Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

earliest years, I believed that the initiative of the third life of Europe would spring from the heart, the action, the enthusiasm and sacrifice of our people, I heard within me the grand voice of Rome sounding once again, hailed and accepted with loving reverence by the peoples, and telling of moral unity and fraternity in a faith common to all humanity. It was not the unity of the past, which, though sacred and conducive to civilization for many centuries, did but emancipate individual man, and reveal to him an ideal of liberty and equality only to be realized in Heaven it was a new unity, emancipating collective humanity, and revealing the formula of Association, through which liberty and equality are destined to be realized here on earth; sanctifying the earth and rendering it what God wills it should be, - a stage upon the path of perfection, a means given to man wherewith to deserve a higher and nobler existence hereafter.

And I saw Rome, in the name of God and Republican Italy, substituting a declaration of PRINCIPLES for the barren declaration of rights, — principles the logical consequences of the parent idea, PROGRESS, and revealing to the nations a common aim, and the basis of a new religion. And I saw Europe,

weary of scepticism, egotism, and moral anarchy, receive the new faith with acclamations. I saw a new pact founded upon that faith, -a pact of united action in the work of human perfectibility, involving none of the evils or dangers of the former pact, because among the first consequences of a faith founded upon the dogma of progress would be the justification of heresy, as either a promise or endeavor after progress in the future.

The vision which brightened my first dream of country has vanished, so far as concerns my own life. Even if that vision be ever fulfilled, -as I believe it will be, I shall be in the tomb. May the young, as yet uncorrupted by scepticism, prepare the way for its realization; and may they, in the name of our national tradition and the future, unceasingly protest against all who seek to immobilize human life in the name of a dogma extinct, or to degrade it by diverting it from the eternal worship of the Ideal.

The religious question is pre-eminent over every other at the present day, and the moral question is indissolubly linked with it. We are bound either to solve these, or renounce all idea of an Italian mission in the world.

JOSEPH MAZZINI.

REVIEWS AND LITERARY NOTICES.

Miss Ravenel's Conversion from Secession to Loyalty. By J. W. DE FORREST. New York: Harper and Brothers.

THE light, strong way in which our author goes forward in this story from the first, and does not leave difficulty to his readers, is pleasing to those accustomed to find an American novel a good deal like the now extinct American stage-coach, whose passengers not only walked over bad pieces of road, but carried fence-rails on their shoulders to pry the vehicle out of the sloughs and miry places. It was partly the fault of the im

perfect roads, no doubt, and it may be that our social ways have only just now settled into such a state as makes smooth going for the novelist; nevertheless, the old stagecoach was hard to travel in, and what with drafts upon one's good nature for assistance, it must be confessed that our novelists have been rather trying to their readers. It is well enough with us all while the road is good, -a study of individual character, a bit of landscape, a stretch of well-worn plot, gentle slopes of incident; but somewhere on the way the passengers are pretty sure to be asked to step out, the ladies to walk

Our author imagines a Southern loyalist and his daughter sojourning in New Boston, Barataria, during the first months of the war. Dr. Ravenel has escaped from New Orleans just before the Rebellion began, and has brought away with him the most sarcastic and humorous contempt and abhorrence of his late fellow-citizens, while his daughter, an ardent and charming little blonde Rebel, remembers Louisiana with longing and blind admiration. The Doctor, born in South Carolina, and living all his days among slaveholders and slavery, has not learned to love either; but Lillie differs from him so widely as to scream with joy when she hears of Bull Run. Naturally she cannot fall in love with Mr. Colburne, the young New Boston lawyer, who goes into the war conscientiously for his country's sake, and resolved for his own to make himself worthy and lovable in Lillie's blue eyes by destroying and desolating all that she holds dear. It requires her marriage with Colonel Carter-a Virginia gentleman, a good-natured drunkard and roué and soldier of fortune on our side to make her see Colburne's worth, as it requires some comparative study of New Orleans and New Boston, on her return to her own city, to make her love the North. Bereft of her husband by his own wicked weakness, and then widowed, she can at last wisely love and marry Colburne; and, cured of Secession by experiencing on her father's account the treatment received by Unionists in New Orleans, her conversion to loyalty is a question of time duly settled before the story ends.

