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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 63

Belles Lettres

Belles Lettres.

Since the Paris Exposition of 1855 disclosed to our neighbour the hitherto unsuspected fact that a school of English painting existed, the subject has attracted considerable attention among French art-critics, by whom, for the most part, its special merits have been amply recognised. According to M. Ernest Chesneau,1 his countrymen, in their surprise at the unexpected discovery that the dull Briton could paint at all, have fallen into the opposite extreme, and have not only been betrayed into exaggerated admiration, but have given way to a ridiculous dread of possible rivalry between the artists of France and England. Such a contingency he dismisses as too preposterous to be seriously entertained by any one who is acquainted with the past history and present prospects of art in the two countries. For, as he conclusively affirms, the special characteristic of English art is the absence of genius; whereas the distinguishing peculiarity of the French school is that profound love of truth, subordinating all things to itself, which is a quality "tout à fait Française." But there is also in M. Chesneau's book not a little sound criticism, and, on the whole, [unclear: a] and judicious estimate of the chief works by the best masters on both sides of the Channel. Many chapters are devoted to the examination in detail of the French Exhibition of last year, but the earlier part of the volume contains a rapid review of the progress of painting in page 609 France and England, and is well worthy of perusal, although the remarks on English art are sometimes more true than flattering, as may be seen by the following passage:—

"From whatever point of view we regard it, the English school reveals one striking peculiarity of the British mind. The works of this school do not indicate the faintest recognition of the value of painting for its own sake, considered as one of the fine arts. The art of painting appears to answer to no intellectual need of the English—to no real sentiment of beauty or of artistic expression. It is evident to me that for them a picture is an object of luxury; the acquisition of a chef d' œuvre is a sign of wealth and distinction which must therefore produced, but they promise themselves no delight in the contemplation of such a masterpiece. This is at the bottom of the artistic taste of England, and this explains why the buyers of pictures care much more for singularity than for simple beauty; hence their painters, whatever may be their natural tendency, think themselves bound to sacrifice everything to eccentricity and, in consequence, to bad taste. This submission to the caprice of the public is much greater and more apparent in British art than in our own, where there is, nevertheless, far too much of it. Thanks to the accumulation Eire fortunes, the artist ou the other side of the Channel knows before-hand which is his true public—that which pays; he knows perfectly well that there is but one class which will encourage and reward his efforts; and to this end he becomes a courtier. Was Hogarth any other than the courtier of the Paritan society of his time? On this score, it ought not to surprise us that art has flourished so little hitherto in England. It is true she professes the liveliest admiration for her great men. But do not let us be the dupes of the tombs in Westminster Abbey, nor of the columns nor statues set up in the public squares; the English have but a moderate esteem for their contemporaries while they are only on the road to greatness, and their courtesy barely Ends to men of taste. Artists, in their eyes, are machines made for the express purpose of amusing and enlivening the aristocracy. Is that a fitting estimate of the great and the elevated in art? Hence the words grandeur, elevation, should be banished when the British painter is under consideration. They have a firm naïveté which soon becomes monotonous; they are prodigal of effects—effects literary as well as pictorial. Nevertheless the qualities they have are throughly their own. Thus, in genre pieces they display powers of observation in landscape they are great in skies, in which they show a marked superiority; they render those ever-varying effects with great care, and seize the uncounted varieties of aspect. Nor, lastly, should we forget that they number among them illustrious portrait-painters, nor that portrait-painting one of the most difficult of arts. But there is no evidence in the English school of any serious efforts (?); the latest school of all, rich in the experience of the past, it has produced very little, and originated nothing whatever."—p. 108.

But in spite of these severe strictures, M. Chesneau does ample justice to the rare and great beauties of Gainsborough, Reynolds, land Turner; and shows that he can admire as heartily as he can censure.

The works of another French writer, well known in England by his transaction of "Childe Harold," and his "Etudes sur I'Angleterre," contributed to the "Revue des Deux Mondes," are in course of publication by his widow.2 The sudden death of M. de Pontès, at the age of fifty- page 610 three, in 1859, cut short a career which had seemed to promise a greater eminence than he lived to attain. Madame de Pontès has set herself the task of collecting and printing all his writings contributed on various subjects to different Reviews, and the present volume is the first that has yet appeared. It contains notes upon Greece written while the author was an officer in the French navy, and essays on the East reprinted from the "Revue des Deux Mondes" and other periodicals. They are well written, fresh, and graphic, and convey the impression of accurate knowledge and personal observation. The short introductory memoir which occupies the first forty pages of the volume, by "Bibliophile Jacob" (Paul Lacroix), slightly sketches a life and character of no ordinary interest, and excites the wish for the more complete biography which the writer intimates an intention to undertake at some future day.

The valuable works on Indian Literature of the late Boden Professor of Sanscrit,3 are in course of publication under the editorship of Dr. Reinhold Rost. Of the four volumes already published, the two first consist of Essays and Lectures on the Religion of the Hindus, and the remaining two are upon Sanscrit Literature, with translations and abstracts of noted works of fiction and poetry. Nearly fifty years have elapsed since Professor Wilson, then assistant-surgeon in the service of the East India Company, published a translation of the Meghadúta, and from that time until his death in 1860, he pursued the study of Oriental literature with indefatigable zeal. A complete edition of his works, many of which are scarce and not accessible, from having been originally published in the Transactions of Oriental societies, will form a most valuable and important work, and brings within the reach of the English reader much which has hitherto been known only to Sanscrit scholars. Volumes iv., v., and vi., on the Books of the Rig-Veda, are preparing for publication.

