ABOUT a year before Macaulay at the age of twelve went to Little Shelford to school, Charles Sumner was born in Boston; and it is not unnatural, in reading what is now told us of the American senator’s life,1 to glance for a moment at that of the English historian and statesman. To many it will be a surprise to find so much resemblance in the preparation of each for his career. Both were the sons of severely conscientious men and decided abolitionists (although the elder Sumner took no prominent part for the emancipation cause, as Zachary Macaulay did); both were phenomenal in their devotion to reading, which produced in each a certain conflict of the; literary with the political; and they entered the field of state-craft alike at a crisis in national affairs, — Macaulay plunging at once into the vortex of the Reform of 1832, and Sumner into that struggle, the last movements of which had scarcely ceased when his life ended. Macaulay never could quite recover from his father’s extraordinary though not ill-meant coldness towards him; Sunnier, struggling with what seems to have been a similar rigidity towards his brothers and sisters, in his father, came to a positive breach. They resembled each other, also, in assiduous devotion, unbroken by family or social ties, to their lofty employments; and either man would at once be selected, on the evidence now before us, as the strongest representative, in his period and place, of that form of culture which cannot dissociate itself from great questions and earnest endeavor. Yet it is singular how little Sumner himself, or his friends, foresaw the larger orbit in which he was to move. In 1834, visiting Washington merely as a law student anxious to see some of the great orators, he wrote to Professor Greenleaf, at Cambridge: “I shall probably never come to Washington again. . . . Notwithstanding the attraction of the senate and the newspaper fame I see the politicians there acquire, I feed no envy therefor. ... I see no political condition that I should he willing to desire, even if I thought it within my reach, — which, indeed, I do not think of the humblest.” And it is very curious to find his most intimate classmate at college, John W. Browne, who sympathized warmly with the Brook Farm movement in 1838, writing to Sumner, “There is discordance of spirit now with us: you delighting in the scholar and the lawyer, and I seeking only the man, — passing by the scholar and the lawyer. Let us each tread his path.” We know now that it was Sumner’s path which most surely and splendidly sought “ only the man,”and, though passing by “ the scholar and the lawyer,” carried many of their highest qualities into the field of humanity and reform.
At this time, of course, as Mr. Pierce says, he was always ready to welcome new ideas promising well for the human race, if commendable to his reason ; and a little later he was busy with normal schools and prison discipline; but he held himself even unusually aloof from politics. No mention of the Van Buren campaign occurs in,that year’s correspondence; he was disgusted with the “ log-cabin and hard cider ” cry of 1840, and though desiring the election of Clay in 1844 was not a partisan, and neither spoke nor wrote in the canvass. But we must believe that in the lives of such men there is a shaping instinct far deeper than their own consciousness. This instinct took primarily the same direction, that of wide reading, in both Macaulay and Sumner. With the Old Englander this habit, beginning at the age of three, was the natural accompaniment and outlet of his extraordinary memory, a necessity of his nature, a literary passion. With the New Englander we imagine it to have been the result of that conscientiousness in the matter of intellectual training which belongs to his race, It was not genius, as in Macaulay, but prodigious industry sustained by an indomitable sense of duty. Macaulay was in every way precocious, and entered Parliament at thirty, but the literary passion was strongest in him, and carried him continually back to its proper channel; while in Sumner literary taste and legal ambition were wholly subjected, at last, to humanitarian enthusiasm. Sumner developed slowly, and, as Mr. Pierce tells us, was distinguished at school and college only by his unusual and thorough course of reading. Entering Harvard three years before Josiah Quincy took the presidency, he received the friendship of the great Boston mayor, and in the law school that of Judge Story. Indeed, here began a rich variety and remarkable succession of friendships and acquaintances which were wrought into Sumner’s development with perhaps as great effect as his reading and study. Through this influence, from a shy, somewhat ungainly student, he became a brilliant and self-possessed man of society.
