Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

ment, the subtilty of its analysis, and the inexhaust- that such disappointment as Madame Bonaparte felt ible fertility of its illustrations drawn from all de- at the abortive result of her marriage was a disappartments of knowledge. In grasp of thought and pointment of ambition, not of love ; and the woman extent and variety of information it is generally con- whom not even the tender cares of maternity could ceded that Mr. Spencer has no equal among living soften, who never had a serious thought but of selfphilosophers; and these qualities, as well as his sin. interest and self-aggrandizement, and who saw in gularly nervous, vigorous, and lucid style, have never love, duty, honor, and the nobler sentiments, only been more strikingly exhibited than in "The Data subjects to jeer at—such a woman is not of the type of Ethics."

which we could wish, either for her own good or that of others, to see exalted to the high places of

the earth. THOUGH undeniably piquant and entertaining,

Of the qualities which we have mentioned as the “ Life and Letters of Madame Bonaparte"* is characteristic of Madame Bonaparte's letters, only a painful book-painful because it reveals human copious extracts could give an adequate idea, and nature in one of its most repellent aspects. Rumor the few for which we are able to find room can do has had much to say about the talent and wit of no more than convey a hint. We shall string toMadame Bonaparte, and Mr. Didier repeats and gether some specimen passages, however, culled alenlarges upon the story; but candor compels us to

most at random, if for nothing else, to justify the say that the only thing which redeems the letters strictures which we have felt compelled to make. here published from absolute commonplaceness is And first let us see how she regards the “sweet their cynical and boastful selfishness, their sordid domesticities” of family life : greed, their shallow conceit and levity, and their malicious ill-nature. Their preëminence in all these

I hope he [her son) will reward by his success all my respects would be admitted, no matter to whom they after, never having envied any one the honor of being a

cares, and I rejoice that I have no more children to toil were addressed, but the fact that the great majority mother of a family, which is generally a thankless posiof them were written to her father accentuates and tion.—(Page 56.) emphasizes their deliberate malevolence. Mr. Pat. terson was in nearly everything the exact antithesis

Bo (her son] feels the propriety of doing what I of his daughter; and while his own letters to her are please on the subject of the marriage (proposed between dignified, considerate, and even kindly in tone, it is himself, then sixteen, and his cousin, the daughter of only too evident that one of her chief sources of sat. Joseph Bonaparte), and has no foolish ideas of disposisfaction in writing to him was derived from the con. ing of himself in the way young people do in America. sciousness that her letters must annoy, irritate, and

If the marriage is offered I mean to accept it, and,

as things go in the generalities of families, shall esteem wound him. At the very time when to other cor

myself fortunate in being able to dispose of my son acrespondents she was complaining of her ennui at the cording to my views, instead of his choosing before his artificial routine of society in Europe, she would judgment is matured, and probably encumbering himwrite to him in the most enthusiastic terms of her self for life with a poor wife and clamorous offspring. brilliant social successes and enjoyments, interlard. Marriage ought never to be entered into for any other ing her self-gratulations with the bitterest gibes and purpose than comfort, and there is none without consesneers at whatever occurred to her as distinctively quence and fortune ; without these it is more prudent to American. Many of these gibes could hardly fail, live single.—(Page 83.) and were doubtless intended, to be applied by her father to himself personally, since he was one of the

There is, I hope, no danger of his [her son's) formmost conspicuous members of that class of “trades- ing an imprudent matrimonial connection; if he can

not marry suitably-and in America he could not (with men" upon which she poured out her most withering

one exception, and that I fear is out of the question)scorn, while constantly envying them their money.

he can live single. Marriage offers no such comforts as Mr. Didier expresses the opinion that Napoleon to induce rational beings to give up their independence made a grievous blunder when he refused to recog- without some return of advantage. I am at times not nize Madame Bonaparte as his brother's wife, and happy on the subject of his falling in love, recollecting forbade her appearance in France, and intimates that the extreme folly and great simplicity of the people he she would have made a suitable match for the Em- sees, who, without giving a single thought to prudence peror himself. It may be so, but there certainly is

or the future, marry some poor young womaa from the nothing in Mr. Didier's book to justify that impres- insipid society and the torment of bringing up a family

