Imatges de pÓgina

your love."

you. Granted you have had temptations, follies, errors ; so has every man of high spirit and generous temper

, and I value you far more coming out of a fiery furnace with so much of pure gold that the flames could not destroy, than if you were some ascetic Pharisee, who has never succumbed because he has never been tempted, and, born with no weaknesses, is born with no warmer virtues either!"

Falkenstein laughed, as he looked down at her.

“ You little goose! Well, at least you have eloquence, Valérie, if not truth, on your side ; and your sophistry is dear to me, as it springs out of

“But it is not sophistry," she cried, with an energetic stamp of her foot. “ If you will not listen to philosophy, concede, at least, to fact. Which is most worthy of my epithets-noble and good'-Waldemar Falkenstein, or Maximilian ? And yet Maximilian has been quiet and virtuous from his youth upwards, and always wins white balls from the ballot of society."

“ Well! you shall have the privilege of your sex—the last word,” smiled Waldemar, more especially as the last word is on my side."

“ Hark!” interrupted Valérie, quiet and subdued in a second, "the clock is striking twelve.”

Silently, with her arms round his neck, they listened to the parting knell of the Old Year, stealing quietly away from its place among men. From the church towers through England tolled the twelve strokes, with a melancholy echo, telling a world that its dead past was laid in a sealed grave, and the stone of Never More was rolled to the door of the sepulchre. The Old Year was gone, with all its sins and errors, its golden gleams and midnight storms, its midsummer days of sunshine for some, its winter nights of starless gloom for others. Its last knell echoed; and then, from the old

grey belfries in villages and towns, over the stirring cities and the sleeping hamlets, over the quiet meadows and stretching woodlands and grand old forest trees, rang the Silver Chimes of the New Year.

It shall be a happy New Year to you, my darling, if my love can make it so," whispered Waldemar, as the musical bells clashed out in wild harmony under the winter stars.

She looked up into his eyes. “I must be happy, since it will be passed with you. Do you remember, Waldemar, the night I saw you first, my telling you New Year's-day was my birthday, and wondering where you and I should spend the next? I liked you strangely from the first, but how little I foresaw that my whole life was to hang on yours !"

“As little as I foresaw when, after heavy losses at Godolphin's, I watched the Old Year out in my chambers, a tired, ruined, hopeless, aimless man, with not one on whom I could rely for help or sympathy in my need, that I should stand here now, free, clear from debt, with all my old entanglements shaken off, my old scores wiped out, my darker errors forgotten, my worst enemy humbled, and my own future bright. Oh! Valérie! Heaven bless you for the love that followed me into exile !"

He drew her closer to him as he spoke, and as he felt the beating of the heart that was always true to him, and the soft caress of the lips that had always a smile for him, Falkenstein looked out over the wide woodland that called him master, glistening in the clear starlight, and as he listened to the Silver Chimes-joyous herald of the New-born Yearhe blessed in his inmost heart the GOLDEN FETTERS OF LOVE.


[Monsieur VICTOR GOUACHE, a French gentleman long resident in England, who has reasons of his own for distrusting the Post-office, has made us the medium of communication between himself and several of his friends in Paris, to whom he is desirous of making known his opinions on current events in this country. M. Gouache has been so good as to promise us a series of letters, of which the following is the first.---Ed. Bentley's Miscellany.]

No. I.

taken up my

TO M. ALFRED EROCARD, RUE ST. DOMINIQUE, NO. 42, À PARIS. MY DEAR ALFRED,—A distinguished critic of our own country, in the exercise of his métier, lately said : “L'à-propos est beaucoup dans les Arts comme dans la vie. Il ne faut faire ni la comédie de la veille, ni la eomédie du lendemain. Bornons-nous à la comédie du jour ; c'est la plus vraie, et celle qui a la plus de chance à réussir.”

That which he applied to the drama, it is my intention-as well as I am able—to apply to what I see and hear in the great city where I have

abode ; not recently, as you are well aware, or I should shrink from the presumption of recording the observations and ideas which you and other friends have asked me to put on paper for the gratification of those from whom I have so long been absent. No, my dear Alfred, no-a thousand times, no! If I were not as completely Anglicised by residence as I am still a Frenchman in thought, I would not attempt to gratify even a legitimate curiosity like yours. But the time I have passed in England, some opportunity, and a tolerable knowledge of the language-which you and I studied together at the College de France, and in which you request me to write-are reasons that excuse me to myself in undertaking the task you have imposed on me.

