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of watching him, tossing the baby form in his strong arms, or twining the soft golden curls about his tawny fingers. Had our darling chanced to be a girl, how Chek Saú would have pitied us, instead of congratulating! But this son, he said, was an omen of good.
So sped the years, under the peaceful administration of this faithful servant, rendering our home in that foreign land so pleasant, and saving my inexperienced youth from the manifold cares that might otherwise have been my portion. I seldom had a special interview with my cook more than once a day, and that was immediately after breakfast, when he came for his orders and funds for twenty-four hours. But if I chanced, in any emergency, to call for him at other times, he promptly answered the summons, arrayed in the spotless jacket, silk trowsers, and embroidered girdle, his whole appearance neat and tasteful, as if he were just starting for a festival, instead of being buried in the mystic rites of the cuisine. If we expected never so large a company of guests, I had only to notify our incomparable cook of the number, and all was sure to be comme il faut; or, if they came in unexpectedly, just at lunch or dinner time, Chek Saú's ready invention devised something; so that I was never, in a single instance, put to the blush for my housekeeping-if mine it were when I was only the recipient, not the provider, of its many comforts. But highly as we prized our cook, it was not until a season of affliction came that we fully realized his priceless value. My husband and myself were both stricken down with fever at the same time, and lay in helpless agony, in separate apartments, neither knowing of the other's illFrom the first we were both very ill-alarmingly so, the doctor said; and but for the untiring devotion of our noble cook, probably neither would have recovered. By his ever-watchful care, every footfall was hushed, rooms were darkened, servants kept out of the house, while Chek Saú himself assumed their duties; all passing to and fro near our apartments was prohibited, and day and night this humble friend hovered about my husband's bed, soothing, nursing, tending, as a loving mother would her tender babe. He had brought his young wife around to nurse our little one, and she was also the ministering angel of my sick-room. When the fever left my husband, he did not seem to rally from its effects, and the physician said he
must have change of air. Nothing else could save him, and he must go down on shipboard, outside the bar, for the benefit of salt air and bathing. But how could he go, in his weak, almost helpless, state? I was still so weak that I should have been only an incumbrance; yet I should have gone had not Chek Saú volunteered his services to take care of my husband, while his wife remained with me. And so it was arranged: Chek Saú went to the ship, watched over the invalid, nursed him back to life, and, by the blessing of God, brought him home in three weeks, well. Then this faithful servant resumed his duties in the household, preparing all manner of dainties to tempt invalid appetites, replacing disarranged furniture, and bringing order out of confusion, till everything was again in its old routine.
A year or two later we had occasion to visit Singapore, and, as we expected to be absent some months, an American family at Bangkok begged the privilege of hiring Chek Saú in our absence. Somewhat reluctantly he consented to go; but we were scarcely domiciled in Singapore before we learned that the arrangement had fallen through, and that our cook, having retired in disgust, positively refused to accept another situation. This reminded us of what Dr. J had formerly said, and we were more than ever curious to learn why this man would serve us so faithfully, and, apparently, no one else, at all. On our return, Chek Saú met us at the landingthe first to welcome us home. During the next day, he went from room to room with quiet dignity, arranging everything,-his deft fingers constantly busy, and his broad face absolutely radiant with smiles. was evidently glad to be at his old post again, but made no allusion to the recent experiment. At length, my impatience to solve the problem of our cook's unaccountable preferences led me to broach the subject, and then, for the first time, I mentioned what Dr. J— had said of his never remaining a month in any family. Silent, and evidently amused, Chek Saú listened to the end, and then said:
"It is every word true, my lady, yet I do not think the fault was mine, though I always retired voluntarily, and usually without assigning a reason. But knowing my proficiency in the art to which my life has been devoted, I could never consent to be instructed by those who had not acquired even the first letter of its alphabet. Surely,
and treated with due consideration, and also the wisdom, in dealing with them, of "letting well enough alone." There can be no question but that the Chinese, when skillfully managed, make the most capable, intelligent, and reliable servants in the world, not excepting even the thoroughbred domestics of the "Old Dominion," generally admitted to be the best on this side the waters. A Chinaman's powers of imitation and adaptation are boundless; he can learn anything, and is not afraid of work, if thereby he may accumulate a goodly pile of "Mexican dollars." (Papermoney orientals regard with supreme contempt.) Nor does John Chinaman care a baubee how many trades are united in one, if he be only left to fulfill his duties in his own way. The grand bugbear of the East, "mixed" labor, has no terrors for him. As cooks, butlers, nurses, washermen, or even seamstresses, we have in this country no class of operatives that can begin to compare with the Chinese. I have had them filling all these positions; and knowing them well-their dispositions and habits
I feel confident that their introduction into our families is the greatest blessing to be hoped for by American housewives. Let alone, the Celestial will serve his employer faithfully-a very prodigy of neatness, industry, and honesty; but if interfered with, he gets bewildered, and sometimes obstinate. His work explained to him when he first comes, the modus operandi shown him, if necessary, the first time, and then the employé left to himself, without watching or interference, and in nine cases out of ten there will not be found a single neglected duty during the entire term of service, whether it last ten years or a life-time. Trusted, and kindly treated in the families where they are received, these dignified, courtly orientals will soon inaugurate an era of restful peace scarcely to be conceived by the households now held in bondage to poor, untutored, slovenly "Biddy," with her "reign of terror" and its attendant discords. What a woful contrast are her slovenliness and irregularities to the cheery air and deft, cleanly ways of the nativeborn Celestial; and who, having once tasted the untold comfort of seeing an efficient Chinese at the head of his domestic ménage, could be induced to lapse again into " barbarian," i. e. Irish, misrule!