[ocr errors]

caprice of the moment, and consign themselves to her sion. On the contrary, while conceding that Jerome of children. It may be patriotic to sacrifice one's time acted a most dishonorable and cowardly part, the in this way, but it is not charitable to one's self, and reader will be apt to feel that he had a happy es- charity well understood begins at home. I hope you, cape, and that his brother did well, from a prudential dear sir, will inculcate to him privately the nonsense point of view, in rescuing him from the consequences and absurdity of such marriages, which are unknown of his youthful escapade. It is perfectly evident beyond the New World.–Page 123.)

* The Life and Letters of Madame Bonaparte. By The land of romance is now only to be found on the Eugène L. Didier. With a Portrait. New York: other side of the Atlantic (she is writing from Geneva, Charles Scribner's Sons. 16mo, pp. 276.

Switzerland). People on this side know the exact value I now repeat what I said in my last letter-that I ers. 12mo, pp. 284.

а

of everything, and turn existence to its best account. would as soon have gone to Botany Bay to look for a Love in a cottage is out of fashion even in novels. I husband as to have married any man in Baltimore ; but should consider an amiable, prolific daughter-in-law a that, if my son thinks it possible for him to live there, very poor compensation for all the trouble and anxiety I and does not feel any of my repugnance to such a conhave had with that boy, and most sincerely hope the nection, I no longer oppose it.-(Page 218.) amiable, scheming (for even in America the women know their own interest, and look as sharply after The foregoing are fair examples of Madame matches as they do here) young ladies will select some Bonaparte's opinions on the subjects which far more other unsuspecting dupe. Women in all countries have than any others fill her letters. Here is a specimen wonderful cunning in their intercourse with men; they of her cynical frankness on more general matters : succeed better in America because the men there are a century behind them in knowledge of human nature and There is a son of Sir Robert and Lady Wilmot goinstinct for their true interest.-(Page 147.)

ing out with the British ambassador. ... I know his

mother and father, to whom I gave the letter here, not I observe what you say of my partiality for Europe, knowing the young man. If you should be giving a and am only surprised that you should wonder at my re- family dinner, you might invite him ; but I do not adsembling every woman who has left America. I never vise people to take any trouble about strangers, as they heard of one who wanted to return there, not excepting are very ungrateful in general, and their acquaintance of Mrs. Gallatin; besides, I think it is quite as rational to no great advantage unless one has daughters to get rid go to balls and dinners as to get children, which people of.—(Page 65.) must do in Baltimore to kill time. I should prefer a child of mine going to court and dancing every evening Mr. Didier's share in the work is confined to in the week in good company to his or her marrying preparing a brief sketch of Madame Bonaparte's beggars and bringing children into the world to deplore life prior to her marriage and the swift-following existence. In America there are no resources except desertion by her husband, to furnishing explanatory marriage, and, as there was no one there for me to marry,

notes to the letters, and to linking the latter together I very naturally sought to quit a place where I was not by a slender chain of narrative. The manner in pleased.-(Page 202.)

which he has performed it would be deserving of When at length it was announced to her that her unqualified praise but for his most irritating practice son had engaged himself to marry a respectable and of summarizing the contents of the letters just bewealthy young lady of Baltimore her rage knew no

fore the letters themselves are given in full. This bounds, and in its expression verged closely upon practice is the more objectionable, because its only insanity. In a letter to her father she says :

reason seems to be a desire on the part of the author

to keep himselt before the reader. I wrote, in answer to your letters announcing the proposed marriage of my son, exactly what I felt at the time. I have endeavored to instill into him, from the hour of his birth, the opinion that he was much too high

What Dr. Warren has attempted to do in his in birth and connection ever to marry an American wo

