Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

ness,

No one should be a prophet who can pos

Monsieur Sylvestre the hermit, disibly avoid it, and so far we have kept our. vides the command of the expedition with selves pretty free from prediction. It is M. Pierre Sorède, a young gentleman who well for Mr. Keeler to have here grouped is dissatisfied with the matrimonial scheme together these singular facts of his life, but of his worldly uncle. A young physician is it will be no surprising fortune if he shall the next important person, in a philosophcome after a while to regard his work ical point of view, and Mademoiselle Vallier, as crude in some ways : at least, he has the heroine, the most important one of all in given such evidence of growth since his point of story-telling interest. Before Pierre first book as to make us hope this. But married the heroine, and just before his duel with these haunting reminiscences once fair with a pretender to her hand, he states the ly uttered, and, as far as he is concerned, results of his search after happiness as fol. dismissed to the limbo of all known facts and lows: “Happiness has never been defined accomplished purposes, he can turn to more and cannot be; each man forms an idea of imaginative tasks with an expectation of it which is peculiar to himself, and even success which will be fulfilled in propor this varies according to the state of his mind; tion as he remembers (what he ought to nothing is happiness, properly speaking, and know better than any one) that, truth is everything is happiness to a fully living stranger than fiction, and not only this, but soul; therefore the question is, not to seek is better even in the airiest regions of the aster happiness, but to develop life which ideal, and that the only condition of making gives it to us, humble or magnificent, ardent life like ours, tolerable in literature is to or calm, ecstatic or sweet, as it gives us paint it exactly as it is.

talent or genius, according to the organization which we possess.

And I may well

add that, for youth, the true and the best Monsieur Sylvestre. A Novel. By GEORGE employment of life is love !"

SAND. Translated from the French by As Pierre does not afterward state defiFRANCIS GEORGE SHAW. Boston : Rob. nitely any other opinion concerning happierts Brothers.

ness, we may take that to be his last one

on the subject. This, however, gives no It is owing, no doubt, to a greater differ idea of the beauty and breadth of some of ence in the constitution of society in France the sentiments of “Monsieur Sylvestre." that, judged by the rules regulating our so It is a work entirely of George Sand's latest cial life, many French books written with a manner, and the traces of a master are al. manifest moral purpose are immoral to us, most everywhere apparent. As a story it because the improper is made so very con is not quite so attractive as “Antonia," or spicuous when absent. In situations where even “Mauprat,” the two others of her the Anglo-Saxon would not suspect, Lamar works which have preceded this in the series tine, for instance, in his most impossible of translations. “Mauprat” has more of Platonic stories, is sure to tell with gratui- the writer's early fire in it, and of her early tous solemnity that everything was perfectly crudeness. “Antonia” is a charming love. correct. If “Monsieur Sylvestre," there. story, in which Madame Dudevant approachfore, is not free from this species of nega.

es what she seems to us to have reached in tive impurity, it would appear to be not so “Le Marquis de Villemer," namely, her much the fault of Madame Dudevant as of greatest purity, though not her greatest her nation and its literature. And it is due strength. Mr. Shaw has given us an admiher to say that her seeming honesty, even in rable translation, notwithstanding an occa. her errors, has placed George Sand, at her sional difficulty with his pronouns, and the worst, on a moral plane far above that of use of too much translatable French every. the abandoned English female novelists of where in the volume. the period.

The book “Monsieur Sylvestre ” is exceedingly philosophical ; a fact which ac Companions of my Solitude. By ARTHUR counts, it may be, for the somewhat slow HELPS, Author of "Friends in Council," movement of the story itself, and the philos. ete. Boston : Roberts Brothers. ophy varies in quality.

The characters of the story are made to We could not give so many good, ftangiforin a sort of exploration party after happi. ble reasons, perhaps, for not liking Mr.

Helps's essays as might be urged why we contact with the world. Where a man's should like them by some one who does; business is, there is the ground for his relic and yet we are very certain of not finding gion to manifest itself.” them satisfactory. They have a quaintness The companions of Mr. Helps's solitude without humor, a prejudiced and narrow are his reveries upon all manner of subjects, minded benevolence, an elaborate and fa and he talks on with a looseness at times tiguing ease. The author is apt to be very which it is no great violence to call maunsubtle about some interest purely factitious dering. He laments for a long time the exand quite unworthy consideration, and then istence of prostitution, which he sees clearly for compensation to treat with one-sided enough comes from the aristocratic constitupetulance and impatience some most serious tion of society in some degree ; and then and important problem. He is a humane of the folly that tends to ruin he says: “For thinker to no particular purpose ;