A Tamil Drama,4 translated by a native of Ceylon, barrister-at-law of Lincoln's Inn, and member of Her Majesty's Legislative Council of Ceylon, is a curiosity in the history of letters. In a graceful and admirably well expressed dedication to the Queen, the translator claims to he the first who has sought that honour "of those millions of Orientals over whom you have been declared the first British Empress and to whom by the proclamation last issued under the sanction of your august name, you have accorded a charter of rights which opens up to them new careers of usefulness and happiness." The introduction, which is written in perfectly idiomatic English, is the composition of one well versed in ancient and modern letters and languages and briefly and clearly explains the origin of the drama of [unclear: Arichan] Although it is extremely popular both in Southern India and [unclear: Ti] Ceylon, no recognised text exists. "The manuscripts are chiefly written on the leaves of the Palmyra palm, and the facility which page 611 [unclear: scripts] always offer for interpolation and alteration has enabled inhabitants of the various districts which constitute the immense Tamil-land of India to modify the original, without, however, completely recasting it, in such a manner as to suit the peculiar tastes and fancies of different classes at different periods." Even the date of his play is unknown; it is only conjectured to have been in existence for about 500 years. It is the history of the greatness, the virtues, the sufferings, and the invincible constancy of Arichandra, King of Ayòdiah (supposed to be Oude), who undergoes all the trials of Job and all the tortures of a Christian martyr rather than tell [unclear: a] and who is at last restored to greatness and honour, blest by Siva in these words:—"You have borne your severe trials most heroically, and have proved to all men that virtue is of greater worth than all the [unclear: anties] of a fleeting world." This is the high moral throughout this singular and most interesting drama, and the surprise with which we receive it, suggests how much we have yet to learn of the Eastern mind. With some little irony, the accomplished translator justly observes:—

"It may be a source of some encouragement to those who inculcate the [unclear: debility] of improving the benighted Indians with a better code of morals than which their own systems of philosophy teach, that even amongst them are the found admirers of such characters as Arichandra, who, though persecuted for his persistent adherence to truth and virtue, yet maintains his constancy to the last, regardless of consequences, in the midst of the most excruciating [unclear: tor], and in the presence of death itself. The story of Arichandra may be [unclear: a]; but the response which its representation meets with in the hearts of a large section of the Hindus is a fact."

The original play is partly in prose and partly in verse of different [unclear: tres], and the absence of scenery is made up for by the actors, who describe what the spectators are to imagine they see. The dialogue is often eloquent, poetical, and impassioned, and every line conveys some western image or thought. In the history of the trials and temptations of the hero, it is impossible not to be reminded of the story [unclear: of] but through all a deep abiding fatalism may be traced. It is thus that Sattyakirti, the faithful minister, seeks to console Arichandra when the unhappy monarch has been compelled to sell even his Queen to enable him to keep his word:—

"Most noble king! succumb you, then, to misfortune? Is this, after all, the fruit of your knowledge and wisdom? Oh, no! Forget not that truth is more precious than all earthly happiness—that it must be maintained anyhow, at the risk of life, even in the face of Death himself. Sire, by far easier is [unclear: it] count the number of the sands which cover the shores whence rebound [unclear: the] of the ocean, or to ascertain the number of the atoms which constitute Meru, the loftiest mountain of the universe, than to enumerate the number of the births which our sins have already necessitated, and which we shall yet be compelled to pass through before final rest awaits us. Poor souls! we rae tossed hither and thither, washed by the waves of Destiny from world to world, sphere to sphere, age to age, bounding from death to fife, and [unclear: from] rebounding to death; children once—fathers again; a husband now—[unclear: a] anon; now a king—now a slave; now a man—now a beast; till [unclear: our] and demerits are cancelled off—till the heavenly sàyncchya [absorption page 612 of the soul into God] welcomes us to eternal bliss. Foolish [unclear: man] this earth, and cries out, 'Oh, this is my land, this my field, this [unclear: my] who dare take it from me? How can I part with it?' Knows he how many worlds have already owned him, and disown him now? He closely, and proclaims, 'Oh, this is my partner, this my love! who [unclear: dave] move her from me? How can I exist separated from her?' Know [unclear: you] many thousands of women have called themselves your wives, and [unclear: how] millions of children have cried out to you, 'Father! father?' When [unclear: such] life, why weep you? Battle with Fate itself. What must be done done. Grieve not because evils beset you and unhappiness is your [unclear: lot]; grasp the sword of wisdom, demolish the wild phantasies of the [unclear: wicked] then mount the winged horse of reason, scale the heights of [unclear: knowledge] learn that where happiness is, there also unhappiness must [unclear: necessarily] Seek the one, and you seek the other as well: for pleasure ever ends [unclear: in] whilst, pain ever leads to pleasure. Such is the common lot of [unclear: humani]—p. 163.

The author of an Essay on Beauty explains that he found his subject too much for him, and has therefore postponed the examination poetic and picturesque beauty until he can prepare another volume Meanwhile he publishes his first Essay on Natural Beauty, [unclear: and] pounds a theory on the subject as harmless as it is naive. Having discovered that in the Septuagint version of the book of Genesis that passage in the narrative of the creation which our version readers "behold it was very good," is there translated "behold it was very beautiful," and, remembering also that we use the expression "good looking," he has satisfied himself that beauty is goodness and goodness is beauty, and proceeds to apply and develope his discovery. It is not easy to feel the force of the arguments by which Mr. [unclear: Purto] imagines that he has demonstrated the absolute coincidence of [unclear: m] and spiritual with natural and visible beauty, or, as he expresses it. "The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace beyond and above long-suffering; and the virtues of our warfare, and their perfectly rejected image or expression are—light, life, and harmony." But the subject of Natural Beauty has drawn the author into "much that seems [unclear: nected] with it," and an appendix which fills nearly half the book's devoted to these kindred themes. The reader will be hardly prepared to find that they consist of a discussion on the nature of the fall man—a theory on the personality of the devil or devils—a very remarkable discovery that before man was degraded by polygamy "has children to he born twins, male and female, i.e., husband and the original law of nature"—and an examination of the causes which have produced the unequal standard by which society judges of [unclear: rent] moral offences. We must own our inability to trace the [unclear: nexion] between these dark and mysterious themes and the [unclear: ab] nature of beauty, although it is clear that the author writes [unclear: in] seriousness and earnest good faith.