Recreations in Astronomy "* is to make the conI hated and loathed a residence in Baltimore so clusions of science acceptable to the orthodox, by much that when I thought I was to spend my life there intermingling his expositions with texts of ScripI tried to screw my courage up to the point of commit- ture, and insisting upon the theistic interpretation to ting suicide. My cowardice, and only my cowardice, all the phenomena which astronomy presents. He prevented my exchanging Baltimore for the grave. No knows, doubtless, that there are many who are reconsideration could have induced me to marry any one pelled from scientific studies, by the attitude of there after having married the brother of an emperor, doubt or agnosticism which the secular savant is apt and I believe that to this proud feeling I owe much of the respect and consideration shown me both in America to assume, and he secures the attention of these by and in Europe. After having married a person of the high showing that a knowledge of astronomy is perfectly rank I did, it became impossible for me ever to bend my compatible with the most literal and rigorous acspirit to marry any one who had been my equal before my ceptance of the Christian dogmas. As for Dr. Warmarriage, and it became impossible for me ever to be ren himself, he is not in the slightest degree mysticontented in a country where there exists no nobility, and fied or baffled by the stupendous phenomena of the where the society is unsuitable in every respect to my sidereal heavens. He knows the motive, the meth. tastes. . . . I tried to give my son all my ideas and od, and the purpose of each manifestation, and he tastes, and in the first weeks after hearing that he meant to marry an American woman I was in despair. I think is equally certain of the lesson which each was dethat I did my duty in trying to elevate his ideas above signed to inculcate. Other astronomers may grope marrying in America, and you well know that I left no- for a solution, and peer inquiringly into that “dark thing undone to effect this. I have considered now that backward and abysm of time" which their researches it is unreasonable to expect him to place his happiness seem to open to them ; but to Dr. Warren everything in the only things which can make me happy. (My is plain, and his pronouncements have none of the happiness can never be separated from rank and Eu- ambiguity of the ancient oracles. rope.) He has neither my pride, my ambition, nor my love of good company; therefore I no longer oppose his * Recreations in Astronomy, with Directions for marriage. . . . As the woman has money, I shall not Practical Experiments and Telescopic Work. By Henry forbid a marriage which I never would have advised. White Warren, D. D. New York: Harper & BrothAs a general thing, Dr. Warren's selection of chapter for practical experiments and telescopic topics is excellent, and so is his method of expo- work; and the pictorial illustrations are numerous sition, though the style is somewhat superfluously and beautifully executed, including some exquisitely exuberant. The facts and relations with which colored diagrams of the spectra, of the starry heav. astronomy has to deal are so stupendous that the ens, and of the more important constellations. simplest possible statement of them is generally the most impressive, and any attempt to heighten the effect by words is certain to defeat itself. It is in

man.

A SERIES which would seem on a cursory inspecfailing to appreciate this that Dr. Warren makes his tion to enter into direct competition with “ English chief mistake as a writer on science, but he fairly Men of Letters " is that begun under the editorship compensates for it by the remarkable appositeness of Mr. John Richard Green, and entitled “Classical and suggestiveness of his illustrations. A still graver Writers." * While there are certain points of redefect, as touching his bona fides, is exemplified by semblance between them, however, a closer comparithe following paragraph from the opening of the

son will show that in plan and scope they are quite chapter on the nebular hypothesis :

distinct, and that they will be complements rather The method by which the solar system came into its Letters " is to meet the wants of that large and busy

than competitors. The aim of “English Men of present form was sketched in vast outline by Moses. He gave us the fundamental idea of the nebular hypothesis. class of general readers whose leisure is too scanty Swedenborg, that prodigal dreamer of vagaries, in 1743

to admit of their reading voluminous works of lit. threw out some conjectures of the way in which the out- erary biography; and the widest latitude is allowed lines were to be filled up; Buffon followed him closely to the writers of the several volumes in expressing in 1749; Kant sought to give it an ideal philosophical their individual views and sentiments,

The object completeness, as he said, " not as the result of observa- of the series of “Classical Writers," on the other tion and computation,” but as evolved out of his own hand, is strictly educational, and will include a numconsciousness; and Laplace sought to settle it on a

ber of small volumes upon the principal Classical mathematical basis,

and English writers whose works form subjects of

study in our colleges, or which are read by the genNow, the alternative here is obvious. If the author really believes this to be even an approximately ture for its own sake. The information sought to

eral public interested in Classical and English literaaccurate account of the origin and history of the be imparted will be presented in a concise and sysnebular hypothesis, then a very serious objection lies tematized form, with a view to its use in the classagainst his competency to the task he has under

room ; and, while each volume will be the work of taken. If, on the other hand, he does not believe the scholar best adapted by his special studies to do it to be an accurate summary, then the ground of objection is more serious still.” A better illustration justice to its subject

, the views offered will, in gen

eral, be such only as have already passed the ordeal of the maze of complexities in which such writer

of criticism, or are little likely to provoke controas Dr. Warren is liable to entangle himself could

versy.

