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erected. If the plan were to erect here a monument in imitation of an Egyptian obelisk, then it would be right enough to point out the inappropriateness of the scheme to show that copying a form of art under different conditions from those out of which that art was produced is a great error of judgment and
taste. But we can bring obelisks to New York as relics just as we bring antique bronzes, prehistoric implements, old statues, and old paintings. If the Greek Venus of Milo may with propriety stand in the Louvre in Paris, an Egyptian column may, with equal propriety, be placed in a public square in New York.
Books of the Day.
CHE month should be distinguished by a red mark in the poetical calendar which brings to our table two such poems as "The Light of Asia" and "Blanid," each discriminated from the other by its own special qualities, but both presenting the unmistakable hues of "that light that never was on land or sea." In "The Light of Asia"* Mr. Edwin Arnold endeavors to depict the life and character and indicate the philosophy of Prince Gautama of India, the founder of Buddhism. A theme of greater grandeur or more profound significance could hardly be imagined, for Gautama is one "whose personality, though imperfectly revealed in the existing sources of information, can not but appear the highest, holiest, and most beneficent, with one exception, in the history of thought." Moreover, the faith which he promulgated has stood the test of twenty-four centuries, and at this day surpasses, in the number of its votaries and the area of its prevalence, any other form of creed; furnishing their moral and religious ideas to more than a third of mankind. "Four hundred and seventy millions of our race," says Mr. Arnold, "live and die in the tenets of Gautama; and the spiritual dominions of this ancient teacher extend at the present time from Nepaul and Ceylon over the whole Eastern Peninsula to China, Japan, Thibet, Central Asia, Siberia, and even Swedish Lapland. India itself might fairly be included in this magnificent empire of belief, for, though the profession of Buddhism has for the most part passed away from the land of its birth, the mark of Gautama's sublime teaching is stamped ineffaceably upon modern Brahmanism, and the most characteristic habits and convictions of the Hindoos are clearly due to the benign influence of Buddha's precepts. . . . Forests of flowers are daily laid upon his stainless shrines, and countless millions of lips daily repeat the formula, 'I take refuge in Buddha."
From such a theme any imagination less bold or insight less profound than that of Milton might well shrink back; yet, with no qualities which even remotely suggest Milton, Mr. Arnold has produced an epic poem of genuine grandeur, elevation, and beauty. The chief difficulty of his subject he has avoid
*The Light of Asia; or, The Great Renunciation, Being the Life and Teaching of Gautama, Prince of India and Founder of Buddhism. By Edwin Arnold, M. A. Boston: Roberts Brothers. 16mo, pp. 238.
ed by concentrating the interest upon the strictly human side of Gautama's character-his humility and gentleness, his simplicity, his tender affections, his sensitiveness to sorrow, and his compassionate love for his fellow men. The element of the supernatural is introduced just sufficiently to give local color to the narrative, and to indicate the nature of the legends which the reverence of later disciples has clustered round the founder's name; but, though the literary effect is greatly enhanced by this, the nobility of Buddha's character, the sublimity of his teaching, and the reality of his mission, are made to appear (as in truth they are) entirely independent of the signs and wonders by which their revelation was supposed to have been accompanied and vindicated.
In the delineation of character the poem achieves an unquestionable success; for, whether the Gautama here depicted corresponds to the real Gautama or not, he conveys a distinct and vivid impression of a most noble, tender, and beneficent personality. He is no mere plexus of abstract virtues or convenient label for a series of superhuman and miraculous deeds, but a man keenly alive to all the sorrowful aspects of human life, and passionately convinced, after long experiment upon himself, that man is not the plaything of the gods, but that each may find within himself the means of his own salvation. The exposition of doctrine is something essentially beyond the province of poetry, and it is sufficiently high praise to say that Mr. Arnold manages this portion of his work so skillfully as really to interest and instruct the reader without sinking quite to the level of prose. He makes no attempt to enter into details, but contents himself with indicating in a series of pregnant verses, after the manner of Omar Khayyam, all that is essential to his purpose-the general purport of Buddha's teachings. The powerful literary charm of the poem is due mainly to its Oriental warmth of feeling and richness of imagery. Here Mr. Arnold's long residence in India has stood him in good stead, and he is almost the only Western writer whose verse is surcharged with the opulence of "the gorgeous East," and yet conveys the impression of vraisemblance. Moore's "Lalla Rookh" is the mere tour de force of a nimble fancy, and possesses no more of the illusion of reality than Coleridge's “Kubla Khan.”
