Page images
PDF
EPUB

trait.” In the latter poem a gentleman is in-1" The setting is all of rubies red, troduced listening on a gusty night to the

And pearls which a Peri might have kept. " wind at his prayers," whatever that mete

For each ruby there my heart hath bled ;

For each pearl my eyes have wept !”orological phenomenon may be, and thinking by the dying fire of “ the dear dead woman with which the poem concludes, without

any up-stairs." He explains to us that only two speech from the dead woman, like that adpersons know anything about his trouble,– dressed by the chameleon to the positive travone“ the friend of his bosom, the man I love,” ellers, concerning the folly of judging by so whom grief has “sent fast asleep” in the limited an experience. The cold comment chamber up above; the other is the Raphael- that “one nail drives out another, at least," faced young priest who confessed her when with which the discovery of this harlot’s elabshe died, a man of gentle nerve," whom orate double prostitution in the very face of this grief of another man had moved beyond death is received, is scarcely any addition to measure, for his lip had grown white as he the very obscure testimony to the hero's tenspeeded “ her parting soul.” In this deso- derness, which appears to be typically set late situation he recalls to mind that he has forth by the setting of the portrait in rubies left a portrait of himself on the bosom of the and pearls. You are left with the raw horror corpse :

on your mind of this frightful network of sen“ On her cold dead bosom my portrait lies,

suality, duplicity, and death, and without Which next to her heart she used to wear ; any touch, however slighi, which can serve Haunting it o'er with her tender eyes

to mitigate this horror by throwing the fine When my own face was not there.

light of art over the scene.

It is like an ex“ It is set all around with rubies red,

ceedingly detestable police-case thrown into And pearls which a Peri might have kept. rhyme. Owen Meredith may say, with great For each ruby there my heart hath bled : justice, that the plot of Shelley’s “ Cenci” is For each pearl my eyes have wept !”

infinitely more frightful, and so it is; but, as What this last statement may amount to as we have said, Shelley has cast so bright an a measure of tenderness is not apparent; but artistic beauty over the conception, has taken he decides to reclaim his portrait before it is it up so completely into his imagination, that buried with her : and on going up-stairs to we can see nothing beyond the terrible intelfeel for it in the moonlight, he encounters lectual and moral problem under which Beaanother hand on the breast of the corpse, trice Cenci’s mind labored, and by which it which turns out to be that of the friend of was so fearfully warped. But Mr. Owen my bosom, the man I loved,” on the same er- Meredith does not throw this horror into any rand; and a dispute very like that about the intellectual form at all. He does not even color of the chameleon occurs :

delineate it, if he is fully aware of it,-he “ Said the friend of my bosom, “Yours, no doubt, only tells us what he expects will make us The portrait was, till a month ago,

shudder, and imagines that that shadow is. When this suffering angel took that out, due to his poetry. Why, if you were to transAnd placed mine there, I know.'

late the thing into prose, you would lend it “. This woman, she loved me well,” said I. a much stronger effect. The only influence

A month ago,' said my friend to me : of the verse is to give a certain dilettante sort • And in your throat,' I groaned ' you lie ! of ornament to the story, without once arousHe answered ... • Let us see.'

ing the imagination. You wonder what the “• Enough !' I returned, let the dead decide : rubies and pearls mean, and what sort of

And whose soever the portrait prove, troubles he alludes to in the many bleedings His shall it be, when the cause is tried, Where Death is arraigned by Love.'

of the heart to which he has been subject,

and the tears he has shed, -whether they “ We found the portrait there, in its place : were all for this woman or not, and so forth.

We opened it by the tapers' shine : The gems were all unchanged : the face

But the only intellectual kernel of the piece, Was-neither his nor mine.

if the incident be possible at all,--the state

of mind of this dying prostitute,- is not even «« One nail drives out another, at least ! The face of the portrait there,' I cried,

touched. The story is pitched down before *Is our friend's, the Raphael-faced young priest, us in naked loathsomeness, a kind of monWho confessed her when she died.'

strous nut to crack ; and not a particle of ar

nous.

tistic assistance is rendered towards solving | grieved if we have done this gentleman any the mystery of evil which the poet has indi- injustice. We have anxic'zely noted almost cated. No artistic crime could be more hei- any sign of imaginative sincerity and vigor

that a very careful study of him has discovWe have now attempted to show that in ered; but with every fresh reading we have almost all the departments of his art which gained fresh certainty that his models are he has attempted at all, Mr. Owen Meredith, bad, his method spurious, and his own feelor the gentleman who writes under that ing for nature either dull or blunted. His name, has substituted, for the genuine poetic art is typified by the fair ghost whom he deart, which tries to reveal through the im- scribes in one of his pointlessly thrilling aginative world, as fully as possible, the true poems. A woman “ pale and fair,” who spirit of human life and nature,—the spu- seems a monarch's daughter " by the red rious poetic art, which invents decorative gold round her hair,” comes to him towards artifices to hide the emptiness of its form. dawn, lifts up her head “from her white The latter is to the former what dress and shoulders," and says, ornament are to the culture of perfect beauty. Indeed, Mr. Owen Meredith's skill is mainly,

