Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

cross-road leading to a village not far from a dozen wicked were being swallowed then the Seine. There was an old church, and there by a huge green monster. All one of the very oldest in the neighbor. these quaint, familiar things hung undis. hood, that he wanted them to see. He turbed as they had hung in the young had done an etching of it for the Beaux man's recollection for the quarter of a cenArts.

tury he could look back to. The bright The lamp was burning dimly in the silver hearts and tokens, the tallow can. little church before the high ar, where dles peacefully smoking on the triangle a black verger stood in his robes. There all meant childhood and familiar faces and was a silver dove hanging from the mid-everyday innocent life to him. He did dle of the roof, and a gilt sun, with brassy not feel here in the little village church as rays like an organ, which shone upon at St. Roch on the day of the great celethe altar. Little pictures, bright-colored, bration. There he had chafed and remiraculous, covered the bare walls with volted. Tenipy herself could not have felt representations of benevolent marvels more repelled than Max du Parc; but heavenly hands and protruding arms in this was his whole childhood, one of his terposing from the clouds to prevent dis simplest and most intimate associations. aster here on earth; runaway horses How curiously the same emblems affect arrested, falling houses caught in the act. different minds! To Tempy they meant There was a huge black crucifix with a terrors and superstition; to Jo a picturcolored figure of Death — a somewhat esque and characteristic episode of forterrible and striking reminder to the living eign travel; and to Susanna they meant of the future and the past. More cheer- something like a strange dream of reality, ful tinselled ornaments were piled upon like an image of all that was in her heart the altar, whose fine cloth was guarded by just then. There was the charm, the ina chequered linen top. The wooden pul- tense attraction of that which was not and pit was painted to look like precious must never be her creed; and also a terveined marble, so was the battered old ror of that remorseless law which spared confessional with the thumb-marks of the not, which accepted inartyrdom and selfpenitents. Outside the little church, in renunciation as the very beginning of the the Place, the cocks and hens cackled, lesson of life - of that life which since becketed in the grass; a little stream ran the world began had been crying out so close by the opened door with a pleasant passionately for its own, for its right to wash of water. They had passed the exist, to feel, to be free. This afternoon curé's house close at hand, with its labur- Mrs. Dymond seemed to have caught nums, and the field beyond where the something of Du Parc's antagonistic mood linen strips were bleaching, and the chil. on that day at St. Roch's; she was thinkdren squatting in the dust, and the man ing how these pale saints had turned one with the wooden shoes and the oilskin hat by one from the sunshine and the storms and the torn blouse, breaking flints in the of daily life, from the seasons in their sunshine. Everything outside looked hot course, from the interests and warm fires and bright and delicate and business-like, of home, to a far-away future, of which while everything inside was dark and these sad tapers, winking and smoking, dreamily fervent. To people accustomed these glittering silver trinkets, were the from childhood to Catholic chapels, the symbols ; they had given earnest and pas. scent of the lingering incense seems to be sionate prayers in the place of love and the breath of the prayers and hymns of living desires and the looging of full the pious who have lingered here genera bearts; they had taken pain and selftion after generation on their way from inflicted sufferings in place of the natural the streets and the sunshine outside, to submission and experience of life, and the the quiet churchyard across the field. restraints of other's rights and other's

Max looked round to-day with friendly needs. eyes at his old playmates, St. Cosmo and “ I can't think how people can endure St. Damian, those favorite martyrs at such superstitior,” said Tempy, flouncing St. Dominic in his black robe, Si. Catha. out into the porch. “ Come, Jo, it makes rine with her pointing finger, St. Barbara me sick," and she nearly tumbled over an with her wheel, good St. Ursula with a old couple who had been kneeling in the detachment of maidens, standing by the shadow of the doorway. well-remembered sketch of the Day of Susy blushed up, as she often did, for Judgment, where six or seven just persons Tempy's brusqnerie, and looked anxiously escorted by two virtuous little angels were at Du Parc, who had caught the young being trumpeted up to heaven, while over | lady by the arm as she stumbled.

