'garce' is not the same as 'farce,' and 'dessins des Indes' are not 'drawings of the Indies.' On the whole, nothing can be worse than this translation, and if Mr. Routledge wishes the public to read his version of the Comedie Humaine, he should engage translators who have some slight knowledge of French.

Cesar Birotteau is better, though it is not by any means free from mistakes. 'To suffer under the Maximum' is an absurd rendering of 'subir le maximum'; 'perse' is 'chintz,' not 'Persian chintz'; 'rendre le pain benit' is not 'to take the wafer'; 'riviere' is hardly a 'fillet of diamonds'; and to translate 'son coeur avait un calus a l'endroit du loyer' by 'his heart was a callus in the direction of a lease' is an insult to two languages. On the whole, the best version is that of the Duchesse de Langeais, though even this leaves much to be desired. Such a sentence as 'to imitate the rough logician who marched before the Pyrrhonians while denying his own movement' entirely misses the point of Balzac's 'imiter le rude logicien qui marchait devant les pyrrhoniens, qui niaient le mouvement.'

We fear Mr. Routledge's edition will not do. It is well printed and nicely bound; but his translators do not understand French. It is a great pity, for La Comedie Humaine is one of the masterpieces of the age.

Balzac's Novels in English. The Duchesse de Langeais and Other Stories; Cesar Birotteau. (Routledge and Sons.)


(Pall Mall Gazette, September 16, 1880.)

Most modern novels are more remarkable for their crime than for their culture, and Mr. G. Manville Fenn's last venture is no exception to the general rule. The Master of the Ceremonies is turbid, terrifying and thrilling. It contains, besides many 'moving accidents by flood and field,' an elopement, an abduction, a bigamous marriage, an attempted assassination, a duel, a suicide, and a murder. The murder, we must acknowledge, is a masterpiece. It would do credit to Gaboriau, and should make Miss Braddon jealous. The Newgate Calendar itself contains nothing more fascinating, and what higher praise than this can be given to a sensational novel? Not that Lady Teigne, the hapless victim, is killed in any very new or subtle manner. She is merely strangled in bed, like Desdemona; but the circumstances of the murder are so peculiar that Claire Denville, in common with the reader, suspects her own father of being guilty, while the father is convinced that the real criminal is his eldest son. Stuart Denville himself, the Master of the Ceremonies, is most powerfully drawn. He is a penniless, padded dandy who, by a careful study of the 'grand style' in deportment, has succeeded in making himself the Brummel of the promenade and the autocrat of the Assembly Rooms. A light comedian by profession, he is suddenly compelled to play the principal part in a tragedy. His shallow, trivial nature is forced into the loftiest heroism, the noblest self-sacrifice. He becomes a hero against his will. The butterfly goes to martyrdom, the fop has to become fine. Round this character centres, or rather should centre, the psychological interest of the book, but unfortunately Mr. Fenn has insisted on crowding his story with unnecessary incident. He might have made of his novel 'A Soul's Tragedy,' but he has produced merely a melodrama in three volumes. The Master of the Ceremonies is a melancholy example of the fatal influence of Drury Lane on literature. Still, it should be read, for though Mr. Fenn has offered up his genius as a holocaust to Mr. Harris, he is never dull, and his style is on the whole very good. We wish, however, that he would not try to give articulate form to inarticulate exclamations. Such a passage as this is quite dreadful and fails, besides, in producing the effect it aims at:

'He—he—he, hi—hi—hi, hec—hec—hec, ha—ha—ha! ho—ho! Bless my—hey—ha! hey—ha! hugh—hugh—hugh! Oh dear me! Oh—why don't you—heck—heck—heck—heck—heck! shut the—ho—ho—ho—ho—hugh—hugh—window before I—ho—ho—ho—ho!'

This horrible jargon is supposed to convey the impression of a lady coughing. It is, of course, a mere meaningless monstrosity on a par with spelling a sneeze. We hope that Mr. Fenn will not again try these theatrical tricks with language, for he possesses a rare art—the art of telling a story well.

A Statesman's Love, the author tells us in a rather mystical preface, was written 'to show that the alchemist-like transfiguration supposed to be wrought in our whole nature by that passion has no existence in fact,' but it cannot be said to prove this remarkable doctrine.

It is an exaggerated psychological study of a modern woman, a sort of picture by limelight, full of coarse colours and violent contrasts, not by any means devoid of cleverness but essentially false and over-emphasised. The heroine, Helen Rohan by name, tells her own story and, as she takes three volumes to do it in, we weary of the one point of view. Life to be intelligible should be approached from many sides, and valuable though the permanent ego may be in philosophy, the permanent ego in fiction soon becomes a bore. There are, however, some interesting scenes in the novel, and a good portrait of the Young Pretender, for though the heroine is absolutely a creation of the nineteenth century, the background of the story is historical and deals with the Rebellion of '45. As for the style, it is often original and picturesque; here and there are strong individual touches and brilliant passages; but there is also a good deal of pretence and a good deal of carelessness.