“ Look in ! you'll find I'm hollow ;

Pray do not be afraid." as it seems to us, a branch of literary cosmetics, through which signs of healthy, eår- That must have been Mr. Owen Meredith's nest, and rounded purpose only shine in Muse. She is a well and even ornately glimpses here and there. If we have been dressed ghost, who habitually proclaims the too severe, it is not at least from any per- gospel of her hollowness to any critic who Bonal motive; for we have never heard any- will allow himself to be haunted by her for thing of the writer except that his poems a season. We have looked in, we have found are popular, and that he stands socially far her very hollow, and we are not at all afraid ; above the need of anything like literary but we are very much fatigued, and, as the compassion. At a time when poetry has to beaten soldiers say, “ demoralized” by the do, for the cultivated world, much, not only process. " Earth is sick and heaven is of its own proper work, but of that of faith weary" of this tawdry finery affecting the also,—when the true poets know intimately grandeur of an art which of all arts is the how infinitely difficult it is to find for their most real to the very few to whom has been delineations but“ one feeling based on truth” given the vision and the power to discern,

>

on the absolute solid rock of truth, it is in and live by, the truth of life. Mr. Owen our mind a serious duty to sound the arti- Meredith has cleverness, and is not incapable fices of the mere decorators of human life, of higher aims. He will one day cast off who put a chain round its neck, and earrings with a sigh of relief the meretricious and in its ears, and fine raiment on its back, and dilettante costume which has so long disbeautify its complexion, and teach it the guised him from his true self, as well as graceful attitudes of movement and repose, from the world which has applauded and and call the result-poetry. We shall be misled him.

New discoveries are reported from Pompeii. cious jewels were found near them. On the table A house has been uncovered, which, to judge stood, among other ornaments, a very beautifully from the splendor of its interior, and its almost worked statue of Bacchus in silver, with eyes of entirely preserved furniture, must have belonged enamel, a collar of jewels, and precious armlets. to a very wealthy proprietor. The triclinium (dining-room) is paved with mosaic, representing a number of gourmandises of the time. The completely served table is covered with petrified ACCORDING to the Journal de Geneve, Zschokke remnants of dishes; and around it are found was not sole author of “ Die Stunden der Anthree divans, or rather table-beds, of bronze, dacht ;” but the work was the joint production richly adorned with gold and silver, upon which of som seven or eight contributors, of whom the reposed several skeletons. A great many pre- | late M. von Wessenberg was one.

