The Contributors' Club

IN a volume entitled Latter-Day Lyrics, published a while ago by Chatto and Windus, London, the reader, if he is interested in such matters, may find some excellent examples of a school of poetry which exists, but, fortunately, cannot be said to flourish, just now in England, — the Anglo-Gallic school. The disciples of this composite school are young Britons who have so thoroughly saturated themselves with the spirit of mediæval French poetry that they have ceased to be Englishmen, a fact which perhaps no one would regret if they had only succeeded in becoming Frenchmen. But they have not accomplished this desirable metamorphosis ; they are neither the one thing nor the other, — poets without a country. To be sure, they call a ballad a ballade, but the deception is as transparent as Snug the joiner’s. The modern English rhymster, hiding behind a mask of rough old François Villon, has no more need than Snug had to assure the ladies that he is not a very dangerous lion. Indeed, the absence of all leonine qualities in the English boudoir-poet is only too plain. It is difficult to say just what his qualities are, or precisely to describe the nature of his rather gentle roar. His ballades and villanelles and triolets are triolets and villanelles and ballades with the Gallic soul left out.

It is to the inadequacy of these reproductions of an antiquated manner, and not to the fact of reproduction, that we demur. Many of the obsolete forms of French verse are admirable, and there is no reason why some of them should not take root in English soil and break into flower, as the Italian sonnet has done. That they can be trained to do so Mr. Austin Dobson has proved by several of the delicate lyrics in his Proverbs in Porcelain. Mr. Dante Rossetti, with his Ballad of Dead Ladies paraphrased from Villon, and Mr. Swinburne, in his bolder translations from the same author, have shown what sonorous and various music may be blown through old pipes. If none but such skillful masters played upon them ! But unluckily these measures are not difficult; with few exceptions, they easily lend themselves to the genius of our language. The facility with which they can be constructed has won the fancy of a great many clever young men who should not touch verse at all. In England it will presently be a distinction not to have written a ballade.

The ballade, however, and especially the ballade à, double refrain, is a noble fashion of rhyming, in spite of its affectation and artificiality. Not so much can be said of the rondeau and the rondel: at best they are but graceful cages for pretty thought. Lacking the pretty thought, they are intolerable. Now, for the most part, it is the cage and not the bird which the latter-day troubadours give us, — the form and not the voice of poetry. Their attitude, it seems to us, is wholly mistaken. There is something not a little comical in the spectacle of a group of young poets trying to catch the ear of the dying Nineteenth Century with quaintly - phrased lyrics about attenuated saints, and citholes, and stained-glass windows, and passionate Drowsabellas ! The seriousness with which all this imitation bricabrac is offered to us has a touch of pathos in it.

It has been asked in America, Who is to fill the places of our own elder singers when, unhappily, their places are vacant? Looking across the sea, we may well put the question, Who is to follow Tennyson and Browning ?

— In reading Carlyle’s Reminiscences of his wife, what strikes me most forcibly is his thorough selfishness through the whole course of their married life. Her devotion to him was beautiful and entire : a constant struggle to make his path easy at the expense of her own comfort, and finally of her life. Her appreciation of his intellect was hardly less than his own, and she lived only too cheerfully the life of self-denial to which she was condemned ; but she was too thorough a woman not to have longed for something from him besides a passive and often unconscious acceptance of her self-abnegation. Can any one doubt that his life would have been nobler and sweeter if some of the sacrifices had fallen upon him; if he had occasionally put aside the great thoughts which she so reverenced, to exercise a little tender care for her comfort and well-being ? It is common enough, this utter self-surrender on the part of a faithful wife, and the acceptance of it by the superior being to whom she is allied ; but there would be fewer bitter regrets after the parting comes if each helped to bear the burden which is so often laid upon one alone. No wonder that poor Carlyle constantly sighs, “ Wae’s me! wae’s me ! Ay de mi! ay de mi! ” as he recalls his own blindness and her silent suffering. One is almost amused, in spite of the pathos of the story, to read, in the account of the sad journey to St. Leonard’s, that the invalid railway carriage (so like a hearse) cost “ some ten or twelve times the common expense.” The canny Scot could not forbear, even in his misery, the record of the extra shillings ! And the brougham which would have spared her that frightful accident and consequent suffering, must wait for months, because he could not take a day to order it ! It is well, at least, to see that he recognized at the last his own selfish egotism, even though his moanings could not reach her ear.

— It was in the early spring of 1847 that we dined — my father, mother, and myself — with the American minister in London. Mr. and Mrs. Bancroft exercised at that time a great deal of hospitality. Enjoying the society of literary men and women, they were generously disposed to share a pleasure dear to them with such of their country people as would also enjoy it.

I remember nothing about this dinner party until we assembled at table, to the number of twelve or fourteen, where I found myself sitting opposite to Mr. Carlyle, who had taken my mother down to dinner. There were present, besides ourselves and two or three Americans, Mr. and Mrs. Carlyle and a granddaughter of Lord Dunmore, the last British governor of Virginia, — the Hon. Miss Murray, author of Travels in this country. Miss Murray wore her badge of office as a lady in the queen’s household, and entertained us for some time with anecdotes of the queen’s management of her children. My father then engaged Miss Murray in conversation about her grandfather (his father’s old friend), and my attention was diverted to the conversation between my mother and Mr. Carlyle. He had a rugged face, very Scotch in outline and expression, and shaggy reddish hair. He spoke with a strong Scotch accent. Mrs. Carlyle, who was seated beside Mr. Bancroft, at some distance from her husband, appeared to me charming. She had lively manners, a beautiful figure, most expressive eyes, and was very becomingly dressed. My mother as a girl had spent much of her time in Boston under the kind care of Mrs. Prescott (mother of the historian), and had thus acquired a more than usual familiarity with the writers of her own time, but she had hardly kept pace with the literary revolution in progress. At any rate, she was not en rapport with Carlyle.