[ocr errors]

Tempy seemed to rouse some latent surprised, half-laughing, half-disapproving opposition in Max du Parc.

glance, and the elder woman would blush “Take care,” he said in English ; "go and look amused, appealing; she seemed geotly, and don't upset those who are still to be asking her stepdaughter's leave to on their knees. After all there are not be brilliant for once – to answer the many people left upon their knees now,” friendly advances of the French gentle. he added as they came out together, “and men who called with red ribbons, and the I don't see that much is gained by having French ladies with neatly poised bonpets. everybody running about the streets in. One or two invitations came for them stead.”

through Mr. Bagginal. Sometimes Susy, “ At all events it is something gained animated, forgetting, would look so difto hear people speaking the real truth, ferent, so handsome, that Tempy herself and saying only what they really think, as was taken aback. Mrs. Dymond's black we do in our churches," said Tempy, with dignities became her – the long lappets one of her stares.

falling, the silken folds so soft, so thick, Du Parc inade her a low bow.

that moved with her as she moved. She “If that is the case, mademoiselle, I had dressed formerly to please her hus. shall certainly come over to England and band, who, in common with many men, get myself admitted into your religion by hated black, and liked to see his wife and a reverend with a white tie.”.

his daughter in a cheerful rainbow of pink Tempy didn't answer, but walked on. and green and blue and gilt buttons,

Jo burst out laughing. Susy didn't Now that she was a widow she wore plain laugh; she was in this strange state of long dresses, soft and black, suiting her emotion, excitement, she could not laugh. condition and becoming to her sweet and Something had come to her, something graceful ways. She had bought herself a which in all her life she had never felt as straw hat, for the sun was burning in the now, a light into the morning, a tender avenues of Neuilly, and with her round depth in the evening sky, a meaning to hat she had given up her widow's cap. the commonest words and facts. There A less experienced hand than Max du is a feeling which comes home to most of Parc might have wished to set this grace. us at one time or another; philosophers ful blackness down forever as it stood on try to explain it, poets to write it down, the green outside the little chapel that only musicians can make it into music, it summer's day. The children were still is like a horizon to the present - a sense playing, the geese were coming up to be of the suggestion of life beyond its actual | fed, the dazzle of light and shade inade a din and rough shapings. This feeling sweet out-of-door background to the lovely gives a meaning to old stones and futter- light and shade of Susy's wistful pale face ing rags, to the heaps and holes on the as she stood facing them all, and looking surface of the earth, to the sad and com- up at the carved stone front of the shabby mon things as well as to those which are little church. brilliant and successful. Had this su- They walked home slowly two by two. preme revelation come to Susanna now? Tempy, who had not yet forgiven Du or was it only that in France the lights Parc bis religion or his bow, took her are brighter, the aspects of life more de. brother's arm. lightful — that with the sight of all this Two figures that were hobbling along natural beauty and vivacity some new the path a little way in front of them, spring of her life had been touched which stopped their halting progress, and turned irradiated and colored everything ? to watch the youthful company go by;

But it was not France, it was the poetry They were forlorn aod worn and sad, and of to.day and the remembrance of yester- covered with rags and dirt; the woman day which softened her sweet looks, which carried a bundle on a stick, the man touched her glowing cheek. It was some- dragged his steps through the spring, thing which Susy did not know, of which limping as he went. she had never guessed at until now, widow "Yes," said Max, answering Susy's though she was, mother though she was. look of pity, “one is happy and forgets

Susanna for the last few years had been everything else, and then one meets some so accustomed to silence, to a sort of death's-head like this to remind one of the gentle but somewhat coodoning courtesy, fact. Think of one man keeping all that that it seemed to her almost strange to be for himself," and he pointed back to a specially addressed and considered. flaming villa with pink turrets beyond the

Tempy could not upderstand it either. field," and another reduced to such shreds Once or twice Susanna met tbe girl's of life.”

