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fortunate; but he is wrong not to see that elsewhere the risks of English methods might be greater than their advantages, and that, though it is easy to mimic English institutions, it is not easy to imitate them.'

We remember the amusement and surprise with which we heard many years ago the Count de Montalembert express himself on the same subject. The cheerful Pam' of that wide and familiar English popularity, which is apt, let us allow, to become too familiar, if not vulgar, in its widest extension, was to that acutest of French critics something like a new incarnation of the devil. A certain awe was in the dislike and repugnance with which he was regarded, an emblem of ruthless national selfishness, arrogance, and unscrupulousness. Perhaps there was a certain truth in this outside judgement, and Lord Palmerston did really think no claims in the world of any importance in competition with the advantage of his own country, which was certainly the foreign view of him. However, as this is, or was, the foreign view of all English administration, sharpened in his case by a keen sense as of diabolical cleverness, promptitude, and energy, it is perhaps the less important.

The best time, according to ordinary ideas, of Mrs. Craven's life was already over when her literary career began. The publication of the Récit d'une Sour' gave a new beginning to an existence of which it might truly be said that it had comprised almost everything that society could give and all the knowledge and experience that could be acquired among the highest haunts of men. There was nobody she did not know, nothing she had not seen, few things indeed in which she had not had her share, more or less, though unfortunately without any of those great results which, humanly speaking, the world seems to have had a right to expect. But now a fresh range of new sensations and successes opened before her. She was never to be that ideal ambassadress of which perhaps in the deepest secrets of her mind she had once dreamt. But there was a new world to be conquered all the same. Even during the most brilliant period of her career it had been her greatest happiness to retire into the passionate and joyous and sad world of her youth, living it over again in the letters of the past, and carrying on from year to year a delicate work of arrangement, of selection, with the hope some time of revealing to a circle of sympathisers, wider even than those who already knew of it by personal

connexion or friendship, the delightful tender story of her brother and sister-the romance of Christian and Catholic life which was in her hands in the 'Histoire' of Alexandrine. It was her luxury to turn to this when there was an interval of special quiet, or when the interest of external life temporarily failed. But it was not till 1863, when her life was on the verge of many and great changes, that it was completed. She took it to Paris to submit it to her friends and take their advice as to its publication. Almost the only survivor of that period of romance and happiness was Count de Montalembert, the gentle Montal of Alexandrine's story, the Catholic democrat of the 'Avenir,' the champion of freedom and education, the historian of monks and saints, whose period of public life was long over, and who was now hard bound by failing health to the hardest of punishments for so active and brilliant a mind-a sick-room in the midst of the intellectual commotion of Paris. It is difficult in a few words to indicate such a character as that of Count de Montalembert-all goodness and geniality without, all keen observation, keen wit, and swift sarcastic perception within: an enthusiast, yet the acutest man of the world, with an eagle eye for every pretence, yet in sympathy with anything that was genuine and true, even when quite out of his sphere. But for the much more emotional tone natural in France which his English blood and training occasionally made a little shamefaced in him, we might have considered it a doubtful advantage to submit the wonderful ethereal romance of Albert and Alexandrine to a critic so clear and so trenchant. But he had taken his share in that romance in his youth, and was still, and until the end of his days, notwithstanding his keen sarcastic humour, the same chivalrous and romantic son of the Crusaders who had once dreamed of conjoining all the powers of Church and State in the service of freedom. So paradoxical a character is always of the highest interest to the spectator. Montalembert played the part of a critic as he might have been expected to do. He was at first strongly opposed to the publication of a book so intimately opening up the most private recesses of the heart to the public eye, with a very natural feeling which scarcely required to be intensified by the prejudices of a Frenchman against publicity. But as the beauty of the book gained upon him, Montalembert withdrew his opposition. The same effect was produced in several others to whom the manuscript was submitted. The Count de Mun

objected to the publication of the letters of his wife, which formed so great a part of the collection; but he, too, was overcome by the charm of that revelation of youth and unconscious natural feeling. These critics consented first that the book should be printed for private circulation only; but a privacy of five hundred copies is easily broken, and soon all France was talking and weeping over Alex and Eugénie and the love tale, almost for the first time told. in all its purity and grace-half infantile, half angelic. Much has that country always known about love impure and forbidden; there is no such authority in all the intricate ways of so-called Passion. But this was altogether new, and so true that the most prudent nation in the world was partially frightened, partially overawed, and altogether conquered by the fascination of the fairy taleterrified to let its girls know that such a thing could be in a world where the dot and the eligible parti were the things alone to be considered, yet carried away by a tide of feeling which flesh and blood could not resist.