Preparatory to offering a few extracts-which will be far more effective than analysis or commentary in giving an idea of Mr. Arnold's work—it may
be well to explain that, in order to secure the Oriental point of view, indispensable in a work of such a character, the poem is put into the mouth of an imaginary Buddhist votary. It opens with an account of Buddha's birth, and of the portents in earth and heaven by which it was preceded and accompanied. He was the son of the mightiest of the princes of India, King Suddhodana, and his strange and high destiny was predicted before his birth and confirmed by the superhuman precocity of his childish wisdom. When he was eight years old the King secured the wisest men of his realm to direct his studies, but it was found that he already knew more than his teachers, and that all the fruits of the tree of knowledge were at his command. Not less remarkable than his knowledge, however, even thus early, were his humility, his gentleness, and his sensibility. The first incident of his life which signalized the wider destiny to which he was called is narrated in a passage which, though long, is worth reproducing both for its intrinsic beauty and for the indication which it affords of the origin and character of Buddha's mission. Only once before, on seeing a wounded swan, had the young Prince learned what was meant by sorrow and suffering:
"But on another day the King said, 'Come,
Sweet son and see the pleasaunce of the spring,
Planted both feet upon the leaping share
To make the furrow deep; among the palms
Goading their velvet flanks: then marked he, too,
A space, and let me muse on what ye show.'
Now the King, who desired a more brilliant career for his son than that of prophet and reformer, was alarmed by this incident, and in order to divert the Prince's attention from all such un-princely thoughts, procured for him a wife, the most beautiful in the land, and had a magnificent palace built, embowered in gardens, and surrounded by a wall that shut out all contact with the great world, and whence none of the inmates were allowed to issue. The very words pain and death, sorrow and suffering, were prohibited here, and in their place was substituted all that could soothe the mind and intoxicate the senses. How the King's design was frustrated at length is narrated in what is perhaps the finest passage in the poem :
"In which calm home of happy life and love
Ligged our Lord Buddha, knowing not of woe,
But Prince Siddartha heard the Devas play,
'We are the voices of the wandering wind,
'Wherefore and whence we are ye can not know,
'What pleasure hast thou of thy changeless bliss ?
'O Maya's son ! because we roam the earth Moan we upon these strings; we make no mirth, So many woes we see in many lands,
So many streaming eyes and wringing hands.
'Yet mock we while we wail, for, could they know,
But thou that art to save, thine hour is nigh!
The blind world stumbleth on its round of pain;
We are the voices of the wandering wind:
'So sigh we, passing o'er the silver strings,
Troubled and aroused by this message, the Prince demanded of the King permission to ride forth and see mankind. The King, advised by his council, reluctantly consented, but ordered that the city should deck itself as for a festival, and that no sick or maimed, no leper, no feeble folk, and none stricken deep in years, should appear upon the streets. The Prince, at the appointed time, rides about, and is delighted with the universal happiness which appears to prevail; but, passing beyond the gates
"Slow tottering from the hovel where he hid,
Crept forth a wretch in rags, haggard and foul,
The Prince, who had never before seen old age,
was shocked, and learning that this was the common fate of all that lived, returned to his palace "pondering, sad of mien and mood." Still unsatisfied, however, and brooding upon the disclosure that had been made, he demanded once more
"... to see this world beyond his gates,
He asked to be allowed to go forth unannounced, so that he might see the streets and the people in their usual workday aspect, and learn "the lives which those men live who are not kings." This time he encountered a wretch stricken to earth with mortal disease, and writhing in the death-agony; and a little farther on saw a funeral procession, the wailing mourners, and the burning of the corpse. Bewildered, he addressed himself to his attendant, and learned that this is the end of all who live :
"... But lo! Siddartha turned
They can not save! I would not let one cry
He is not God?-Channa! lead home again!