“ Classical authors," says the prospectus, hardly be found than is afforded by the entire chap. "have too long been regarded as mere instruments ter from which the foregoing extract was taken. Of for teaching pupils the principles of grammar and course the author's object in claiming for Moses the language, while the personality of the men them“fundamental idea" of the nebular hypothesis was

selves and the circumstances under which they wrote to secure for the Biblical narrative whatever credit have been kept in the background. Against such an attaches to what has been called “the grandest gen. irrational and one-sided method of education, the eralization of the human inind"; yet the reader will

present series is a protest.” be amazed to find that the purport of the whole remainder of the chapter is to disprove or discredit The initial volume on Milton is by the Rev. the nebular theory. The dilemma in which the au- Stopford A. Brooke, and at once elevates the standthor places himself is this : From the beginning to ard of the series to the highest possible level. The the end of his book he asserts or implies that the entire competence of Mr. Brooke to such a task has germs of all that is true in modern astronomical been abundantly proved by his “ Primer of English knowledge may be found in the Bible, and this is Literature," and this monograph on Milton possesses to a certain extent, his test of truth. Applying this all the characteristic qualities of that admirable work. test, he finds that the fundamental idea of the nebu- Its plan is eminently practical and simple; its style lar theory was first proclaimed by Moses, and is is luminously clear, exact, and animated; it gives all therefore true, or Moses was mistaken, like any other the facts essential to a complete understanding of ancient constructor of a cosmogony. Notwithstand. Milton's long and varied career ; its portraiture is ing this, he proceeds to argue and cite proofs that singularly vivid and lifelike, though unpretentious ; the nebular theory is not true!

and it abounds in profound, sympathetic, interpretive What is good in Dr. Warren's book, as we have criticism. The analysis of “Paradise Lost," which said, is the interest of the topics selected for treatment, and the freshness and appositeness of the anal- * Classical Writers. Edited by John Richard Green. ogies by which the exposition is helped along. Very Milton. By Rev. Stopford A. Brooke. New York: D. useful, too, are the directions appended to each Appleton & Co. 16mo, pp. 168.

[ocr errors]

a

ture.

occupies the larger half of the volume, is one of the tractable and repellent as the country which they most masterly things of the kind in critical litera. inhabit. The only incident in connection with it ture, and the remarks on the shorter poems are full which gives it anything of general interest is the of helpful suggestion. The middle-aged reader who revolt of the Camisards in the seventeenth century, recollects the conditions under which he first ap- of which it was the arena, and the fact, a resultant proached the great English epic can hardly avoid of the revolt, that is the one overwhelmingly Protenvying those who will hereafter enjoy the kindly estant district in one of the greatest Roman Cathoand sympathetic guidance of Mr. Brooke ; and stu- lic countries of Europe. Mr. Stevenson gives many dents of all ages will extend a cordial welcome to a interesting and suggestive details concerning the reseries which promises in some degree to open a roy- volt-contriving at once to enlist our sympathies for al highway to knowledge.

the persecuted Protestants goaded into insurrection, and giving the world a lesson and an example of the

highest heroism, and at the same time bringing to In attempting to explain wherein lies the charm bear upon the entire question which once aroused of Mr. Stevenson's “Travels with a Donkey in the such furious passions the impartial judgment of the Cévennes," ;"* the reader will probably be surprised present age.