The tour to Europe, which he made in 1838, '39, and '40 with such confidence in his future success that he went in debt for the whole cost of his travels, had much to do with this change. Fortunately it was then the custom, which Sumner’s instructor and friend George Ticknor had also followed, to write long, descriptive letters from Europe to one’s friends in America; and to this we owe one half of the present memoir, which, profoundly interesting throughout, is in this part especially delightful. Besides the immense variety of places and people touched upon, the glow of good spirits and the interest of keen observation contribute to the charm of these epistles. The young lawyer’s portraits of the people he met are only thumb-nail sketches, to be sure, but his gallery contains Brougham, Lord Leicester, of Holkham House (the descendant of Coke), Hallam, Talfourd, the Montagus, Sydney Smith, other lords and ladies at will, poets in plenty; and on the Continent, Guizot, Cousin, and De Tocqueville, with many more. This is certainly a rare collection, and the summaries of character, besides showing an incisive touch, have the unfailing interest of personal observation. The number of persons to whom the letters are addressed is unusually large, and correspondents like Longfellow, Story, and Hillard would naturally draw out the full variety of Sumner’s sympathies. Mr. Pierce, moreover, has so fully annotated them with reference to the distinguished persons mentioned that the biography presents incidentally a summary of events in the lives of these members of the best European society, which in England embraces nearly the whole list of celebrities and brings down the record to the present time. It is thoroughly delightful to read of Sumner’s successes abroad. Without exposing himself to the charge of cringing, like Irving, he captivated everybody while still keeping his eyes open for criticism, — feeling acutely the unequal conditions of English life even while he was welcomed to its utmost luxury, and remaining a staunch American. Some of the details he gives are amusing, as that of Lord Byron, a gentleman in waiting of the royal household at Windsor, speaking of the maids of honor as “ the gals,” and the “ gals ” complaining of stale eggs and the absence of marmalade at breakfast.
How much was made of small national peculiarities at that time may be seen in the profound interest with which Sumner discovered that a peer of France stood in talk with the president of the house “with his thumbs stuck in the armholes of his waistcoat,” — which Sumner had supposed a “ Yankee trick;” and further that a doorkeeper of the chamber of deputies, in a very conspicuous place, sat with his chair on its hind legs, while the minister of public instruction kept cutting with his penknife the mahogany desk in front of him. Rich and entertaining as the account of this tour is in literary and social aspects, it is still more interesting as a monument of Sumner’s prodigious energy in acquiring that full equipment of knowledge which he thought necessary to the larger order of jurists. Unremitting in his attendance on the lectures at the Sorbonne, and the courts of France and England, he mastered the whole English judicial System most thoroughly; perfected his French, and learned Italian and German ; read many standard Italian authors, and kept up to some extent with recent American books ; besides going through with much of the usual sightseeing. He contemplated writing a Comparative View of the Judicial Institutions of France, England, and America; but his information was reserved for other uses, and the influence of these years of enlightened travel was distributed through the whole of his life. Whether the European journey injured more than it improved him seems to have been thought by many to be an open question. In the letters are several half - triumphant allusions to President Quincy’s prophecy against the tour; but certainly as regards Sumner’s success in the law, which was all that had been discussed, the older man’s view was justified by the event. The instinct of Sumner, however, had led him to gather the experience best adapted to a life of statesmanship. Neither was his mind a preëminently and closely legal one, and it might even have been a misfortune to him to have been confined by circumstances to the future he had marked out for himself. Yet there can be little doubt that the flattering reminiscences of his foreign sojourn spoiled him a little, giving him a propensity, which Mr. Pierce mentions, to talk inopportunely to clients about his fortunate experiences and illustrious friends. There was in this a want of tact not uncommon in the New England nature. In it and in the incident of his persistently attempting to make Judge Story change his view of a point of law in a case which Sumner was arguing before his old professor, one sees the trait which afterwards showed itself in his certainly not courteous ridicule of the citizen soldiery before whom he delivered his celebrated oration on international peace. A similar want of judgment led to his memorable mistake of the battle flags resolution, late in life. He had that narrowness of the reformer which is as essential to him as the sharp end is to a wedge; and his biographer has given illustration of his inability to give up an opinion when he had once formed it; yet his colleague, Hillard, once wrote to him of “ that facility of temper and disinclination to say no, of which I have so often discoursed to you.” Felton speaks of his “ mistaken fastidiousness,” and of his keeping aloof from the best of human sympathies. A blending like this, of the opinionative with the amiable, and of fastidious reserve with the polished cordiality and the conversational power that Sumner had, is not very common, and is also not apt to he popular. By it Sumner was assisted in standing immovable as a rock when occasion required, without diminishing that fine dignity of culture which, with his unimpeachable morality, fixed his place so high among the men of a period which begins to be called a past one.
Thus we find in these memorial volumes, recording a private life in itself so well worth describing, a key to the public life which followed it. The one complements the other,
Is rounded in the stream,” —
these lines, applied by Longfellow to the completion of Sumner’s life in the hereafter, bearing singularly well on the relation between the two parts of the senator’s earthly existence. For the clearness of our impression we are greatly indebted to Mr. Pierce, who has not used a superfluous word in his own narrative, and avoids all risk of obscuring the outline by refraining from the expression of opinions. There is a republican plainness, a civic solidity, in Mr. Pierce’s writing, which commends itself as befitting the subject. The memoir must inevitably take its place, both for mode of execution and for inherent interest, among the best of American and English biographies.