When I first noticed them my mother was speaking about Switzerland, where she hoped to find herself during the coming summer. Mr. Carlyle laid down his knife and fork, and turning abruptly towards her declared that no human being really loved the act of traveling, — that those who averred they did were humbugs and shams and deceivers. My mother was confounded. She insisted that she liked traveling. All the concession she could get out of Carlyle was, “ You may suppose you do.” And this thesis, that if you professed to enjoy traveling you wrote yourself (consciously or unconsciously, as the case might be) a sham and a false witness, he continued to maintain for some time.

The next subject that came up was the condition of Ireland. Carlyle was just then busy with his Cromwell, and without alluding to his occupation he gave us in brief all the ideas subsequently put forth in the chapter on the Irish War and Drogheda, and concluded by saying that the only effectual remedy for Ireland would be to dip her twentyfour hours under the Atlantic Ocean. This remark startled my father, a philanthropist and liberal in politics ; a man familiar with every book worth reading from Johnson’s time down to the days of the Reform Bill, but wholly incapable of making anything out of the writings of Mr. Carlyle. My father became very indignant at what he called “ such atrocious sentiments,” taking the words au pied de la lettre, and not as a too forcible way of expressing a strong conviction. The war raged during the rest of dinner; Mr. Carlyle defending his position, and my father fighting blindly, hardly perceiving what that position was. I do not remember the part Mr. and Mrs. Bancroft took in the discussion. I think their sole aim was to make the combatants comprehend each other.

After dinner, when we ladies went up-stairs, I well remember Mrs. Carlyle’s efforts to apologize for her husband. He felt strongly, she said, about the Irish difficulty ; he had recently been engaged upon an Irish subject, and by no means meant what we might suppose his words implied; no man could be more merciful and tender-hearted. She begged us not to form an incorrect impression of him; and then she exerted herself to amuse and interest us, throwing herself into the breach with a true wife’s devotion.

— To-day, when the higher education of women is a topic of general discussion, a short extract from Gregorovius on the education of Italian women may interest some of our readers : —

“ In our day a learned woman is too often regarded by men with aversion rather than respect. We call her, specially if she be a writer of books, a blue-stocking. In the Renaissance such a woman bore the name of ‘ virago,’ — a term of most honorable distinction. As such Jacob von Bergamo employs it in his work on Celebrated Women. Italians seldom used the word in its modern acceptation, — a hermaphrodite. At the time of which we write it was always employed to designate a woman who by character, intellect, and culture had raised herself above the majority of her sex. She was still further honored if to these qualities the claims of beauty and grace were added. For a classical education was not regarded by the Italians of the fifteenth century as an enemy to womanly charms, but rather as an enhancer of the same. Jacob von Bergamo, when speaking of a woman who had appeared publicly as an orator and poetess, makes mention of the fact that it was her modesty and propriety of demeanor which fascinated her listeners. These are the qualities which he particularly commends in Cassandra Fideli. When speaking of Genevra Sforza, the same author extols her beauty of form, her grace of motion, her dignified self-possession, and above all her chaste beauty. What at that time was called modesty (pudor) was meant to designate the natural charms of a highly gifted woman, carried by education to a high degree of development.

“The studies of a well-educated woman at this period embraced the classical languages, and their literature, music, oratory, and poetry, — that is, the art of rhyming. To these were added, of course, a knowledge of drawing. The priceless art treasures of the Renaissance naturally made every educated woman a connoisseur of art. Philosophy and theology were likewise included in the course of study. Disputations on such subjects at the various courts and in the university halls were the order of the day ; and here women, too, sought to shine. The Venetian Cassandra Fideli, the wonder of the fifteenth century, was as conversant in philosophy and theology as any learned man of her time. She disputed publicly before the Doge, Agostino Barbadigo, and in the auditory of Padua, with great grace and power, and before enthusiastic audiences. Costanza Varano, the beautiful wife of Alessandro Sforza, of Pesaro, was poetess, orator, and philosopher. She wrote several learned treatises. The writings of Augustine, Ambrosius, Hieronymus, and Gregory, of Seneca, Cicero, and Lactinus, were daily in her hands. Battista Sforza, the noble wife of the highly gifted Federigo of Urbino, was also celebrated for her learning; and it is narrated of the renowned Isotta Nugarola, of Verona, that she was perfectly at home in all the writings of the church fathers and well versed in philosophy. Isabella Gonzaga and Elizabilla of Urbino were equally learned, not to speak of Vittoria Colonna and Veronica Gambara. These names and many others indicate the highest point to which the education of women in the Renaissance was carried. Even if we admit that the talents and attainments of these women were exceptional, still the studies in which they excelled were common to all women of the upper class. Such studies were pursued for personal improvement and for the adornment of social life. What a contrast does such a life present to the salons of to-day, whose inexpressible dullness and vapidness is barely relieved by song and instrumental music!

