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stories founded on the first principle of giving a religious turn to every incident-of founding a woman's power, for instance, to resist the temptations of a forbidden love solely upon the fact of a sudden confession to an unknown priest, and his admonitions thereupon-should be instrumental in purifying French fiction. The incident is effective and melodramatic, but it is not even new, having been employed before in works of the old school. It is contrary to all the canons of a more refined art, and is extremely unlikely to modify the ideas of M. Paul Bourget, or even of M. Georges Ohnet. This is a mistake which many good people make, but it is scarcely what we should have expected from Mrs. Craven, who ought to have known so much better. However, the immense success of the Récit d'une Sour' no doubt increased her sense of the power of religious feeling even over a world lying in wickedness. But, after all, a religious-minded woman ought to have been able to recover her balance, one would think, without reference to a priest in a matter so clear as her conjugal duties. His introduction vulgarises and reduces the victory to a lower level. The lesson is taken from the secular romancist rather than given to him.

This was not at all the inspiration of the Récit d'une 'Soeur.' There is no introduction of any conventional confessional or priestly influence in that true and simple tale. Alexandrine comes to the fold of the Church by slow action of her own thoughts, her own love, the profound piety which breathes about her, and which was evidently quite new to her fervid young spirit. All is nature and spontaneous simple action, the noiseless influences of heaven, no doubt, the equally noiseless progress of inclination and sympathy. Here the actual is infinitely more poetical than the fictitious, and far more real and convincing. Her books, however, remained of sufficient importance in France to secure her an annuity from her publisher for the end of her life, even after their first popularity was over; which shows there is always an audience for good-should they even occasionally prove goody-works of fiction, and was an excellent and laudable result in its way, though not so great as that purification of French fiction for which Mrs. Craven says she hoped.

It is an excellent conclusion, no doubt, to become more and more absorbed in religion as life tends towards the end; but it is a pity that anything should be done to break the unique charm of this full and much-mingled

existence. We prefer to find that the liveliest talk in the evening, the most animated discussions, a little controversy, a little enthusiasm for secular matters, even more than a little politics, take nothing away from the devoutness which makes the domestic chapel and the morning Mass so great a happiness to the aged pilgrim. To know that the young people had been dancing overnight and the old ones mingling a little salt of gossip in their talk, and Count Albert, Eugénie's son, eager over his plans for his workmen's clubs, makes us like all the better to think of that withdrawal into the heavenly sphere above, and the lovely and delightful world of the past full of so many dear and tender shadows, more real and near than the actual members of the society round her, which takes place when the brilliant old lady, once Pauline de la Ferronays, retires within the sanctuary of her own lonely chamber. It is this that gives her life its greatest interest. The reader, however, will scarcely be able to refrain from a smile when he reads this description of the household circle at Lumingy, which is tamer a great deal, it seems to us, in the gravity of Northern France and the seriousness of the times, than those pictures of the Ferronays' household at Naples and Castellamare, in which everything was young and careless and enterprising and gay.

• What would you say if you were here, where three families are collected, women, girls, men, and children, twenty-two altogether, and not one among them ever dreaming of a ride on horseback? In fact, there is not in the place a single animal upon whose back the feat could be accomplished. This seems very strange even to me; English people could not stand it. En revanche, no English circle would sit round a table in the evening, the men drawing and the women working while I read to them aloud the finished chapters of my book. All this shows how utterly different our two nations are; no wonder that they find it so impossible to understand each other.'

The picture is wonderful indeed; such a family party in a French country-house deeply wrapt in melancholy wastes of distance, with no neighbours near enough to join the group easily, and no other visitors coming and going, probably not even a billiard-table, and nothing to do'-as an glishman would sigh either out or in-is a terrible experie. We remember one of the feudal castles mentioned this book where Mrs. Craven was a frequent visitor, in depths of December, plenty of ice outside but not a pair kates in the house-plenty inside too, the bath provided the visitor crackling in the cold turret of the dressing

room attached to a great bedchamber forty feet long-vast corridors and antechambers chill as Labrador, no visitor but the Curé who came to say his Mass once a week, and M. le Percepteur, who was a scion of a noble family much come down in the world. Mrs. Craven seems to suppose, however, that the absence of all idea of riding on horse'back' is made up by the ideal picture, much better than England, of the party round the table, complacently listening to Fleurange.' We doubt whether that would be a general opinion here.

Mrs. Craven's views about politics are always sane and sensible, and full of excellent judgement. Notwithstanding all prepossessions she never abandoned the cause of Italy nor the fine delusion that the Catholic faith and political freedom ought to go together. And it cost her a great struggle, when the question of Roma capitale arose among the newly emancipated Italians, to harmonise her political sympathies with her obedience to the Church. This is from Naples in the first excitement of the new life :

'Imagine how I enjoy sitting at table every day between my brother, who thinks as all Frenchmen do on these affairs, and Count Arrivabene, a young Garibaldian, à peine défroqué et débarbouillé from his prison at Gaeta, from which he was set free by an exchange of prisoners. I feel sometimes as if I were on burning coals, and I feel a wild wish to escape, particularly when they bring forward that endless Roman question. Yet I will not conceal from you, as generally I do from others, that perceiving the moral force of these plebiscites which one after the other lead all the Italian cities towards junction in one great kingdom, I cannot shut out the hope that from Rome may at last come the gran rifiuto of her lost provinces, which would so greatly increase the spiritual power of the Papacy.'