— No one who ever saw Thomas Starr King or beard him speak is likely wholly to forget him. But the many who personally loved and admired and still lament him, and those to whom he is only a brilliant name, alike owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Whipple for the just and eloquent memorial prefixed to the small selection from Mr. King’s sermons recently published by Osgood.2 Mr. King’s was one of those bright and brief careers in which the light of reason and charity is so concentrated that it remains visible and encouraging at an immense distance in a naughty world. A poet, a patriot, peerless as a lover aud friend, self-devoted from his earliest consciousness to the furtherance of all great and good causes, an incessaut doer of kind and wise deeds, no less than an elected and electric preacher of righteousness to other men, his place is with Sidney, with Mendelssohn, with all those high favorites of the gods who have most triumphantly and soonest completed the great work given them to do. Mr. Whipple writes from the point of view of a near friend and mourner, if not disciple, and there is something very touching in the sad pride he takes in quoting his own fond and eulogistic words of farewell, spoken when Mr. King left Boston for California, and in reminding us that he did not wait until his friend was dead before expressing his “earnest recognition of his admirable talents and virtues.” Yet the critical acumen and experience in which Mr. Whipple surpasses all our other writers seem not to embarrass but only to assist his analysis of the rare intrinsic merits and very slight formal defects of that portion of Mr, King’s remains which he has now edited.
There is perhaps just a touch of the distinctive cant of Unitarianism in the title selected for this series of twenty-two sermons, — Christianity and Humanity. But the association vanishes when one begins to read ; and it is hard to see how, at this perplexing day, any sermons could be more to the purpose than these. They are all alive with a keen consciousness of spiritual things. They shine with an inextinguishable faith in a future state less encumbered than this with difficult and degrading conditions ; they are penetrated, they are saturated, by so complete an assurance of the continuity of God’s government in this sta te and that coming one that half the puzzles of the present dispensation seem solved even while we read this faint reflex of his ardent words. Of the discourses reprinted in the present volume, this ardor of faith is certainly the most remarkable feature. They contain almost nothing of doctrine, so called, and comparatively little of didactic morality; but they reveal the higher life of the Christian soul, and pressingly invite to enjoy it. In the fourth and fifth sermons, on Christian Thought of the Future Life, and True Spiritual Communications, and in the ninth, tenth, and eleventh, on the Divine Estimate of Death, the Distribution of Sorrows, and the Deliverance from the Fear of Death, how easy, how natural, how vivid and apparently grateful is the conception of an existence from which all merely secular and sensuous conditions have been eliminated ! The dust will not adhere to the wings of this fair spirit, clinging bravely to its stormy perch, and singing loud its song of cheer, yet quivering to be gone.
The editor tells us that “ if the specimens of Mr. King’s pulpit eloquence now presented to the public should meet with a suitable recognition, it is proposed to follow them up with another volume devoted to similar vital truths of experimental religion; and still another volume illustrating the ample learning, keen analysis, and disciplined dialectical power which he brought to the discussion of those controverted points of theology in which the opinions of Unitarian and Universalist scholars and divines are most directly brought into contact and conflict with the opinions of their more ‘orthodox’ opponents;” and Mr. Whipple quotes the praiseworthy example set by the Church of England in carefully collecting and always preserving in good editions the works of her famous divines. It is not probable that the small but honorable “school” of divinity to which Mr. King nominally belonged will have, in religious history, anything like the longevity and authority which has belonged to the Episcopal church as an organization. But in that which makes the man most memorable and his words most moving he is above all schools and controversies; and it is to be hoped that the project of his present editor may be carried into full effect.
— Hours with Men and Books 3 is the title of a volume containing a number of short essays on a great variety of subjects, by Mr. William Mathews, professor of English literature in the University of Chicago. Apparently, these essays had already seen the light in different newspapers and magazines, and it is in order that they may reach a wider public that they are now published in book form. However this may be, those who now take them up for the first time will find a number of entertaining comments on a multitude of subjects, enlivened by well and widely chosen anecdotes. The subjects treated are by no means of equal importance. The reader finds articles on De Quincey and Chamfort which offer such information and, iu the case of the first, at least, such sympathetic admiration as give the comment real value; while the essays on Literary Trilling and a Pinch of Snuff are nothing more than the lightest padding. Throughout the book there is to be noticed an inclination to recount anecdotes about the different matters under discussion rather than to examine them seriously; but surely this is no fault when no pretensions to thoroughness are made. So far as it goes this book seems inspired by an honest attempt to entertain the reader, to arouse within him a love of letters, and to give him a certain amount of information. Even the most trivial of the essays bear witness of the intelligent treatment of quite little, things. Exaggerated early rising receives the contempt it deserves; good living is discreetly recommended; there are many very sensible remarks on education ; so that, on the whole, the book is by no means of such light weight as its entertain bigness would seem to indicate. The author throws his influence, which is none the less for being given attractively, without pedantry and affectation, in favor of the careful reading of the best books, and in support of that theory of education which favors a broad cultivation of the minds of the young rather than the accumulation of merely special knowledge. These things are treated incidentally; the longer essays are bright and' enthusiastic. The whole volume is cortainlv readable, and does credit to its author. Profounder books, it is true, have been written, but it is not every one who has been able to be so useful when aiming to amuse, or so sensible while amusing, as has this author. Wide reading, a good memory, especially for anecdotes, intelligence, humor, and good sense have gone to the making of this volume. At times old jokes are dragged in superfluously, but there are enough new ones and good ones to dispel criticism. After all, a book that encourages the love of letters is so rare in this country that it is impossible not to be grateful to Mr Mathews for one that is so kindly and well intentioned and attractive.