“ To be sure, the salons of the Renaissance cannot always be compared to Plato’s Symposia, and these disputations would to-day be wearisome. But let us remember that the exigencies of society were very different at that time. The ability to carry on a spirited and intellectual conversation, and to give it a classical turn, was considered the highest social gift. It was this same art of conversation which, at a later period in the Renaissance, was carried in France to such a high degree of perfection. Talleyrand called it the greatest and purest pleasure in life.

“ But social enjoyment in Italy was not limited to conversation. Dancing was as favorite an amusement then as now. A ball, however, in the time of the Renaissance was not the stiff, artificial affair it is with us. It was a far simpler pleasure. Women often danced with one another, or alone. The French style was the prevailing one; for even then France had begun to dictate her fashions to other nations. The moresca, one of the favorite dances at that time, unites the qualities of both opera and ballet. Its origin has been traced to the darkest period of the Middle Ages. It represented, then as now, the conflict of the Moor and Christian.

“ Dress, also, was an absorbing interest in the life of a woman of this period. Great attention was paid to the subject. Especially was this the case at the several Italian courts, where the costumes of the ladies were both magnificent and costly. Isabella, the Margravine of Mantua (the same learned Isabella of whom we have spoken), was accustomed to send an agent to Rome to study the latest fashions in dress and fêtes. When the two Venetian ambassadors were about to travel to France to attend the wedding of Lucrezia Borgia and Alfonzo, they were obliged to present themselves before the assembled senate, for inspection, in their crimson velvet, furlined cloaks and caps. More than four thousand persons were assembled in the hall of the grand council to wonder and admire, and the Piazza of St. Mark was filled with a curious and expectant multitude. One of these state mantles is said to have contained twentytwo yards of velvet, the other eighteen. These garments were also intended as wedding presents to Lucrezia Borgia.

. . . But this period of woman’s proud supremacy was not of long duration. In proportion as the education of woman began to be considered in the Germanic and Romanic countries, it declined in Italy, until at last the Italian woman, who during the Renaissance had advanced step by step with man, contending with him for the palm of education and culture, sharing with him all intellectual progress, stepped once more into the background.”

— In an article on George Eliot in the Contemporary Review, the writer of it refers to a passage in the Spectator, which notes as a sign of the greatness of the novelist’s dramatic genius that she portrayed the characters most unlike her own with the utmost intellectual sympathy. The writer objects to the Spectator’s view, remarking, " It surely takes the minimum of dramatic power to bring out the enjoyment that all feel in characters unlike their own.” An interesting question is here touched on, and that it is a question not to be too hastily decided appears from the fact that two able critics differ so absolutely upon it. I wish it had come within the scope of their writings to dwell upon the point, and to present the arguments for their respective views. Certain things that may be said on one side of the question seem to me apparent, and I do not doubt that the Contemporary Reviewer would have something to say for the other side, although I confess I do not guess what it would be. In support of the view that an author’s dramatic power is shown most fully in the portrayal of character unlike his own, this may be said: that it is an easier task to describe what we know well than what we know less well, and that we know ourselves better than we know others. Of course, by we I mean not the common run of irreflective people, but those possessing the mental breadth and imaginative quality which alone give insight into character. I venture to affirm that those who know little or nothing of themselves know equally little of others. Self-love, it is true, sometimes draws a veil over us to hide us from our own observation, but in such a case the same screen is apt to interpose between us and other persons whom we would scrutinize ; none is so slow to comprehend others as the conceited man. But when this veil is withdrawn, or attenuated to the thinnest texture possible, we may know ourselves and those who are like us better than those who are unlike, — know the interior of character, I mean, for that is the only knowledge worth talking of here. So far as mere surface goes, we are, I admit, often very ignorant of ourselves and well informed as to others. It is difficult to see one’s own outside, to appreciate the effect of one’s manner and conversation, or even to account to one’s self accurately for one’s passing thoughts and trivial actions. But it is not so difficult for a sincere person to search out the springs of his deeper thought and more considered action. Such knowledge as this of our own characteristics must give at least an approximate comprehension of other persons who in fundamental qualities resemble us. With regard to those who are unlike us the case is reversed. We note their external characteristics, catch sight of and follow the movement of their superficial thought and feeling, but what goes on beneath is matter of guess-work for us. To trace the growth of sentiments we have never known, to paint the force of desires and passions we have not felt and the urgency of motives that have never influenced our action, needs something more than a vivid descriptive power: it needs the genius of an artist. To conceive a being destitute of the impulses and principles of thought that habitually act upon and govern our lives is perhaps a still greater effort of the imagination.

That George Eliot should describe a Romola or Dorothea seems, then, not at all wonderful; it was the creation of characters like Hetty, Rosamund, and Gwendolen, out of elements most unlike those that composed her own individuality, that marked the range and the force of her dramatic imagination.

— Allow me to soften the distasteful speech, attributed to Thackeray in Trollope’s memoir, and supposed to be addressed to Mr. Ticknor, about “ two broken-nosed old fogies sitting talking of love.”