on ahead, and the gentlemen to fetch fence- his duty to contribute towards the payment rails. of the accumulated interest in the events of the war, by relating his work to them; and the heroes of young-lady writers in the magazines have been everywhere fighting the låte campaigns over again, as young ladies would have fought them. We do not say that this is not well, but we suspect that Mr. De Forrest is the first to treat the war really and artistically. His campaigns do not try the reader's constitution, his battles are not bores. His soldiers are the soldiers we actually know, the green wood of the volunteers, the warped stuff of men torn from civilization and cast suddenly into the barbarism of camps, the hard, dry, tough, true fibre of the veterans that came out of the struggle. There could hardly be a better type of the conscientious and patriotic soldier than Captain Colburne; and if Colonel Carter must not stand as type of the officers of the old army, he must be acknowledged as true to the semi-civilization of the South. On the whole he is more entertaining than Colburne, as immoral people are apt to be to those who suffer nothing from them. "His contrasts of slanginess and gentility, his mingled audacity and insouciance of character, and all the picturesque ins and outs of his moral architecture, so different from the severe plainness of the spiritual temples common in New Boston," do take the eye of peace-bred Northerners, though never their sympathy. Throughout, we admire, as the author intends, Carter's thorough and enthusiastic soldiership, and we perceive the ruins of a generous nature in his aristocratic Virginian pride, his Virginian profusion, his imperfect Virginian sense of honor. When he comes to be shot, fighting bravely at the head of his column, after having swindled his government, and half unwillingly done his worst to break his wife's heart, we feel that our side has lost a good soldier, but that the world is on the whole something better for our loss. The reader must go to the novel itself for a perfect conception of this character, and preferably to those dialogues in which Colonel Carter so freely takes part; for in his development of Carter, at least, Mr. De Forrest is mainly dramatic. Indeed, all the talk in the book is free and natural, and, even without the hard swearing which distinguishes the speech of some, it would be difficult to mistake one speaker for another, as often happens in novels.

We sketch the plot without compunction, for these people of Mr. De Forrest's are so unlike characters in novels as to be like people in life, and none will wish the less to see them because he knows the outline of their history. Not only is the plot good and very well managed, but there is scarcely a feebly painted character or scene in the book. As to the style, it is so praiseworthy that we will not specifically censure occasional defects, for the most part, slight turgidities notable chiefly from their contrast to the prevailing simplicity of the narrative.

Our war has not only left us the burden of a tremendous national debt, but has laid upon our literature a charge under which it has hitherto staggered very lamely. Every author who deals in fiction feels it to be

The character of Dr. Ravenel, though so simple, is treated in a manner invariably

[blocks in formation]

Miss Lillie Ravenel is as charming as her adored papa, and is never less nor more than a bright, lovable, good, constant, inconsequent woman. It is to her that the book owes its few scenes of tenderness and sentiment; but she is by no means the most prominent character in the novel, as the infelicitous title would imply, and she serves chiefly to bring into strong er relief the traits of Colonel Carter and Doctor Ravenel. The author seems not even to make so much study of her as of Mrs. Larue, a lady whose peculiar character is skilfully drawn, and who will be quite probable and explicable to any who have studied the traits of the noble Latin race, and a little puzzling to those acquainted only with people of Northern civilization. Yet in Mrs. Larue the author comes near making his failure. There is a little too much of her, it is as if the wily enchantress had cast her glamour upon the author himself, and there is too much anxiety that the nature of her intrigue with Carter shall not be misunderstood. Nevertheless, she bears that stamp of verity which marks all Mr. De Forrest's creations, and which commends to our forbearance rather more of the highly colored and strongly flavored parlance of the camps than could otherwise have demanded reproduction in literature. The bold strokes with which such an amusing and heroic reprobate as Van Zandt and such a pitiful poltroon as Gazaway are painted, are no less admirable than the nice touches which portray the Governor of Barataria, and some phases of the aristocratic, conscientious, truthful, angular, professorial society of New Boston, with its young college beaux and old college belles, and its life pure, colorless, and cold to the eye as celery, yet full of rich and wholesome juices. It is the goodness of New Boston, and of New England, which, however unbeautiful, has elevated and saved our whole national character; and in his book there is sufficient evidence of our author's appreciation of this fact, as well as of

sympathy only and always with what is brave and true in life.

A Journey to Ashango-Land: and further Penetration into Equatorial Africa. By PAUL B. DU CHAILLU. With Maps and Illustrations. New York: D. Apple

ton & Co.