his

sym. women are the real aristocrats; and it is one pathies embrace misfortunes upon the un of their greatest merits. Men's intellects, derstanding that the conditions producing even some of the brightest, may occasionally the misfortunes are not to be essentially be deceived by theories about equality and changed. He is a conservative who would the like, but women, who look at reality like to see the world improved, but not par more, are rarely led away by nonsense of ticularly advanced; but at the same time he this kind.” If you feel like answering that has some very startlingly radical sentiments this admirably disastrous aristocratic sentiin abeyance. In the literary management of ment of women is an effect of their false his book he concerns himself so much with education and narrow life, a relic of their getting into a proper and impressively care ancient slavery, in fact, rather than a finer less attitude to say something, that you are instinct, spare yourself the pains; Mr. Helps usually quite worn out before he says any is going to tell us very shortly that “there thing. When he refers to an expression of is a cultivation in women quite independent one of his characters as humorous or sarcas of literary culture, rank, and other advantic, in which his reader is able to discern tages. They are more on a level with each only a cold and colorless fippancy, it is other than men.” touching, though pathos is not Mr. Helps's We do not recollect to have read any. strong point ; in fact, he seems to have only thing upon the social evil quite so aimless a vague faiblesse, and no forte at all. Yet, and inconclusive as the speculations in as we must say again, one might found a Mr. Helps's book, though we recognize a contrary opinion upon his book, if one had certain nervous and distracted good-will a mind to discover only its good things. in the essay that at any rate docs honor to Here, for example, is a passage which might · his heart. There may be more reason for persuade us that Mr. Helps had made a the existence of this and the other essays shrewder study than any one else of Ger than we have allowed, but we should be at man character, for the German people are a loss how to express it. There seems to now realizing upon the French battle-fields be no occasion for uniting the sentiment of the terribleness he guessed to be in them, Tupper to the logic of Ruskin, and presentwhen one day he stepped into a Protestant ing the result in the form of reveries and church in Germany : They sang psalms dialogues ; and yet there may be. such as I fancy Luther would have approved of; and I thought it would be a serious thing for a hostile army to meet a body of Valerie Aylmer. A Novel. By Chris. men who had been thus singing." Or he TIAN Reid. New York : D. Appleton might almost make us believe that he had & Co. acquainted himself intimately with things in this country, so cursed by the brutality of It must often have happened to our readpeople in small authority, when he wrote er, if he is also a play-goer,

and especially beseeching those wretched little despots to a play-goer of these later times, when the bethink themselves that “it is a great priv. theatre has taken to holding the mirror up ilege to have an opportunity many times in to nature with so much freedom, -- to have a day, in the course of their business, to do seen upon the stage among the masculine a real kindness which is not to be paid for. characters certain figures — very pretty and Graciousness of demeanor is a large part of charming figures sometimes — which were the duty of any official person who comes in rather puzzling. They were dressed, these

figures, in men's clothes, and they behaved step-son, who had “all of boyhood's smoothas much like men as any persons upon the ness of outline and clearness of tint in the stage, and more. Were they faithful lovers face, whose refined features and waxen comand devoted husbands? Such fidelity in plexion suited its rich brown curls and luslovers and devotion in husbands was never trous eyes; all of boyhood's grace in the seen before. Were they seducers and rous ? slender figure that bore upon it the stamp They were incomparably beguiling and of such thorough-bred elegance, yet who had abandoned. Were they dandies? Their a curve of disdain about the mouth, and a foppishness exceeded all other foppishness. cloud of petulance on the brow, which deepWere they assassins ? The murderousness ened and lightened continually, without ever of those assassins ! - it made one's blood quite vanishing, and made the most careless run cold.

observer sure that this man had never in his And yet, there was something which ren life known the curb of wholesome restraint, dered the spectator doubtsul if they were all imposed either by others or himself," and that they seemed to be. Perhaps it was the who, in fact, after being flirted with by Vavery excess with which they developed the lerie (la belle des belles they called her in her dramatist's ideas, the extreme vigor with native Louisiana, where they know ever so which they represented masculine character, much French), takes more and more to that awakened misgiving. You might not gambling and is finally killed in a duel ; declare that they were women, but it was in- and, above all, Maurice Darcy, the soldier. credible that they were men like other men, artist, Valerie's cousin, of Irish blood, and though they might be such men as the ladies a prodigy of coolness, suppressed passion, would be could they gratify that aspiration cutting sarcasm, and generosity and genius, of theirs, “If I were only a man!”