— Mr. Poor has not wholly succeeded in his attempt to reconstruct financial science from its foundations ; but there can be no doubt that he has rendered necessary a careful reinspection of the structure, the rejection of some stones, and the substitution of sound timber at many points where weak or rotten stuff has been allowed to remain quite too long. It would be difficult to name a work of recent production that shows more untiring industry of research than his book on money.1 It would be impossible to name a writer on this subject who has brought to the discussion of it so appalling a degree of independence of thought and fearlessness of expression as he has done. In the long line of writers on finance, Mr. Poor has not found one in whom he discovers more than an occasional and accidental gleam of common sense. It is the habit of his mind to accept nothing whatever as proved, either because it has been held by persons esteemed the profoundest philosophers, or because it has been popularly held and believed by a succession of generations of enlightened men. To say that he expresses his dissent from all accepted conclusions in financial science in the most emphatic manner is but feebly to describe his manner of dissent, He writes with impatience of what he deems the errors of earlier authors, and his frame of mind sometimes leads him to employ sarcasm, sometimes to the use of epithets, He is: always dogmatic and arrogant, whether in asserting his own position or in attacking that of others.
These are the faults of a work which, after all is said that can be said against it, is well worthy of careful reading and study. If it had nothing but its citations from other works to recommend it, these alone give it a comprehensiveness that has not been, we believe, attained or even attempted in any former treatise. Mr. Poor, if a rough striker, is an honorable one. He never assails one with whom he disagrees until he has given his opponent a fair chance to be heard. He quotes by the page, and in no case can we discover that he quotes unfairly. The reader of this treatise thus has in his possession, practically, all that is worth listening to in any noted writer on money from Aristotle down to the present time. He must also be credited with a very full and interesting history of the currencies of the United States, and particularly of the United States Bank. The passage in our political history in which that famous institution — or rather the two institutions of the same name — played a leading part is probably obscure, to say the least, to the present generation of Americans, and this sketch will serve to revive interest in it. There is no mistaking the political bias of Mr. Poor, who can scarcely restrain his fury in writing of Jefferson and Jackson. Coming to later times, he entertains the most hearty contempt for the financial ability of the late Mr. Chase, and not only holds him entirely responsible for the issue of irredeemable paper, but accuses him of untruthfulness in his subsequent opinions, as chief-justice of the United States, on the legal-tender cases. The entire freedom with which the author deals with the greatest reputations makes his work extremely “ lively reading; ” and even those who disagree with him cannot fail to find it entertaining.
We have thus far avoided a statement of Mr. Poor’s peculiar views on the subject of money, — its nature and laws. This is obviously not the place to discuss them, and we must content ourselves with a bare summary of the premises and conclusions of our author. In opposition to the commonly accepted view that gold and silver have come into use as money by convention, or agreement, or as a result of law, he holds that the desire for the precious metals is instinctive. They were first employed as money by weight, before the invention of coining, because every man was willing to part with whatever he had to dispose of in exchange for gold or silver, and because they alone were the objects of that universal desire. In Mr. Poor’s view the coinage of these commodities and the decree that they shall be legal tender add absolutely nothing to their value, but simply to the convenience of their use. Coins are accepted, not because they are coins, but because they contain a certain amount of gold or silver, which all men wish to possess. Every transaction in which gold or silver, in the form of coin or bullion, is one of the commodities exchanged is an act of barter, and the precious metal is not a “representative of value,” but an article in itself of equal value with the other commodity. It is property in the highest form, — supreme property, — the solvent of all exchanges.