Entrons en matière alors! Or, to follow Hamlet's advice, let us leave our damnable faces and begin. Hamlet, you know, is the chef-d'oeuvre of Shakspeare, and let me observe, par parenthèse, my dear Alfred, that the poet is no longer to be called “ the divine Williams :” England possesses but one Williams, he is a member of parliament, and his apotheosis is sufficiently remote.

Where, then, to begin ? The choice is, perhaps, of little consequence. So much is in the wallet that something to the purpose is sure to turn up whenever I put my hand there. Of this be assured : I shall not entertain you, now, as I might have done ten years ago-on my first arrival in London--with histories of baronets who are censés to be found seated at guéridons, drinking “grogs” in the middle of the day, or boxing with their grooms for prize-fights in their noble houses of Piccadilly and West-end, or dragging their wives to Smithfield for sale, with halters round their lovely necks. Those descriptions belong to the past, , VOL. XLVII.


and I leave them to travellers who, neglecting the use of their eyes, see only through their ears.

They have a curious way of recompensing literary merit in England. About five-and-thirty years ago, King George IV., who, in other things, is not very advantageously remembered, set apart from his civil list a certain annual sum for the express purpose of rewarding the labours of such as devoted themselves to literature and science. One might suppose that, in a country so prolific of writers as England, there would be no great difficulty in selecting appropriate objects for this royal bounty. But when one reads the yearly list, this is the inevitable conclusion. Of two things, one: either literary people in England are few and undeserving, or the Minister who distributes the dole—for it is no great amount-is incapable of distinguishing between pauperism and literary merit. My own convictions incline me to believe in the last-named category. En voici la preuve : In the list published a few weeks ago I suppress names, which would not interest you-I find that 501. is given to Mrs. B., “ in consideration of the services of her late husband, Captain B., for twenty-five years' employment in the suppression of the slave trade on the coast of Africa, where at last he fell a victim to the climate.” Mrs. B. had, unquestionably, an excellent claim to a pension; but, as the services of her husband were those of an active naval officer, does it not strike you that a literary fund is somewhat inappropriately taxed for her support? Without intending the slightest disrespect to the memory of Captain B., I permit myself to observe that it is doubtful if his literary efforts ever extended beyond the composition of his log-book. Here is another logical deduction : Dr. B. receives 1001. “ for his services to literature." Très bien ! But what the English call “ a rider" is saddled on the donation. “When Dr. B.” (says the official document) was in better circumstances he gave the Astrolabe of Drake to Greenwich Hospital.” He might, when a richer man, have lent the Prime Minister a guinea-have bestowed a pestle and mortar on any other hospitalhave made a present of his wig to the British Museum-or have exercised his munificence in a thousand ways more exemplary even than these, —but why should not his “services to literature” have been considered a reason sufficient for his literary pension ? Another Dr. B. is rewarded with 1001. for his “philosophical works ;" but this is not claim enough: to deserve his pension it is necessary for him to be in “straitened circumstances,” that fact being made public in order, I suppose, to put his philosophy to the test. Great benefits have accrued to the country through the improvements made by the late H. C. in the manufacture of iron.” It has long been a reproach to England that his family should have suffered great poverty. Well, this is now partially remedied : 1001, is divided between the two surviving daughters of H. C. Little enough, you will say; but then you cannot fail to admire the intimate connexion between cast iron and literature ! Mrs. G., the daughter of H., the painter, receives 1001. "on account of the long services of her late husband.” Prepare yourself

, my dear Alfred, to hear of a work on art, a catalogue raisonné at the least ;—no such thing—it is “in the consular service," and not in the cause of either art or literature. Mrs. R., the widow of the Bishop of A—, is pensioned with 1502., because of the episcopal labours of her husband, and a nume

rous family unprovided for. Poverty again-and not on account of the late bishop's contributions to theology. To Mrs. R. is awarded a sum of 501., “in consideration of her husband's services in South America and the United States, and”—pray notice this—" his being poisoned on his return home !” The last reason is perfectly unique, and the Minister who makes so happy a distribution of literary rewards is certainly impayable. The literary pension-list in his hands answers the purpose of all the remedies that were applied in the kingdom of “ La Quinte Essence.” It cures everything but the specific ailment for which it was invented. As to desert, the unhappy English author may say with Alceste:

Laissons mon mérite, de grace ;
De quoi voulez-vous là que Lord P s'embarrasse ?
Il aurait fort à faire, et ses soins seraient grands

D'avoir à déterrer le mérite des gens. Assez sur ce chapitre, but the general subject of misplaced generosity is not quite exhausted.