It is not very often given, even to a writer of genius, to produce such an effect as this; and Mrs. Craven, though one of the cleverest of women, was not in any way a person of genius. She wrote a number of books afterwards, which were not of very great account, and which, indeed, we should have been as well pleased she had not written. The 'Récit d'une Soeur' had very little to do with any literary gift of hers, or of any one's. The letters and simple story of which it is composed are charmingly written, but without any pretension to style, or reflecting any special intellectual power. They are a simple revelation of life, in which there was nothing unusual, no fantastic effort, but only a spirit, pure and noble, which transformed the commonest action: vague lights of almost miracle, too, were on the horizon, like that story of the Jew who, straying by chance into the church where M. de la Ferronays, the most modest, the most humble of all, without any pretensions of saintliness, lay awaiting his burial, was suddenly convulsed by the pangs of compunction and conversion, and, crying, 'Ce monsieur doit avoir beaucoup prié pour 'moi,' became a Christian on the spot, and afterwards a devoted priest and monk. We do not mean the faintest satire, yet we almost think that the devotion of a wellknown figure among ourselves to this book and its writers is as remarkable as the conversion of Father Ratisbonne.

This great success was followed by as great a crash of

We are not

calamity and disaster in Mrs. Craven's life. told how Mr. Craven lost his money. It would seem to have been chiefly from the eager share he took in schemes for the improvement of Naples, when that long-troubled country finally became part of the kingdom of Italy, and everybody believed that its new and unaccustomed freedom would bring sudden enlightenment, public spirit, and universal amelioration, results which are never to be had all at once. However that may be, the money was lost, and had to be followed by the palace at Chiatomone, the villa at Castagneto, and all that was most beautiful and precious in the accessories of life. Eventually Mr. and Mrs. Craven settled in an apartment in Paris, in the old Faubourg, which she by no means loved, but where a dwelling-place was found, with the freedom of a view over the garden of a convent, which reconciled Mrs. Craven for many things. The Montalemberts lived in the same quarter, with many other old friends. It was a perfectly appropriate retirement for the fallen fortunes of a pair whom no reverse of fate could make uninteresting to the world, or separate from their own caste and kind.

As the course of life goes on, however, Mrs. Bishop confines herself more and more to the graver side of her friend's life. She misses, or perhaps does not care to acknowledge, the great charm which there is in the union of a wholesome interest in the world and all its ways, such as was characteristic of Mrs. Craven, with the prevailing religious habit of her mind two things which she managed to combine so much better than most people to the great advantage of both phases-and which was so admirably remarked upon by Carlyle, in words which Mrs. Craven herself quotes: There's about ye a mixture of worldliness and earnestness which pleases me very much.' It is not, perhaps, to be expected that this combination should find equal favour with one most anxious to point out the unworldliness of the character which she wishes to portray. There was never anything ungenerous, any failure of sympathy with all noble aspirations, in the worldliness of Mrs. Craven. Here are some of her reflections at a trying moment, when the woman, who has had so many of the successes of society, and prized them, awakens suddenly to the consciousness that a term has come to her natural course of triumph :

The time that has elapsed has been a memorable time for me. During three weeks I was ill. My illness was aggravated by solitude, and during that solitude I was attacked with a violence I never felt

before, by every impression, real or imaginary, which could most disturb me, and threw me into a state of depression as miserable as it was humiliating.

'During my illness and solitude I had all of a sudden a clear vision of the final departure of that reflected youth which I had retained, perhaps, longer than others do. It was a sharp pain, for an instant, as if I had suddenly passed from youth to age. I thought of my charming and happy Princess, and all her lively and happy feelings, and that atmosphere of kindliness that she carries with her, her confident aspirations, her courage, whether to enjoy or to wish, to suffer or to hope. And besides all that she has been, and the many interests which have filled her life, she has the sense of youth-the sense of triumph, which is doubtless what the Bible calls the pride of life. I remember how vividly I felt it; and my self-love, always, alas! so great, whispered besides that not only was I young, but that I was dowered with some of the gifts which give radiance to youth.

'And now all that is over and past and already far distant, and instead of having gradually become aware of my decline, it suddenly breaks on me that but yesterday I was young and to-morrow I shall be old.'

Her literary career is perhaps not much to be reckoned with, but it was an important feature of her later life, as it is in the lives of many people whose productions are much less known to this world than even hers. Mrs. Craven knew better than to insist upon her literary achievements, but still she was not without her ambition, and the aim she set before herself, though modestly expressed, was no small aim -if she or any one else could have carried it out.


'As to my writing,' she says, ' as you wish, on general social topics, you are mistaken in thinking I have the natural talent to do it or power to do it to any purpose. I must go on my way attempting to purify French fiction, to redeem that word Love from the profanation which has made it almost unpronounceable in French, and to revive or produce some little sentiment of poetry in my dear but most prosaïque Faubourg St. Germain, where (next to the other one) poetry is the most forbidden of words, and is in itself looked upon as a most dangerous ingredient in life, whereas it seems to me so obvious that the present danger of even the best French society lies in exactly the opposite direction. If, on the other hand, I could also induce some of the writers of modern French fiction to believe that strong feelings and even passion can exist in that region of purity and goodness outside of which they live and write, the whole of the little good of which I am capable would be accomplished.'

We think Mrs. Craven was mistaken in speaking of this as a little good-as much mistaken as we believe she was in supposing that she would ever accomplish it. It exceeds the power of the imagination to conceive how a series of

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