This is the foundation principle of Mr. Poor’s system. Those who are familiar with the accepted theories about money will see at once that the old structure cannot stand upon it. From the idea,of money deriving value from agreement or law come logically the principles that money need have no intrinsic value ; that the quantity of money, or rather the relation of that quantity to the business done in the community possessing it, determines its value, so that by diminishing the amount the value of a specified nominal sum may be made greater, and the converse; that hence there is an ascertainable amount of money which can be used and kept at a certain steady value, and that paper money may be kept at par with coin if the aggregate amount of coin and paper in circulation does not exceed what is so found to be necessary; that money, either coin or paper, is not wealth, but merely a “wheel of business,” a medium of exchange, a vard-stick, and so on. Not one of these principles will tit Mr. Poor’s theory. With him money must possess intrinsic value. If coin, it will have precisely the value of an equal weight of equally tine bullion. If paper, it must be symbolic, based upon merchandise and convertible into coin ; and if depreciated it will have just the value it represents in the precious metals at the counter of the issuer, whether a government or a bank. Again, since gold and silver are wealth in the highest form, there can be no such thing as an excess of it, and no amount will affect prices, either to raise or to lower them. Still further, gold and silver are always worth the cost of production, and no increase or diminution of the supply makes any change in the value of say one ounce of either. He holds that truly symbolic money — that is, bank-notes based on merchandise soon to enter iuto consumption, and deposits payable on demand — cannot be inflated. The consumption of the goods sends the notes back for redemption. On the other hand, a currency not symbolic, — bank-notes issued in the discouut of accommodation paper — and all government currencies which are not fully protected previous to issue, he maintains, inflate the currency to the fall amount of the issue.
We have, perhaps, indicated sufficiently the wide divergence of Mr. Poor’s opinions from those of his predecessors. We may further say that he has made out a case strong enough to compel further discussion, He undeniably fails to make good all his points, for in attempting to treat the science of money as an exact science, he leaves altogether out of the account the modification of general principles which law can most certainly effect. To give but one example : there is no room in his system for an explanation of the fact that law can and does accomplish the feat of compelling people to take token coins for more than their value as bullion. One might accept his fundamental rules as true in general, but here is one modification of them that must be admitted. The circulation of silver fractional money worth ninety cents to the dollar in gold alongside of greenback dollars worth ninety-seven cents in gold is unexplainable on his theories, unless he admits that the science is not in all respects “exact.”
As a contribution to financial science the work is to be welcomed. As a help in bringing the United States back to a sound system we fear it will not he useful. If we listen, to the author we must cast aside all that we have done, and begin anew. There are enough “ soft money ” men who would he glad to assent to the first part of the suggestion, but, alas, they would not go a step farther with him! From Mr. Poor’s point of view the way we are going is radically wrong. Perhaps it is; but thus far the methods adopted have led exactly to the results that were predicted for them. There arc occasions when it is wise to swap horses in crossing a stream : when, for example, a strong animal which is breasting the flood bravely passes by one mounted on a weak and fainting creature. But he would be a fool who should risk a change when the hoofs of his own animal had already touched bottom.
— Mr. Ormsby4 has the authority of Lucretius in Latin poetry and of Milton among English writers for discussing philosophical questions in a poetical form, but he falls short of the success of his predecessors. Those who are interested in such matters will find occupation for many long winter evenings in restoring in this passage the different lines of the original blank verse:
“ That earth was ever in a gaseous state is more conjecture; and philosophy with conjectures deals not. We think we know that matter is eternal. This premised, we see not why the universe of worlds, as they now in systems revolve in space, should not be eternal, too. And if so, why of the solar system make exception5? That these spheres from old to new bodies change we have no knowledge ; nor have we knowledge of any law for such a transformation.”
— The present generation of school-boys probably little know how light is the yoke put upon their shoulders in comparison with that their predecessors had to bear at the time when all Latin grammar, rules, exceptions, instances, and lists had to be learned by heart like the alphabet. Gradually this load has been lightened, and doubtless to the advancement of sound scholarship. Nowadays it is on his judgment that the scholar has to depend, and not on a parrot-like memory. Messrs. Allen and Greenough, with their excellent scries of text-books, have done much in the way of grading the road up Parnassus, and this shorter volume,1 which is intended to give one year’s instruction, follows the same labor-saving methods. The elementary lessons give intelligently what instruction is needed in the rudiments of the grammar; abundant exercises in writing Latin are added, and there are abundant Latin selections to be translated into English. It may be stated with some positiveness that no boy can master this volume with a careful teacher without being well grounded in Latin, and satisfactorily prepared to begin on more rugged translation. The list of Latin synonyms at the end of the book is not the least valuable thing about it.