The name of the recipient of this remark is not mentioned by the biographer, but he describes him as a literary, middle-aged, dignified gentleman, who always had the air in society of wrapping a toga about him, and others have asserted it was Mr. Ticknor. Thackeray, although given to free speech, would, we think, have hesitated to make so coarse a remark to a reserved American gentleman ; neither would the conversation which led up to it, upon the “ tender passion,” have been in Mr. Ticknor’s vein.

The report at the time that Grattan, the British consul, was the victim bears thorough internal evidence of its genuineness. Grattan was literary and middleaged, but far from dignified. He draped himself in no toga, but clothed mind and body in a rough-and-ready English suit. He was known, before being here officially, as the author of some pretty tales called Highways and Byways, and other novels and travels. Being a clever, jovial Englishman and an agreeable dinner companion, with a gallant manner and an ambition for friendship with fashionable women, he was much noticed during his consulate in Boston, where, after leaving, he was thought ungrateful for the attentions paid him, as in his book on America he diluted praise with criticism.

This version cannot free the speech from being contrary to all our ideas of good manners, but, addressed to a compatriot of the character described and with a profile like Thackeray’s, it relieves it from being a social outrage.

— When Harvard has its Chinese professor, and every metropolis its Chinese laundry, and San Francisco is making calls at New Year’s upon Chinese ladies ; when even our great republic sends a tidal wave of welcome across the Pacific to float the whole of China into California, ought not our world of letters to give its right hand of fellowship to that country of Confucius ? And we may be not irrelevantly reminded of that Chinese novel which has gained, by its eccentricities and excellences, the compliment of two translations from as many French Academicians. YuKiao-Li is the Chinese title of a romance which, as Les Deux Cousines (The Two Cousins), was introduced to the French public at different periods by MM. Abel Rémusat and Stanislas Julien, and presents to our modern civilization a startling suggestion of our arrogance in the judgment which we have been accustomed ignorantly to pass upon our Oriental friends.

The book has never been translated into English, and has one glaring fault, which must always forbid its reproduction for popular reading ; and it may be readily seen that a work for which Stanislas Julien felt himself compelled to apologize to a French public is not one which an English or American will readily allow himself to purchase.

We have in the first volume of this novel a florid picture of the trials of one Chinese “ maiden’s choosing.” In this we are introduced to Cousin Hong Lu, for whose suitable marriage we find a select and distinguished circle manœuvring with a degree of diplomacy which might readily attend an international treaty. The young woman we must believe quite worthy the care which is taken to make the path to the marriage altar straight and her life forever after happy.

As the only child of a man of high standing, attached to the imperial person, the girl has received all the benefits of companionship with one of the greatest scholars of the age, and if we may trust her historian Miss Hong Lu, at sixteen, was the peer of Minerva and the Muses. Like Pope, “she lisped in numbers, for the numbers came,” and her favorite amusement was “ improvisation at seven steps,” — an idiomatic expression for a trial of great geniuses, which was decreed by a certain emperor about the year 1300 A. D., who awarded a prize to the scholar who could make verses on a given subject after seven paces in contemplation. Even in China, in the year 1449 A. D., when learning was, we suppose, almost as universal as now, it was difficult to find a suitable match for a young lady whose acquirements were so great. Months were spent in search of a youth whose verses could compare with her own, and when, at last, the prize was found, among the newly made bachelors of art graduated from a certain university, the bachelor refused the maiden. And so the plot thickens, and the maiden, who hitherto allowed her choice to depend upon the quality of her suitors’ manuscripts and the quantity of their syllables, finds herself moved with those feelings which trouble foolish young women. She sees the bachelor through a latticed window, and loves him for his comely figure, while he, meanwhile, is still strong in his refusal, until he can believe by seeing that she is fair. It matters not to the bachelor, young, talented, and adventuresome, that Miss Hong Lu is reputed clever and a poet. Unless he see that the blue stocking is not a gray, he will not consent even to a Chinese betrothal.

This independence on the part of an obscure youth, whose only capital is wit, offends the aristocratic guardians of Miss Hong Lu. They take measures to deprive him of his degree. He laughs them to scorn. What is a degree to a man with brains enough to take one ? They rob him of his B. C. He is still the most intellectual man in his class, and the best improvisator in the kingdom, and the match-makers find it difficult to discover his equal for Hong Lu. While their stubborn highnesses are refusing to grant his stipulation, the young man amuses himself with a wild flirtation with Hong Lu’s cousin, a young girl nearly her own age, who, although she does not try her lover by the same intellectual standards, is not less charming than Hong Lu, and has allowed her cousin’s exacting suitor a glimpse of her pretty figure through the vista of a garden gate and a pomegranate grove. And so we are brought to the close of the first volume, which is replete with Orientalism, that M. Julien makes clear to our Occidental mind by ample commentary.

The gentlemen drink wine from the rhinoceros horn, and are inspired by forty or more of those tankards to write a rhyme of seven syllables. Miss Hong Lu’s verses are chiefly of light, and she allows them to enter into competition with certain made by her father’s guests, gentlemen who drink much wine, and force their host to drink more, that he may be rendered non compos mentis for the trial verses. There is much self-abasement in social converse, much neighborly back-biting in familiar intercourse. Kissing of hands and laying on and off the ceremonial robes occupy almost as much time as writing verses to Wine, Women, and Song, subjects for which they invoke the muse as frequently as they tap the wine cask.