The same theory of beauty is expressed far more dogmatically, and applied to the human face and form with uncompromising logic, in an5 page 613 [unclear: sing] little essay "On Ugly People,"6 which asserts that "all that is morally good is physically beautiful. All that is morally bad is physically ugly; ergo, every man and woman may be beautiful if they like, and no man or woman has a right to be ugly.—Q. E. D." It would be perhaps nearer the truth, to say that ugliness is too often the undeserved penalty of wronged humanity, caused by the [unclear: inherited] of progenitors, and intensified by bad food, bad air, starved heart and brain, and the lack of all that gives joy and beauty to life: who has not shuddered at the hideous countenances of even infants which [unclear: warm] in the dark alleys of great towns? But our author has more to say against the inexcusable and unnecessary fault of ugliness:—

"Take the case of my excellent friend Mr. Towers. Look at his nose, and his nose only—at that nose, rubicund and Bardolphian, out of all proportion to any ordinary face; a nose pimpled and freckled, bearing blossoms like a it, and of the colour of the peony—a nose that is a bonâ-fide grogometer— and judge him by that only, and you shall, at a casual glance, pronounce [unclear: him] But Mr. Towers is not ugly. The physical deformity is, no doubt, [unclear: vious] enough, and suggests ugliness enough to the passer-by. But hear [unclear: him] Listen to his wit. Let him unlock in your presence the [unclear: abundant] of his learning. See him pile a brick of wisdom here and another there. See him ransack all the brick-kilns of the ancients and the moderns, watch the house of Fancy or of Learning that he will build with [unclear: them] with him into private life and see what a joyous companion he is, what [unclear: a] friend, what a good husband, what a kind father, what a pure-minded citizen,—and in the light of his moral and intellectual excellence, you will look his ugly nose and admit that the face is beautiful—aye, that the nose itself is more beautiful than many a nose that Phidias or Praxiteles delighted model, but which belonged to a countenance that was not impermeated with moulded by these noble qualities.

"Take Trimmles, another man I know, and look at him as he walks along the street small, spare, and with a slight and scarcely perceptible hunch on his back; and at the first glance you shall call him ugly. But you will be in error if you do. Physically, he may seem to be ugly; but his mind is a [unclear: lody] and a harmony. He is a logician who could argue with Euclid. He daylight in the darkest corners of disputation with a mental eye, over which there is no film or darkness. He talks with eloquent tongue, and neither woman nor man can resist the fascination of his company. How can such a person be called ugly? In spite of his small stature and his hunch, Trimmles a handsomer than silly Captain Fitz-Mortimer of the Rifles, who has a [unclear: straight] a Roman nose, and a beard that Methuselah might envy.

"Then take the case of Theodosia Perkins—fresh, fair, twenty-three, and passably rich. She has a face and a form that a sculptor might love to imitate. But she is pert—she flirts—she has a bad opinion of her own sex and of the other—she has no education of the heart or of the mind—she has no taste [unclear: for] for tune, for propriety—she is 'fast'—she is 'loud'—she is eaten up with vanity and conceit, and thinks herself the very cream and quintessence of world. In one word, she is ugly in spite of her face and form. To look at her sufficient to know that she will find no one to marry her, except for money; and to prophesy, that after she is married her husband [unclear: will] her.

page 614

"Take also the ease of young Master Wigram. He was born a [unclear: pretty] aud might have grown up to be a beautiful boy; but he is intensely [unclear: ugly], has been humoured and fondled without reason one day, and punished [unclear: without] reason the next; he has been indulged in all his caprices in the [unclear: morning], denied his just and natural requirements in the evening. He has [unclear: been] and petted, coerced and punished, equally without justification; and [unclear: the] is, that he is the plague of every one who comes near him. He is built up of evil passions. There is not a good thing about him. He is a [unclear: slave] minute and a tyrant the next; niggardly and extravagant-element and cruel. Though but fifteen years of age, he is ugly in the extreme, because he has not a single moral or intellectual quality to keep his physical qualities in good countenance. It comes to this—that whatever physical [unclear: nature] have done, or may have neglected to do for us, the power of being [unclear: beauti] remains with ourselves . . . . . . . .I know an old woman, of seventy-three of age, of a beauty as much superior to that of seventeen as that [unclear: of] Mont Blanc to verdant Primrose Hill. Lovely are the snow-[unclear: white] neatly parted over her serene forehead; lovely are the accents of [unclear: her] voice, that speaks loving-kindness to all the world; lovely is the smile the starts from her eyes, courses to her lips, and lights up all her [unclear: counti] when she fondles a child, or gives counsel of wisdom to young man [unclear: or] lovely is she even in her mild reproof of a wrong-doer—so mild [unclear: and]—so more than half-divine,—that he or she who relapses [unclear: afterwards] wickedness, is reckless and hardened indeed."—p. 191.

Mr. Wagstaffe has views not less positive and as strongly expressed on various other subjects, especially on smoking, or the use [unclear: of] words by persons who should know better; and on the twenty-five capital offences of criticasters. He is always racy and sensible, and was recommend the lucubrations of the Gouty Philosopher to all [unclear: who] appreciate his plain-spoken wisdom, and who will not quarrel [unclear: with] lamentations over modern degeneracy in thought, manners, and language. On this last head some few useful remarks will be found Dean Alford's notes on the Queen's English,7 which make [unclear: their] public appearance in a neat, pleasant little gossiping volume. They first did duty as lectures to the Church of England Young [unclear: Me] Literary Association, at Canterbury, were then printed in Good [unclear: Woo] and now, with some alterations and emendations, they form a [unclear: sm] separate book. The author explains that they were written [unclear: in] moments of time, as when waiting for the train at railway [unclear: stat] which accounts for their superficial and often trivial [unclear: character], almost tempts the question, Why were they thought worth preserving Some of the passages which had called forth the animad version of critics have been altered, and the misquotation from the Book of Numbers, which gave the clean's pertinacious censor, Mr. [unclear: Moo] excuse for so much indignant vituperation, has been left out, and a verse from the Psalms substituted, that justifies the dean's appeal to the great storehouse of good English" as his authority for [unclear: plac] the adverb before the verb. Mr. Moon was invited to heal third lecture and to enjoy the hospitality of the dean, who thus, with page 615 [unclear: good]-humour than dignity, laughs at the antagonist whose criticize he sagaciously disarmed:—

"I did what I could. I wrote a letter, inviting the chief of my censors [unclear: to] to Canterbury and hear my third lecture. I wrote in some fear and [unclear: bling]. All my adverbs were (what I should call) misplaced, that I [unclear: might] offend him. But at last I was obliged to transgress, in spite of my good [unclear: tions]. I was promising to meet him at the station, and I was going [unclear: to] "if you see on the platform an old party in a shovel, that will be I.' [unclear: But] pen refused to sanction (to endorse, I believe I ought to say, but I cannot) the construction. 'That will be me' came from it, in spite, as I said, of [unclear: my] of the best possible behaviour.'