— The Enchanted Moccasins6 is a reissue of The Indian Fairy Book, published ten years ago ; the statement on the titlepage that the legends were “ compiled from original sources by Cornelius Matthews ” is misleading if the reader understands that Mr, Matthews drew them from the lips of Indians. Some papers of the late H. R. Schoolcraft were placed in Mr. Matthews’s hands, and from these and the Algic Researches of the same author, published in 1839, this volume was drawn up, containing a selection of the tales in manuscript and in print. “ They were originally compiled,” says Mr. Matthews, in his preface, “ from the old tales and legends by the late Henry R. Schoolcraft, and are now reinterpreted and developed by the editor,” A comparison of some of the narratives as they appeared in Algic Researches and reappear “developed” in this volume shows that Mr. Matthews would have done a greater service by merely copying for the printer Mr. Schoolcraft’s versions, which are simple, direct, and with a certain credibility, while the stories in Mr. Matthews’s hands become tawdry, clumsy, with wearisome verbiage, exciting suspicion, by their very manner, of being a white man’s inventions. An illustration or two will show this. In the story of The Man with his Leg tied up, Schoolcraft says simply of Aggo Dah Gauda : “ It was a peculiarity in which he differed from other Indians that he lived in a log-house; and he advised his daughter to keep in-doors and never go out into the neighborhood, for fear of being: stolen away.” Mr. Matthews extends the paragraph thus: “Dah Gauda, too, was quite an important person in his own way, for he lived in great state, having a log-house of his own and a court-yard which extended from the sill of his front door as many hundred miles westward as he chose to measure it. Although he might claim this extensive privilege of ground, he advised his daughter to keep within doors, and by no means to go far in the neighborhood, as she would otherwise be sure to be stolen away, as he was satisfied that the buffalo-king spent night and day lurking about and lying in wait to seize her.”
This penny-a-line style is bad enough, but the reviser sometimes goes a step farther and reconstructs the narrative by the introduction of a new and unnecessary incident, as in the story of Manabozho. That Indian Hercules is perplexed that he should be living alone with his grandmother, and should know nothing of his father and mother. Schoolcraft relates: “He went home and sat down silent and dejected. At length his grandmother asked him, ‘ Manabozho, what is the matter with you ? ’ He answered, ‘ I wish you would tell me whether I have any parents living, and who my relatives are.’ Knowing that he was of a wicked and revengeful disposition she dreaded telling him the story of his parentage, but he insisted on her compliance. ' Yes,’ she said, ‘ you have a father and three brothers living. Your mother is dead.’ ” Matthews thus develops the scene, raising it, he possibly thinks, to a higher power: “ He went home and sat down silent and dejected. Finding that this did not attract the notice of his grandmother, he began a loud lamentation, which he kept increasing, louder and louder, till it shook the lodge and nearly deafened the old grandmother. She at length said, ‘ Manabozho, what is the matter with you ? You are making a great deal of noise.’ Manabozho started off again with his doleful hubbub, but succeeded in jerking out between his big sobs, ‘I haven’t got any father nor mother; I have n’t; ’ and he set out again, lamenting more boisterously than ever. Knowing that he was of a wicked and revengeful temper, his grandmother dreaded to tell him the story of his parentage, as she knew he would make trouble of it. Manabozho renewed his cries and managed to throw out, for a third or fourth time, his sorrowful lament that he was a poor unfortunate who had no parents and no relations. She at last said to him, ‘ Yes, you have a father and three brothers living. Your mother is dead.’” The scene thus pictured is scarcely so Indian in character as it is in keeping with the modern idiotic spectacular drama.
The development to which the legends have been subjected is not a true expansion of the thought, but a bloating of the language. The result is peculiarly unfortunate. The legends in themselves are always curious, often singularly beautiful and even humorous. Reading them years ago in Schoolcraft’s version, one has recollection of something very airy and fantastic, but a rereading in this graceless form is an unprofitable experience. We advise any one who really wishes these stories to hunt for the now scarce Algic Researches and let the Enchanted Moccasins alone. A very delightful book might be made winch should take the best of Schoolcraft’s stories and add others from various sources, such as Jones’s Traditions of the North American Indians, retelling them in the simple, matter-of-fact form, with well-chosen words, which befits this kind of literature. We are very suspicious of all attempts at making ambitious stories of them; Mr. Matthews’s failure should be a warning. In all this we do not reopen the question of the authenticity of the legends. We do not go back of the narratives as we find them in Schoolcraft, for the simple reason that those are good stories, however much Caucasian alloy there may be in them.
FRENCH AND GERMAN.