The foregoing citations will suffice to show how strong must be the temptation to trace in like man. ner the subsequent stages of Buddha's career-his renunciation of all his advantages as heir of a great
kingdom and husband of a loving wife; his self-assumed poverty and association with the outcasts of the earth; his long wanderings in search of "the Light"; his fastings, vigils, and meditations; his struggles with the evils and temptations of the world; and his final triumph in the discovery and proclamation of those truths which would solace and save his suffering fellow men. Many striking and noble passages adorn these later stages of the narrative; but we have already drawn so largely upon the space at our command that we can find room for but one more, which is presented as a specimen of Mr. Arnold's powers of picturesque description. It depicts the night when the Prince leaves his palace in order to set forth upon his mission :
"Softly the Indian night smiles on the plains
Mr. Arnold says in his preface that his work was "inspired by an abiding desire to aid in the better mutual knowledge of East and West"; and it may be confidently said that no recent poem has touched more profoundly those universal sentiments and needs which sweep away all differences of place and time, and unite mankind in a common hope and a common destiny.
VERY different in subject, and not less different in its characteristic qualities, is "Blanid," by the author of "Deirdre." In "Deirdrè " (whose authorship is now revealed to those for whom it was not already an open secret) Dr. Joyce showed a certain power for treating picturesquely and interestingly the old Celtic legends of his native Ireland, and in his later work he has sought inspiration at the same fount. He describes himself as "of the race of those langsyne, the makers of heroic minstrelsy," and declares that though he has searched many a field of foreign lore for themes of song, his thoughts always
return to his native land and the heroes she nursed
in ages gone. "Blanid" is an attempt to recall
* Blanid. By Robert D. Joyce, author of "Deirdre." Boston: Roberts Brothers. 16m0, pp. 249.
some of these heroes and heroines from "the dusky haze of Eld," and to depict in such warm tints as the historic imagination can furnish “ their thoughts and ways of love and war."
The story is of a daughter of the King of the Isle of Man, whose beauty is so great that the fame of it goes abroad into every land, and her hand is sought in marriage by all the princes of Western Europe. She refuses them all, but at length falls in love with the son of her father's most powerful enemy, whom she can not marry. At length the princes, including her lover, form a league to win her by force; and, gathering their hosts, storm her father's stronghold, and slay him and most of his people. In the distribution of the spoils the maiden falls to the lot of a stranger knight who bears her away to a distant shore. Subsequently her lover treacherously slays this knight, and takes her away to his own home; where, however, their happiness is brief, for a minstrel of the slain knight follows them, and at a hunting-feast seizes Blanid on the verge of a great cliff and leaps with her into the sea, where they are lost for ever.
The story is well and vigorously told, with great elaboration of detail, with much musical verse in the Spenserian measure, with many tripping lyrics at appropriate intervals, with vivid descriptions of desperate fights and strange wiles of demonic enchantment. Its fault is an utter absence of human interest. Buddha, in Mr. Arnold's poem, though of the lineage of the gods, is a far more real and human personage than these trooping shadows, who, if they were men at all, would be savages. Even Blanid, though she is the subject of half the description in the volume, never approaches near enough to objective existence to awaken in us any emotion whatever. Our recollection of "Deirdrè" has now become rather vague, but we can hardly be mistaken in the impression that the heroine of that poem was far more successful in achieving personality and enlisting our sympathies, and that in general the story and the incidents were more plausible and life-like. If this be so, "Blanid," with all its facility and musicalness of verse, is a distinct falling off from the earlier work; for in these heroic poems the heroes and their doings are simply grotesque if unreal.
Another criticism which must be made is that
the imitation of William Morris, which was remarked in "Deirdre" is, if possible, still more obvious in "Blanid." So frankly, indeed, has the author taken Morris as his model that it looks as if he had delib
erately and consciously entered into competition with him in a field which Morris may almost be said to have made his own. If this be so, perhaps the most acceptable compliment we can pay him will be to say-as can be said truly-that parts of his poem might easily be mistaken for Morris's, if the authorship were unknown.