What can be said, for instance, about such expressions as these, taken at random from the second volume,—'evanishing,' 'solitary loneness,' 'in my then mood,' 'the bees might advantage by to-day,' 'I would not listen reverently as did the other some who went,' 'entangling myself in the net of this retiari,' and why should Bassanio's beautiful speech in the trial scene be deliberately attributed to Shylock? On the whole, A Statesman's Love cannot be said to be an artistic success; but still it shows promise and, some day, the author who, to judge by the style, is probably a woman, may do good work. This, however, will require pruning, prudence and patience. We shall see.

(1) The Master of the Ceremonies. By G. Manville Fenn. (Ward and Downey.)

(2) A Statesman's Love. By Emile Bauche. (Blackwood and Co.)


(Pall Mall Gazette, September 20, 1886.)

In selecting Mr. John Addington Symonds to write the life of Ben Jonson for his series of 'English Worthies,' Mr. Lang, no doubt, exercised a wise judgment. Mr. Symonds, like the author of Volpone, is a scholar and a man of letters; his book on Shakspeare's Predecessors showed a marvellous knowledge of the Elizabethan period, and he is a recognised authority on the Italian Renaissance. The last is not the least of his qualifications. Without a full appreciation of the meaning of the Humanistic movement it is impossible to understand the great struggle between the Classical form and the Romantic spirit which is the chief critical characteristic of the golden age of the English drama, an age when Shakespeare found his chief adversary, not among his contemporaries, but in Seneca, and when Jonson armed himself with Aristotle to win the suffrages of a London audience. Mr. Symonds' book, consequently, will be opened with interest. It does not, of course, contain much that is new about Jonson's life. But the facts of Jonson's life are already well known, and in books of this kind what is true is of more importance than what is new, appreciation more valuable than discovery. Scotchmen, however, will, no doubt, be interested to find that Mr. Symonds has succeeded in identifying Jonson's crest with that of the Johnstones of Annandale, and the story of the way the literary Titan escaped from hanging, by proving that he could read, is graphically told.

On the whole, we have a vivid picture of the man as he lived. Where picturesqueness is required, Mr. Symonds is always good. The usual comparison with Dr. Johnson is, of course, brought out. Few of 'Rare Ben's' biographers spare us that, and the point is possibly a natural one to make. But when Mr. Symonds calls upon us to notice that both men made a journey to Scotland, and that 'each found in a Scotchman his biographer,' the parallel loses all value. There is an M in Monmouth and an M in Macedon, and Drummond of Hawthornden and Boswell of Auchinleck were both born the other side of the Tweed; but from such analogies nothing is to be learned. There is no surer way of destroying a similarity than to strain it.

As for Mr. Symonds' estimate of Jonson's genius, it is in many points quite excellent. He ranks him with the giants rather than with the gods, with those who compel our admiration by their untiring energy and huge strength of intellectual muscle, not with those 'who share the divine gifts of creative imagination and inevitable instinct.' Here he is right. Pelion more than Parnassus was Jonson's home. His art has too much effort about it, too much definite intention. His style lacks the charm of chance. Mr. Symonds is right also in the stress he lays on the extraordinary combination in Jonson's work of the most concentrated realism with encyclopaedic erudition. In Jonson's comedies London slang and learned scholarship go hand in hand. Literature was as living a thing to him as life itself. He used his classical lore not merely to give form to his verse, but to give flesh and blood to the persons of his plays. He could build up a breathing creature out of quotations. He made the poets of Greece and Rome terribly modern, and introduced them to the oddest company. His very culture is an element in his coarseness. There are moments when one is tempted to liken him to a beast that has fed off books.

We cannot, however, agree with Mr. Symonds when he says that Jonson 'rarely touched more than the outside of character,' that his men and women are 'the incarnations of abstract properties rather than living human beings,' that they are in fact mere 'masqueraders and mechanical puppets.' Eloquence is a beautiful thing but rhetoric ruins many a critic, and Mr. Symonds is essentially rhetorical. When, for instance, he tells us that 'Jonson made masks,' while 'Dekker and Heywood created souls,' we feel that he is asking us to accept a crude judgment for the sake of a smart antithesis. It is, of course, true that we do not find in Jonson the same growth of character that we find in Shakespeare, and we may admit that most of the characters in Jonson's plays are, so to speak, ready-made. But a ready-made character is not necessarily either mechanical or wooden, two epithets Mr. Symonds uses constantly in his criticism.