We, nevertheless, protest against the dean's maxim that usage can excuse bad grammar, and trust that no one will be convinced by his [unclear: soning] behalf of such expressions as "it is me," "I was going to," which he declares may be used colloquially without blame.

Mr. Cox has followed up his "Tales of the Gods and Heroes" with another little volume of Greek Legends,8 in which the spirit of the original myth is well preserved, and the story given as nearly in the original form as the conflicting versions of poets will allow. The [unclear: thor] is an earnest student of comparative mythology, and believes that a better understanding of it will cleanse the ancient classic myths of much that has seemed gross and revolting in their later forms. In long and not very clearly-written Introduction, Mr. Cox seeks to establish the identity of Indian, Greek, and Scandinavian myths, and also to show how many of the Greek stories are but different versions of one and the same legend. Thus he writes:—

"If we can trace this recurrence of the same ideal in different heroes, and of same imagery in the recital of their adventures in Hellenic mythology [unclear: ne], the marvel is intensified a thousandfold when we compare this mythology with the ancient legends of Northern Europe or of the far distant East. There scarcely an incident in the lives of the great Greek heroes which cannot be [unclear: eed] out in the wide field of Teutonic or Scandinavian tradition; and the complicated action of the Iliad, or rather of the whole legend of which the [unclear: Iliad] a part, is reproduced in the Eddas and the lays of the Volsungs and [unclear: the] lungs. If the Greek tales tell us of serpent slayers and the destroyers of [unclear: ous] monsters, the legends of the ice-bound north also sing of heroes [unclear: who] the dragons that lie coiled round sleeping maidens. If the former recite the labours of Heracles and speak of the bondage of Apollo, Sifrit and Sigurdr are not less doomed to a life of labour for others, not for themselves. If Heracles those can rescue Hesionê from a like doom with Andromeda, or bring back [unclear: istic] from the land of Hades, it is Sigurdr only who can slay the [unclear: serpent] Ragnar Lodbrog alone who can deliver Thora from the [unclear: dragon's]. If, at the end of his course, Heracles once more sees his early love—if comes again to Paris in his death hour—so Brenhyldr lies down to die with Sigurdr, who had forsaken her. If Achilleus and Baldr can only be founded on a single spot, Isfendiyar, in the Persian epic, can only be killed by the thorn thrown into his eye by Rustem. If Paris forsakes (Enônê, [unclear: and] leaves Ariadne mourning on the barren shore, so also Sigurdr deserts [unclear: hyldr], and Gudrun to him supplies the place of Aiglê or of Helen. If the tale page 616 of Perseus is repeated in the career of Heracles, the legend of Ragnar [unclear: Lodb] is also a mere echo of the nobler story which told of the sunbright Sigurdr. The name of Heracles brings us to the strange border ground in which the character of some of the gods assumes a jovial or even a comic aspect. The language of the Vedic hymns at once shows why this should be the portion of some among the greater gods, and not of others. Phœbus, Athenê, and Orpheus, as representing the pure effulgence of the sun, Hestia, as the unsullied fire upon the hearth; Demeter, as the nourishing mother of all livings; Poseidon, as the lord of the mysterious sea; Hades and Persephone, as rulers of the unseen land, pass under no conditions which may detract from their purity or their majesty. It was far otherwise with Ouranos or Zeus, the heaven and the sky, whose relations to the earth, when described under anthropomorphic forms, exhibit a mere unbounded licence and its results of envy, jealousy, and strife in the home of the gods."—p. 43.

In this manner our author traces the allegorical meaning of later stories, and finds it easy to establish the complete identity of Perseus, Bellerophon, Theseus, Kephalos, Paris, and Apollo. Indeed, all Greek mythology is easily reduced by his method to poetical forms of expression for the various aspects and processes of nature, and the Iliad ceases to be a tale of gods and heroes, being resolved into "a magnificent solar epic, telling us of a sun rising in radiant majesty (Achilles), soon hidden by the clouds, yet abiding his time of vengeance, when from the dark veil he breaks forth at last in more than his early strength, scattering the mists and kindling the ragged clouds which form his funeral pyre, nor caring whether his brief splendour shall be succeeded by a darker battle as the vapours close again over his dying glory. The feeling of the old tale is scarcely weakened when the poet tells us of the great cairn which the mariner shall see from afar, on the shore the broad Hillespontos." This may be so: Homer cannot vindicate or explain himself; but we may imagine the same mode of interpretation applied by some future scholar to Dante or Milton, when we, our belief's and our language, will be things of the past; and the inference seems obvious, that it would fail utterly to elicit the true thought inspired either poet.

While the legends of ancient Greece are thus being resolved into a kind of meteorological fable, their modern representatives have been for the first time collected and edited. The author of two volumes of Greek and Albanian fairy tales9 has accomplished a work as praiseworthy as that which Mr. Campbell performed for the folk-lore of the Highlands. During his residence at Jannina in 1848, [unclear: Herr] Hahn conceived the happy thought of employing some of the [unclear: pup] of the Gymnasium in aiding him to carry out a favourite project. He commissioned a dozen of the most intelligent to collect [unclear: for] during their holiday time, all the fairy tales they could gather from the lips of mothers, grandmothers, and sisters. He had great difficulty in procuring any contributions from Syra, until at last he was fortunate enough to find a young damsel who could write, and page 617 who was willing to exercise her uncommon talent in his service. By these means, a hundred and forty tales and fables were obtained, of which the author has now published a translation. He has carefully collated and classified his materials, and prefaces them by an introduction almost as elaborate as that of Mr. Cox upon the nature, growth, and origin of those short chapters of primitive romance which are found with such unvarying constancy among people the most widely severed, and which point to some common source far back in the infancy of our race. Under the heading, "Märchen and Sagformeln," forty different groups of subjects are given, and the corresponding tale, legend, or fable indicated in the folk-lore of nine other nations, thus enabling the reader to see at a glance the comparative frequency and prevalence of each. There are also abundant notes critical and explanatory, which testify to the painstaking industry of the author, and which will be of interest to the philological student. It is a striking peculiarity of by far the greater number of these hitherto unwritten fairy tales, that they possess so little local colouring; now and then in a more modern composition, the influence of Christian and ecclesiastical ideas is discernible, but in general they are cast in the mould with which we are all familiar, and the child of Epirus or Tinos listens to the same stereotyed history of marvels that are the delight of our own nurseries—the king who has three sons who go to seek their fortunes, or the queen, long childless, who at last becomes the mother of the wonderful princess. But many of the tales are singularly unboning and as devoid of beauty as of wit.