Much information of various kinds, sage and to find how exclusively he has to insist upon the manner or style of the author in comparison with

acute remarks on men and things, bits of neat and the matter or substance of the book. The “ travels"

vivid description—all these are ingeniously woven only covered a period of twelve days, and were as

by Mr. Stevenson into his narrative ; but, whether nearly destitute of what is commonly called incident taken separately or in the aggregate, these do not and adventure as would be a walk down Broadway; quite account for its charm. If what we have albut one does not become conscious of this while ready said does not account for it—as we fear it does reading the book, but only when he comes subse-not-we shall content ourselves with saying in genquently to analyze or define its charm. He then eral terms that the book is delightful to read, and perceives, what the author has been much too skills that it indicates on the part of the author wide ful to obtrude upon his attention, that with Mr. knowledge of men and books, a keen instinct for Stevenson manner is everything and matter com

felicities of style, and a hearty objective love of naparatively unimportant, that he is a stylist, or what Mr. Leslie Stephen calls an artist in words. It is not, however, toward rhetoric, or word-painting, or A COMPLETE outline, almost too comprehensive elaborate verbal artifice, that Mr. Stevenson leans. to be called a résumé, of the science of anthropology This is, in general, quite the reverse of charming, is furnished by the elaborate work on “ The Human and Mr. Stevenson's primary object is not to per- Species,” which M. de Quatrefages has contributed plex, or astonish, or dazzle, but to please. His to the “International Scientific Series.”* Beginning style has a quaint simplicity about it which is very with the theory of the unity of the human species, apt to betray one into underrating the nicety and of which the author is perhaps the most distinguished refinement of the art which it reveals rather than champion, it discusses in succession “ The Origin of displays, and it offers a marked contrast to the more the Human Species," “ The Antiquity of the Hulabored and artificial prose of the Victorian era. It man Species,” “The Original Localization of the is a return to or revival of the style of the age of Human Species,” “The Peopling of the Globe,” Anre, and the author of whom it most frequently “The Acclimatization of the Human Species," "Fosreminds one is Addison, some of the turns of phrase sil Human Races,” and “Present Human Races,” being evidently taken from the “Spectator.” It as to both their physical and psychological characshould be said, however, to avoid misconception on ters. The argument for the unity of the human this point, that there is no semblance of conscious species (the author, it may be remarked, draws a imitation. Mr. Stevenson's style has a flexibility radical line between race and species) is strong if not and robustness which prove it to be the natural ex- conclusive, and places the reasons for and against it pression of an original mind; and one is almost in very clear and intelligible form. In regard to the tempted to hope that it indicates a returning taste origin of man, M. de Quatrefages takes direct issue for simpler and more direct forms of literary lan- with Darwin and the evolutionists, holding that guage than have characterized our later literature. man's religious and moral faculties lift him entirely

The Cévennes is an obscure mountain district of above the order of animals, and entitle him to be France. Its natural features are almost unknown ranked in a kingdom by himself. He attacks very to us save through Mr. Stevenson's book, and we do powerfully those weak points of the theory of Natunot gather from it that the scenery is either grand, ral Selection which Darwin 'himself admits, and or picturesque, or especially pleasing. It is rugged points out other difficulties which evolutionists in and barren in the extreme, and we infer from the general have either overlooked or ignored. As to author's account that the people are quite as in- the antiquity of man, he adopts advanced views,

* Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes. By Rob- * The Human Species. By A. de Quatrefages. Inert Louis Stevenson. Boston : Roberts Brothers. 16mo, ternational Scientific Series. Volume xxvii. New York: Pp. 235.

D. Appleton & Co. 12mo, pp. 498.

[ocr errors]

holding it to be proved that man lived in the Pliocene ure, but its character is better defined in his preface, epoch, and probably in the Miocene, and that he has where he says that “the realities of landscape, the consequently seen and survived at least two of those mode of life and of travel, the aspect of the old great geological periods which mark the past history Spanish cities, the habits of the people, the vicissiof the earth. The other topics enumerated are dis- tudes of a summer journey, set down just as they cussed with a rare amplitude of knowledge and a appeared, form the staple of these pages." Restill rarer candor of tone ; and the book as a whole garded from this view-point-as a series of panois one of the most instructive and interesting that ramic pictures rapidly sketched in while the impres. has yet appeared in the series to which it belongs. sions were fresh and vivid—the book is decidedly