We cannot tell, and Shakespeare himself does not tell us, why Iago is evil, why Regan and Goneril have hard hearts, or why Sir Andrew Aguecheek is a fool. It is sufficient that they are what they are, and that nature gives warrant for their existence. If a character in a play is lifelike, if we recognise it as true to nature, we have no right to insist on the author explaining its genesis to us. We must accept it as it is: and in the hands of a good dramatist mere presentation can take the place of analysis, and indeed is often a more dramatic method, because a more direct one. And Jonson's characters are true to nature. They are in no sense abstractions; they are types. Captain Bobadil and Captain Tucca, Sir John Daw and Sir Amorous La Foole, Volpone and Mosca, Subtle and Sir Epicure Mammon, Mrs. Purecraft and the Rabbi Busy are all creatures of flesh and blood, none the less lifelike because they are labelled. In this point Mr. Symonds seems to us unjust towards Jonson.

We think, also, that a special chapter might have been devoted to Jonson as a literary critic. The creative activity of the English Renaissance is so great that its achievements in the sphere of criticism are often overlooked by the student. Then, for the first time, was language treated as an art. The laws of expression and composition were investigated and formularised. The importance of words was recognised. Romanticism, Realism and Classicism fought their first battles. The dramatists are full of literary and art criticisms, and amused the public with slashing articles on one another in the form of plays.

Mr. Symonds, of course, deals with Jonson in his capacity as a critic, and always with just appreciation, but the whole subject is one that deserves fuller and more special treatment.

Some small inaccuracies, too, should be corrected in the second edition. Dryden, for instance, was not 'Jonson's successor on the laureate's throne,' as Mr. Symonds eloquently puts it, for Sir William Davenant came between them, and when one remembers the predominance of rhyme in Shakespeare's early plays, it is too much to say that 'after the production of the first part of Tamburlaine blank verse became the regular dramatic metre of the public stage.' Shakespeare did not accept blank verse at once as a gift from Marlowe's hand, but himself arrived at it after a long course of experiments in rhyme. Indeed, some of Mr. Symonds' remarks on Marlowe are very curious. To say of his Edward II., for instance, that it 'is not at all inferior to the work of Shakespeare's younger age,' is very niggardly and inadequate praise, and comes strangely from one who has elsewhere written with such appreciation of Marlowe's great genius; while to call Marlowe Jonson's 'master' is to make for him an impossible claim. In comedy Marlowe has nothing whatever to teach Jonson; in tragedy Jonson sought for the classical not the romantic form.

As for Mr. Symonds' style, it is, as usual, very fluent, very picturesque and very full of colour. Here and there, however, it is really irritating. Such a sentence as 'the tavern had the defects of its quality' is an awkward Gallicism; and when Mr. Symonds, after genially comparing Jonson's blank verse to the front of Whitehall (a comparison, by the way, that would have enraged the poet beyond measure) proceeds to play a fantastic aria on the same string, and tells us that 'Massinger reminds us of the intricacies of Sansovino, Shakespeare of Gothic aisles or heaven's cathedral . . . Ford of glittering Corinthian colonnades, Webster of vaulted crypts, . . . Marlowe of masoned clouds, and Marston, in his better moments, of the fragmentary vigour of a Roman ruin,' one begins to regret that any one ever thought of the unity of the arts. Similes such as these obscure; they do not illumine. To say that Ford is like a glittering Corinthian colonnade adds nothing to our knowledge of either Ford or Greek architecture. Mr. Symonds has written some charming poetry, but his prose, unfortunately, is always poetical prose, never the prose of a poet. Still, the volume is worth reading, though decidedly Mr. Symonds, to use one of his own phrases, has 'the defects of his quality.'

'English Worthies.' Edited by Andrew Lang. Ben Jonson. By John Addington Symonds. (Longmans, Green and Co.)


(Pall Mall Gazette, September 27, 1886.)

Among the social problems of the nineteenth century the tramp has always held an important position, but his appearance among the nineteenth-century poets is extremely remarkable. Not that a tramp's mode of life is at all unsuited to the development of the poetic faculty. Far from it! He, if any one, should possess that freedom of mood which is so essential to the artist, for he has no taxes to pay and no relations to worry him. The man who possesses a permanent address, and whose name is to be found in the Directory, is necessarily limited and localised. Only the tramp has absolute liberty of living. Was not Homer himself a vagrant, and did not Thespis go about in a caravan? It is then with feelings of intense expectation that we open the little volume that lies before us. It is entitled Low Down, by Two Tramps, and is marvellous even to look at. It is clear that art has at last reached the criminal classes. The cover is of brown paper like the covers of Mr. Whistler's brochures. The printing exhibits every fantastic variation of type, and the pages range in colour from blue to brown, from grey to sage green and from rose pink to chrome yellow. The Philistines may sneer at this chromatic chaos, but we do not. As the painters are always pilfering from the poets, why should not the poet annex the domain of the painter and use colour for the expression of his moods and music: blue for sentiment, and red for passion, grey for cultured melancholy, and green for descriptions? The book, then, is a kind of miniature rainbow, and with all its varied sheets is as lovely as an advertisement hoarding. As for the peripatetics—alas! they are not nightingales. Their note is harsh and rugged, Mr. G. R. Sims is the god of their idolatry, their style is the style of the Surrey Theatre, and we are sorry to see that that disregard of the rights of property which always characterises the able-bodied vagrant is extended by our tramps from the defensible pilfering from hen-roosts to the indefensible pilfering from poets. When we read such lines as:

