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to ask what other living or dead poetess can compare, at all, favorably with any of "the grand Old Masters ?”
In imaginative works woman has, we admit, been remarkably successful ; in novel writing particularly, has her success been erinced. She is a softer, a gentler, and a more winning delineator of-romance, than inan. There is always a keen and delicate insight into the characters of the personages of her story, which is but seldom seen in the works of a man. She is more successful in the developement of her characters. She has a keener and a quicker insight into nature, and is more alive to beauty and harmony than the other sex. She, in most instances, is more successful in awakening the interest, and in seizing upon the affections of her readers, than man. Her books inculcate a higher and more refined sense of truth, than those of male writers. In fine, a talented woman generally manages to throw into her writings all that is good, beautiful, true, and noble in herself. Who, then, can wonder at her success ?
It is a truth, sadly attested by the history of the times in which we live, that literature, like human society, is growing more degenerate every year. At the present day, the great mass of the reading matter of the public is composed of the most worthless and enervating effusions of the many would-be-authors, whose names fill the annals of the literature of the 19th century. The country is flooded with books, pamphlets, and newspapers, which only pander to a vitiated taste, and choke the growth of a sound, healthy literature, as the tarcs choke the wheat in its growth. “ Sensation" stories are now all the rage. Genuinc merit is passed over for something more suited to the popular taste, Nine out of every ten, (nay, we inay say ninety-nine out of every hundred) persons prefer the stories of Sylvanus Cobb, Jr., to the noble productions of Miss Muloch and George Elliott. “The Hidden Hand” and “The Gunmaker of Moscow," are by far more universally read than “John Halifax,” and “The Mill on the Floss.” Even the great Bulwer is voted a bore, while Emmerson Bennet is considered charming.
“What will le Do with It?" is considered tame when compared with “Clara Moreland.” A good book is growing more of a rarity every day. This is no exaggerated picture. It is, unfortunately, but too true. It is plainly evident that a reform is needed. But how it is to be brought about, is another question which we will not, on the present occasion, attempt to answer. VOL. II. -XO. III.
The books that now lie before us, though by no means perfect, we consider ('Sceptions to thie gelieral class of the literature of the present day. The nanies of the authors would secure for them a favorable and flattering reception. The first on the list, or rather the first that we shall 10tice, is from the pen of the talented auth:cress is "The Lamplighitur." The scene of the story is laid in Syria alid Isia Minor, lut principally in the former country. In attempting an Oriental story, the writer entered upon a dangerous portion of romance. Many have attenipted to portray castern life and manners, but their efforts have been cold and lifeless. The author of "El Fureidis" has, been singularly fortunate in lier attempt. With only the works of others for her guide, she has succeeded in presenting a series of charming and life-like pictures. She has carried us from Bey. rout to Mount Lebanon—thence to Baalbec and Damascus, and thence into the midst of the Bedouian deserts, with the ease and grace of an experienced and accomplished traveller. While these pictures are not faultless, they possess much true merit of their own. The characters of the book are in many respects quite vividly and delicately portrayed.
Robert Meredith, is a young and wealthy Englishman, travelling in the Holy Land. lle is a large, handsome, splendid-looking man-learned, and rather skeptical. His experience, previous to his introduction to the reader, seems to have rendered him slightly misanthropic. He is very fastidious, and exquisitely sensitive. As proud and as haughty as Lucifer; yet, withal, dignified and courteous. Distant and reserved ; with no sympathy for the pursuits of other men, the world called him odd ; and, indeed, he is truly so. This character secms to us to be rather overdrawn. Meredith is rather too proud. For one so cool and philosophic, he often shows too large an amount of feeling. Sometimes he cvinces a degree of romance that is very much out of keeping with the rest of his nature, and from his grand and lofty height he occasionally descends to a love-sick and mere school-boy strain. These are defects in this otherwise finely drawn portraiture which will hardly fail to attract the attention of the critical reader. Abdoul, an Arab boy, is the next character introduced to us. It is drawn in brilliant colors. The son of the Sheik Zanadeen, Abdoul, is a prince among his Bedouian tribe. He is introduced as the guide of Meredith. Proud, fierce, vindictive, Abdoul is a
splendid Arab. There is, however, too much of the ideal and too little of the real about him. He is rather too learned, and too much of a refined gentleman to be a truthful picture of a modern Bedouin-an unsophisticated son of the desert. The authoress has allowed her fancy to lead her astray from her guide books, and has given us a graphic picture of the Arab of romance.
Havilah, is the daughter of M. Trefoil, and a Greek lady. She is the heroine of the romance, and a sweet and touching picture of her is presented to us. The beauty of Havilah was of the classical Grecian order, slightly blended with the modern European. But it is the pure and gentle nature of the young girl that will be admired most. Deeply imbued with a spirit of fervent piety, a calm and gentle holiness seems to shed itself over Havilah's entire nature. What we object to in this character is the want of consistency in the various stages of her appearance. In one instance she is represented as a simple, artless young girl ; in another she exhibits a deep insight into human nature, and the ways and wisdom of the world. She possesses too much of the wisdom that can only be attained by experience such as she has never had. And, above all, for one so young, she understands too thoroughly the heart and its passions.