• . Any attempt to represent an author by a praiseworthy, and, while decidedly more entertain. miscellaneous selection from his writings almost ing, is quite as likely to prove instructive as if it certain to be only partially successful, and this is es- were much more “sober-minded.” Mr. Harrison pecially likely to be true in the case of an author so has knowledge, much alertness of mind, sympathetic prolific and versatile as Viktor Rydberg. The writ- insight, quick observation, a keen eye for the pictuings of Rydberg, who holds the first place among resque in history, legend, customs, costumes, or scethe living authors of Sweden, range in topic from nery, a certain good humor, which is far from the abstruse philosophical treatises to popular novels and least essential requisite of a traveler, and an unfail. poetry, and are voluminous enough to fill a shelf in ing instinct for the lively and the salient. The chief the library by themselves. His most famous single fault of his book (as of his previous one, “Greek work is a novel entitled “ The Last Athenian,” Vignettes ") is the extreme artificiality of its style, which has been translated into several languages; which conveys the impression that the author is albut the “Roman Days "* has been selected by his ways on the lookout for unexpected, fantastic, and American admirer as giving a more favorable idea of bizarre collocations of words, and, in fact, thinks the versatility of his talent. The essays of which it is more of these than of what he is describing. In the composed were not written by the author as parts of immense profusion of epithets and adjectives, some, one work, but they are sufficiently similar in subject it may be admitted, are remarkably happy and strik. and method of treatment to form a lerably homo- ing, but the majority are simply unusual, and the at. geneous volume, being the fruit of a visit to Rome tention of the reader is fatigued by so long-continin 1873. The essays are grouped under four heads: ued a display of literary tight-rope dancing. “The Roman Emperors in Marble,” including stud- . . In “Delicia"* Miss Butt touches upon ies, partly artistic and partly historical, of Julius deeper problems and portrays more complex charCæsar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and acters than in either of her previous stories, and Nero ; “Antique Statues,” comprising studies of the shows that her powers are equal to the larger deVenus of Milo and the Antinous ; " Roman Tradi. mands made upon them. To make the interest of a tions of Peter and Paul,” in which the author weaves story almost wholly dependent upon the subtile in. the picturesque legends of early Christian Rome into terplay of delicately discriminated characters is ala most vivid and interesting narrative ; and “Pencil ways a perilous method, and very considerable skill Sketches in Rome,” depicting some of the more is required to render it as successful as in “ Delicia," characteristic features of the city as the capital of where the drama is worked out solely in "the arena the New Italy. The whole forms a highly readable of the mind,” and incidents and external circumbook, which should prove useful to the tourist who stances play an altogether subordinate part. It is wishes a sympathetic guide to the history and sights true that the author exhibits more ease and self-com. of the Eternal City. The volume is serviceably il- mand in such idyllic and neutral-tinted pictures as lustrated, and is prefaced with a brief biographical are drawn in “Miss Molly,” but the critical situaand critical sketch of Rydberg.

tions in “Delicia" are powerfully depicted, and the “ It is really difficult," says Mr. Harrison, leading female characters are drawn with a refinespeaking of the books of Spanish travelers, “ to find ment and delicacy of touch which suggest a remi. a wise and sober-minded man who can write in a niscence of Miss Austen. The male characters are wise and sober-minded way about Spain.” If this not nearly so good, but neither are they the wooden was the ideal aimed at in his “Spain in Profile," + prigs which so commonly do duty for heroes in novels then the book would have to be set down as a fail. written by women.

* Roman Days. From the Swedish of Viktor Ryd- the Aloes. By James Albert Harrison. Boston: Houghberg. By Alfred Corning Clark. With a Sketch of ton, Osgood & Co. 16mo, pp. 439. Rydberg by Dr. H. A. W. Lindehn. New York : G. P. * Delicia. A Novel. By Beatrice May Butt. Lei. Putnam's Sons. 12mo, pp. 332.

sure Hour Series. New York : Henry Holt & Co. iomo, + Spain in Profile : A Summer among the Olives and Pp. 360.

« AnkstesnisTęsti »