Whatever may be its defects, however, “Blanid" is very readable, and such lines as the following will rightly be held to excuse many faults: "Green are the hills of early summer-time,
And lingering long their emerald glories fade,
When Autumn with slow steps begins to climb
Till long-drawn glen and bosky upland glade,
The glory of the heather's purple glow,
As the long years glide on with footsteps slow; The woods are bare, the hills are cold and gray,
The cheerless moons no genial heat bestow; And thus the earth changed with the changing sun Till winter and the Samhain feast came on."
Many dainty lyrics, as we have said, break the rapid current of the narrative and lend it variety. Here is one of the most graceful of them :
"Deep in the dells where ferns are growing A fountain springs,
And o'er its wavelets gently flowing
Oh! how he sings unto his mate
While I sit here all desolate
And think, beloved, of you!
"O happy bird, each hour returning Unto its nest,
Love's rapture in its bosom burning!
How dear the sky-lark's happy state
If it had not already been appropriated by Messrs. Gostwick and Harrison's book, "Outlines of German Literature" would have been a much better, or, at least, more accurately descriptive, title for the late Bayard Taylor's posthumous work than the one that has been chosen.* The word "studies," as here used, is commonly understood to imply much more minute and exhaustive criticism and analysis than Mr. Taylor has attempted; and it has the additional defect of failing to suggest the fact that the book furnishes a consecutive and fairly complete sketch of German literature, from its remote Gothic sources to
its culmination in Goethe, Schiller, and their only less great contemporaries. Two or three of the chapters, such as those on "Faust" and on "Jean Paul Richter," might fairly be described as "studies"; but the work is, in the main, a series of bold and rapid historical outlines, dealing only with the large and characteristic features, and leaving the details to be filled in by such further research as the reader may be tempted to undertake.
* Studies in German Literature. By Bayard Taylor. With an Introduction by George H. Boker. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. 8vo, pp. 418.
The book consists of a course of twelve lectures, delivered by Mr. Taylor to the students of Cornell University, and intended to serve as an introduction and guide to German literature. Later, in order to adapt them to more popular audiences, he added translations of select passages, designed to illustrate the author and the period under discussion. It is understood to have been his intention to recast the substance of the lectures into a form more appropriate for reading, but he never found leisure himself to make the necessary changes, and his editors have rightly decided that the public would prefer having the material in its original shape, to having it tampered with by other hands. Nor, we think, would the changes have contributed very greatly to the interest or usefulness of the work, even if Mr. Taylor had lived to make them. No doubt the essays would have shown a smoothness, finish, and precision of style which the lectures lack, and certain parts which have been somewhat hurriedly treated, owing to the limitations of time, would have been more carefully elaborated; but, on the other hand, the more scholarly essays would almost certainly have lost something of that animation and vivacity which the lectures possess, and which are quite as grateful to the reader as they must have been to the hearer. Moreover, the lectures as now presented exhibit very little of that carelessness and levity of treatment which is so apt to characterize compositions intended for oral delivery, where the attention of a promiscuous audience must never be allowed to flag, and where amusement must be regarded as even more essential than instruction. Mr. Taylor evidently considered his work as a serious and important undertaking; and, while his style and method of treatment are admirably adapted to arouse what Mr. Boker calls "the sympathetic appreciation of the crowded lecture-room," they lose very little when subjected to "critical examination under the dry light of the study." Very few of the lectures delivered at our colleges, or on our platforms, would stand the ordeal of translation into print so well as do these of Mr. Taylor's.
The titles of the several lectures will indicate with sufficient definiteness the scope and nature of the subjects with which Mr. Taylor deals. They are as follows: "Earliest German Literature," "The Minnesingers," "The Medieval Epics," "The Nibelungenlied," "The Literature of the Reformation," "The Literature of the Seventeenth Century," "Lessing," "Klopstock, Wieland, and Her
der," ," "Schiller," "Goethe," "Goethe's Faust," and "Richter." The later lectures are the best, chiefly because in them the author is less fettered by the necessity of crowding many details into small space; and the one on "Faust" is best of all. It is full of the most subtile and suggestive criticism; it renders luminously clear the underlying moral motive of a poem which is almost as baffling to an ordinary reader as a metaphysical treatise; and it arouses a sympathetic admiration which "Faust" itself will in most cases fail to do. In every lecture, selected passages from the authors under discussion are print