SOMEWHERE in the heart of the African continent, Mr. Du Chaillu, laying his head upon a rock, after a day of uncommon hardship, finds reason to lament the ungratefulness of the traveller's fate, which brings him, through perilous adventure and great suffering, to the incredulity and coldness of a public unable to receive his story with perfect faith. It is such a meditation as ought to reproach very keenly the sceptics who doubted Mr. Du Chaillu's first book; it certainly renews in the reader of the present work the satisfaction felt in the comparative reasonableness of the things narrated, and his consequent ability to put an unmurmuring trust in the author. Here, indeed, is very little of the gorilla whom we formerly knew: his ferocity is greatly abated; he only once beats his breast and roars; he does not twist gun-barrels; his domestic habits are much simplified; his appearance here is relatively as unimportant as Mr. Pendennis's in the "Newcomes"; he is a deposed hero; and Mr. Du Chaillu pushes on to AshangoLand without him. Otherwise, moreover, the narrative is quite credible, and, so far, unattractive, though there is still enough of incident to hold the idle, and enough of information in the appendices concerning the characteristics of the African skulls collected by Du Chaillu, the geographical and astronomical observations made en route, and the linguistic peculiarities noted, to interest the scientific. The book is perhaps not a fortunate one for those who occupy a place between these classes of readers, and who are tempted to ask of Mr. Du Chaillu, Have you really four hundred and thirty-seven royal octavo pages of news to tell us of Equatorial Africa?

Our traveller landed in West Africa in the autumn of 1863, and, after a short excursion in the coast country in search of the gorilla, he ascended the Fernand Vaz in a steamer seventy miles, to Goumbi, whence he proceeded by canoe to Obindji. Here, provided with a retinue of one hundred men of the Commi nation, his over

land journey began, and led him through the hilly country of the Bakalai southeastwardly to the village of Olenda. From this point, before continuing his route, he visited the falls of the Samba Nagoshi, some fifty miles to the northward, and Adingo Village, twenty miles below Olenda. Starting anew after these excursions, he penetrated the continent, on a line deflecting a little south of east, as far as Mouaou Kombo, which is something more than two hundred miles from the sea.

In first landing from his ship, Mr. Du Chaillu lost his astronomical instruments, and was obliged to wait in the coast country until a new supply could be obtained from England. Midway on his journey to Mouaou Kombo, his photographic apparatus was stolen, and the chemicals were, as he supposes, swallowed by the robbers, to some of whom their dishonest experiments in photography proved fatal. The traveller's means of usefulness were limited to observation of the general character of the country, some investigation of its vegetable and animal life, and study of the customs of its human inhabitants,-in none of which does he develop much variety or novelty.

Nearly the whole route lay through hilly or mountainous country, for the most part thickly wooded and sparsely peopled. There was a very notable absence of all the larger African animals, and those encountered seemed to be as peaceful in their characters as their neighbors, the tribes of wild men. The nations through which Du Chaillu passed after leaving the Commi were the Ashira, the Ishogo, the Apono, and the Ashango, and none appears to have differed greatly from the others except in name. In habits they are all extremely alike, uniting a primitive simplicity of costume and architecture to highly sophisticated traits of lying and stealing. They are not warlike, and not very cruel, except in cases of witchcraft, which are extremely dealt with,-as, indeed, they used to be in New England. Fetichism is the only religion of these tribes, and they seem to believe firmly in no superior powers but those of evil. They are docile, however, and susceptible of control. Du Chaillu had the misfortune to spread the smallpox among them from some infected members of his train; and although all their superstitious fears were excited against him, the people were held in check by their principal men; and Du Chaillu met with no serious molestation until he reached Mouaou Kombo. Here

he found the inhabitants comparatively hostile and distrustful, and in firing off a salute, — with the double purpose of intimidating them and restoring them to confidence, - one of his retinue accidentally shot two of the villagers. All hopes of friendly intercourse and of further progress were now at an end, and Du Chaillu began a rapid retreat, his men casting away in their flight his photographs, journals, and note-books, and hopelessly impairing the value of the possible narrative which he might survive to write.

Such narrative as he has actually written, we have briefly sketched. Its fault is want of condensation and of graphic power, so that, although you must follow the traveller through his difficulties and dangers, it is quite as much by effort of sympathy as by reason of interest that you do so. For the paucity of result from all the labor and hardship undergone, the author-considering the losses of material he sustainedcannot be justly criticised; but certainly the bulk of his volume makes its meagre substance somewhat too apparent.

Liffith Lank, or Lunacy. By C. H. WEBB. New York: Carleton.

St: Twel mo, or the Cuneiform Cyclopedist of Chattanooga. By C. H. WEBB. New York: C. H. Webb.