In the second volume, difficulties in the hymeneal path lessen the list of unworthy suitors, for Miss Hong Lu is no longer prominent. The two cousins warm towards each other, and confide their mutual choice, and we and they are made happy by their union with the fortunate bachelor, who gains thereby two opulent fathers-in-law and two charming wives. In the manner of the Chinese novelist, we should make an epitome of these facts in a strophe, but we have not the “ divine afflatus.”

— On the topmost twig of a mapletree there grew a seed. In the springtime the tremulous pulsation of the sap and the soft rustle of the leaves whispering among themselves had awakened him ; then, day by day, in a slumberous, semi-conscious state, he had fed upon what the roots provided, stretching himself lazily in the sunshine. Presently his wing began to unfold.

“ That is very curious.” said he, stirring a little. “ It must be a mistake. I don’t flutter about like the bees.” That bit of pinion, which seemed his and not his, puzzled him. “ It must belong to something else,” he thought; and thenceforward he was always on the lookout for a bee or a dragon-fly with only one wing. But none came.

The hot summer noons and the long moonlit nights became sultrier, and the leaves drooped. “ How withered I am! ” said the maple-seed to his most intimate friend, a leaf residing on a neighboring bough. “It makes one feel quite brittle.” But the leaf did not answer, for just then it detached itself from the twig, and with a queer, reluctant shiver dropped to the ground.

“ Ah ! ” murmured the maple-seed, “I understand.” So he was not surprised when a rude breeze twisted him off, one day, and sent him spinning into space.

“ Here I go ! ” thought he; “ and this is the end of it.”

“ Puff! ” said the breeze, who had seen much of the world, and looked with contempt upon the untraveled. “ Puff! how ignorant! ” and he blew the seed right, into a fissure in the earth.

“ It must be the end, for all that,” insisted the seed; and no wonder he thought so, for it was cold and dark where he lay, and a troubled cloud leaned down and wept over him.

Then he began to grow amazingly, and he continued to expand with the warmth and moisture.

“ If this goes on,” he meditated, “ I shall certainly burst, and then I must die. How is one to live with a crack in one’s side?”

The maple-seed was wrong, however ; he did not die ; an unsuspected, mysterious strength sustained him ; he reached up from the gloom into the pure sunlight, and became a sapling, and at last a fine tree with spreading branches.

“ Now,” said the maple, “ I know how stupid I was.”

It was very pleasant there on the lawn. An old couple from the mansion near by came out in good weather to sit under the tree. Though they vaguely reminded the maple of some fragile leaves he had seen fluttering somewhere in the past, he was glad to have the aged pair keep his company, and always kept his most agreeable shade for them. Partly for their sake he liked to have the robins singing among his branches. So the years went by.

The old man tottered out alone now to sit in the cool shadow. He looked bent and sorrowful.

“ Ah ! ” sighed the tree, “ I know, I know : he has lost his leaf, and feels brittle.”

After this many sunny days came, but not the old man, and the tree concluded that he had been blown away.

“ If he only knew he will grow again ! ” the tree mused to himself. “ Unless one knows that, it is so uncomfortable to lie in the dark.”

One day the sky blackened ; the birds flew anxiously to their nests ; even the lips of the sea turned white with a nameless apprehension.

“ Hark ! ” said the tree, and a shudder ran through all his fibres. Then the storm burst from its cavern among the hills.

“ Down with him! ” shrieked the blast, as it struck the edge of the lawn.

After struggling a moment, the maple tossed his arms in despair, and then — crash!

The next day men with axes in their hands gathered about the fallen tree. They chopped him, and split him, and dragged him to the house, where he was thrown into an obscure corner of the cellar.

“ It is over,” he muttered; “ one does n’t live through everything. This is the end.”

He lay there a long while in the dampness, with a dull ache in every splinter. Then they began to carry him up-stairs, piece by piece. Finally, he found himself in a spacious chamber, and was astonished at seeing the old man seated in an arm-chair before the fire-place.

The fresh logs were piled on the hearth, where they soon blazed and crackled with a cheerful sound. Ruddy points of flame thrust themselves through the bark here and there, and curled up like rose-petals.

“ Why ! ” exclaimed the tree, “ I am putting out leaves again, — crimson leaves ! ”

“ Is it the maple?” inquired the old man, stooping to look at the logs.

“ Yes,” answered they.

“ Ah ! quite right, quite right ! That goes with the rest.” And his cheeks were moist as he spread his thin palms to the warmth.

The fire burned brighter, grew duller, turned to embers, smouldered to ashes. The hearth was cold. A figure still sat in the arm-chair by the fire-place, gazing at the whitened hearth, but the old man himself had blown away.

As for the maple-tree, its spirit mounted to the clouds ; but in the spring-time it came again, with other invisible airs, to refresh the maples upon the lawn, to lead a new existence in grasses and ferns and flowers.

“ Now,” said he, “ I understand it all. There is no end.”