Father Lapierre, the village missionary, is the next character brought forward. In our estimation, this is decidedly the best supported character in the book. “He was a rare and noble object, that vigorous old man. The fire of his eagle eye, which had once glowed with all the vehemence of an ambitious youth, was subdued, not quenched, by the gentle influences of a holy and chastened old age. The lofty brow, once marked by the storms of life and furrowed by its cares, had long since been smoothed by the gentle hand of patience, and had become the placid seat of elevated thoughts and purposes all divine. The features, once regular and fair, had gained in benignity what they had lost in symmetry of outline, and shaded as they were by the long, white beard, reminded one of the mellow beauty of autumn, dimly discerned amid winter's snows. His iron frame, too, how grand and imposing it was ; his step, how firm and elastic ; his senses, how quick and discriminating—all telling of a sound, original constitution, which hardship and exposure had but served to confirm and invigorate. He must have been an awe-inspiring man once, before humility cast her mantle over his earth-born pride ; but
now, fear gave place to love, in the presence of one whose physical power, whose mental energy, whose intellectual greatness, were all softened and sanctified by a childlike simplicity of spirit."
- p. 5:3-54. The authoress makes Father Lapierre an exception to the genus liom". She presents him to us as one whose passions and impulses have all departe, and who is now all that man should be, but, alas, is hot. Man nay learn to check and control his nature, but not to live as pure and as guileless as Father Lapierre, who is unmoved and unassailed by any of
6. The thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to."
Nevertheless the character is boldly krawn, and well sustained. The next is Monsieur Trefoil. By :birth he was
an American. I great portion of his life had been spent in France, where he gained the title of Monsieur. He is the father of Havilah, and is i fine impersonation of frank and generous manliness. J. Trefoil's life has been one severe and untiring struggle with the world. Trials and hardships, the most painful and serere, had fallen to his lot. In spite of this, he is represented at middle life, as innocent, as unsuspecting, and as ignorant of the world as he was when he first entered it. At the opening of the story M. Trefoil is represented as the wealthy and thriving proprietor of a large silk factory in the village of El Fureidis. There are many things to admire about him. Ilis generosity, his independance, and his noble tenderness for his wife and child, are exceldently portrayed. Tauthe, or, as she is called, “the Mother Ianthe," was a Grecian. She was the wife of M. Trefoil. She, too, possessed that spiritual and angelic beauty which characterized Havilah.
Nothing could exceed the elevated, the almost uncarthly sanctity which marked the countenance, the manner, and even the voice of the slender, shadow-like woman, the marble pallor of whose face seemed enhanced by the brilliancy of her dark, lustrous cycs,
and whose black, wavy hair droopeel over her sunken check as if it were a mourning badge—a token of the decay of her early bloom." -2). 50. There is something very sweet and touching in this character. It is a beautiful embodiment of the sacred name of Alother. Mustapha Osman, is a genial whole-souled Turk; a merchant of Damascus. This character is inferior to the others ; but still is drawn with considerable skill. Maysunah, his daughter, is a
fair and drooping maiden, just hovering on the verge of the spirit land. Over the picture that she has drawn of her, the authoress throws a ray of tender, sad, and beautiful sunshine, which steals into the reader's heart and lightens his soul ere he perceives that it is there. The other characters are in general well and forcibly drawn. Indeed, the coloring, the artistic grouping, and the lights and shades of the beautiful pictures of " El Fureidis,” are almost perfect.
As the story opens, the sun is setting over the Eastern land, and casts his mellow rays over a graceful little barque which is ploughing the blue waters of the Mediterranean, bearing the Englishman, Meredith, to Beyrout. The scene is gracefully described, and we are sorry that our limits forbid our transcribing it here. After a night's repose, Meredith sets out for the interior, accompanied by the Arab boy, Abdoul ; and after a long and fatiguing journey through a wild and rugged country, arrives at the vil. lage of El Fureidis, on the slopes of Mount Lebanon, just as Father Lapierre is celebrating the evening worship at the village chapel. Meredith becomes the guest of Father Lapierre, and is seized with a severe illness. After his recovery he becomes M. Trefoil's guest. The outline of the household life of the proprietor of the silk factory, is well and tastefully executed. After being in El Fureidis a short time, Meredith determines to remain longer, and, accordingly, Abdoul is granted permission to visit his tribe ; but, before he goes, he pledges himself to be back at a certain time. His parting with Havilah is very well sketched, and we take the liberty of transcribing a portion of it.
** As Abdoul is about to depart he seeks Havilah, to bid her adieu. As she enters, he is standing midway between the places reserved for the guests of the master of the house, and for visitors of inferior rank. Modesty forbidding him to occupy the former, and pride keeping him from the latter.”'
“Most kind and encouraging was her reception of the Sheik's son, whom Ayib was already acknowledging by stretching out his graceful head for the youth's caress. • You have come at last, Abdoul,” she exclaimed, holding out her hand, over which the Arab boy bowed low, not presuming to touch it. ** I feared you had forgotten Havilah.”'
“When the night wanderer on the mountains forgets to watch for the morning star, then will Abdoul forget Havilah," was the grave reply spoken in a tone of mingled sweetness and reproach.
" Then why have you stayed away so long? Ayib and I have sought in vain for the eagle's nest on the mountain, and the white asphodels and blue