after nearly forty years of study and practice in my profession, I do not need to be instructed how to compound a syllabub, or the requisite quantity of butter or spices to be used in a pudding. I am always willing to be told what to do, but never how to execute the order-especially when, in that department, I happen to know far more than my teachers. Most of those I have attempted to serve disgusted me by such interference; and had I followed their directions, every dish would have been spoiled and my reputation tarnished. So I left, of course. But I saw the very day I came to you that I was trusted, that you recognized my ability, and relied on my fidelity to do what I had undertaken, and you left me without interference to manage the department committed to my charge. I was grateful for this confidence; it has developed my talents, increased my skill, and attached me forever to your interests. If my honored lady is still satisfied with these humble services, no effort on my part shall ever be wanting to meet her approval."
With these words, accompanied by a perfect volley of salams, my cook bowed himself out, leaving me to ponder in immeasurable surprise his strange speechso marvelous a compound of self-appreciation and jealousy for his art. Several years passed-years laden with the inevitable chances and changes from which no earthly lot is exempt; but they brought no shadow of change in the fidelity of our tried and trusted servant. Then came the preparations for our final departure from Siam-an event watched and waited for by Chek Saú in silent abstraction. During the last days his eyes looked heavy with unshed tears, and often I saw his hand drawn hastily across the bronzed cheek, if I came upon him suddenly, while he packed and arranged the baggage for our long journey. The day of the departure, he followed us to the wharf, handed our baby-boys, one after the other, into the boat, where he had already bestowed his parting presents of flowers, fruits, and confectionery; and then with tremulous voice bade us adieu, wishing us "a safe and prosperous voyage, a joyous reunion with all our friends, and, above all, a speedy return to Siam."
I have entered thus into details to show how warmly attached to their employers these oriental servants become, if trusted
VICTOR HUGO AS A DRAMATIST.
IN the year 1778, there was acted in Paris, at the Théâtre-Français, "Irène," the last tragedy of Voltaire, whose first play, "Edipe," had been brought out at the same theater in 1718-sixty years before. On March 31st, at the sixth performance of "Irène," the aged author was able to be present, amid the greatest enthusiasm. It was, as it were, to the yet living Voltaire a foretaste of literary immortality, and he was much affected by the demonstrations. "You smother me with roses," he said, "and kill me with pleasure."
Hugo's name without dithyrambic rhapsodies; and the late Théophile Gautier was a French poet and critic who, when almost on his death-bed, told a friend that if he had the ill-fortune to find a single line of Hugo's poor, he would not dare to confess it to him. self, all alone in the cellar, without a light. Gautier, at least, had the excuse that Hugo had been his leader in a fierce fight, and that it ill becomes a soldier to doubt the captain who brought the battle to an end.