— There is a word which, for several years past, has been forcing its way into positions where it has no business. It is the word then, classed by Lindley Murray among conjunctions, by Dr. Johnson among adverbs, by Worcester among conjunctions, adverbs, and adjectives, according to its application. Johnson gives as its definitions, “ At that time ; afterwards ; in that case ; in consequence ; therefore ; for this reason ; at another time; that time,” — with authorities in prose and poetry for each acceptation. Worcester follows him exactly, except that he gives, “ at that time, afterwards, therefore, that time,” under the head of adverb ; “ in that case” as a conjunction; and “ at that time existing” as an adjective. At present it is used almost to the exclusion of “ therefore,” and with a shade of affirmation not precedented by any of the standard quotations in Johnson or Worcester. It is superfluous to give examples of this misapplication, as there are probably not half a dozen essays, English or American, written within the last five years, in which it does not occur, and it may be found on almost every page of the current newspapers and magazines. It has superseded “ for this reason,” “ since,” “ because of,” and sundry other forms and parts of speech. There are two objections to it: one that it is an affectation, a trick, a mannerism; the other that it is used as a specious mode of taking an argument for granted, or a proposition as proved, which has only been asserted. A writer, most often in one of those pscycho-scientific articles which are the bane of contemporary periodical literature and popular reading, assumes a number of propositions which have never got beyond the condition of hypothesis, and beginning a new paragraph with a “ We see, then,” glibly proceeds to his deductions and conclusions as if he had established his premises. “ Therefore,” or “ for this reason,” challenges inquiry and discussion ; “ then ” slips by easily, and the careless, hasty, or superficial reader accepts it, with its chain of consequences. It is a presumptuous, perfidious word, as well as an intrusive one; it does harm, and ought to be taught its proper place again.

— In The Atlantic of last July there was an essay called A French Comic Dramatist, and devoted to a consideration of the career and compositions of M. Eugène Labiche. Incidentally, the writer of the essay discussed the claims of M. Labiche to a seat among the forty immortals of the French Academy. After the essay was written M. Labiche was elected a member of the Academy. After the essay was printed he was formally received as a member. The ceremonies of reception always include an address by the neophyte, in which he compliments his new associates first, and then eulogizes his immediate predecessor. To this discourse one of the other thirtynine Academicians replies in a set speech of welcome, in which he delicately comments upon the works of the new-comer, and often ingeniously and insidiously insinuates some very wholesome criticism in among the flowers of rhetoric in his complimentary nosegay ; after which he lays his wreath also upon the grave of the departed Academician, in whose place and stead the novice then stands, or, to use the academic formula, in whose chair the novice sits. Now, it so happened, by one of the incongruities not infrequent in the annals of the Academy, that the immediate predecessor of M. Labiche was Sylvestre de Sacy; and there was general curiosity in Paris to see how the author of the most easy and joyous farces of our time would acquit himself of the hard task of properly praising an author who was his exact opposite: a Jansenist by birth and breeding, a writer of a perfect and polished style, a worshiper of the great French writers of the seventeenth century, and a man who ignored and was ignorant of anything and everything in the nineteenth century, saving only a certain line of abstract politics. M. Labiche rose equal to the occasion ; his address has just been published, and we can follow his words. He began modestly ; he found simple and fit phrases in which to praise M. de Sacy’s simple life and nature; he was witty, as he could not well help being; and, better still, by a few quotations from M. de Saey’s letters, M. Labiche touched the hearts of all who heard him, and drew pathetic and patriotic tears as readily as he was wont to draw laughter. To M. John Lemoinne, most English of Frenchmen in name and training, fell the task of responding to M. Labiche’s address. From the French papers one might infer that his speech was a failure; but in print it certainly reads well enough. It is an exact and apt criticism of his to say that M. Labiche’s plays, light and lively and even broad as many of them are, are never immoral, because they are never sentimental. This is a judgment for the admirers of M. Octave Feuillet to consider. It was the ultra-sentimentality into which Romanticism degenerated that made it so enervating an influence. Work which is free from sentimentality, and through which a gale of laughter blows, is not, however broad it may be, likely to hurt any but the sickly and the predestined valetudinarians in morals. Far different were many of the writings of the Romanticists, in which there was a dangerous sentimentality and license. M. Lemoinne cites a remark of Thiers, made during the dark days of 1871.

One day, when M. Lemoinne called on Thiers at Versailles, the latter asked after M. de Sacy, and the former answered that “ he kept on loving his good old books and ignoring the Romanticists.” “ Ah ! ” replied Thiers, with the usual vivacity, “ Sacy is right; the Romanticists, — that ’s the commune ! ” With which cheerful tidbit of literary criticism we may leave the subject.