And builded him a pyramid, four square, Open to all the sky and every wind,

we feel that bad as poultry-snatching is, plagiarism is worse. Facilis descensus Averno! From highway robbery and crimes of violence one sinks gradually to literary petty larceny. However, there are coarsely effective poems in the volume, such as A Super's Philosophy, Dick Hewlett, a ballad of the Californian school, and Gentleman Bill; and there is one rather pretty poem called The Return of Spring:

When robins hop on naked boughs, And swell their throats with song, When lab'rers trudge behind their ploughs, And blithely whistle their teams along;

When glints of summer sunshine chase Park shadows on the distant hills, And scented tufts of pansies grace Moist grots that 'scape rude Borean chills.

The last line is very disappointing. No poet, nowadays, should write of 'rude Boreas'; he might just as well call the dawn 'Aurora,' or say that 'Flora decks the enamelled meads.' But there are some nice touches in the poem, and it is pleasant to find that tramps have their harmless moments. On the whole, the volume, if it is not quite worth reading, is at least worth looking at. The fool's motley in which it is arrayed is extremely curious and extremely characteristic.

Mr. Irwin's muse comes to us more simply clad, and more gracefully. She gains her colour-effect from the poet, not from the publisher. No cockneyism or colloquialism mars the sweetness of her speech. She finds music for every mood, and form for every feeling. In art as in life the law of heredity holds good. On est toujours fits de quelqu'un. And so it is easy to see that Mr. Irwin is a fervent admirer of Mr. Matthew Arnold. But he is in no sense a plagiarist. He has succeeded in studying a fine poet without stealing from him—a very difficult thing to do—and though many of the reeds through which he blows have been touched by other lips, yet he is able to draw new music from them. Like most of our younger poets, Mr. Irwin is at his best in his sonnets, and those entitled The Seeker after God and The Pillar of the Empire are really remarkable. All through this volume, however, one comes across good work, and the descriptions of Indian scenery are excellent. India, in fact, is the picturesque background to these poems, and her monstrous beasts, strange flowers and fantastic birds are used with much subtlety for the production of artistic effect. Perhaps there is a little too much about the pipal-tree, but when we have a proper sense of Imperial unity, no doubt the pipal-tree will be as dear and as familiar to us as the oaks and elms of our own woodlands.

(1) Low Down: Wayside Thoughts in Ballad and Other Verse. By Two Tramps. (Redway.)

(2) Rhymes and Renderings. By H. C. Irwin. (David Stott.)


(Pall Mall Gazette, October 8, 1886.)

Morocco is a sort of paradox among countries, for though it lies westward of Piccadilly yet it is purely Oriental in character, and though it is but three hours' sail from Europe yet it makes you feel (to use the forcible expression of an American writer) as if you had been 'taken up by the scruff of the neck and set down in the Old Testament.' Mr. Hugh Stutfield has ridden twelve hundred miles through it, penetrated to Fez and Wazan, seen the lovely gate at Mequinez and the Hassen Tower by Rabat, feasted with sheikhs and fought with robbers, lived in an atmosphere of Moors, mosques and mirages, visited the city of the lepers and the slave-market of Sus, and played loo under the shadow of the Atlas Mountains. He is not an Herodotus nor a Sir John Mandeville, but he tells his stories very pleasantly. His book, on the whole, is delightful reading, for though Morocco is picturesque he does not weary us with word- painting; though it is poor he does not bore us with platitudes. Now and then he indulges in a traveller's licence and thrills the simple reader with statements as amazing as they are amusing. The Moorish coinage, he tells us, is so cumbersome that if a man gives you change for half-a-crown you have to hire a donkey to carry it away; the Moorish language is so guttural that no one can ever hope to pronounce it aright who has not been brought up within hearing of the grunting of camels, a steady course of sneezing being, consequently, the only way by which a European can acquire anything like the proper accent; the Sultan does not know how much he is married, but he unquestionably is so to a very large extent: on the principle that you cannot have too much of a good thing a woman is valued in proportion to her stoutness, and so far from there being any reduction made in the marriage-market for taking a quantity, you must pay so much per pound; the Arabs believe the Shereef of Wazan to be such a holy man that, if he is guilty of taking champagne, the forbidden wine is turned into milk as he quaffs it, and if he gets extremely drunk he is merely in a mystical trance.