a

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

not over

“I don't think people in England are and speaking with an unconscious appeal ever quite so miserable,” said Susy. in her voice and her eyes. Why was it

“ You think not?” said Max. I have that she felt as if Du Parc's opinion matseen people quite as dirty, quite as wretch-tered so much? She could not bear him ed in London. I remember

to misjudge things; to think any one cold, Susy wondered why he stopped short. or hard. Max had suddenly remembered where “Of course you have to consider what and when it was he had seen two wretched is best,” said the young man, softening to beggars thrust from a carriage door, and her gentleness; "but believe me that is by whom. “And in Soho near where you not a bad young fellow. Poor boy, it lived,” the young man continued after a was a heart of gold. I can scarcely immoment, speaking in a somewhat con- agine the young lady having inspired such strained voice and tone. “Any night, I a devotion,” he said, for a moment forgetthink, you might have seen people as sad ting the near relationship between the and wretched as these. I used to go to a two women;

... but to me she seems street in that quarter for my dinner very strangely fortunate.”. often, and while I dined they walked about “Ah! You don't know her,” said Susy outside. Once,” he added more cheer- eagerly; "you don't know how noble she fully, as another remembrance came into is, how good, how lovable.” his mind, “I met a member of your “What would you have, madame?” said family, madame, at my dining-place, Mon- Du Parc, laughing. “Of you I am not sieur Charles Bolsover. Poor fellow," afraid, but of the miss I am in terror, and said Max, returning to his French, “I she detests me too. Ask madame, your hope he is in happier conditions than he mother." was then - he had a friend whom I met They had come to the gates of the villa afterwards. He seemed in a doleful by this; Phrasie appeared in the doorway state.

with madame to welcome them back. “Were you there on that dreadful occa. Mrs. Marney's loud voice was beard call. sion ? ” said Susanna, turning pale. “Oh! ing from within.

Max was Monsieur du Parc, he had been drinking pleased to see a visitor under the tree to forget his trouble!”

waiting the ladies' return. It was their “What, madame, even you,” said Max, north.country neighbor, Mr. Bayginal do

you find nothing kinder to say of the from the Embassy, who had been making poor boy? Drinking! He had not been himself agreeable to madame in the meandrinking any more than I had — he was while. He had a scheme for a walk in the ill, he was in a fever for a week after-wood at St. Cloud, and a dinner. The wards. I used to go and see hiin in bis court was there, and the gardens closed, friend's lodgings. They told me the but the young man with some pride prostory.' Max glanced ahead at Tempy duced an order of admission. laughing and twirling her parasol

“ For

" Thank you, we shall like it very much give me,” he said, “I am meddling with indeed,” says Tempy. what is not my concern.'

Susy looked at Du Parc. “But it concerns me, Monsieur du bave time to come, too?" she asked. Parc,” said Susy, trembling very much. “Monsieur Caron is in the studio wait. “ It concerns me very, very nearly; if ing for you, Max," said his mother ; " he Charlie has been unjustly accused — if he has got his pocket full of proclamations, was ill, poor boy, and we did not know it.” as usual,” and without answering Mrs.

“It is a fact, madame," said Max dryly; Dymond, Du Parc slowly turned and “if you were to ask his friend, the Rev. walked into the studio. erend White, he will tell you the same thing. Your nephew is not the first of us who has been overcome by an affair of the heart. I gathered from him that your that you disapproved of his suit.”

From The Fortnightly Review. “My husband was afraid to trust his

MR. J. R. LOWELL. daughter's happiness to any one of whom “It will take England a great while to we had heard so much that was painful,'' get over her airs of patronage towards us, said Mrs. Dymond coldly, and remember- or even passably to conceal them, She ing herself.

cannot help confounding the people with Max civilly assented.

the country and regarding us as lusty “A father must judge best for his juveniles. She has a conviction that child," she continued, melting as he froze, / whatever good there is in us is wholly

[ocr errors]

66

1

“ Shall you

66

[ocr errors]