No one ever complained that anything that Victor Hugo wrote was dull; he has always interested even those of his readers who felt unable to give good account of their brief admiration of his books, but in his Histoire d’un Crime7 he lias outdone himself, and he has given the world what it seems only reasonable to call the greatest of even his writings. The crime of which he has been told the story was the coup d’état of December, 1851, and although the world is tolerably familiar with the affair, it reads here in Hugo’s compact, eloquent, vivid pages like a revelation of something hitherto unknown. He calls his book the Déposition d’un Témoin, and it is this certainty and distinctness of an eye-witness which gives his account its great value. He wrote it down twenty-six years ago, immediately after the occurrence of the events described, but he kept it unpublished until now, when he saw matters arranging themselves in France as if for a possible repetition of the insolent attack of power on right. While the French government was devoting all its energies to suppressing the sale of obnoxious newspapers, copies of this book were pouring from the press, to serve as the most eloquent electioneering pamphlet against the man of Sedan. The first edition was exhausted on the morning of publication, and the demand still continues for what is in fact this great man’s judgment of the recent, and one may say present, crisis in French affairs. It is written, as has just been stated, with great vigor and without the usual superfluity of antitheses and tiresome jesting that are so great a flaw in most of Victor Hugo’s books. Occasionally there is a frivolous bit in his familiar style, but this does not mar the effect of the whole, and is probably a recent interpolation.
This volume contains an account of the first and second days, and on the 2d of December, “ a suitable, date,” as he says, the sequel is to appear, The whole story need not be told over again in these pages, but the reader cannot do better than turn to the French original and read one of the most important chapters of modern history, described by a great writer who saw the whole thing and wrote down what he saw, not merely with literary skill, but with the rage of an exile in his heart, and full of anguish at the failure of all his most ardent dreams. Crimes of such magnitude do not need a dispassionate record of the incidents; the world is very ready to cover every wickedness with oblivion, and. the awe with which Napoleon III. managed to inspire his European contemporaries, while his empire was ripening for its fall, combined with our American respect for numerous street-lamps and civil policemen to make the world forget the means by which he seated himself upon his throne. Victor Hugo, who had suffered at the hands of the late emperor, was unwilling that this wrong should be forgotten, and seeing in MacMahon and his ministers a certain doggedness which in French history has more than once preceded the violation of liberty, he sent forth his book as a protest against any possible attempt to overthrow the republic by arms. There is no reference in the book to the present condition of things except in tlio preface, dated October 1, in which it is said, “Ce livre est pius qu’actuel ; il est urgent. Je le publie.” But the French are at any rate far too intelligent not to see the obvious attack on MacMahon’s administration, and if they were not skillful enough by nature their long familiarity with rigid press laws has taught them thoroughly the art of reading between the lines.
In his narration Victor Hugo does not often pause to impress on the reader the points he is anxious to make ; he simply describes what he saw with his own eyes, or heard from the best, authority. He thus throws much light on many obscure incidents in those days. His own adventures illustrate this. It will be remembered that on the night between the, 1st and 2d of December the quæstors of the house of representatives, the generals who would have influence with the soldiers, and the leading deputies were arrested and thrown into prison. Generally when a leading deputy was overlooked it was because of his real insignificance or the probability of his speedily bowing to the new order of things. In fact, some of those who escaped arrest could not bear the insult, and forced themselves among those who had been shut up for a time in one of the casernes. Victor Hugo, however, could not have been omitted at first for any such reason, — it must have been by oversight, — and very soon the police were after him. He tells at full length how he was busying himself meanwhile. In the first place, in the morning of December 2, he was apprised of what had happened by a fellow-representative, and all this was set in a worse light by the information which another visitor, a cabinetmaker, gave him, to the effect that the populace was almost wholly indifferent to all that was going on ; that they indeed felt a sort of satisfaction at the overthrow of the representatives, and were swallowing the bait of universal suffrage. This general apathy was what made the success of the coup d’état. Hugo perceived the probable hopelessness of resistance, but he was never the man to let what he thought his duty be neglected for his interest. He was courageous even to what some may call foolhardiness in his personal provocation of the troops, who, it should be said, were going about their task with very little enthusiasm. He was in an omnibus when a regiment of cavalry was passing; ho put down the window and shouted, to the great alarm of his fellow-passengers, who were in no mood to die as martyrs, “A bas Louis Bonaparte. Those who serve traitors are traitors themselves.” But the soldiers listened in gloomy silence. An officer turned towards them in. a threatening way and waved his sword, while the Crowd looked on with indifference. Another time he was recognized and cheered by some of the crowd, who asked him what they should do; he advised them to tear down the new placards, to cheer the constitution, and besides to take up arms; in fact, he tells us, he was tempted to begin the conflict then, for troops were passing, but he saw that he would thereby simply cause a useless massacre, and he wisely forbore. But he only transferred his activity to another field, where there was some vague hope of possible success, and the certainty that the honor of France could he maintained even against this crafty aggressor. The committee of national resistance was in good part controlled by him, for his enthusiasm was just what was wanted in a crisis like that. His account of the attempted rising in the Faubourg St. Antoine, and of the death of Baudin at the barricade, is a most interesting incident. In that faubourg, where authority had so often met with bloody resistance, it was hoped that once more the people might rise, and it was agreed that the representatives should meet them and try to organize a counter-revolution; but there was some uncertainty regarding the hour of meeting, and those who arrived first precipitated matters by throwing up a barricade which was speedily captured by the troops. An hour more, it is only reasonable to suppose, could have made no other difference than greater bloodshed. As it was, the handful of unarmed deputies went up to one post of soldiers and asked for their arms, which were at once given up, and even those of another post were surrendered in the same way. Then, when a column was about to attack the barricade, seven of the deputies, wearing improvised scarfs, stepped forth to reason with the soldiers, whom their commanding officer bade to charge ; but the men could not kill the representatives who made no resistance and showed no fear, so they simply passed by them, leaving them behind unhurt. At that moment a shot came from the barricade, killing a soldier, and this was answered by a volley, and Baudin fell. The barricade was carried at once.