Mr. Stutfield, however, has his serious moments, and his account of the commerce, government and social life of the Moors is extremely interesting. It must be confessed that the picture he draws is in many respects a very tragic one. The Moors are the masters of a beautiful country and of many beautiful arts, but they are paralysed by their fatalism and pillaged by their rulers. Few races, indeed, have had a more terrible fall than these Moors. Of the great intellectual civilisation of the Arabs no trace remains. The names of Averroes and Almaimon, of Al Abbas and Ben Husa are quite unknown. Fez, once the Athens of Africa, the cradle of the sciences, is now a mere commercial caravansary. Its universities have vanished, its library is almost empty. Freedom of thought has been killed by the Koran, freedom of living by bad government. But Mr. Stutfield is not without hopes for the future. So far from agreeing with Lord Salisbury that 'Morocco may go her own way,' he strongly supports Captain Warren's proposition that we should give up Gibraltar to Spain in exchange for Ceuta, and thereby prevent the Mediterranean from becoming a French lake, and give England a new granary for corn. The Moorish Empire, he warns us, is rapidly breaking up, and if in the 'general scramble for Africa' that has already begun, the French gain possession of Morocco, he points out that our supremacy over the Straits will be lost. Whatever may be thought of Mr. Stutfield's political views, and his suggestions for 'multiple control' and 'collective European action,' there is no doubt that in Morocco England has interests to defend and a mission to pursue, and this part of the book should be carefully studied. As for the general reader who, we fear, is not as a rule interested in the question of 'multiple control,' if he is a sportsman, he will find in El Magreb a capital account of pig- sticking; if he is artistic, he will be delighted to know that the importation of magenta into Morocco is strictly prohibited; if criminal jurisprudence has any charms for him, he can examine a code that punishes slander by rubbing cayenne pepper into the lips of the offender; and if he is merely lazy, he can take a pleasant ride of twelve hundred miles in Mr. Stutfield's company without stirring out of his armchair.

El Magreb: Twelve Hundred Miles' Ride through Morocco. By Hugh Stutfield. (Sampson Low, Marston and Co.)


(Pall Mall Gazette, October 14, 1886.)

The idea of this book is exceedingly charming. As children themselves are the perfect flowers of life, so a collection of the best poems written on children should be the most perfect of all anthologies. Yet, the book itself is not by any means a success. Many of the loveliest child-poems in our literature are excluded and not a few feeble and trivial poems are inserted. The editor's work is characterised by sins of omission and of commission, and the collection, consequently, is very incomplete and very unsatisfactory. Andrew Marvell's exquisite poem The Picture of Little T. C., for instance, does not appear in Mr. Robertson's volume, nor the Young Love of the same author, nor the beautiful elegy Ben Jonson wrote on the death of Salathiel Pavy, the little boy-actor of his plays. Waller's verses also, To My Young Lady Lucy Sidney, deserve a place in an anthology of this kind, and so do Mr. Matthew Arnold's lines To a Gipsy Child, and Edgar Allan Poe's Annabel Lee, a little lyric full of strange music and strange romance. There is possibly much to be said in favour of such a poem as that which ends with

And I thank my God with falling tears For the things in the bottom drawer:

but how different it is from

I was a child, and she was a child, In this kingdom by the sea; But we loved with a love that was more than love— I and my Annabel Lee; With a love that the winged Seraphs of Heaven Coveted her and me

The selection from Blake, again, is very incomplete, many of the loveliest poems being excluded, such as those on The Little Girl Lost and The Little Girl Found, the Cradle Song, Infant Joy, and others; nor can we find Sir Henry Wotton's Hymn upon the Birth of Prince Charles, Sir William Jones's dainty four-line epigram on The Babe, or the delightful lines To T. L. H., A Child, by Charles Lamb.

The gravest omission, however, is certainly that of Herrick. Not a single poem of his appears in Mr. Robertson's collection. And yet no English poet has written of children with more love and grace and delicacy. His Ode on the Birth of Our Saviour, his poem To His Saviour, A Child: A Present by a Child, his Graces for Children, and his many lovely epitaphs on children are all of them exquisite works of art, simple, sweet and sincere.

An English anthology of child-poems that excludes Herrick is as an English garden without its roses and an English woodland without its singing birds; and for one verse of Herrick we would gladly give in exchange even those long poems by Mr. Ashby-Sterry, Miss Menella Smedley, and Mr. Lewis Morris (of Penrhyn), to which Mr. Robertson has assigned a place in his collection. Mr. Robertson, also, should take care when he publishes a poem to publish it correctly. Mr. Bret Harte's Dickens in Camp, for instance, is completely spoiled by two ridiculous misprints. In the first line 'dimpling' is substituted for 'drifting' to the entire ruin of rhyme and reason, and in the ninth verse 'the pensive glory that fills the Kentish hills' appears as 'the Persian glory . . .' with a large capital P! Mistakes such as these are quite unpardonable, and make one feel that, perhaps, after all it was fortunate for Herrick that he was left out. A poet can survive everything but a misprint.

As for Mr. Robertson's preface, like most of the prefaces in the Canterbury Series, it is very carelessly written. Such a sentence as 'I . . . believe that Mrs. Piatt's poems, in particular, will come to many readers, fresh, as well as delightful contributions from across the ocean,' is painful to read. Nor is the matter much better than the manner. It is fantastic to say that Raphael's pictures of the Madonna and Child dealt a deadly blow to the monastic life, and to say, with reference to Greek art, that 'Cupid by the side of Venus enables us to forget that most of her sighs are wanton' is a very crude bit of art criticism indeed. Wordsworth, again, should hardly be spoken of as one who 'was not, in the general, a man from whom human sympathies welled profusely,' but this criticism is as nothing compared to the passage where Mr. Robertson tells us that the scene between Arthur and Hubert in King John is not true to nature because the child's pleadings for his life are playful as well as piteous. Indeed, Mr. Robertson, forgetting Mamillius as completely as he misunderstands Arthur, states very clearly that Shakespeare has not given us any deep readings of child nature. Paradoxes are always charming, but judgments such as these are not paradoxical; they are merely provincial.

On the whole, Mr. Robertson's book will not do. It is, we fully admit, an industrious compilation, but it is not an anthology, it is not a selection of the best, for it lacks the discrimination and good taste which is the essence of selection, and for the want of which no amount of industry can atone. The child-poems of our literature have still to be edited.

The Children of the Poets: An Anthology from English and American Writers of Three Generations. Edited, with an Introduction, by Eric S. Robertson. (Walter Scott.)


(Pall Mall Gazette, October 28, 1886.)

Astray: A Tale of a Country Town, is a very serious volume. It has taken four people to write it, and even to read it requires assistance. Its dulness is premeditated and deliberate and comes from a laudable desire to rescue fiction from flippancy. It is, in fact, tedious from the noblest motives and wearisome through its good intentions. Yet the story itself is not an uninteresting one. Quite the contrary. It deals with the attempt of a young doctor to build up a noble manhood on the ruins of a wasted youth. Burton King, while little more than a reckless lad, forges the name of a dying man, is arrested and sent to penal servitude for seven years. On his discharge he comes to live with his sisters in a little country town and finds that his real punishment begins when he is free, for prison has made him a pariah. Still, through the nobility and self-sacrifice of his life, he gradually wins himself a position, and ultimately marries the prettiest girl in the book. His character is, on the whole, well drawn, and the authors have almost succeeded in making him good without making him priggish. The method, however, by which the story is told is extremely tiresome. It consists of an interminable series of long letters by different people and of extracts from various diaries. The book consequently is piecemeal and unsatisfactory. It fails in producing any unity of effect. It contains the rough material for a story, but is not a completed work of art. It is, in fact, more of a notebook than a novel. We fear that too many collaborators are like too many cooks and spoil the dinner. Still, in this tale of a country town there are certain solid qualities, and it is a book that one can with perfect safety recommend to other people.

Miss Rhoda Broughton belongs to a very different school. No one can ever say of her that she has tried to separate flippancy from fiction, and whatever harsh criticisms may be passed on the construction of her sentences, she at least possesses that one touch of vulgarity that makes the whole world kin. We are sorry, however, to see from a perusal of Betty's Visions that Miss Broughton has been attending the meetings of the Psychical Society in search of copy. Mysticism is not her mission, and telepathy should be left to Messrs. Myers and Gurney. In Philistia lies Miss Broughton's true sphere, and to Philistia she should return. She knows more about the vanities of this world than about this world's visions, and a possible garrison town is better than an impossible ghost- land.

That Other Person, who gives Mrs. Alfred Hunt the title for her three- volume novel, is a young girl, by name Hester Langdale, who for the sake of Mr. Godfrey Daylesford sacrifices everything a woman can sacrifice, and, on his marrying some one else, becomes a hospital nurse. The hospital nurse idea is perhaps used by novelists a little too often in cases of this kind; still, it has an artistic as well as an ethical value. The interest of the story centres, however, in Mr. Daylesford, who marries not for love but for ambition, and is rather severely punished for doing so. Mrs. Daylesford has a sister called Polly who develops, according to the approved psychological method, from a hobbledehoy girl into a tender sweet woman. Polly is delightfully drawn, but the most attractive character in the book, strangely enough, is Mr. Godfrey Daylesford. He is very weak, but he is very charming. So charming indeed is he, that it is only when one closes the book that one thinks of censuring him. While we are in direct contact with him we are fascinated. Such a character has at any rate the morality of truth about it. Here literature has faithfully followed life. Mrs. Hunt writes a very pleasing style, bright and free from affectation. Indeed, everything in her work is clever except the title.