The story of Niobe has been made the subject of a work10 by Professor Stark, of Heidelberg, which friends will pronounce exhaustive, and which critics may be pardoned if they call it exhausting. In this ponderous volume, all that German industry could collect is brought together, and the whole mass pitilessly turned out again, with that lack of any distinct theory or animating purpose, and that calm unconsciousness of the ordinary limits of human patience, which belong to the true German scholar. The plates of the various statues, sculptures, reliefs, and vases in which the story of Niobe and her children, are represented, are well executed, beginning with the sitting figure on Mount Sipylos which still exists, and is supposed to be the very same that Pausanias mentions, and ending with the well-known Niobe group at Florence. Every author who has mentioned or alluded to Niobe, from Homer to Dante, and from Dante downwards, contributes a line or a sentence to this elaborate, shadowless piece of Mosaic work, which is a work of immence industry, but which would have been far more useful and readable had the materials been better arranged, and selected with more discrimination.

The present quarter yields but few novels of any special interest. In "Mr. and Mrs. Faulconbridge,"11 the stale old expedient of col- page 618 lecting a number of ladies and gentlemen in a large country house, and developing a plot by means of private theatricals, has adopted, but with the addition of an intricate mystery which is ingeniously kept up, and gives a certain novelty to the well-worn materials. The author, like Mr. Wilkie Collins, from whom he has taken other hints, begs the reviewers to respect the secret which ought not to be divulged before the fulness of time has come in the second volume; we must therefore observe a discreet silence with regard to it, although it is not always so well kept by the author as to elude the penetration of an experienced novel reader. The mystery, which certainly fulfils its purpose of keeping up the sense of a coming catastrophe, and an uncomfortable state of increasing embroilment, is not, however, the only noticeable feature. There is in this tale the same evidence of close observation, knowledge of the world, and aptitude for portraying certain types of the modem lady and gentleman which have distinguished the previous works of the author of "Rita," and there is also a refinement of feeling and tone of good society which give a certain ease and grace to his compositions. The people are real; their conversation almost painfully true to nature, and most real and well described is the oppression which will overtake even the virtuous when their stay in a country house is prolonged beyond the expected time. We quote a scene which is a fair sample of the easy style and light quality of the story—a "five o'clock tea" at [unclear: Stourto] Towers, the seat of Sir Richard Stourton, uncle of the hero George (who is disabled by an accident which has compelled the postponement of the play) and of the charming Lady Trevelyan. Mr. and Mrs. Faulconbridge have come in a professional character to manage the theatricals:—

"It bad grown so dark that faces were no longer distinguishable. Some one came in—a tall figure with a heavy tread—and approached George's sofa. 'Who is that?' said Lady Trevelyan. 'It's me, Diana.' The grammar was everybody's, but the voice was Sir Richard's. 'How d'ye feel this evening Georgy?' He sat himself down heavily in a chair, and took out his [unclear: snuffbox] 'Oh! fresh as a two-year old, uncle Dick. I'm thinking of offering to ride in the grand military steeple chase on Saturday, sir.' 'Gad! you [unclear: madcap] said his uncle, 'I believe we shall have to put a strait-waistcoat on you, if you're to be kept on that sofa for a week.' Then followed a sound which told that Sir Richard was taking a pinch of snuff; after which, in laying his box down on the table, his hand encountered the teatray. Sir Richard always waged war against this barbarous innovation on the habits of his day, and always affected extreme surprise on every fresh occasion that he saw a teacup before dinner. 'God bless my soul! What's this? Tea? Tea at this [unclear: hour!] You don't mean to say, Georgy, that you're taking to that absurd habit-only fit for women. Destroy your appetite for dinner—injure your digestion. If you must take anything, have a glass of sherry and bitters. Not [unclear: that] require anything from breakfast to dinner. It wasn't the fashion of my time to be eating all day long.' 'Only to drink all night long?' said George laughing. 'Aye, George, a gentleman then wasn't afraid of his couple of bottles or so. You young men now are such a set of mollycoddles, you want to be off to the ladies after a couple of glasses.' 'You see, [unclear: unc] Dick,' said George, with mock humility, 'I'm ashamed to own it—it's a shocking horrid vice, I know, but I'm fond of my cup of tea.' 'Pshaw!' said sir page 619 [unclear: chard], with a lofty good humour. 'Don't chaff your uncle, sir. Diana, where are you? Impossible to see a soul in this Trophonius's cave of yours. That is another ridiculous custom, not to have lights as soon as it gets dark. What is the use of sitting like so many ghosts there? Why don't you ring for a lamp?' 'Those last rays of sunset are so beautiful from this [unclear: window],' his niece. 'It seems a pity to shut them out. Besides, no one [unclear: ever] anything at this hour.' 'And that is such a blessing,' chimed in George. "It is the only time of the day one sits down without a fidgety desire to [unclear: get] and do something else.' 'I didn't know, Master George,' observed his uncle, 'there was ever one hour in the twenty-four when you were free from that [unclear: ction]—ha! ha! except, by-the-by, when you're sitting by a pretty woman. Is there any one else here, Diana? Do I see some one opposite there, in the [unclear: chair?'] 'It is Mr. Faulconbridge, uncle.' 'Oh!' There was a formality in the way that interjection was exhaled—a perceptible change at once in the [unclear: ont's] manner. Those jokes and sportive family ways were not for such as the 'young man who is down here, you know, to superintend the plays, [unclear: and] forth.' 'I am glad to find from my nephew that this congtretong, Mr. Faulconbridge, will not deprive him and the company in general of your service—very valuable I am sure—for these plays . . . The theatres are sadly changed since my day. I remember the time when the stage was supported by the first people in the land. What a galaxy of talent there was then! Betterton—the Kembles—Mrs. Siddons! I seldom enter a theatre now—[unclear: the] buffoonery, and then the audience! Even the opera. When I think what the pit of the opera was in my day. Fop's alley is gone! Now there is only a mass of tailors and bootmakers, who push and elbow you. By gad! it's intolerable!' 'Yes,' said George, 'the pit of the opera resembles, in one particular, that bottomless pit, where so much gnashing of teeth goes on' . . . 'The Elizabethan drama has utterly departed. No such thing as a five-act tragedy in blank verse is ever given now, I believe. A few enterprising persons, who are fond of low, very low, wit, go down to some place in the Strand, where sit, jammed in a vice they call a stall, and listen to a vulgar set of dogs in a burlesque, and that's what they call "going to the theatre" in the present day!' 'You wouldn't call it going to chapel, sir?' said George. [unclear: The] opened at that moment, and the figures of two ladies loomed in the dusk. We thought we should find some one here,' said Miss Skipton's brisk voice, and tea going on, I declare. We have had such a walk. Is Lady [unclear: Trevelyan]? because it's impossible to tell. Mrs. Faulconbridge and I are so tired—a cup of tea, please, Gracious! Mr. Faulconbridge, I beg your pardon! I was going to sit down, not seeing your knee. It really is so dark.' 'Of course it is,' said Sir Richard's pompous voice, out of the darkness, 'I wonder don't all tumble over each other. Miss Skipton, I thought you were a [unclear: man] of more sense than to drink slops at this hour.' 'We must [unclear: make] more slops for her, I see,' laughed Lady Trevelyan, 'for we have [unclear: rained] the teapot. Mr. Faulconbridge, if you can find the silver teabox any where on the table, you may empty it in here, and put in some water. Uncle Richard, I want to speak to you before you go.'