We do not know whether this was more than the last flash of that visionary and enthusiastic Catholicism of 1830, which believed that new heavens and a new earth were to come from the union of the Church and Freedom; but it is touching to read of the devout imagination now when so many strange things and eventful years have come and

gone.

Mrs. Craven was equally sensible, which perhaps is still more wonderful, upon the question of Home Rule. Very few indeed are the French politicians who are impartial on this subject. It is a commonplace among them to compare Ireland with Poland as countries equally oppressed by an alien race and creed; and this opinion exists, or used to exist, as much among the most highly educated class of liberal

thinkers, taking the greater part of their political beliefs from England, as among the most ignorant of bigoted Catholics. We remember that Montalembert was not to be convinced on this subject, any more than the narrowest of country priests, notwithstanding even the strange fact, of which he and still more his family were a little ashamed, that his keen youthful perceptions had found out O'Connell to be a humbug at a very early period. (But what a genial humbug and a big one, instead of the small race of his shrieking successors!) It is curious, too, that in acknowledging this we all remain insensible to one great, if also small, influence continually at work in France, and the power of which it is difficult to overestimate. It shows even in the work before us. The English friends of a devout Catholic are very largely Irish-which is not a bull, though it may appear so. The English nurse or governess is so to a quite extraordinary extent. We have heard the most strenuous accents of Cork issuing from young French lips which had been trained in our Anglo-Saxon tongue by such means; the prepossession thus given is as subtle as universal, and it accounts for a great deal of pseudo-national feeling. With a similar partiality the English household gets its French bonne from Switzerland, and therefore misses any reflex action from the genuine French mind; though the honest Swiss are not likely to spread hostility at all events, whatever little imperfection in the way of accent they may bring with them. Mrs. Craven, however, knew enough of the question to have formed a right opinion about Home Rule, and she expresses it with great frankness, especially in respect to the Irish clergy, whose position she was evidently quite unable to reconcile with any Catholic or religious law.

I have read over attentively the pastorals of Dr. McCabe, and also the resolutions of the clergy of Cloyne. It is a language too different from that in which the Catholic people is addressed by its clergy all over the world to be conceivable for us, unless we are to understand that in Ireland it is the people who lead the clergy, and not the clergy who guide the people. Enough has been said of the virtues and wrongs of the Irish. It is now time, it seems to me, for their pastors *l of their faults and of their crimes. England has for many been in a temper to listen to their grievances and to remedy justly, temperately, and clearly stated. Surely there must be n capable of doing this. Good heavens! if Poland was in the tuation, if they possessed religious and civil liberty, notwithr their bad and cruel landlords, we should, as they would, feel Bankful indeed; and we ourselves here, undergoing, as we are, us persecution (which, after all, is the worst of all grievances,

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though the Irish clergy forget to remark it), how differently we are advised by the highest ecclesiastical authority. . . . Of course, it is visible enough that the present Irish agitation is simply revolutionary, but that is why it is so astounding that the clergy so hesitatingly denounce it. Those whom at present there is an attempt to wrong outrageously, and who are in fact the victims of to-day, are the landlords. It is by them, therefore, that the clergy ought to stand.

...

'All the persecutions of the Church in France, in Germany, and Italy seemed to me nothing in comparison with the disgrace which Ireland was inflicting on the Church. . . . I see in a paper of last night that the Irish bishops are strenuously opposing the proposal of many in England to bring about a renewal of relations between the Holy See and the English Government. It is my belief that they hate the English to such a degree that they had rather they did not become Catholics, or behave well to the Church, or indeed to themselves, because all these would be reasons for hating them less; and they worship their hatred, and cling to it more than to their faith.

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Those queer Catholics the Irish!' Mrs. Craven exclaims on another occasion. What is true for all the world is not true for Ireland according to their view, and the wrong done by an Irishman is not at all in their eyes like the same wrong done by any other man in the world. . You and Mrs. La Touche cannot pretend to be among the Irish of the right sort, though I have not yet quite understood where one began and where one ceased to be an Irish man or woman. I am told, for instance, that Lord O'Hagan and Lord Emly are no longer to be considered as Irishmen—and so on of all those I like.'

She thought, however, that Home Rule would be attained, although it would be fatal all round. The Bill will pass 'unopposed by the Lords, and the time of its failure in Ireland will then begin.' This, we may suppose, was the opinion of Holland House, from which she dates this fortunately erroneous 'prophecy. It is a little tantalising to find a good many letters from Holland House, with all its traditions of brilliant talk, and intellectual interest, with extremely little in them. To be sure, the great day of that remarkable lions' den and literary autocracy was over; still it must have had, we should imagine, echoes round it of the greatness of the past. Here is one sketch among the very few that are worth quoting :

'Mr. Gladstone, next to whom I sat at dinner at Lord Granville's the other day, was most pleasant, talkative, brilliant, eager, full of poetry and earnestness, and yet to my mind how visionary on some points and how unpractical! We talked of everything, and it certainly was most interesting. One thing he said with an energy which added to the feeling he expressed, that the growth of infidelity was the one evil to be resisted before all others, and that whoever served the cause of Faith and Christianity was doing the greatest of

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