A Child of the Revolution is by the accomplished authoress of the Atelier du Lys. The scene opens in France in 1793, and the plot is extremely ingenious. The wife of Jacques Vaudes, a Lyons deputy, loses by illness her baby girl while her husband is absent in Paris where he has gone to see Danton. At the instigation of an old priest she adopts a child of the same age, a little orphan of noble birth, whose parents have died in the Reign of Terror, and passes it off as her own. Her husband, a stern and ardent Republican, worships the child with a passion like that of Jean Valjean for Cosette, nor is it till she has grown to perfect womanhood that he discovers that he has given his love to the daughter of his enemy. This is a noble story, but the workmanship, though good of its kind, is hardly adequate to the idea. The style lacks grace, movement and variety. It is correct but monotonous. Seriousness, like property, has its duties as well as its rights, and the first duty of a novel is to please. A Child of the Revolution hardly does that. Still it has merits.

Aphrodite is a romance of ancient Hellas. The supposed date, as given in the first line of Miss Safford's admirable translation, is 551 B.C. This, however, is probably a misprint. At least, we cannot believe that so careful an archaeologist as Ernst Eckstein would talk of a famous school of sculpture existing at Athens in the sixth century, and the whole character of the civilisation is of a much later date. The book may be described as a new setting of the tale of Acontius and Cydippe, and though Eckstein is a sort of literary Tadema and cares more for his backgrounds than he does for his figures, still he can tell a story very well, and his hero is made of flesh and blood. As regards the style, the Germans have not the same feeling as we have about technicalities in literature. To our ears such words as 'phoreion,' 'secos,' 'oionistes,' 'Thyrides' and the like sound harshly in a novel and give an air of pedantry, not of picturesqueness. Yet in its tone Aphrodite reminds us of the late Greek novels. Indeed, it might be one of the lost tales of Miletus. It deserves to have many readers and a better binding.

(1) Astray: A Tale of a Country Town. By Charlotte M. Yonge, Mary Bramston, Christabel Coleridge and Esme Stuart. (Hatchards.)

(2) Betty's Visions. By Rhoda Broughton. (Routledge and Sons.)

(3) That Other Person. By Mrs. Alfred Hunt. (Chatto and Windus.)

(4) A Child of the Revolution. By the Author of Mademoiselle Mori. (Hatchards.)

(5) Aphrodite. Translated from the German of Ernst Eckstein by Mary J. Safford. (New York: Williams and Gottsberger; London: Trubner and Co.)


(Pall Mall Gazette, November 3, 1886.)

Although it is against etiquette to quote Greek in Parliament, Homer has always been a great favourite with our statesmen and, indeed, may be said to be almost a factor in our political life. For as the cross-benches form a refuge for those who have no minds to make up, so those who cannot make up their minds always take to Homeric studies. Many of our leaders have sulked in their tents with Achilles after some violent political crisis and, enraged at the fickleness of fortune, more than one has given up to poetry what was obviously meant for party. It would be unjust, however, to regard Lord Carnarvon's translation of the Odyssey as being in any sense a political manifesto. Between Calypso and the colonies there is no connection, and the search for Penelope has nothing to do with the search for a policy. The love of literature alone has produced this version of the marvellous Greek epic, and to the love of literature alone it appeals. As Lord Carnarvon says very truly in his preface, each generation in turn delights to tell the story of Odysseus in its own language, for the story is one that never grows old.

Of the labours of his predecessors in translation Lord Carnarvon makes ample recognition, though we acknowledge that we do not consider Pope's Homer 'the work of a great poet,' and we must protest that there is more in Chapman than 'quaint Elizabethan conceits.' The metre he has selected is blank verse, which he regards as the best compromise between 'the inevitable redundancy of rhyme and the stricter accuracy of prose.' This choice is, on the whole, a sensible one. Blank verse undoubtedly gives the possibility of a clear and simple rendering of the original. Upon the other hand, though we may get Homer's meaning, we often miss his music. The ten-syllabled line brings but a faint echo of the long roll of the Homeric hexameter, its rapid movement and continuous harmony. Besides, except in the hands of a great master of song, blank verse is apt to be tedious, and Lord Carnarvon's use of the weak ending, his habit of closing the line with an unimportant word, is hardly consistent with the stateliness of an epic, however valuable it might be in dramatic verse. Now and then, also, Lord Carnarvon exaggerates the value of the Homeric adjective, and for one word in the Greek gives us a whole line in the English. The simple [Greek text], for instance, is converted into 'And when the shades of evening fall around,' in the second book, and elsewhere purely decorative epithets are expanded into elaborate descriptions. However, there are many pleasing qualities in Lord Carnarvon's verse, and though it may not contain much subtlety of melody, still it has often a charm and sweetness of its own.

The description of Calypso's garden, for example, is excellent:

Around the grotto grew a goodly grove, Alder, and poplar, and the cypress sweet; And the deep-winged sea-birds found their haunt, And owls and hawks, and long-tongued cormorants, Who joy to live upon the briny flood. And o'er the face of the deep cave a vine Wove its wild tangles and clustering grapes. Four fountains too, each from the other turned, Poured their white waters, whilst the grassy meads Bloomed with the parsley and the violet's flower.