* * * * * * * * * * * *

"Sir Richard was interrupted by something that nearly approached a shriek from Miss Skipton. 'Oh!oh! ugh! Gracious goodness! What on earth is there in this tea? Oh! Of all the horrible—horrible—ugh!' Amid general exclamations of astonishment, enters Mr. Millet, with a lamp. 'By Jove!' shouted George, with a roar of laughter, 'By Jove! Sir Richard, here's Faulconbridge has [unclear: been] emptied your snuffbox into the teapot. Poor Miss Skipton!' That was it. The Empty snuffbox beside the teapot left it beyond all doubt. All [unclear: gathered] the unfortunate sufferer except Sir Richard, who as he left the room, took occasion to say—'This comes of your drinking your slops at this hour, and page 620 sitting in the dark. I'm not the least surprised. I always told you how is would be!"'—Vol. i. p. 279.

Dr. Sandwith has drawn upon his recollections and experience of the east for the subject-matter of "Hekim Bashi,"12 and the result is entertaining volumes which bear the stamp of faithful adherence to facts, only so far trimmed and pruned as to render them fit for use in the form of an imaginary autobiography. The hero of the story is an Italian doctor, who confesses to having played the part of cheat, traitor, and renegade in the pursuit of wealth, but who repents of his evil ways, and is found by an English traveller in the Hospital of Incurables at Pinerolo, in Sardinia, in the character of a Cistercian monk devoted to charitable works. He relates how he arrived at Constantinople in 1858, as a young doctor seeking his fortune, and he thus describes the medical school of Galata Serail:—

"My medical brethren were as various in their nationalities as in their garments. Italy furnished the majority of the foreigners, France a goodly number, Germany several, and England a few; but these mostly of the highest position. Of natives, there were a few genuine Turks, enjoying but little of the confidence of their fellow countrymen. The Greeks swarmed, and some of them occupied the best medical appointments in the palace and the public service. There were also a few Armenians, who did not, however, possess a great reputation even amongst their own people. These Christian Asiatic nationalities furnished a great number of professors of small surgery: there were numbers of barbers, who were bleeders, tooth-drawers, cuppers, and dressers of wounds. Some years before my arrival in Constantinople, all the doctors possessed of diplomas were foreigners, or natives who had studied abroad; but latterly the Sultan had founded a medical university of his own, and a curious exotic it was. The pupils were clothed, fed, and paid, and yet but few of the Turks would face the horrors of learning anatomy. Moreover all the lessons were given in French, which the students had to learn [unclear: white] listening to the lectures. The Sultan, however, was determined that the lecture-rooms should be filled, so peasants were captured in the interior, and brought in chains to learn the science of medicine. This plan, however, did! succeed, as the brains of these rustics were found impermeable to both French and physiology, besides which many of them were only too glad to settle for life at the school when they found themselves fed, clothed, and paid, and disliked the idea of leaving it. Compulsory attendance was, therefore, given up, and (with the peculiar advantages held out) there was no lack of Greeks Jews, and Armenians, with a few Ottomans, which latter were highly encouraged in their studies, some of them being made colonels as soon as they had passed a very indulgent examination. The professors were, in the beginning, first-rate men and highly paid, from France and Austria; these were in time gradually replaced by Greeks and Armenians, who neglected their duties, and made traffic of the emoluments and appointments connected with their posts. Vol. i. p. 45.

Dr. Sandwith has evidently but small faith in the much talked of reforms that have taken place in the Turkish Government and administration, in consequence of the pressure of European, and especially of English, interference of late years; and according to his pictures of page 621 provincial misrule, corruption, and injustice, the improvement has not spread into Asia, nor does he believe in any change for the better in the universal system of bribery and extortion from the highest official to the meanest slave, while he is loud in his condemnation of the recent: policy of England, which has always taken the side of the Mussulman against the Christian. The following is one of the notes to the second volume: the statement is bold, to say the least—

"When I was in Turkey in 1860, it was notorious that the British consuls had received hints from the embassy to refrain from reporting anything that could tell against the Turkish Government. I was once conversing with a consul, and he told me stories of Turkish oppression that aroused my indignation. 'At least,' I remarked, 'you have the satisfaction of reporting these horrors to your Government.' 'By no means,' was his answer; 'I dare not report anything unfavourable to the Turks; such a course would be fatal to my career, since Sir H. Bulwer has given us to understand that we are always to take the part of the Turks.'"