such as is found only in ladies' novels, who We are confirmed in this suspicion, which hates Valerie's coquetries, and saves her life, is very likely unfounded, by the appearance and wins her, and breaks with her, and has of the ladies when they wreak his desire “quick gleams flash into his deep-gray in fiction ; for in their personation of lov- eyes," or as it were “a stone mask fitted ers, husbands, and brothers there, they re over the features,” or “a cloud, heavy and mind us of the surpassing manliness of those dark as night,” rolled over them, according mystifying figures on the stage. Even when to his moods; who is often the guest of M. they would deceive us as authors, and call Vacquant, his uncle, whom he tells plainly themselves by men's baptismal names upon he does not forgive, and never shall forgive, their title-pages, they are defeated by the for his ill-treatment of his mother, who behavior of their people in men's clothes; paints the most wonderful pictures, and is and we should know that Christian Reid with “the Emperor Maximilian” up to the was a lady, because all the men in the book last moment in Mexico. are ladies, or at the best, ladies'-men, and We should fear that the worst effect of are severally much better and much worse this sort of thing might not be the bad literthan they could be if they were what they ary art, but that after a while the young men pretend to be. In such minor personages as might think of taking the lady novelists at Valerie's father, General Aylmer of Aylmers, their word, and instead of remaining the and her uncle, M. Vacquant, this fact does not sensible, slow, easy-going fellows we all appear so strikingly; but there is no doubt know and like, might begin to ask themselves of it when you come to her lovers, Charley whether, if women liked those pretty monHautaine, who had loved Valerie from child sters they painted, it was quite worth while hood, who was “ clever, high-spirited, brave to behave with any sort of sanity and goodto a fault, thorough-bred within and with. temper. But fortunately it is worth while, out, and handsome as a prince in a fairy for the sake of one's own comfort, and betale,” whom everybody loved, “even the sides, in novels like “Valerie Aylmer” any girls with whom he flirted, and the men one may see that the whole tone of society whom he rivalled," and who had done war. is as flagrantly unnatural as the men. We like wonders in the Confederate Navy during speak now for the North ; we cannot declare the war, and had light clustering curls, and that, in Baltimore and Louisiana people do played upon the guitar, and sang duets, and not talk and act as Christian Reid says. had fought duels, and had thrown his dear. The circle is very, very patrician, and in paest friend out of a window and crippled him rity of blood and breeding alone is one which for life; Julian Romney, M. Vacquant's we cannot hope to see in the North, or ever

associate with on equal terms. Pretty near able enterprise of the kind ever undertaken ly everybody has been a champion of the in America, — indeed, considering the time Lost Cause, and has fought with unspeak. occupied and the extent of country travable heroism ; and some have become so ersed, one of the most fruitsul journeys ever joined to lost causes, that they follow the undertaken, not excepting the great enterfailing fortunes of despotism in Austria and prises by our own and other governments. Mexico. They are mostly of French ex Mr. Hartt's report on the physical geogratraction, and they are of the Catholic reli- phy and geology of the region studied by gion ; and we have an uneasy feeling (which himself and the other assistants of Professor we dislike to express) that they would think Agassiz may well serve to show to the pubthemselves much better than one of our lic the spirit of investigation which guided, best Boston families. They read nothing and the magnitude of the work done, by the commoner than “ Blackwood,” in the thin gentlemen who co-operated in this investiair of those heights, and they interweave gation of the great empire of the South. in common parlance genteel morceaux of His work being a part of a series of rethe langue Française, like qu'importe, tapis, ports on the same region, Mr. Hartt has atelier, mes amis, voila tout, par exemple, evidently felt himself limited in the scope début, and au revoir. Hardly any conver of his treatise to the range of subjects propsation is without these embellishments, and erly falling under this title. This takes the feebleness of the book is forever stag. away from the book the general interest gering into italics.

which would naturally be attached to a jourIt would be difficult to give a general ney by a careful observer in the ever-new idea of the comprehensive absurdity of “Va tropical region of South America. The lerie Aylmer," and we are not even going to

book has few of those traits which will make tell the plot of it. We do not know wheth it popular in the worse sense of that word. er it is more sad or more amusing to note It differs entirely from the class of books to how entirely it seems to be evolved from which, for instance, the “ Brazil and the a young girl's ignorance of the world and Brazilians” belongs, and though it may knowledge of the most unnatural literature, want the few good traits of that eminently and how it seems unconsciously to have popular volume, it wants equally its many been put together from this deplorable bad characteristics. A glance at the table reading. The art of doing this at all is of contents shows at once that it is as a something in the author's favor, and youth scientific report that the volume is to be is something; and at times we fancied that considered, though the matters of which it the dialogues of the book, preposterous as treats, as well as the methods in which they they were, had a movement of their own, are considered, makes it interesting even to and did not leave the development of the the unscientific student of South America. characters altogether to the author's expla- Although Mr. Hartt's observations extend nations ; but we are not sure of this, and the over only a small part of the whole surface only kindness at parting which we can think of the Empire of Brazil, they have covered of is to remind the author that she can eas by far the larger part of the coast line of ily outlive “Valerie Aylmer,” and that she that region, and extended far enough into cannot help doing better in another novel. the interior to give us a great deal of infor

mation about the most important commer

cial provinces, those containing the diamond Thayer Expedition. - Scientific Results of a districts of Diamantina, Chapada, Sincora,

Journey in Brasil. By L. AGASSIZ and etc., and the extensive coal basins whose his Travelling Companions.

development is to play so large a part in the Geology and Physical Geography of Brazil. future of the continent.