— There seems nothing harder to arrive at than fixed principles of art. Notwithstanding all discussion, they have never yet been so defined as to become matter of general acceptance. It is not wonderful, perhaps, that, with regard to a subject of such deep interest to mankind, ideas should continually vary as years and men themselves change. Yet after all there are but two ways of looking on the matter, as it seems to me, and the fluctuation of ideas is only an alternation from one view to the other. I speak, of course, of fundamental ideas, not of subsidiary principles or technical rules. Of art, as of philosophy and religion, there have always been opposite conceptions held by men termed spiritualists or idealists and those calling themselves realists, and to-day the same war of opposed opinions goes on. Reconciliation between views which are really contradictory cannot, of course, be looked for, but the contradiction may sometimes be only apparent, and the partisans of either theory be more in harmony than they are aware; all that is needed being that both sides should come to a better apprehension of the terms of debate. Where a theory of realism as the only true art has been wrought out deliberately, as Zola has done with respect to literary art, we can hardly look to see it altered or modified ; but there are many who have adopted the idea and the word “ realism ” unthinkingly, without any understanding of its full import. They admire it, because they take it to mean naturalness and truthfulness as opposed to mere fancywork of the mind, having no basis in fact. Is the logical and consistent advocate of extreme realism, however, he who teaches the most of truth ? That is precisely the question. Zola, Flaubert, and company devote themselves to the “ rendering of facts without compromise or embellishment.” Very good: we may be glad to have certain facts presented to us in this faithful manner, and it may be the peculiar gift of these writers to produce this special work; but this is by no means to say that we accept their work as the only true art, or as representing the whole of truth. On the contrary, their very theory is a partial one, and all done in accordance with it must therefore be one-sided and incomplete. A theory which claims to have absolute truth on its side, and does not show the whole of truth, or of fact, if that word is preferred, proves its own insufficiency and falsehood. It is seen that these realistic writers do not render fact, but only certain facts, — indeed, a limited number of facts, — for which they have, apparently, a special preference. To insist upon a partial truth of human nature, I repeat, is to insist upon a falsehood, for it is the implicit denial of other and equally important truths. Writers of the above-mentioned school, who persist in painting only the lowest and most depraved types of human nature, nullify their own claim to be the only true artists, teachers of la vérité vraie, the truest truth. These advocates of extreme realism are in a small minority, but it is well to note how far a theory may carry us when we are judging of its merits. One who firmly holds, as I myself do, to the opposite theory would inquire of the realist what he means by “ the real ” ? Does he mean the only true, or does he merely mean the actual ? The actual is not the real, or rather cannot give us, taken alone, the whole of the real. The actual is always the particular, and a particular can never give us a general truth, except when brought by the understanding into comparison with all other related particulars. You do not know your friend by any especial trait, by what you saw of him to-day or yesterday, but by all his traits combined, and your knowledge of him from the beginning of your acquaintance until now. The literary artist must therefore be a wide as well as keen observer, if lie pretends to be anything more than a specialist, a reporter of a certain class of phenomena only. The idealist may go further. Is there not, he would say, for every living species a perfect type, which individuals of that species approximate to more or less nearly, — an ideal, that is, for each particular, actual thing to conform to ? This ideal cannot be called an unreality, though it may seldom be seen actualized ; on the contrary, it is the highest truth of the particular existence toward which it should ever tend, and so far as the individual falls short of its own ideal it is untrue to itself, becomes itself an unreality. The artist, then, who has a true conception of an ideal has the right to call the creations of his imagination made after the image of that ideal truths, realities ; these creations must not contradict the truths given by observation, but they may transcend any particular truth. He may paint average human beings, the lowest beings and the highest, human nature as he has seen it and as he has not seen it, but conceived of it from the reports of other observers and the illumination of the ideal. The “ realist,” so called, denies these “ rights of the imagination.” The idealist is the only true realist, and some other word should be found to designate the artist who clings to the material, particular fact, and is indifferent to the spiritual truth in virtue of which the particular fact exists. How shall we name some of the greatest artists the world has known ? Was Shakespeare an idealist or a realist ? Was he not both ? Does not the question seem a futile one in regard to any of the highest, truest masters of art ?

— The difficulty of translating from a foreign language is always great, but it becomes even more complicated when the writing that is to be translated is full of allusions which are wholly unfamiliar to the reader. The differences between the Oriental civilization and our own, between their method of writing verse and the various ways that our poets try, are enough to make a man hesitate before he attempts to give us any notion of their poems ; and when we recall the impossibility of our understanding the allusions that the native poets learned in the cradle it is plain that any version of Japanese poetry, for instance, must be considerably diluted and altered before it conveys any distinct notion to us. The charm of Japanese poetry seems to lie in extreme brevity and simplicity, such as we find in some of the fragments of Sappho, for instance, and we all know how impossible it is to find any translation of these poems that does justice to the original. Occasionally, a poet is able to give us in a translation something that makes his verse the equivalent of what the original is to the fellow-countrymen of him who wrote it but examples of this are necessarily very rare. Fitzgerald’s version of the Rubâiyat of Omar Khayyam is about the only instance that readily suggests itself of absolutely successful translation into English.

Mr. Basil Hall Chamberlain has just published a volume on the classical poetry of the Japanese, in which he has represented the original poems in various measures, and with a commendable degree of smoothness. This is not the first attempt to introduce us to the knowledge of the poetry of this country. Mr. F. V. Dickens, in 1866, published a volume entitled Japanese Odes, in which were metrical versions and literal prose translations, and M. de Rosny’s Anthologie Japonaise contains many poems in French prose. This volume of Mr. Chamberlain’s is interesting reading; the history of this department of Japanese literature is clearly told. The translations, we gather, keep close to the original, and although at times they lack poetical charm they are of service to the reader.

Many of the peculiar qualities of the Japanese mind are to be seen in the beautiful works of art, and in these translations of Japanese poetry we have a new opportunity to observe this interesting people. Most of their poems are very short, as we have stated, and in this respect they are like the Greek epigrams ; but they differ from these in that they abound with descriptions of natural scenery, and like all lyrical poetry, and especially that of the East, they are full of lamentation concerning the brevity and misery of human life. Here is a fair example : —

“ Since the far natal hour of earth and heaven,
Men never cease to cry,
That ne’er to aught in this our world ’t was given
To last eternally.
“ If upward gazing on the moon of light
That hangs in heav’n’s high plain,
I see her wax, ’t will not be many a night
Before that moon shall wane.
“ And if in spring each twig puts forth his flow’r
On all the hills around,
Dew-chill’d and storm-swept in dull autumn’s hour
The leaves fall to the ground.
“ Such, too, is man: soon pales the ruddy cheek,
The raven locks soon fade;
And the fresh smile of morn ‘t were vain to seek
Amid the evening shade.
“ And I that gaze upon the mortal scene,
My tears flow down forever,
Where all is viewless as the wind unseen,
And fleeting as the river.”