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

-re

English, when the truth is that we are taken perhaps as strictly autobiographic. worth nothing except so far as we have The writer is speaking, not in his own disinfected ourselves of Anglicism. She person, but in that of "the American ” of is especially condescending just now, and the “auto-American," to use the language lavishes sugarplums on us as if we had of Platonic idealism; and the American, not outgrown them.” It is nearly twenty as such, has doubtless ceased to attract years since Mr. Lowell wrote these words ; the wanderiog gaze of cockney and sociolbut though written at a time when he was ogist as a mere specimen. But the stage certainly less well-disposed towards this which the American man has now left country than he is now, they must surely behind him is being passed through at this have sometimes recurred to his mind duro moment by the American man of letters, ing the last year or two of his residence considered in his relation to the instincts among us. Indeed he may well have re. of curiosity prevailing in the fashionable read the whole of the pungent essay from world. To the smaller world of literature which this extract is taken with a humor- in either country this observation does ous appreciation actually sharpened by not of course apply. The English literary closer acquaintance and more cordial rela- class - a very much smaller body, by the tions with the people at whom it was by, than is sometimes assumed chiefly aimed. The critic's keenly satirical quires no enlightenment at this time of reinarks “On a Certain Condescension in day as to the great merit of much of the Foreigners ” have certainly lost done of work, creative as well as critical, which their point since he first laid his finger on has been produced in the United States this foible; rather, he may congratulate during the last generation. The terms on himself on the prophetic instinct which which the two countries exchange books led him to predict that it would “take with each other leaves much to be desired, England a great while to get over her airs but there is no fault to be found with their of patronage." True, the condescension mode of exchanging ideas. All that fol. of the foreigner towards Mr. Lowell's lows in this connection must be undercountrymen has not remained absolutely stood as referring solely to that large unaffected in form by the lapse of years. and ever-growing class, that broad and It is not quite so naif now as in the days ever-broadening fringe, of society which referred to in the following passage, when reaches up (or down ) into the world of the "young American giant first began to letters, that many-beaded creature of assume the respectable appearance of a fashion into whose inoumerable ears has phenomenon."

been whispered the injunction to “have a

taste "in art and literature, and who are It was something to have advanced even to determined to have it, come what may. the dignity of a phenomenon, and yet I do not know that the relation of the individual Ameri; has just left our shores after perhaps the

The shrewd and humorous critic who can to the individual European was bettered by it; and that, after all, must adjust itself most successful term of office ever fulcomfortably before there can be a right under-filled by an American minister, can hardly, standing between the two. We had been a one thinks, have failed to rate the homage desert; we became a museum. People came so effusively paid to him by this class of hither for scientific and not social ends. The his English admirers at its true value. very cockney could not complete his education Probably he has many times asked himwithout taking a vacant stare at us in passing. self as he has cast an eye round Mrs. Leo But the sociologists (I think they call them- Hunter's drawing-room how many of its selves so) were the hardest to bear. There

assembled “ was no escape. I have even known a professor

persons of culture” are really of this fearful science to come disguised in pet- acquainted with his works, or could give, ticoats. We were cross-examined as a chemist I will not say a critical valuation of their cross-examines a new substance. Human? comparative literary merits, but even a Yes, all the elements are present, though ab- rough estimate of their physical bulk. normally combined. Civilized ? H'm! that As to Mrs. Leo Hunter herself, who has needs a stricter assay: No entomologist could far too much to do in distinguishing be. take a more friendly interest in a strange bug. tween the names of her guests to know After a few such experiences, I, for one, have anything about their works, one trembles felt as if I were merely one of those horrid to think what result a vivå voce examinathings preserved in spirits (and very bad spirits, tion of that lady on the subject of Mr. too) in a cabinet. I was not the fellow-being Lowell's

writings would too probably bring of these explorers. I was a curiosity; I was a specimen.