The legal steps taken to oppose the usurper were hardly more imposing. About sixty deputies met together; Hetzel, the publisher, offered them the use of a printingpress, — a most important offer, because the police had seized almost every one; Émile de Girardin promised to have their proclamations painted with a brush by some of his willing workmen, his own press having been taken possession of by the authorities; one workman appeared, too, with sheets of tracing-paper, such as are used in copying presses, and take up many impressions of the original wilting. By these methods they managed to get before the public a number of proclamations, but of course they were wholly ineffectual. The part which describes the means the handful of deputies took to elude the police outdoes even the best of Hugo’s novels in interest. They walked through the streets in twos and threes, meeting first in one place and then in another, continually making the narrowest escape from arrest. At one time at night they were seeking the place of rendezvous, the house of a man named Cournet, but. by a curious mistake they got into a house where dwelt a M. Cornet. They soon discovered their error, and found the place they were looking for, when after a few minutes they received word that the house where they had first assembled was surrounded by the soldiers. The police too were inside, searching it from cellar to garret for the conspirators whom spies had seen to enter it. It was probably while the spies were running to bear their news to the military that the deputies left the place. There are many similar incidents narrated, as when a letter was to be conveyed to the archbishop of Paris, asking him to interfere and recall the people and the soldiers to their duty. This letter was written by a workman, and he, fearing that his blouse would be a sufficient reason for not receiving him, gave it to one of the deputies, who was himself unable to take it, but his wife volunteered to carry it and hid the missive in her baby’s swaddling-clothes. It was, however, as ineffectual as everything else ; the archbishop said it was too late and refused to take action in the matter, and in six weeks later he was chanting a Te Deum in honor of the coup d’état.
Nothing could exceed the vigor with which Hugo has described these incidents and such scenes as the refusal of Dupin to exercise his legitimate power in convening the assembly. On the other hand he speaks in kind language of those who were kind to him, like Prince Jerome Napoleon, who offered him shelter in his own house; moreover, the account of his interview with Proudhon is a remarkable episode. The renowned socialist prophesied the failure of all their plans. It is impossible to enumerate all the vividly interesting chapters of these two eventful days as they are here told ; it must be enough to say that the book with its fullness of detail and wonderful eloquence is a most important contribution to modern history. All that took place then is now more than a quarter of a century old, and has been passed upon by fate in a sure way ; yet this account of it reads like what it is, an outburst of wrath not merely with the past but with those men who can dream of again betraying their country for their own advantage. It can be specially commended to the attention of the many ardent admirers of the late emperor of the French. No novel can compare with it.
- Memoir and Letters of Charles Sumner. By EDWARD L. PIERCE. Boston : Roberts Brothers. 1877.↩
- Christianity and Humanity. A Series of Sermons by THOMAS STARR KING. Edited with a Memoir by EDWIH P. WUIPPLE. Boston: J. R. Osgood & Co. 1877.↩
- Hours with Men and Books. By WILLIAM MATHEWS, LL. D. Chicago: S. C. Griggs & Co. 1877.↩
- Money and its Laws : Embracing a History of Monetary Theories and a History of the Currenciesof the United States. By HENRY V. POOR. New York : H. V. & H. W. Poor. 1877.↩
- Darwin. By ROBERT MCK. ORMSBY. New York : Printed by P. F. McBreen.↩
- A Manual of Instruction in Latin on the Basis of a Latin Method. Prepared by J. H. ALLEN and J. B. GUEENOUGH. Boston: Ginn and Heath. 1877.↩
- The Enchanted Moccasins and other Legends ofthe American (sic) Indians. Compiled from original sources by CORNELIUS MATTHEWS. With Illustrations. New York : G. P. Putnam’s Sons.↩
- Histoire d'un Crime. Deposition d’un Témoin. Paris : Calmann Lévy. 1877.↩