Another two volume novel, called "Uncle Crotty's Relations,"13 would have been more aptly named "Aunt Crotty's Will," since the chief interest of the story relates to the two wills of a remarkably disagreeable lady of that name, by one of which the heroine would possess 3000l. a-year, and by the other only 3000l., the hero becoming the heir in her stead; but as it is plain from the first that they are lovers, and intended to come together in happiness and prosperity, the reader is disturbed by no misgivings about the money, and knows that it will ultimately come to the two deserving cousins. The story is a quiet, cheerful little picture of common life, with which the attempt to interweave a darker thread of crime and tragedy does not harmonize, as the author seems to have become suddenly conscious, and cuts it short in a somewhat abrupt manner. In fact, the work is a series of incomplete schemes and surprises, not alway expressed in good English; but there are a few well-sketched scenes, and one or two characters sufficiently interesting to redeem it from dulness and insipidity.

"Le Maudit "14 is the title of a book in three large volumes, devoted to the exposure of the cruelties of the Inquisition and the corruptions of the Romish clergy, especially of the disciples of Loyola. The author quotes clerical precedents for adopting the form of composition which considers the best suited to the popular taste, and justifies his choice by the examples of Fénélon and Cardinal Wiseman. The nature of work hardly bears out the assertion that it is neither polemical nor religious, but "a work of art," for there is very little art displayed in the voluminous narrative, but there are pages of argumentation, and whole chapters of religious discussion. The main object of the book is to trace the fortunes of a young Abbé—high minded and irreproachable—who starts in life with the shadow of priestly disfavour upon him, and who becomes the cruelly persecuted victim of the Holy Office, undergoing a lifelong persecution from the Jesuits both on account of page 622 his avowed liberal opinions, and because he has endeavoured, although vainly, to recover his own and his sister's rightful inheritance of which the Jesuits had possessed themselves by means of flattery and intimidation patiently exercised for ten years, winning at last a will in their favour. There is nothing new in the disclosures of the intricate chicanery and perfect organization by which the Society of Jesus obtains its ends and circumvents its unfortunate victims, but so earnest and outspoken a protest against clerical domination and the corruption of faith and practice in the Church of Rome, is expressive of the rowing impatience of thinking men under a yoke which has longlost its sanctity in the eyes of those who are not blinded by bigotry. The story is of the present time, and among his various adventures, the hero escapes from the prison of the Inquisition in Rome by the help of a Garibaldian irregular. There are passages in his life as a quiet curé in a remote mountain district which have all the air of being sketches from life; but it must be the inherent interest of the subject more than the artistic skill of the author which has caused this somewhat clumsy performance to go through four editions, unless, indeed, the fact of its having been prohibited be not a sufficient explanation.

"Lloyd Pennant "15 and "Die von Hohenstein,"16 are not otherwise remarkable than as giving a tolerably accurate idea of two very distinct phases of life; the first is an Irish story of the time of the French invasion under Hoche, the second is a history of personages not particularly moral or well conducted or interesting, during the revolutionary days of 1848. A cheap edition of Mrs. Gaskell's "Sylvia's Lovers"17 in one volume will no doubt obtain deserved popularity, but the very inferior illustrations do not add to its attractions.

Among illustrated gift books we have to notice two very beautiful volumes adorned with photographs many of which are admirable. Our English Lakes,"18 is a well chosen selection from Words worth's poems, with exquisite photographic illustrations of many of the loveliest spots commemorated by or associated with them. The poet's modest home at Rydal Mount forms the frontispiece, and the simple stone which marks the last resting-place of William and Mary Wordsworth, in Grasmere churchyard, is the appropriate finish of a volume which has every form of artistic and typographic excellence to recommend it. The other work is the second series of "Ruined Abbeys and Castles,"19 for which Mr. Howitt supplies the descriptive letter-press. The softness, minute delicacy, and richness of tint in these photographs, many of them extremely small, are remarkable, and the exterior of the volume is a triumph of bookbinding decoration.

page 623

Mr. Richard Doyle's "Bird's-eye Views of Society,20 which first appeared in the Cornhill Magazine, are now published in a separate volume, with a page or two of very tame letter-press to each engraving. As specimens of Mr. Doyle's extraordinary power of delineating the human face and form in every possible variety of grotesque ugliness and distressing vulgarity these drawings are matchless, and perhaps the almost unprecedented absence of grace and fitness in the style of costume now in fashion, deserves to be recorded in these grim unsparing satires. But the constant repetition of the same vacant, vapid, meaningless faces, with only just enough of variety to prove the artist's skill, becomes at last more painful than diverting, and the effect is less that of a caricature than of a sneering libel. Even in the Juvenile Party there is scarcely a face that is not distorted by evil passion or mean feeling, while in the State Party we are shown sixteen ladies and gentleman engaged in demolishing delicacies out of season, each with a Scowling malignity or an inane insipidity of expression which it is simply a penalty to look upon. But there is one scene in which none of these defects intrude themselves, and where Mr. Doyle's marvellous tower of drawing has full play—The Science and Art Conversazione. Here every face, however ugly, has a true individual expression, and the various attitudes of the learned and inquisitive company are truly comic, without being dismally ungainly. The contrast between the artist's pencil and his pen is striking: the letter-press is somewhat flat, but full of amiable benignity—the drawings might have been the work of a cynical monomaniac, whose brain had been turned on the subject of overcrowding at evening parties.

We are shown ourselves in detail in two volumes of sketches;21 the descriptions are by various authors, including the late Mr. Thackeray and Douglas Jerrold; the drawings are by Kenny Meadows, and are of the coarsest rudest character, little if at all superior to the wood engravings in the cheapest periodicals.

A dainty little volume on Palms22 is adorned with glowing illustrations from drawings by the authoress, and in addition to a good deal of botanical and miscellaneous information, there is a vein of religious sentiment, and a section devoted to "Scripture Notices of Palms," which redeems the work from the suspicion of being dangerously scientific, and which will recommend it to the timidly pious, who are afraid of any reading that is not plentifully sprinkled with Scripture texts.

Two picture-books23 for children, containing between them thirty-eight engravings, illustrate the question What should you like to be? Each trade and profession is illustrated by a typical scene which at once its own story. The drawings are excellent, both in design page 624 and execution, and hit off minor nicities of expression with much cleverness and sly humour without caricature.