By CH. FRED. HARTT, Professor of Ge. Beginning with the province of Rio Jaology in Cornell University. Boston: neiro, Mr. Hartt takes up the several other Fields, Osgood, & Co.

provinces, and gives a succinct description

of each, drawn from his own note-books or It will be seen by the title of this work from the journals of his fellow-travellers, that it constitutes a part of the long-expect. compared with and illustrated by the work ed report of the scientific results of the of other observers in the same region. We Thayer Expedition to Brazil. This expedi cannot follow him through the encyclopædic tion, was on all accounts the most remark detail of this part of his work. The last

[ocr errors]

chapter contains the only important gener- be in the highest degree improbable that ice alizations which his book affords, for during could have worked in Brazil as it has worked the first eighteen chapters our author sticks in British America. Yet he has by carevery closely to his facts. Some of these ful study been drawn to believe that the general conclusions are of the highest value. whole of the shore region of Brazil was, durMr. Hartt seems to have satisfied himself ing the last geological period, covered with that the gneissic rocks of the province of ice to a great depth, which performed then Rio de Janeiro and the Serra do Mar are precisely the same part which it performed of Laurentian age, and that they were listed probably at the same time in North Amerabove the sea as early as the beginning of ica. We cannot give Mr. Harit's argument the Palæozoic time. While acknowledging in detail; it is, however, convincing to any the probability of these two conjectures, we right-minded man that further objections to must confess that the evidence does not Agassiz's view must come from persons who warrant us in the supposition that these have studied the facts at least as carefully as opinions are to be admitted into the facts he and Mr. Hartt have done. of the science without further evidence. The same good reasons which would deter The admirable criticism levelled against the critic from criticising the style of a the hasty conclusions of geologists, in the “blue book” might be urged against carpchapter on Illogical Geology," by Mr. ing about the rhetorical shape of Mr. Harti's Spencer, should make that class of natu- book. There is so little, however, to be ralists see the dangers involved in this sort said against the way in which the author of reasoning. It must be confessed, how. has presented the matters of which he treats, ever, that Mr. Hartt's opinion concerning that we may, without risk of prejudice to the age of these rocks receives striking con- him, say that he has considered clearness firmation from the parallelism between the of statement very much more than elegance lithological and mineralogical features of the of diction ; that he is laconic to the extreme materials of which they are composed and of being dry. The reader meets so many rocks from the Laurentian system in this full - points in the course of a page, that country. This comparison has been made by he feels as if he were travelling over an Dr. T. Sterry Hunt, whose opinion on such intellectual corduroy road. But the worst points is of the highest value.

form of this offence is something venial comUnquestionably the most important mat. pared with the sin of fine writing. ter discussed by Mr. Hartt concerns the evi.. Of the work as a whole it is not too much dences of glacial action in the region from to say that it is the most valuable contribuRio to the Amazon. When Professor Agas. tion yet made towards the development of siz, in 1865, first announced the existence of the physical history of the noble Empire of glacial drift in the neighborhood of the Brazil. It was the great good fortune of equator, the scientific world pretty generally the Thayer Expedition that it secured the believed that the judgment was hasty ; that earnest and intelligent co-operation of the it was too much influenced by a desire to most enlightened of modern sovereigns, Pon extend the domain of that geological agent, Pedro II. We are heartily glad that this of which he had been to a singular degree important event in the exploration of his the discoverer, to regions where it would country should have come from the energy seem impossible for it to have operated. and talent of our own. South America We hope the clear statements of Professor may or may not come to be the home of Hartt will at least give pause to the illogical the emigrants from its overcrowded sister talk of those who, ignorant of the facts, continent in the last decades of the next have in a very unscientific way hastened to century, but it is certainly the sairest field protest against Agassiz's conclusions. Mr.

now open to the exploring ambition of our Hartt tells us distinctly that he was at the American students who long for uncului. outset opposed to the view of his master (and vated fields. We hope there may be many of his complete scientific independence the to follow the way in which Mr. Hartt has writer can testify), that he conceived it to led.

« ZurückWeiter »