Here is a fascinating little poem : —

‘The trees and herbage, as the year doth wane,
For gold and russet leave their former hue, —
All but the wave-toss’d flow’rets of the main,
That never yet chill autumn’s empire knew.”

These poems are hardly more interesting than the dramas that are given by Mr. Chamberlain; for a sort of naïve simplicity these plays have no equal. It is curious to find one resembling vaguely Calderon’s Vida es Sueño. The remarks with which Mr. Chamberlain introduces his subject are very well worth reading. He shows how closely the ancient Japanese imitated the Chinese, just as now they copy our civilization ; he points out many of their more marked mental peculiarities, and shows, too, how much some of the technical difficulties of Japanese metrical composition hamper the translator. As it is, we can get but a paraphrase of the original ; but then we may console ourselves by thinking how mysterious Horace and Keats must be to the Japanese student in this country.

— Apropos of the complaint of the contributor, in the February Club, who thinks it is an Americanism to accent Parnell on the last syllable, here are two verses from the Spectator of January 22d, in both of which the name is accented on the last syllable. I can also assure the discontented philologist that Parnéll is the usual Irish pronunciation of it-

“Parnell plays the stalest of demagogue play ;
To be called ‘ King Parnell,’ talks his country away.”
“ Oh, sad was that valley when luckless she fell
To thee and to thine, landlord-hating Parnell! ”

— Mr. White, in his article on England, in the March Atlantic, makes the statement that the town-crier is unknown in America. Generally speaking, this is so, yet I have myself seen him in the city of Newport, R. I. No longer ago than 1878, as I was passing down Thames Street, in that curious aged and new town, I noticed an old man ringing a bell on the corner. No one but myself seemed to pay any attention to him. After ringing the hell for some time, he adjusted his spectacles, and read a notice for an auction in a monotonous, perfunctory sort of way.

Then he passed on to the next corner, and rung and read again. He was probably the last of his race in America.

— Whilst Sanskrit scholars are successfully tracing the pedigrees of our commonest words back to so remote an age as to excite the envy of owners of “ family pride ” and thorough-bred horses, are we not in danger of forgetting the origin of some of our local names ?

Doubtless, New England smiled on reading in the associated press dispatches that the legislature of Arkansas decides the official name of that State to be Arkansaw, just as one always hears it in the trans-Mississippi; but does not the name come from the arc en sang of the early French traders, its likeness to Kansas being accidental ? Whether the “ bloody bow ” was a special weapon, like the “ medicine bow,” that gave its name to a creek, mountain range, and railway station in Wyoming, or the “ Bloody Bows ” were a band, like the Sans Arcs, cannot now be determined.

Is not the Ozark range a remnant of aux arcs, and that a Frenchman’s translation of an Indian name for the place where he got the wood to make his bow, just as on the head of “ Pole Creek” in Wyoming they got lodge poles ?

Some say the word “ sni ” or “ sny,” creek, is Chippewa, as Sni Magill, — Magill’s Creek, — on the Upper Mississippi. In my county a township is named Sni-a-bar, and the oldest inhabitant does not know that it was the name of Herbert’s Creek. Being a Frenchman, Herbert called himself Abaire, and the Virginia and Kentucky settlers called it “ Sni b’ah ” (with a German a), just as they called the plantigrades they found here “ bahs,” and wrote it “ bar.”

When in the East, it shames me to find that I do not know how to pronounce the name of my native State, but call it I-oway instead of I-o-y. The Ah-hee-oo-ba, or “ sleepers,” probably overslept themselves, and let the Sioux murder them ; but the present inhabitants are wide-awake, and were nearly all “ Wide-Awakes ” in 1860.

Who would look for Nebraska in the Sioux language, that has no r ? It is Mnee bah-lak-skah, the " broad, shallow water,” — the Platte, — and enough like Alaska to give color to Spotted Tail’s story that his fathers came from the far north, and once used dogs for dragging lodges, etc., and had never seen horses.

Dakota has not changed much from Lah-ko-tah (the t strongly dental), “ the cut-throats.”

Once, in Nebraska, a fellow-traveler on horseback overtook me, and during the day remarked that he lived on a stream that “ the settlers call ’ Pappy oh,’ but the right name is Paypillyun.” For some reason or other it swarms with butterflies in summer.

The Sioux say the first Cheyennes they ever saw had their thighs painted red (like the Kansas guerrillas, who in the late war wore red-morocco-legged boots, and were known as “ red-legs ”). The Sioux said, “ Shah-shah ee-a loo hah ” (you have painted yourselves red). Shah ee is, in sound, our “ shy ” pronounced slowly, and the Sioux now call them Shy ale ah; giving exactly the sound of those three words of our language, running them into one, and accenting the second syllable. The French traders got it down to Cheyenne (Shy Ann). Who would ever suspect that timid female to be descended from those bold and indelicate “ red-legs ” ?