The story of the Cyclops is not very well told. The grotesque humour of the Giant's promise hardly appears in

Thee then, Noman, last of all Will I devour, and this thy gift shall be,

and the bitter play on words Odysseus makes, the pun on [Greek text], in fact, is not noticed. The idyll of Nausicaa, however, is very gracefully translated, and there is a great deal that is delightful in the Circe episode. For simplicity of diction this is also very good:

So to Olympus through the woody isle Hermes departed, and I went my way To Circe's halls, sore troubled in my mind. But by the fair-tressed Goddess' gate I stood, And called upon her, and she heard my voice, And forth she came and oped the shining doors And bade me in; and sad at heart I went. Then did she set me on a stately chair, Studded with silver nails of cunning work, With footstool for my feet, and mixed a draught Of her foul witcheries in golden cup, For evil was her purpose. From her hand I took the cup and drained it to the dregs, Nor felt the magic charm; but with her rod She smote me, and she said, 'Go, get thee hence And herd thee with thy fellows in the stye.' So spake she, and straightway I drew my sword Upon the witch, and threatened her with death.

Lord Carnarvon, on the whole, has given us a very pleasing version of the first half of the Odyssey. His translation is done in a scholarly and careful manner and deserves much praise. It is not quite Homer, of course, but no translation can hope to be that, for no work of art can afford to lose its style or to give up the manner that is essential to it. Still, those who cannot read Greek will find much beauty in it, and those who can will often gain a charming reminiscence.

The Odyssey of Homer. Books I.-XII. Translated into English Verse by the Earl of Carnarvon. (Macmillan and Co.)


(Pall Mall Gazette, November 10, 1886.)

Mr. Symonds has at last finished his history of the Italian Renaissance. The two volumes just published deal with the intellectual and moral conditions in Italy during the seventy years of the sixteenth century which followed the coronation of Charles the Fifth at Bologna, an era to which Mr. Symonds gives the name of the Catholic Reaction, and they contain a most interesting and valuable account of the position of Spain in the Italian peninsula, the conduct of the Tridentine Council, the specific organisation of the Holy Office and the Company of Jesus, and the state of society upon which those forces were brought to bear. In his previous volumes Mr. Symonds had regarded the past rather as a picture to be painted than as a problem to be solved. In these two last volumes, however, he shows a clearer appreciation of the office of history. The art of the picturesque chronicler is completed by something like the science of the true historian, the critical spirit begins to manifest itself, and life is not treated as a mere spectacle, but the laws of its evolution and progress are investigated also. We admit that the desire to represent life at all costs under dramatic conditions still accompanies Mr. Symonds, and that he hardly realises that what seems romance to us was harsh reality to those who were engaged in it. Like most dramatists, also, he is more interested in the psychological exceptions than in the general rule. He has something of Shakespeare's sovereign contempt of the masses. The people stir him very little, but he is fascinated by great personalities. Yet it is only fair to remember that the age itself was one of exaggerated individualism and that literature had not yet become a mouthpiece for the utterances of humanity. Men appreciated the aristocracy of intellect, but with the democracy of suffering they had no sympathy. The cry from the brickfields had still to be heard. Mr. Symonds' style, too, has much improved. Here and there, it is true, we come across traces of the old manner, as in the apocalyptic vision of the seven devils that entered Italy with the Spaniard, and the description of the Inquisition as a Belial-Moloch, a 'hideous idol whose face was blackened with soot from burning human flesh.' Such a sentence, also, as 'over the Dead Sea of social putrefaction floated the sickening oil of Jesuitical hypocrisy,' reminds us that rhetoric has not yet lost its charms for Mr. Symonds. Still, on the whole, the style shows far more reserve, balance and sobriety, than can be found in the earlier volumes where violent antithesis forms the predominant characteristic, and accuracy is often sacrificed to an adjective.

Amongst the most interesting chapters of the book are those on the Inquisition, on Sarpi, the great champion of the severance of Church from State, and on Giordano Bruno. Indeed the story of Bruno's life, from his visit to London and Oxford, his sojourn in Paris and wanderings through Germany, down to his betrayal at Venice and martyrdom at Rome, is most powerfully told, and the estimate of the value of his philosophy and the relation he holds to modern science, is at once just and appreciative. The account also of Ignatius Loyola and the rise of the Society of Jesus is extremely interesting, though we cannot think that Mr. Symonds is very happy in his comparison of the Jesuits to 'fanatics laying stones upon a railway' or 'dynamiters blowing up an emperor or a corner of Westminster Hall.' Such a judgment is harsh and crude in expression and more suitable to the clamour of the Protestant Union than to the dignity of the true historian. Mr. Symonds, however, is rarely deliberately unfair, and there is no doubt but that his work on the Catholic Reaction is a most valuable contribution to modern history—so valuable, indeed, that in the account he gives of the Inquisition in Venice it would be well worth his while to bring the picturesque fiction of the text into some harmony with the plain facts of the footnote.

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