Mr. Charles Mackay's new volume of poems24 evinces his usual vigour and warmth of feeling in the treatment of themes of modern life and experience, but he is less at home in classical ground, and never ceases to be the Englishman of to-day even in "Momus" and Cassandra."

The "Tales of a Wayside Inn"25 will hardly satisfy those who remember what Mr. Longfellow has written, although there is the tree ballad clang and thunder in the Saga of King Olaf.

The chief poem in another volume of American poetry26 is entitled an "Idyl of the Great War," and if the author does not promise to write war-songs like those of Körner, he has at least seized one of the forms of tragic interest which bring a national struggle within the circle of personal feelings and sorrows; and the tone of plaintive sadness which quenches the fire out of the battle-scenes may be well excused in one who is or who tries to be patriotic in the midst of civil war. There is real poetic feeling and taste in this poem, but there is also a certain faintness and hesitation, in which no trace of hearty enthusiasm, as for a cause wholly believed in, can be traced. Thus it concludes:—

"'Daughter,' the man replied (his face was bright
With the effulgent reflex of that light,)
The time shall come, by merciful Heaven will'd,
When these celestial omens shall be fulfill'd,
Our strife be closed, and the nation purged of sin,
And a pure and holier union shall begin;
And a jarring race be drawn throughout the land,
Into new brotherhood by some strong hand;
And the baneful glow and splendour of war shall fade
In the whiter light of love, that, from sea to sea,
Shall soften the rage of hosts in arms array'd,
And melt into share and shaft each battle blade,
And brighten the hopes of a people great and free.
But in the story told of a nation s woes,
Of the sacrifices made for a century's fault,
The fames of fallen heroes shall ever shine,
Serene, and high, and crystalline as those
Fair stars which reappear in yonder vault;
In the country's heart their written names shall be,
Like that of a single one in mine and thine."

A new volume of sacred verse,27 by the author of "Lyra Eucharistica," contains a large and choice selection of devotional poetry from page 625 various sources and of every age of the Christian Church. Ancient breviaries and mediaeval missals furnish some of the hymns and in their quaint symbolism betray their origin through their English dress, and scarcely harmonize with the English hymns by living writers The translation are well done, and many of the Latin and Greek hymns are now first published in verse. The collection is well deserving a place beside the beautiful "Lyra Germanica" of Miss Winkworth, and is printed and bound in the same antique style.

1 "L'Art et les Artistes Modernes en France et en Angleterre." Par [unclear: Ernest] Chesneau. Paris: Didiér. London: Nutt. 1864.

2 "Etudes sur l'Orient. Par Lucien Davesiès de Pontés. Paris: Michel Lévy, Frères. 1864.

3 "Re-issue of the principal Works of the late Horace Hayman Wilson," [unclear: lected] and edited by Dr. Reinhold Rost. Trübner & Co. 1864.

4 "Arichandra, the Martyr of Truth." A Tamil drama, translated into [unclear: Eng] by Mutu Coomàra Swàmy, Mudeliàr, M.R.A.S. London: Smith, Elder, & Co. 1863.

5 "Philocalia: Elementary Essays on Natural, Poetic, and Picturesque [unclear: Beauty] By Wm. Purton, M.A. London: Whitaker. 1864.

6 "The Gouty Philosopher; or the Friends, Acquaintances, Opinions, Whims [unclear: and] Eccentricities of John Wagstaff, Esq." By Charles Mackay. London: [unclear: ders] and Otley. 1864.

7 "The Queen's English: Stray Notes on Speaking and Spelling." By [unclear: Harry] Alford, D.D. London: Strahan and Co. 1864.

8 "Tales of Thebes and Argos." By the Rev. Geo. W. Cox, M.A. London: [unclear: mans] 1864,

9 "Griechische und Albanesishe Märchen." Gesammelt übersetzt [unclear: er] von J. G. v. Hahn, K.K., Consul fur das östliche Griechenland. [unclear: Lei] Engelmann. London: Nutt. 1864.

10 "Niobe und die Niobiden in ihre Literarischen, Künstlerischen, und Mythologischen Bedeutung." Von Dr. K. B. Stark. Leipzig: Engelmann. London: Nutt. 1863.

11 "Mr. and Mrs. Faulconbridge." By Hamilton Aidé. London: Smith and Elder. 1864.

12 "The Hekim Bashi; or, the Adventures of Giuseppe Antonelli, a Doctor in the Turkish Service." By Humphry Sandwith, C.B., D.C.L., author of "The Siege of Kars." London: Smith and Elder. 1864.

13 "Uncle Crotty's Gelations." By Herbert Glyn, Author of "The Cotton Lord." Smith, Elder, and Co. 1863.

14 "Le Maudit." Par l'Abbé * * * Quatrième Édition. Paris: Libraire Internationale London: Williams and Norgate. 1864.

15 "Lloyd Pennant, a Tale of the West." By Ralph Neville. London: Chapman and Hall. 1864.

16 "Die von Hohenstein." Roman von Friedrich Spielhagen. Berlin: [unclear: O] Janke. London: Nutt. 1864.

17 "Sylvia's Lovers." By Mrs. Gaskell. Illustrated Edition. Smith, Elder and Co. 1863.

18 "Our English Lakes, Mountains, and Waterfalls, as seen by William Wordsworth." London: Alfred W. Bennett.

19 "Ruined Abbeys and Castles of Great Britain and Ireland." By William Howitt. London: Alfred W. Bennett, 5, Bishopsgate-street Without. 1864.

20 "Bird's-eye Views of Society." Taken by Richard Doyle. Smith, Elder, and Co. 1864.

21 "Heads of the People; or, Portraits of the English." Henry G. Bohn. 1864.

22 "The Palm Tree." By S. Moody. London: Nelson and Sons. 1864.

23 "Was willst du werden?" Von Oscar Pletsch. Berlin: Weidmann. London: Williams and Norgate.

24 "Studies from the Antique and Sketches from Nature." By Charles Mackay Virtue. 1864.

25 "Tales of a Wayside Inn." By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Routledge 1864.

26 "Alice of Monmouth, an Idyll of the Great War, with other Poems." By Edmund C. Stedman. New York: Carleton. 1864.

27 "Lyra Messianica: Hymns and Verses on the Life of Christ. Ancient and Modern." Edited by the Rev. Orby Shipley. Longman. 1864.