It is said that the English are not an impulsive nation—like ourselves -though, between you and I, my dear Alfred, I believe we sometimes look before we leap. The English, however, are very often suddenly stirred to do things which those who judge with sobriety can scarcely understand. They forget a proverb of their own, which I give you as Chamfort wrote it, with his commentary : " Il faut être juste avant d'être généreux, comme on a des chemises avant d'avoir des dentelles."

You have heard, I suppose, of the gentleman whom our Paris papers call “Sir Cobden," but perhaps you do not know all his history. N'ayez pas peur,– I am not going to be his biographer: it is only an episode in his career that I am about to relate. Ce Monsieur Cobden-to use his own words, before he learnt French—made his "first début in political life” as an anti-Corn-law agitator ; that is to say, he thought it a more promising speculation to become a free-trader than to sell printed cottons at a very small profit. He was right. When the agitation was over, and the Corn-laws were repealed, his friends, the Manchester manufacturers, were told that he had neglected his own affairs—c'est beau, ça, -to his impoverishment. They consequently set on foot a subscription to reward him for his services, and raised the colossal sum of 70, million seven hundred and fifty thousand francs, mon cher—which Monsieur Richards Cobden put in his pocket. Against all this il n'y a mot à dire. But what do you think “The Champion of Free Trade," comme on l'appelle ici, did with this enormous sum of money? Invested it, you will say, in the English funds, or in some other English security. Not at all, my dear friend. Pour être Anglais, Monsieur Cobden ne s'inquiète pas de devenir Américain. To obtain a higher rate of interest for his capital, he embarked the whole or the greater part of the fortune which had been given him in American railways, and, like the dog in le bonhomme Lafontaine's fable, snatched at a shadow in the stream and lost the gros morceau that was already in his mouth : in other words, he did not neglect his affairs this time, but, nevertheless, he was ruined. pis pour lui, I hear you—who are not much interested in this gentleman's fortunes-exclaim ! Again you are deceived. So far from its being so much the worse for Monsieur Cobden, it turns out to have been so much

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the better. Here is what I read to-day in the Atheneum, a well-informed literary journal: “ The public will regret to hear a rumour that Mr. Cobden has lost nearly the whole of his private fortune by investment in American railway shares. They will rejoice, however, if the rumour should be true, to hear that the loss will be repaid to this useful servant of the public, in a manner at once splendid, delicate, and prompt. In a few days, if we are rightly told, names have been put down for 40,000, in sums from 500l. to 50001. each. The friendliness thus expressed is most noble tribute to public virtue and public service.” So that, after twelve years' enjoyment of the feverish delight of speculation, with his patriotic soul fixed on the improvement of American railways, and, bien entendu, his own advantage, after developing so rare an amount of disinterested love of country and utter abnegation of self, Monsieur Cobden se remet dans son assiette as comfortably as if he had never been disturbed in it. When a man makes ducks and drakes of a large fortune, and has his losses made up “in a manner at once splendid, delicate, and prompt," what should be his line of conduct for the future? Can you ask it? Why, speculate more and more in American railways, continue to play at ducks and drakes, throw good money after bad, do anything so as not to deserve another subscription, and then English generosity will make it “ all square," as they say here.

Free trade having been touched upon, in the person of Monsieur Cobden, I must not dismiss the subject without congratulating you, whose father is a Bordeaux wine-grower, and myself who am a Bordeaux winedrinker-even in this country, at seven or eight francs a bottle on the prospect of being able- your estimable father to sell three times as much as before, and my estimable self to drink, if not three times as much, what I desire, at one-third of the former price. It is a one-sided measure for the present, mais qu'est-ce que ça nous fait? Let Lord Palmerston's free-trade cabinet look to that.

I must now close this letter. Just as I am about to do so I hear the guns firing, which announce the arrival of the Queen at the House of Lords, to deliver the royal speech. The great sop in the pan for the hungry British public is the new Reform Bill, which no human being here cares a single sou about, least of all those—but I need not tell you that —who make the most noise about it. The clamour for it is what the Americans call “ Bunkum.” We have not the precise word in our language, but, decidedly, we have the thing. And now adieu, mon cher Alfred. Knowing where you live, and how surrounded, I echo the wish of Monsieur Jourdain, et“ vous souhaite la force des serpents et la prudence des lions."

A vous de cour,


In my next I shall tell you how politics are getting on water."

over the

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