From The Saturday Review. varied, which aggregates itself into one." THE HATRED OF PRIESTS. This was the view of things which satisfied We are indebted to the Spectator for a very Fillion, and for rejecting which Maucuer was curious story of French crime. Some years killed. The strangest part of the business is ago, two men, Antoine Fillion and Claude that the jury thought there were extenuating Maucuer, were working together in a silk circumstances in the murder, and 80 this manufactory at Lyons, and Fillion conceived hater of priests escaped the guillotine. an intense hatred of Maucuer. Fillion left This is obviously a crime which could have the manufactory, rejoined it, and was one of been committed nowhere but in France. We the hands turned off during a recent slack- can think of no other Christian country ness of work. On the 30th of last June, he where priests are hated simply because they came behind Maucuer and stabbed him in are priests, and where it would be possible the back with a dinner-knife. The blow to find a fanatic who thought he was doing was instantly fatal, and Fillion, after having the world and man good service if he rid the vainly requested the bystanders to arrest him, earth of one priest or priest’s friend. In sat calmly down to wait till the police came. Protestant countries the thing is ludicrously In his pocket was found a written statement impossible. We do not suppose the fiercest of the motive which had prompted the crime, disciple of the Reasoner would voluntarily and he stuck to his account of the matter even tread on the Archbishop of Canterbury's at his trial. The motive was simple, but corns. Even in other Catholic countries, strange. He had committed the murder be- where there is a dislike of priests, this comes cause Maucuer was a religious man. They from political causes ; and priests are hated, had often had fierce arguments in the work- as in Italy, because they are the servants of ing-room, in which Fillion reasoned as a gen- tyranny, and not because they believe miraeral disbeliever in all religion, and Maucuer cles, and wish to proselytize. But in France as an ardent Catholic. Fillion, in his state- there is a deep feeling against priests quite ment, drew a picture of the enormities he independent of the wrongs that priests have had to endure in his opponent. All the done or are likely to do, just as there is a ideas of Maucuer, he said, were opposed to fierce hatred of kings and nobles. How this him. He believed the most absurd miracles ; arose history cannot tell us. It is true that be never lost an opportunity of talking re- France was badly governed, and that the old ligion ; one would have said he wanted to French aristocracy was insolent, and pressed proselytize”—an offence which Fillion re- hardly on the country, and that the priests garded as other men would regard the wish were the friends of the upper classes. But to commit murder or rape. At last, a pri- although this might account for the rising of vate wrong determined him to avenge him- the nation against its rulers, it does not acself and the world on this odious monster.count for the wonderful feeling of hatred His father stopped an allowance he made him, which burns in French breasts against the on the ground that he had been discovered representatives of the old upper classes. The to be illegitimate; and this discovery was French priests were not worse than other supposed to have been made by the confession priests. They were not opposed to such libof his mother, to which a priest had urged erties as France possessed under the old réher. The confessor was, as Fillion termed gime. On the contrary, De Tocqueville has it, “ inaccessible," because Fillion could not shown that the clergy were often the only find out who he was. But Maucucr was at supporters of local independence. Nor had hand, and Maucuer was the friend and sup- the French the misery of being overrun by a porter of priests. He “ cherished that kind foreign priesthood, and it is only since the of canaille.” So Fillion stabbed him in the Revolution that an Ultramontane clergy bas back, and set the world free from at least one begun to look to Rome more than to Paris as religious man, which was some little contri- its capital. Nor, again, was there anything bution to the establishment of the pure doc- in the French character, as it appeared untrine which Fillion was anxious to propagate, der the old Bourbons, to explain this violence and which he summed up by saying, “ I of feeling. De Tocqueville has devoted great see nothing in nature, on the earth or out of pains to showing how the way was paved for the earth, save one grand Whole, infinitely the Revolution, many years before it broke

66

out, by the gradual introduction of a burcau- sign that there are men whom the law recratic system. But this only touches the gards as higher and better than he is, any of outside of things. No one has yet attempted the hated claims of nobility to especial revto show that there was any preparation for erence, is like the raising of the Cross above the Revolution in the French character. It the Crescent. And neither the Mahometan is idle to try to account for the modern phase nor the Frenchman feels or cares about the of French feeling by speaking of the influ- slight justification which history can offer ence of Voltaire and Rousseau. Germany him. Mahometanism is often represented as and Italy were equally pervaded by a spirit a deserved punishment for the frivolities and of irreligious contempt for things traditional, degradation of the Christians of the Eastern and by a dreamy wish for change ; but there Empire. It seems a severe retribution for was never, in Germany or Italy, that frenzied weak metaphysics that large tracts of the persuasion of the horrible badness of old richest parts of Europe, Africa, and Asia things which possessed the minds of the should have been laid waste for a thousand French at the time of the Revolution, and years; but there can be no doubt that Chrishas colored their history ever since. Marat, tianity had become a very poor thing in most and Robespierre, and their fellows come of the countries condemned to the desolation upon us by a sort of surprise in history, and of Mahometanism. In the same way, there we only lose the sense of this surprise be- was much justification for a revolution in cause we find them substantially repeated in France. Feudalism was dying out in Europe, the more recent history of France.

but it died hard, and it was perhaps benefiThe only historical phenomenon to which cial that it should get a blow that despatched this transformation of France can be com- it. The old type of kingcraft and priestcraft pared is that of the rise of such a religion was a nuisance that could well be spared. as Mahometanism. We cannot account for But fanatics do not trouble themselves to the appearance of Mahometanism. There is trace the slight grounds on which they may nothing, so far as we can pretend to say, in the be shown to be partially right. The Mahomold history of the Arabs, which can be regarded etan has no idea but to dash upon the world, as fitting in with the rise of such a religion. shouting his formula, and hoping to make all But directly it appeared it carried the Arabs men shout it too. The Frenchman feels no with it. It gave them a character; it creat- want or short-coming in his religion of ed in them, by the very process of working hatred, and he no more vexes himself with it out, a power and a spirit they had not be the thought that he has nothing more subfore. It filled them with a longing to beat stantial than the great Whole to put in place down the new enemies which their new faith of what he destroys, than the Mahometan discovered for them. Outsiders may regard concerns himself about the ruins he has their faith as a grand mistake. They may made, or mourns the decay of the famous easily show that Mahometanism is a hard, cities he has reduced to squalor and beggary. sterile, deadening belief. It has swept over In modern society, no feelings, however the East only to crush and destroy it. Wher- strong, have uninterrupted play; no form of ever it has gone, it has carried with it the belief stands by itself; no interests exist havoc of a protracted ruin. But its propa- without counter-interests to oppose them. gators were filled with its influence. They The French hater of priests works in a shop did not reason; they leaped forth to smite with the friend of priests, and the philosoand to get rid of the vile despisers of their phy of despair is met by the zeal of Catholprophet. And this is very much what has icism. Order, too, must prevail in daily life, happened in France. The fanatical French- unless a nation is to be immersed in endless man believes in the ideas of '89 very much misery. There must be a government, and as the Mahometan believes in the Koran. in France it has been decided that there must He hates a noble or a priest as a Mahometan be an official religion. Such men as Fillion, hates a Giaour. A friend of the priests, therefore, and the thousands who think as who wounds his dearest feelings by believing he did, only in a less strong and positive in miracles, is to him what an unbeliever form, do not come to the surface in French who defiles a mosque is to a Mahometan. life. But no one can understand France, or Any invasion of his beloved equality, any its position in Europe, who does not take