It is needless to tell again, and at length, the tale of the battle. It is enough to remember that, toward the end of the first quarter of this century, the younger generation in France began to rebel against the rigid rules in which all art was restrained "Her--especially all dramatic art. In combat against classicism, the theater was the chief battle-ground. Now, for an assault on the stage, Hugo was the best possible leader. He was a born playwright. Although only twenty-five years old when he put forth "Cromwell," in 1827, he had already published two novels and two volumes of poetry. Novelist and poet then, he has revealed himself since as critic, orator, historian, and satirist; but in every disguise he shows his strong native bent toward the theater. His poems are often but the lyric setting of a dramatic motive; his novels are but plays told in narrative, instead of put upon the stage. All the elements of the play are to be found in the novel, situations, scenery, effects, even to the exit speeches,-all are there. No reader of the " History of a Crime" need be reminded how dramatic, not to say theatrical, he can make history. As an orator, also, his stage-training stands him in good stead; his oration becomes a play with only one part, and he uses, as best he may, the scenery which chances to surround him. In 1851, for example, pleading in court against the death-penalty, he pointed to the crucifix over the judge's head and appealed to "that victim of capital punishment." It is in his novels, however, that his dramatic instinct is most plainly seen. His methods are those of a melodramatist. He plans and paints his scenery himself-and far better than the material brush of the scenic artist could do it; and he delights in the violent contrasts always effective on the stage, in the cut-and-thrust repartee of the theater, and in the sharply
In our day, we have seen but one sight
Voltaire has been dead only a century, and already the dust lies thick on his dramatic works; but a hundred years is a long life for anything in literature. What may befall Victor Hugo's dramas in a hundred years it were vain to prophesy. Shakspere has been dead two centuries and a half, and his plays are as young as the day they were born: Victor Hugo does not lack partisans who declare him to be of the race and lineage of Shakspere. Mr. Algernon Charles Swinburne, for instance, is an English poet and critic who cannot mention M.
outlined characters whose complexity is only | with weighty subjects not a little characapparent. teristic. Here are the firstlings of Hugo's theatrical genius, and we can see here in embryo some of his later qualities. The scene is laid in Spain, where the poet had passed part of his wandering childhood, and there is a lavish use of local color. That the young poet had already broken with the unity of place is shown by the frequent change of scene. There is the commingling of the comic and the serious which, nine years later, in the "Cromwell" preface, he declared to be essential to a proper dramatic presentation of life. The humor is not grim and grotesque, as it became in some of his later plays, but frankly mirthful. There is the use of the prattle of little children to relieve the strain of tense emotion-repeated half a century later in "Ninety-three." There are intriguing officials, recalling those in "Ruy Blas"; and there is a liberal use of spies and poison, recalling "Lucrèce Borgia” and “ Angelo." There are lyric interludes, and antitheses, and violent contrasts, and a seeking of startling effects by the sudden disclosure of solemn situations. There is one scene in the tomb of the king which, perhaps, suggested the act of "Hernani" in the tomb of Charlemagne; and another in a vast hall, hung with black draperies, and containing a throne and a scaffold, around which are grouped guards in black and red, and executioners in the black robes of penitents, with torches in their hands. This scene seemingly has served as raw material for one in "Marie Tudor," and also, it may be, for the famous supper scene in "Lucrèce Borgia." And last of all there is a ghost, which I am glad to say Victor Hugo has made no attempt to utilize in any of his later works.
Abundant proof of the dramatic tendencies of his youth are to be found in the curious book, "Victor Hugo; Raconté par un Témoin de sa Vie," which is at least semi-autobiographical. In this we are told that he wrote a tragedy-" Irtamène"-at the age of fourteen, and an opéra-comique -"A Quelque Chose Hasard est Bon". before he was sixteen. Between the twoat fifteen-he had written a more elaborate tragedy-" Athalie." The witness of his life tells us that it was "perfectly regular, in five acts, with unities of time and place,* dream, confidants, etc." At nineteen he planned a play-" Amy Robsart"-taken for the most part from "Kenilworth." Seven years later he gave it to his brotherin-law, Paul Foucher, not thinking it fit that, after the publication of "Cromwell," he should borrow a subject. The play was acted anonymously and hissed. Hugo at Hugo at once came forward and claimed his share of the failure. None of these early dramatic attempts of M. Hugo has been published; but the witness of his life prints in full another play-"Inez de Castro"-written at the age of sixteen,-apparently just after the composition of the opéra-comique, and three years before the adaptation from Scott. "Inez de Castro" is a remarkable production for a boy of sixteen, and it has never received the attention it deserves from critics of Hugo's literary career. We can detect in this youthful sketch the germ of his later dramatic work. Here, in fact, is Victor Hugo, the playwright, in the chrysalis. "Inez de Castro" is a melodrama in three acts and two interludes. These latter are spectacular, merely, and call for no comment. But the three acts of melodrama repay study. The story of the play need not be told here at length; it has a juvenile want of profundity, and it shows a juvenile love of the marvelous and astounding. But the effects are not altogether external, and there is a willingness to grapple
*The trade-mark of a classicist tragedy was the blind obedience paid to the Three Unities. The French critics pretended to derive from Aristotle a law that a dramatic poem should show one action happening in one place in the space of one day; these were the unities of action, place, and time. As to the unity of action, there need be no dispute: a work of art should have a single distinct motive. But both the unity of time, which compelled the hurried massing of all the straggling incidents of a story into twenty-four hours; and the unity of place, which forbade all change of scene,-these were absurdities.