IN the first of these clever and successful burlesques, Mr. Webb has travestied rather the ideas than the manner of Mr. Reade ; and one who turned to "Liffith Lank from the wonderful parodies in "Punch's Prize Novelists," or those exquisitely finished pieces of mimicry, the "Condensed Novelists" of the Californian Harte, would feel its want of fidelity to the method and style of the author burlesqued. Yet the essential absurdities of "Griffith Gaunt" are most amusingly brought out in "Liffith Lank"; and as the little work makes the reader laugh at the great one, he has no right, perhaps, to ask more of it, or to complain that it trusts too much to the facile pun for its effects, which are oftener broad than poignant.

Nevertheless, in spite of our logical content with "Liffith Lank," we are very glad to find "St. Twel'mo "much better, and we only doubt whether the game is worth the candle; but as the candle is Mr. Webb's, he can burn it, we suppose, upon whatever occasion he likes. He has here made a

closer parody than in his first effort, and has lost nothing of the peculiar power with which he there satirized ideas. That quality of the Bronté sisters, of which Miss Evans of Mobile is one of the many American dilutions, that quality by which any sort of masculine wickedness and brutality short of refusing ladies seats in horse-cars is made lovely and attractive to the wellread and well-bred of the sex, -is very pleasantly derided, while the tropical luxuriance of general information characteristic of "St. Elmo" is unsparingly ridiculed, with the help of frequent extracts from the novel itself.

Mr. Webb appears in "St. Twel'mo " as both publisher and author, and, with a good feeling significant of very great changes in the literary world since a poet toasted Napoleon because he hanged a bookseller, dedicates his little work "To his best friend and nearest relative, the publisher."

The Literary Life of James K. Paulding. Compiled by his Son, WILLIAM I. PAULDING. New York: Charles Scribner and Company.

JAMES K. PAULDING was born in 1778 at Great-Nine Partners, in Dutchess County, New York, and nineteen years later came to the city of New York to fill a clerkship in a public office. His family was related to that of Washington Irving by marriage; he was himself united to Irving by literary sympathy and ambition, and the two young men now formed a friendship which endured through life. They published the Salmagundi papers together, and they always corresponded; but with Irving literature became all in all, and with Paulding a favorite relaxation from political life and a merely collateral pursuit. He wrote partisan satires and philippics, waxing ever more bitter against the party to which Irving belonged, and against England, where Irving was tasting the sweets of appreciation and success. He came to be Navy Agent at New York in 1823, and in 1838 President Van Buren made him his Secretary of the Navy. Three years later he retired from public life, and spent his remaining days in the tranquil and uneventful indulgence of his literary tastes.

Dying in 1859, he had survived nearly all his readers, and the present memoir was required to remind many, and to inform more, of the existence of such works as "The

Backwoodsman," a poem ; the Salmagundi papers in a second series; "Koningsmarke, the Long Finne, a story of the New World," in two volumes; "The Merry Tales of the Three Wise Men of Gotham," satirizing Owen's theories of society, law, and science; "The New Mirror for Travellers, and Guide to the Springs," a satire of fashionable life in the days before ladies with seventy-five trunks were born; "Tales of the Good Woman," a collection of short stories; "A Life of Washington”; “ American Comedies"; "The Old Continental," and "The Puritan and his Daughter,” historical novels; and innumerable political papers of a serious or a satirical sort. As it has been the purpose of the author of this memoir to let Paulding's life in great part develop itself from his letters, so it has also been his plan to spare comment on his father's literary labors, and to allow their character to be estimated by extracts from his poems, romances, and satires. From these we gather the idea of greater quantity than quality; of a poetical taste rather than poetic faculty; of a whimsical rather than a humorous or witty man. There is a very marked resemblance to Washington Irving's manner in the prose, which is inevitably, of course, less polished than that of the more purely literary man, and which is apt to be insipid and strained in greater degree in the same direction. It would not be just to say that Paulding's style was formed upon that of Irving; but both had given their days and nights to the virtuous poverty of the essayists of the last century; and while one grew into something fresher and more original by dint of long and constant literary effort, the other, writing only occasionally, remained an old-fashioned mannerist to the last. When he died, he passed out of a world in which Macaulay, Dickens, Thackeray, and Hawthorne had never lived. The last delicacy of touch is wanting in all his work, whether verse or prose; yet the reader, though unsatisfied, does not turn from it without respect. If it is second-rate, it is not tricksy; its dulness is not antic, but decorous and quiet; its dignity, while it bores, enforces a sort of reverence which we do not pay to the ineffectual fire-works of our own more pyrotechnic literary time.

Of Paulding himself one thinks, after reading the present memoir, with much regard and some regret. He was a sturdy patriot and cordial democrat, but he seems not to have thought human slavery so very

« AnteriorContinua »