into account the spirit of fanatical hatred to alone recognizes France as it really is. Oththe representatives of the old order of things ers dream of a dominant Church, or of a which prevails through a large portion of the balanced Constitution ; but all this, as Count French population. It is very much like the Persigny has recently taken occasion to obMahometan fanaticism which lies smoulder- serve, is impossible in France. The elements ing in the Ottoman Empire. The pressure of cohesion which may be observed to bind of Christian Europe, the necessities of the together other countries have been finally desultan, and the strong arm of military force, stroyed by the Mahometans of the Revolukeep this fanaticism in obscurity ; but it is tion, and the faithful will never permit them there, and, if the slightest breath of favor to be restored. French society is, to use his breathed on it from the Porte, it would burst metaphor, a heap of grains of sand, and into flames at once. Even in quiet times, priests and nobles will never bind it together the sultan cannot afford to ignore its exist- again. That alone which can bind together ence, and is anxious to have it known and is supplied by the empi re. Democracy, believed that he is the most faithful of the that it may enjoy its proper power, requires faithful. In the same way, the French Em- two things—an all-pervading machinery of pire is always careful to proclaim that it, Government, and a leader that can speak in 'and it alone, represents the instincts and ac- its name. France has these two things; it knowledges the claims and the power of the has its préfets and their subordinates, and it revolutionary fanaticism of France. Louis has Louis Napoleon. We in England do not Napoleon not only holds himself out as the admire either the empire or that on which it Eldest Son of the Church, but also as the rests, any more than we admire Mahomechief Apostle of the Revolution. Count tanism. But when we are speculating on Persigny, who has at least the merit of heart- France or Turkey, it is foolish to shut our ily believing in the empire he has helped to eyes to what men really feel there, or to the set up, bases its great claim to the adherence consequences to which their feelings lead. of Frenchmen on the fact that the empire

ARCHÆOLOGY also, like everything else, has its | at least, the Parisians declare. There was, howfashions. The latest stage of mediæval investi- ever one little song in the Opéra Comique, called gation on the Continent directs its attention to “ Apprès la Victoire,” which, by its singular ancient ecclesiastical implements and dresses, and metre, is said to have been highly displeasing to the magnificent joiners”, silversmiths’, embroid- some people's ears, and which it was also conerers', weavers' works which have survived. Of templated to suppress. The following stanza may recent publications in this province we notice serve as a specimen :“ The Church-Treasure of Basle-Munster,” by C. Buckhardt and C. Riggenbach, which contains,

66 Formez les choeurs et que l'on danse, with accurate historical and archæological illus

Melez vos refrains, trations, beautiful photographs and wood-cuts.

Clairons, tambourins ! Although the principle treasures of Basle, such Ran, plan! plan! ta, ta, ta ! as the famous altar-piece of Henry II. and the

Allons en cadence, golden rose, are no longer there, enough yet re

Fetons l'abondance ; mains worthy of the highest attention and care

Chantons et dansons ful study. Another work of this kind is M, Nohl's

An bruit des canons !" and R. Bogler's “ Chorstuhle im Capitelsaale des Domes zu Mainz,” in twenty-two large folio-sheets of accurate and excellent drawings, with an archæological introduction. There is also a further

THE POPE has just presented to the Museum instalment of Egle's “ Mediæval Architectural of the Capitole a colossal statue of the Empress Monuments of Suabia,” containing the beginning Faustina, from the time of the Antonines, reof the plastic and architectonic treasures of Ulm. cently found at the villa Massino, which has been

acquired by the new railway company. The

statue is of extreme elegance and beauty, and It is calculated that 700,000 people had flocked has, besides, preserved all the gilding and color. to Paris for the late Fete de l'Empereur, and ing. It has now been placed in the - Gladiatorevery one of them was in ecstacies of delight ; so, room."

« PreviousContinue »