After Victor Hugo had begun to be recognized as the chief of a new sect, his liking for the stage prompted him to plan a play which should exemplify what the drama of the future ought to be. He sketched out "Cromwell," intending it for Talma, who heartily approved of the new principles. Unfortunately, the great actor died, wornout with giving form to the emptiness of the plays he had to act. Bereft of the one actor who could do justice to his hero, Hugo gave up the thought of the stage, and elaborated the play until it is well-nigh as long as Mr. Swinburne's interminable "Bothwell." However, the original acting-play remains visible, though imbedded in a mass of superabundant matter. Although the scenes are unduly prolonged and the char
acters developed at needless length, careful | cutting would make its performance a possibility. It is to be judged frankly as a play for the stage, and not as that half-breed monstrosity, a 'play for the closet." Of course, it marks an immense advance on the "Inez de Castro" of nine years before; but it is far inferior to the "Hernani" of three years later. The restrictions of actual stage representation are wholesome Hugo's exuberant genius. As a historical drama, "Cromwell" is not quite so accurate as its author pretends, but it presents vividly the superficial aspects of a man and a time still waiting for a dramatist who can see their great capabilities. The plot, the incidents of which are not so closely serried as in Hugo's later plays, turns on the Protector's intrigues for the crown he afterward refused. There is the familiar use of moments of surprise and suspense, and of stage effects appealing to the eye and the
In the first act, Richard Cromwell drops into the midst of the conspirators against his father-surprise; he accuses them of treachery in drinking without him-suspense; suddenly a trumpet sounds, and a crier orders open the doors of the tavern where all are sitting-suspense again; when the doors are flung wide, we see the populace and a company of soldiers and the crier on horseback, who reads a proclamation of a general fast, and commands the closing of all taverns-surprise again. A somewhat similar scene of succeeding suspense and surprise is to be found in the fourth act. The setting off of the Roundheads against the Cavaliers is rather French in its conception of character, but none the less effective. There is real humor in the contrast of Carr, the typical Puritan, with Lord Rochester, the ideal courtier; and the improbable, not to say impossible, disguise of Rochester as Cromwell's Chaplain, is fertile in scenes of pure comedy. The fun, light and airy and graceful in Rochester, gets a little forced and farcical in Dame Guggligoy. The effort is obvious and the hand rather heavy.
As Dryden says: "They who would combat general authority with particular opinion must first establish themselves a reputation of understanding better than other men." Now, "Cromwell" was unactable. Its preface irritated many and converted few. It remained for Hugo to prove his superior understanding of the stage by his own works acted on the stage. In the
spring of 1829, eighteen months after the publication of " Cromwell," Hugo was asked to write a play for the Comédie-Française. He had two subjects in his head. He chose to write first "Marion Delorme," a task which took him from June 1st to June 24th, the fourth act having been finished in one day's steady labor. Accepted by the theater, the play was interdicted by the censors. Hugo at once turned to his second subject, and in three weeks he had completed "Hernani." It is a coincidence that Voltaire wrote "Zaïre," much his best tragedy, in just the same space of time that Hugo took to write "Hernani," his most popular play.
In explanation of this wondrous improvisation, for "Hernani" is a play in five acts of full length,-one may venture to suggest that the plot had been slowly matured in the author's head, the situations had linked themselves together in order, and that, when the poet sat down at his desk, he had but to clothe his conceptions with verse. To him this was a task of no difficulty, for Hugo has superabundantly the gift of metrical speech, his vocabulary is surpassingly rich, and he has lyric melody at his beck and call. call. His muse responded nobly. In no other play of Hugo's is the verse finer or firmer. The lumbering and jingling rhymed Alexandrine is not the best meter for dramatic poetry; it is not even a good meter; but it is here handled by a master of verse. Though no carelessness betrays the improvising, the verse retains the rush and impetus of its making. The whole work is full of the freshness and vigor of youth.
Although the French cannot be accused of taking their pleasure sadly, the first performance of any important play at the national theater is a solemnity. The production of "Hernani," at the ThéâtreFrançais, on the evening of February 25th, 1830, was a national event. Space fails to tell again the oft-told story of that night. It was the first pitched battle between the Classicists and the Romanticists. The pit was filled with bands of young artists of all kinds, who had volunteered in place of the salaried applauders of the theater, and who were admitted on the presentation of a special ticket-the word hierro (Spanish for iron) stamped in a bold handwriting on a little slip of red paper. Chief among these young enthusiasts was Théophile Gautier, resplendent in a flaming crimson waistcoat. With the first line, the conflict broke out. The hisses of the conservatives