페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

a

a

[ocr errors]

Mrs. Delany's correspondence except to have some sanguinary at times as the gazette of a battle. There record made of their sicknesses or death. The can be little doubt that the lancet was once a far "ague" seems to have been considered an inevitable deadlier weapon than the sword. People were bled ailment of childhood, precisely as whooping-cough before a fever, during a fever, and after a fever; they and the measles are now; and no child of the period were bled as soon as the symptoms of disease preappears to have failed of its duty in this regard, sented themselves, and they were bled to help forthough how either patient or disease survived the ward convalescence; sick or well, some pretext was treatment to which it was subjected must always re- found for bleeding them, and, whenever a doctor main a mystery and a marvel. ' Bark” was admin. could think of nothing else to do, he bared his lancet istered in quantities sufficient to have tanned the in- and began to feel around for a vein. Sweet Anne terior of their little stomachs, and when bark failed Granville, the sister of Mrs. Delany-a pale, frail, these two “infallible receipts" were recommended : delicate creature, who evidently stood in need of the "1. Pounded ginger, made into a paste with bran- most nourishing possible diet-was literally (as it is dy, spread on sheep's leather, and a plaster of it laid easy to see now) bled into a premature grave ; and over the navel. 2. A spider put into a goose-quill, Lord Tichborne, a boy of seventeen, eldest son of well sealed and secured, and hung about the child's the Duke of Portland, being sick with the small. neck as low as the pit of the stomach.”

pox, had fifty-six ounces of blood taken from him Such children as were perverse enough to survive within forty-eight hours ! the ague and the bark sometimes had worms, but Some of the passages in Mrs. Delany's letters are there was another “infallible receipt” for the cure really too monstrous and sickening to quote; and, in of these, and it was confided (in italics) by Mrs. De- view of all we have cited, well may the editor of the lany to her sister, whose little boy was so troubled: correspondence say that “the constant agues which "A pound of quicksilver boiled in a gallon of water children suffered from in the last century and the till half the water is consumed away; to be constant- incessant course of drugs which they imbibed inly drunk at his meals or whenever he is dry." To be wardly and outwardly give cause for wonder that effective, it is added, this remedy “must be continued anybody survived to be öled when they were grown constantly for a year." Nearly as inviting, and up, or that, having thus survived, any one ever ardoubtless equally efficacious, was the remedy for rived at old age !" coughs: “Does Mary cough in the night? Two or three snails boiled in her barley-water or tea-water,

MADAME DE RÉMUSAT. or whatever she drinks, might be of service to her ; taken in time, they have done wonderful cures. She The large public of readers who are now enjoymust know nothing of it—they give no manner of ing the perusal of Madame de Rémusat's revelations taste. It would be best nobody should know it but of social and court life, under the Consulate and the yourself, and I should imagine six or eight boiled in First Empire, would doubtless be glad to know somea quart of water strained off and put into a bottle thing of the rather remarkable woman who wrote would be a good way, adding a spoonful or two of these piquant and entertaining memoirs. Madame that to every liquid she takes. They must be fresh de Rémusat may be said to have been almost endone every two or three days, otherwise they grow tirely unknown in this country previous to the pubtoo thick."

lication of this work, and yet we find her included in It may seem incredible that any children should the “Portraits of Celebrated Women," which Saintehave survived both the diseases and the remedies; Beuve, the French essayist and critic, gave to the nevertheless, we have testimony to the fact that some world years ago. From this sketch we learn that actually did, and those who were unlucky enough to Madame de Rémusat had made essays in literature do so were speedily introduced to the small-pox. which attracted the attention of some of her conThis, like the ague, appears to have been numbered temporaries, but which are probably little known among the inevitable visitations of Providence, and, now. “She had written early with facility and so far from any attempt being made to escape the grace," says Sainte-Beuve (we make our extracts infection, particular pains were taken when one mem- from the translation of H. W. Preston, published by ber of a family was stricken down to give the rest Roberts Brothers); "short essays of hers have been an opportunity to enjoy the same distinction. Even discovered, composed at the age of fifteen or sixin such a family as the Duke of Portland's, where, teen, as well as novelettes and attempted translapresumably, the best medical advice would be had, tions of some of the odes of Horace. Every night no attempt seems to have been made to keep the for years she committed to paper a graphic narrative sick from the well ; and, the eldest son being absent of the day's events. All her life she wrote many at college when his sisters were taken sick, he was and long letters, the greater part of which have been allowed to come home and take his chances with the preserved and may yet be collected.” She wrote rest-the result in his case being an especially malig- two romances: the first, entitled "Charles and Claire ; nant attack of the disease.

or the Flute," was published in 1814, of which SaintePeople at all familiar with earlier medical prac. Beuve says the plot was “graceful and peculiar"; tice are aware of the frightful amount of bloodshed the second, under the title of “The Spanish Letter; to which sick and feeble folk were subjected. The or the Minister," was begun in 1805, but not comcorrespondence of Mrs. Delany in this particular is as pleted until 1820. Another work, published by her

son after her death, consisted of letters on Female pened, Bonaparte inadvertently thought aloud. She Education. “I shall not examine in detail," re- could hear, comprehend, and follow him. He was very marks Sainte-Beuve, “a book which any reader will quick to detect this sort of intelligence, and had an unappreciate. The whole aim and spirit of the work bounded admiration for it, especially in a woman. ... are moral, earnest, graceful. We feel the presence communicativeness, and put a stop to the conversations of

Different causes and circumstances soon checked the early in it of a peculiar inspiration, a kind of secret muse.

the hero with the woman of intelligence-first, her own One must be a mother to yearn thus tenderly over realization of the uncertainty of her position, then the coming generations; and when she drew her ideal increasing stringency of imperial etiquette. Madame de wife she was thinking of her son."

Rémusat's was undoubtedly too free and active a mind Madame de Rémusat was Claire Elisabeth Gra- for her to hear politics discussed without subsequent revier de Vergennes, and was born in Paris in the year flections. This the Emperor perceived, and it made him 1780. She was grand-niece to that minister of Louis suspicious. She was attached by affection as well as XVI. who bore the same name. Her father, at the position to the Empress Josephine, and she felt it to be

her duty to follow the fortunes of the latter. M. de time of the breaking out of the Revolution, held at

Rémusat continued near the Emperor, fulfilling the funcParis an important post, amounting to a kind of gen- tions of his office with more of precision and conscieneral directorship. He took part in the administra- tiousness than of ardor. After the divorce there was a tion of the Commune in 1789, but was soon set marked and definite withdrawal of patronage, and their aside, and perished on the scaffold in 1794. Soon close connection with M. de Talleyrand during the last after, in her seventeenth year, Mademoiselle de Ver. years of the Empire caused the shadow of his disgrace to gennes was married to M. de Rémusat, a former fall upon them. magistrate of the Supreme Court. “In this bridegroom of double her own age," says Sainte-Beuve,

Sainte-Beuve published this essay in 1858, and "she found an accomplished guide and friend; and Madame de Rémusat had even then long lain in the with him, her mother, and her sister, she continued grave. She died in 1821, nearly sixty years before for some years after her marriage to live a life of re

her descendants have thought fit to give her remarktirement, quiet enjoyment, and intellectual culture." able reminiscences to the world. The “Memoirs" Madame de Rémusat's mother had long been ac

must have been known in part at least to Saintequainted with Madame Beauharnais, and their ac

Beuve, for he declared that he had not the right quaintance continued after the latter became Madame to appropriate them, and he describes the circumBonaparte. When the First Consul had firmly es

stances of her destruction of the first manuscript as tablished the new government, Madame de Ver. follows: “In 1815, during the hundred days, some gennes applied for a position for her son-in-law, and peculiar circumstances, which she doubtless exagMadame Bonaparte then conceived the idea of taking gerated, excited her alarm on the score of these Madame de Rémusat for one of her ladies in wait. papers, teeming as they were with items and with ing, making M. de Rémusat Prefect of the Palace. names. Veracity is almost always terrible. She The readers of the “Memoirs" know the rest. Ma. sallied forth to place them in the keeping of a friend, dame de Rémusat was then twenty-two years of age, but, failing to find her, she returned in haste, and and Sainte-Beuve describes her as follows:

threw them into the fire. Before an hour had

elapsed, she regretted what she had done. It was Her classic face was animated most of all by the ex- not until the publication of Madame de Staël's work pression of her very beautiful black eyes. The rest of on the French Revolution that she felt the courage her features, though not striking at first, rather gained to undertake once more the collection of her remi. upon inspection, and her whole person seemed to im- niscences. In default of the first incomparable narprove the longer you regarded it. ...d should have too rative, those will be partially indemnified who shall much to say, and I should say too little, were I to follow one day read the second." Madame de Rémusat through that court-life into which she found herself thrust at twenty-two, after her sober and solitary youth. Gifted with prudence and maturity beyond ber years, her upright soul avoided danger, and

THE SPELLING REFORM. her vigorous mind gathered instruction from what she saw. . . . Madame de Rémusat was one of those who talked most with the Consul during these first years.

An article in the last “Princeton Review," by To what did she owe this privilege? She herself has Professor Francis A. March, entitled “Spelling Reaccounted for the fact in a half-bantering tone. She form," is noteworthy not so much because of its arbrought a frank simplicity and easy habits of conversa- guments as for the reason that it is printed in part tion into that world of etiquette and watchwords, the in conformity with the theory it upholds. Alphabet greater number of whose denizens were at first both is spelled alfabet ; are is ar, have is hav, learn is lern, ignorant and timid. She admired Bonaparte, and had philosophy is filosofy, and so on. The arguments not yet learned to fear him. To the abrupt questions continually advanced by the spelling reformers are and rapid monologues with which he addressed them, that many letters in English words are silent, and the other women generally replied by monosyllables only, should therefore be excised ; that it is possible in while she sometimes had a thought, and ventured to express it. At first this caused something very like scandal, many instances to advantageously substitute one letand awakened extreme jealousy; and she was obliged to ter for another ; that our system of spelling, which is purchase forgiveness by silence on the morrow. But she now so conflicting, ought to be more uniform. There could do better even than respond, when, as often hap- is no denying these assertions: there are silent letters; there are instances where a word would be and American books, it is almost imperative for a spelled nearer to the sound by the change of a let. uniform system of spelling to be adopted. Whether ter; and there is irregularity in our system of or- men shall spell have hav, or philosophy filosofy, thography. But the extent of these evils is greatly seems to us very much less urgent than for such coexaggerated by spelling reformers; and certainly we operation between English and American printers as should only add confusion to confusion if every writer will render books from either land equally easy to may at his pleasure set up a system of spelling, and comprehend and equally agreeable to read by Eng. every printer print books according to his notion of lish-speaking peoples everywhere. There ought to a reformed orthography. Already there are differ. be prepared an international dictionary under the ences in spelling between English and American joint supervision of English and American scholars, books, and even between Boston and New York having the sanction of the great seats of learning in books, that are vexatious to scholarly readers, and both countries, which should be accepted as the final doubtless perplexing to others; and one can but standard everywhere. If our spelling reformers wonder what sort of spelling reform that is which would labor to bring this about, they would do the begins by widening differences and intensifying the Anglo-Saxon world an immense service. But it is existing confusion. Reformers who prematurely hopeless to expect this so long as people entertain an force new divergences into common practice simply exaggerated idea of the defects of English spelling. show that they are very much more enamored of We sometimes hear of the enormous saving to writ. their theories than intent upon rendering practical ers and printers the exclusion of silent letters would service in the cause they espouse. To our mind it make, but, according to our estimate, these silent let. is very desirable that the English-speaking world ters are not more than five per centum, which does not should unite upon a uniform method of spelling and strike us as so great a matter. And it will be found that pronunciation. Whether there are a few more or the words which perplex foreigners so greatly consti. less silent letters in use, or whether an occasional word tute but a very small group. The main obstacle to is spelled contrary to established analogies, seems foreigners and pupils is the identity in sound of to us unimportant beside the question of uniformity. words that have different meaning, such as hear, American spelling is already so distasteful to Eng. here, there, their, and for this difficulty phonetic lish readers that they are repelled from our litera- spelling provides no remedy. The notions that the ture ; and, if books are now to be printed in the present irregularity in our spelling is a fatal obmanner of Professor March's article, our authors struction to learning to spell and that “one of the would be set down by English readers as writers in causes of excessive illiteracy among the English. a barbaric tongue, and their books shut out alto- speaking peoples is the difficulty of the English gether. And then a very large number of books read spelling " seem to us very absurd. In fact, all those here are published in England, while in many in- people who habitually read and write know how to stances those published here are printed from stereo- spell, and those whose habits are unliterary are very type-plates made from the English originals, giving, . apt to be bad spellers; and the spelling reformers of course, the English spelling. Inasmuch as read- will never be able to invent a short road to orthogers thus fairly divide their attention between British raphy that will obliterate this distinction.

Books of the Day.

In

N those minute details which furnish the raw though Mr. James thinks that its tone “is not the

records of the life of Hawthorne are singularly de- two essays is, that in Mr. Lathrop's the attention is ficient. All the facts that are known about him mainly concentrated upon Hawthorne the man, might easily be compressed within the limits of a while in Mr. James's the principal aim is to define magazine article, and even these facts will be found the quality and measure the value of Hawthorne for the most part curiously impersonal and inconclu- the author. In the one case, the writer is an arden: sive. Partly for this reason, and partly because the and enthusiastic devotee and hero-worshiper ; in the industry of Mr. Lathrop had already brought to other, he is a cool and impartial analyst and dis. gether all accessible details, Mr. James's little book sector. on Hawthorne * has taken the form rather of a criti.

The first definite impression that one gets in cal essay than of a biography. Mr. Lathrop's reading Mr. James's sketch is that of the peculiar “Study of Hawthorne" is also chiefly critical, attitude of separateness or dissociation which he as

sumes and maintains toward Hawthorne. The fact * English Men of Letters. Edited by John Morley. that the book was written for an English series ex. Nathaniel Hawthorne. By Henry James, Jr. New plains such items as his always calling “ The Marble York: Harper & Brothers. 12mo. Pp. 177.

Faun ” by its English title of “Transformation,”

a

and his saying that Hawthorne " came to Europe"; whole, a simpler life. His six volumes of Note-Books but the “foreign " tone, so to call it, is revealed in illustrate this simplicity; they are a sort of monument much more subtile and pervasive touches, and it is to an unagitated fortune. Hawthorne's career had no difficult to escape the suspicion that an ever-present vicissitudes or variations ; it was passed, for the most motive in the author's mind was the fear of appear- cial, rural community; it had few perceptible points of

part, in a small and homogeneous society, in a provining“ provincial” in English eyes—the word “ pro- contact with what is called the world, with public events, vincial," by the way, fills a curiously conspicuous with the manners of his time, even with the life of his place in Mr. James's vocabulary. It may be con- neighbors. Its literary incidents are not numerous. He ceded at once that Mr. James's European culture produced, in quantity, but little. His works consist of and cosmopolitan experiences give him a great ad- four novels and the fragment of another, five volumes of vantage in defining Hawthorne's position as an art. short tales, a collection of sketches, and a couple of ist, and it is hardly to be expected that he should story-books for children. And yet some account of the be influenced by the patriotic bias in the same man

man and the writer is well worth giving. Whatever

may have been Hawthorne's private lot, he has the imner as Mr. Lathrop, for example ; but there is something more than the mere aloofness of the critic in portance of being the most beautiful and most eminent

representative of a literature. The importance of the his work, and, if our senses do not deceive us, his literature may be questioned, but, at any rate, in the field air is slightly patronizing not only toward Haw- of letters, Hawthorne is the most valuable example of thorne but toward everything American. No doubt the American genius. That genius has not, as a whole, it is essential in criticism that what M. Taine calls been literary ; but Hawthorne was in his limited scale a the milieu of the artist should be recognized and al. master of expression. He is the writer to whom his lowed for; but surely-leaving wholly out of con- countrymen most confidently point when they wish to sideration the circumstances and conditions under make a claim to have enriched the mother-tongue, and,

judging from present appearances, he will long occupy which they were produced, and regarding them as

this honorable position. works of art pure and simple - Hawthorne's romances will compare favorably with anything of the This is a cordial recognition of Hawthorne's prekind produced in England either at the time or eminent position in our national literature, and there since. It is the consciousness of this that causes is a finely true and discriminating insight in Mr. one to resent the slightly apologetic air with which James's suggestion that there was for Hawthorne in Mr. James assures his readers that his praise of this very eminence something cheerless and dreary : Hawthorne is to be construed in a “relative" (not to say “Pickwickian ") sense. And, furthermore, it fancy him appealing from the lonely honor of a repre

He was so modest and delicate a genius that we may is difficult to avoid feeling that this cautious, minc- sentative attitude-perceiving a painful incongruity being, grudging criticism, is peculiarly out of place tween his imponderable literary baggage and the large when exercised upon one who was the most modest conditions of American life. Hawthorne, on the one and least exacting of authors; and of whom it can side, is so subtile and slender and unpretending, and the hardly be said that he was ever either over-praised American world, on the other, is so vast and various and or over-rewarded.

substantial, that it might seem to the author of "The Another fault which results from what seems to Scarlet Letter" and the “Mosses from an Old Manse,” us Mr. James's hypercritical method is that his por- portions with those of a great civilization. But our au

that we render him a poor service in contrasting his protrait of Hawthorne has the precise defect which he thor must accept the awkward as well as the graceful side complains of in Hawthorne's fictitious characters: of his fame ; for he has the advantage of pointing a it lacks reality-it does not bring a concrete and valuable moral. This moral is, that the flower of an art living person before us. The analysis is so subtile blooms only where the soil is deep, that it takes a great and exhaustive as to defeat its own object; for there deal of history to produce a little literature, that it needs is a mystery in personality which eludes the most a complex social machinery to set a writer in motion. resolute interpreter, and the attempt to lay it en- American civilization has hitherto had other things to do tirely bare is apt to dissolve it into a mere fortuitous than to produce flowers, and before giving birth to write aggregation of qualities.

ers it has wisely occupied itself with providing something

for them to write about. It must be admitted, however, that criticism of a criticism is apt to degenerate into mere refining upon As the biographical portions of Mr. James's words; and, having indicated what appear to us to work are confessedly drawn solely from Mr. Lathrop's be the more noteworthy faults of Mr. James's oth- “Study" and 'from the published Note-Books, the erwise admirable work, we can please our readers reader will search it in vain for any novel discoveries better by reproducing a few passages which shall or revelations ; but Mr. James's estimates of Haw. serve to convey an idea of its merits. Here is one thome's character and writings are always fresh and from the very beginning of the essay which defines individual, and therefore interesting. We have seen very happily the limitations under which a biographer no better analysis of Hawthorne's more prominent of Hawthorne must necessarily labor :

characteristics than is contained in the following Hawthorne's career was probably as tranquil and un

passage : eventful a one as ever fell to the lot of a man of letters ; He was not expansive ; he was not addicted to exit was almost strikingly deficient in incident, in what periments and adventures of intercourse; he was not may be called the dramatic quality. Few men of equal personally, in a word, what is called sociable. The gengenius and of equal eminence can have led, on the eral impression of this silence-loving and shade-seeking

[ocr errors]

1)

side of his character is doubtless exaggerated, and, in so Next to his delineation of Hawthorne's personfar as it points to him as a somber and sinister figure, is ality, the reader will probably be most interested in almost ludicrously at fault. He was silent, diffident, Mr. James's estimates of Hawthorne's writings; but more inclined to hesitate to watch, and wait, and medi- these are detailed and elaborate, and we must contate—than to produce himself, and fonder, on almost any

tent ourselves with mentioning his conclusions. occasion, of being absent than of being present. This

“ The Scarlet Letter," then, he regards as Hawquality betrays itself in all his writings. There is in all of them something cold, and light, and thin-something thorne's masterpiece, and thinks that “it will conbelonging to the imagination alone-which indicates a tinue to be, for other generations than ours, his most man but little disposed to multiply his relations, his points substantial title to fame." “ The House of the Sevof contact, with society. If we read the six volumes of en Gables," he says, " is a rich, delightful, imaginaNote-Books with an eye to the evidence of this unso- tive work, larger and more various than its compancial side of his life, we find it in sufficient abundance. ions, and full of all sorts of deep intentions, of in. But we find at the same time that there was nothing unamiable or invidious in his shyness, and, above all, that rounded and complete as · The Scarlet Letter'; it

terwoven threads of suggestion. But it is not so there was nothing preponderantly gloomy. The qualities to which the Note-Books most testify are, on the has always seemed to me more like the prologue to whole, his serenity and amenity of mind. They reveal

a great novel than a great novel itself.” Of “The those characteristics, indeed, in an almost phenomenal Blithedale Romance" he says that, in spite of “a degree. The serenity, the simplicity, seem in certain certain want of substance and cohesion in the latter portions almost childlike ; of brilliant gayety, of high portions, ... the book is a delightful and beautiful spirits, there is little ; but the placidity and evenness of one"; and he had previously observed that it is temper, the cheerful and contented view of the things he

“the lightest, the brightest, the liveliest of this comnotes, never belie themselves. I know not what else he pany of unhumorous fictions.” Of “ The Marble may have written in this copious record, and what passages of gloom and melancholy may have been sup- of interest, and grace ; but it has, to my sense, a

Faun he says: “It has a great deal of beauty, pressed; but, as his Diaries stand, they offer in a remarkable degree the reflection of a mind whose develop- slighter value than its companions, and I am far ment was not in the direction of sadness.

from regarding it as the masterpiece of the au. Apropos of this latter remark, Mr. James re

thor, a position to which we sometimes hear it futes the too commonly received idea that Haw. assigned. The subject is admirable, and so are thorne was “a dusky and malarious genius," and many of the details; but the whole thing is less simtakes a French critic (M. Emile Montégut) to task ple and complete than either of the three tales of for calling him “Un Romancier Pessimiste":

American life, and Hawthorne forfeited a precious As I have already intimated, his Note-Books are full finally, summing up the personal and literary quali

advantage in ceasing to tread his native soil.” And, of this simple and almost childlike serenity. That dusky ties of Hawthorne in a single paragraph, he writes : preoccupation with the misery of human life and the wickedness of the human heart, which such a critic as M. He was a beautiful, natural, and original genius, and Emile Montégut talks about, is totally absent from them; his life had been singularly exempt from worldly preocand if we may suppose a person to have read these Dia- cupations and vulgar efforts. It had been as pure, as ries before looking into the tales, we may be sure that simple, as unsophisticated as his work. He had lived such a reader would be greatly surprised to hear the primarily in his domestic affections, which were of the author described as a disappointed, disdainful genius. tenderest kind; and then-without eagerness, without “This marked love of cases of conscience," says M. Mon- pretension, but with a great deal of quiet devotion-in tégut; “this tacitum, scornful cast of mind; this habit his charming art. His work will remain ; it is too origiof seeing sin everywhere, and hell always gaping open; nal and exquisite to pass away; among the men of imthis dusky gaze bent always upon a damned world, and agination he will always have a niche. No one has had a nature draped in mourning; these lonely conversations just that vision of life, and no one has had a literary of the imagination with the conscience ; this pitiless form that more successfully expressed his vision. He analysis resulting from a perpetual examination of one's was not a moralist, and he was not simply a poet. The self, and from the tortures of a heart closed before men moralists are weightier, denser, richer, in a sense; the and open before God-all these elements of the Puri poets are more purely inconclusive and irresponsible. character have passed into Mr. Hawthorne, or, to speak He combined in a singular degree the spontaneity of the more justly, have filtered into him, through a long suc- imagination with a haunting care for moral problems. cession of generations.” This is a very pretty and very Man's conscience was his theme: but he saw it in the vivid account of Hawthorne, superficially considered ; light of a creative fancy which added, out of its own and it is just such a view of the case as would commend substance, an interest, and, I may almost say, an imporitself most easily and most naturally to a hasty critic. It tance. is all true indeed, with a difference: Hawthorne was all that M. Montégut says, minus the conviction. The old

This is the concluding paragraph of the book, Puritan moral sense, the consciousness of sin and hell, and, if all that the book contains had been as deli. of the fearful nature of our responsibilities and the savage cately discriminating and appreciative, we should character of our Taskmaster—these things had been have had nothing to say of it but praise. lodged in the mind of a man of fancy, whose fancy had straightway begun to take liberties and play tricks with them-to judge them (Heaven forgive him !) from the poetic and ästhetic point of view, the point of view of

AMONG those traveling Englishwomen whose ad. entertainment and irony. This absence of conviction. ventures in various parts of the world are one of marks the difference; but the difference is great. the most startling phen omena of the times, a high

« 이전계속 »