forth. To begin with, she has almost

certainly never regarded him in the light The “I” of this passage is not to be of a serious poet at all. To her, indeed,

a

2

there is, and ever has been, but one many a time found himself repressing a American poet. • Longfellow, you know good-humored smile at the frank imperti. - that beautiful poem, don't you remem- nence which displays itself in so much of ber? what was its name? Ob! •Evan- this sort of drawing-room admiration. geline !' and 'I stood on the bridge at Even the compliments which semi-litermidnight'- charming - though I don't ary society - in this instance rather fol. like Balfe's setting of it so well as the one lowing at the heels of “society" when by that other man, I forget now what his it ought to have set its namesake the exname is.” Of course she is not ignorant ample — has heaped upon him in such of all the performances of any one of her profusion can have hardly produced on a lions; Mrs. Leo Hunter never is. There man of Mr. Lowell's just pride in the inde. is sure to be some one achievement of his pendent merits and claims of Transatlanwhich she beard spoken of when she first tic literature quite the effect which those heard his name, and ascertained from her well-intentioned authors designed. The friend, Mrs. Sanger-Wombwell, that he late American minister, for instance, is an was " quite a celebrity, my dear; "and if excellent hand - none better — at unveilthe name of the particular work of the lit. ing a memorial of a departed man of let. erary lion happens to be at all a peculiar ters. His address at the Westminster one, it is quite possible that Mrs. Leo Chapter House on the occasion of the Hunter may remember it. In Mr. Low-honor recently paid to Coleridge was a ell's case, she certainly has this advantage, delightful essay on the works and genius and if interrogated as to what her Ameri- of the poet; and the donor of the memocan guest had written, she would probably rial being a fellow-countryman, there was reply with pride, “Is it possible you don't a peculiar fitness in his selection for the know? Why surely you must have read discharge of the duty which he then un. those delightful • Biglow Papers,' and dertook. But Mr. Lowell, like the shoe. and the Innocents Abroad'. or stay, tying gentleman who aroused the ire of isn't that Bret Harte or Mark Twain ? - the unsuccessful gambler, is “always yes, Mark Twain. But, my dear, you unveiling memorials of English men of should read the “Biglow Papers,' they letters or oratorically assisting thereat. are quite too funny, particularly the spell- He played the former of these parts at ing. Don't you recollect those lines Taunton some months ago in honor of George is always quoting, 'Don't never Fielding, and the latter quite receptly at prophesy until you know;' and 'A mer. Cambridge in honor of Gray ciful providence fashioned him hollow, in sion when he himself was unable to reorder in order'- I forget how it goes frain from a sly reference to the extraoron; but you really should get the book and dinary demand in which he found himself read it. I don't know that I like it quite for these functions. But, indeed, for so much as · Eye-Openers,' but it is very some time past there have been few conamusing."

spicuous ceremonies performed or meetBy those whose acquaintance with Mr. ings held in connection with any literary Lowell's works goes a little deeper than matter, at which Mr. Lowell's presence Mrs. Hunter's, and extends to the fact has not been regarded as indispensable ; that he has written serious poetry, a more and only his unfailing good-nature could instructed but not much more complimen. have enabled him to accept cheerfully so tary homage is offered up. Here the men serious an addition to the duties political tal attitude of the starer at the American and social of his Legation. So keen a man of letters is pretty closely analogous humorist and so close an observer of buto what is described by Mr. Lowell in the man nature as he must have discerned above extract as the attitude of the starer many another iodication of that singular at the American man. The simple-mind. want of measure in the manifestations of ed, empty-headed man or woman of fash. its tastes and sympathies which distinion has merely been astonished by the guishes our English society of to-day; but discovery that there are poets bailing after being thus privileged to supply it from America, whose names are not Long- with material for the illustration of this fellow, and is examining the particular foible in his own person, he might easily specimen with curiosity. The author of add another half-dozen pages to the essay the" Fable for Critics," who has with such “ On a Certain Condescension in For. humor and acuteness assigned their places eigners." There is a truly diverting in literature to some half-dozen notable gaucherie, an unsurpassable left-handedAmerican poets, must, one imagines, have ness, in the compliments which a full five

an occa

[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »