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stances or reorganize the society around them, as every ideal element tends to do. Their art serves only to keep vital heat in themselves, to separate them from vice and folly. It should animate a circle of lovers, and quicken other ideal forces flowing out into new expression in sculpture, painting, poetry, and the conduct of life. We know very well how little art has done for Europe or the world, but Madame Sand recognizes the ascension and true power of music. Why has she never given us a picture of that power in exercise? Why are her artists thrown, one into the bottom of a dry well, which serves him for a lunatic asylum, the other into that court, which the egotism of Frederic converted into a prison, even for his sister.
and left, lonely and unregarded, to eat out their young hearts in activity at home. These children cry out of cold and darkness. "Jane Eyre" is a passionate appeal to common humanity against the civilization of England, which commits the education of children to such machinery as the system of boardingschools, and degrades all culture, in the person of the despised governess, "That dreadful dummy," as Curtis calls her, "in the English game of life."
There is, in the novels of Goethe himself, no woman able to accomplish what Jane Eyre has done. The tranquil, thoughtful, and tender Ottilie, whose nature is like the upper sky, filled only with sunbeams, which kindle the very clouds into forms and fountains of light, would have lacked that concentrated energy which commands the respect and admiration of Rochester. Ottilie could not live and leave the object of a love forbidden by her moral sense. In Jane Eyre, we see the struggle, and predict the victory of a force, more mighty than any revealed in the world of the German master, yet the heroes and heroines of Goethe expand like flowers in sunshine, and, however crossed by circumstance, their natural tendencies are developed both by good and evil fortune. He shows the triumph of an ideal which is not the highest, and gives us so much more of hope and courage.
Mrs. Gaskell has written a novel which deserves to be read. In " North and South," the attraction of incident is subordinated to that of character, and the principal figures are titanic in strength and simplicity.
We are made acquainted with two large-natured lovers, but the book affords no outlook beyond their marriage. This happy event, which ought to be the beginning of a life worth studying and showing, is made a blank wall, and terminates our view. Children may be satisfied when Margaret is folded in the arms of Mr. Thornton; but men and women know that the power of love in these young hearts is yet to be tried. Will it lead to a gradual adjustment of moral forces, in two natures which have encountered happily at a single point? Formal marriage is common enough, and we all know that the road to it winds through Paradise, and passes the margin of the pit-but is true marriage possible? Can there be conjunction of
We complain that in all our novels there is too much fate, too much accident and brute force, too much repression and too little power. The spiritual energy revealed in them is not strong enough to procure for itself success and acceptance. The aspiration of every hero is baffled. He is not able to organize a serene and helpful activity, but is beaten down by suspicion and conservatism, and is poorly consoled for the failure of his life by some sugar-plum, by a suitable marriage or a timely inheritance.
What does Jane Eyre propose to do with Mr. Rochester after she has married and adopted him. He is a poor, broken, shipwrecked mariner, on the waters of passion and self-indulgence, whom she, with the strength and courage of an angel, has drawn to shore. This burnt-out bully, after worrying and insulting the dependent girl, whose love was no secret to him, is now thoroughly subdued by misfortunes. He begins life anew, a tiger deprived of teeth and claws, dependent for every pleasure on the heroic heart beside him-a —a heart always so much stronger, so much deeper than his own.
In Jane Eyre, as in Charlotte Brontë, the grandest natural endowment, the utmost heroism, is barely able to sustain itself and make life tolerable in the midst of crushing neglect and discouragement.
The book "Jane Eyre" is a cry of agony. It is a protest against shocking injustice and injury. In Christian England, three young girls, daughters of a clergyman, are starved at school,
thought and will without loss of personal independence--without destruction of the charm of remoteness and virginity of spirit? Can there be union yet freedom and spontaneity of impulse? Can blind tenderness become clear-sighted and not die? Can the energies of chosen companions be harmonized and directed together to the highest ends? To these questions our novelists and poets have given no answer.
In "John Halifax" we have a picture of married life. No modern writer has painted more forcibly the dawn of love's morning-no one has more magnified the expectation with which a noble heart awaits and entertains its sacred ray.
Yet the marriage is here a point of departure, and introduces the career of one "gentleman." The idealism of this book is intense but narrow. There is in it no society, no festival, no influence of art or literature. The life of the hero is strictly domestic and moral, full of the sternness of duty and the bitterness of a long struggle with misfortune and injustice. For this is another protest against the inequality of social conditions in England. It is a strong book, but affords no large view of life. In it only the moral element is developed only devotion to duty is honored-not love of beauty or of truth. While reading, we are in church and not in nature. It is a world like the heaven of Swedenborg, wherein the secular sun is displaced by a moral luminary, whose ray is neither intelligence nor joy, but a sentiment of unmingled obligation.
We have a single American novel, Margaret." Its criticism is directed against the old dogmatic theology of New England. Its ideal element is the expansion of a young mind, so dear to nature that it will not be contained in such a system. Yet the heroine is only delivered from dogma to dogma, and in the end of the book we are outraged by the advent of a sentimental millennium. The author is a theologian, who has broken the shell of a narrow creed, but could not throw off the creed-making tendency and become a poet.
Miss Bremer's page is healthy though her circle is small. In her conception of home she is happy, and has made, perhaps, the best contribution toward a solution of the vexed question of woman's destiny. She has shown true poetic power, giving interest and sig
nificance to common events by disclosing their relation to life, and to the development of character. There is ideality in her young heroines. They have a vague consciousness of powers unexercised of rudimentary wings. In every house there is a plain sister, who solaces herself as no young woman ever twice attempted to do, by reading Plato in solitude.
In "Bertha," however, we have the old complaint, the old despair. She is another lonely victim, only reaching to prophesy and prepare a better condition for her sex. The influence of woman is crushed in the house of her hard father. The early history of his children is dismal "skip." Tragedy, to be tolerable, must be grand and imposing. Great calamities may be endured in fiction or reality, but the death in life, which falls upon gentle natures subjected to the tyranny of dogmatism, selfishness, and conceit, is too dismal to contemplate. If the tragic element be employed in art, it should not largely enter in the shape of "moaning women, hard-eyed husbands, and deluges of Lethe."
We will not accuse novelists, especially women, of aiming at a vulgar effect, and seeking to excite and agitate feeble minds. They plainly celebrate sorrows they have felt, injuries they have borne. We ask them only to consume in private their private griefs, and publicly to do some justice to the general joy.
From every partial report of the tendency of human nature toward perfection, we return with pleasure to the broad and sunny page of Goethe. He is open-eyed to the infinite variety of interests in life. His characters are not emphasized as saints, as heroes, as lovers, because they have a widely-diversified activity which prevents the morbid concentration of force upon a single point. Some example we have here of every kind of spiritual development. The interest of the tale is distributed among many actors; their peculiarities are marked and significant. In each is exhibited a moral activity, whose direction is carefully shown. When once the bias, impulse, and motive of character is distinctly indicated, the artist stops. He will not carry out any tendency to extreme results, but leave the mind of the reader to complete that history. The curious, experimenting, impressible Wil
helm is assisted by older observers and actors. We cannot afford to lose the company of one of these men-of one of these women. In each is revealed an element that must be cultivated in usthat must be limited and guarded. They have virtues, they have vices; but, at the worst, they live, and act, and grow. Here is reinforcement of character, which in nature is always amelioration; here is growth in wisdom and skill, for truly in every breast there is some measure of aspiration-some freedom and obedience to the attraction of beauty, truth, and excellence in one or other of their innumerable manifestations. We may demand of the novelist, since Goethe has furnished so high a standard, that the ideal tendency which he exhibits shall have fair play, and not be overwhelmed or exhausted in a struggle with conditions. We will be grateful to those who, like Charlotte Brontë, show us the central fire of the inextinguishable spirit expanding under the burden of mountains and continents, which it cannot yet upheave for its own deliverance; but we need to see the same element sustaining the happy world of organization and intelligence.
Thackeray and Dickens, that common honesty and common decency are necessities of life. We dispose of several tons of fiction by simply declaring that a self-respect superior to snobbery, and a social system which affords equal opportunity to all, are decidedly desirable, and very few people doubt it. But who will tell me what to do with my day? I am haunted by a suspicion that it is as good as any day; that it would be no better if it were filled with "moving accidents." They would only, as we say, "divert" me--that is, draw me off from the way of enduring happiness. I want a permanent and large activity, and there is surely work enough to be done in every village before society will be possible among men. I want sympathy and coöperation, and I see in the breasts of my neighbors a latent humanity whose extent is incalculable, and which points toward everything dear to me. If I could be taught to take hold on what is so near me, something great and beautiful might yet be done even here.
The power of heat is shown, not in volcanic convulsions, but in its vital relation to plants, and animals, and man. The strength of Jane Eyre, and Rochester, and Consuelo is condensed like that of pent-up lightning in a cloud. We need to see the same force diffused, like the electricity which stirs in the air and water, in the sap and in the blood. For the ideal should visit us not to make misery tolerable, but to render common life a cheerful satisfaction. We want imaginary companions who will draw near to us on the level of every-day experience-who will take up all that is best in culture and endeavor, and walk in advance of us, bearing our burdens. The wise have accepted such companions, instruments, and enterprises as they find in the world, and are striving and learning to use them. Upon many abuses, judgment is speedily passed. Our novels are hot arguments upon questions no longer open in any sane mind. We concede to the author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," that slavery, if not a bad, is at least an unfortunate relation. Then that book falls to the ground. We are all democrats in principle; we despise castes and classes in society; we agree with
I have passed the period of romance. Only children wait for adventures. I do not look for sudden wealth or poverty. I do not expect to fall in love with a princess, a beggar, or an opera-dancer. I can earn my bread, and am not exposed to great misery in any turn of the wheel of fortune. Is life, then, for me no longer worth living?
After the dragons are all killed, what shall we do? The great poet, only, can answer this question. He can show power in his figures, without throwing them into convulsions-can exhibit in sunshine the energy which is capable of fronting every storm. It is surely better worth while to see men helpful, than to see them contending. Civility is fairer to behold than barbarism. What mind will outrun the confusion that roars around and fills the noisy century, to anticipate the next ages, and show to what good result our best mental and moral effort is conducting man? The right novel, the true poem, is a hand that points forward. It will show the manhood, not the childhood, of the race. It will not need to elaborate a black background of misfortune to serve as a foil for doubtful happiness, but will exhibit an activity so splendid that it must shine in relief upon the dingy gray of ordinary circumstances, duties, and relations.
T the present moment, of course, we are all in the country. Those of us who are not in the country are in Europe. Those of us who are not in Europe are still further away.
The great point is, that we are not at home. We are somewhere else. We come to town for a day, and look at it curiously. We sleep in our own city beds for a night; but we are not in town. We say "good-morning" to the chambermaid as to a stranger. We contemplate the parlors as places we used to frequent. We are in the house; but we are not at home.
Who could be at home on straw carpets? Mattings they are called by superior housekeepers. Will anybody mention why, in a climate where we leave the fire with many a lingering, longing look, in June, and return to it in September, we put up muslin curtains and put down straw mattings? It is a preposterous innovation of the tropics. Is anything more thoroughly dismal than the American gentleman in thin drillings, promenading upon a straw matting, while the bars of his grate are scarcely cool, and it was but yesterday that he slid down his own ice-glazed front door steps upon his own back?
I have seen Balaam do both these things.
Mrs. Balaam-whom I name with respect, knowing my happiness and thankful for it-Mrs. Balaam is what is fondly termed a superior housekeeper-an active, energetic woman. Mrs. Balaam might easily have invented straw mattings. At least she uses them rigorously and in the proper seasons. One admires-as the older English has it— what a baby-house Mrs. Balaam must have had in the days of her youth. One sighs to think how the roses must have withered, under ceaseless washings, in the cheeks of Mrs. Balaam's dolls. That, of course, was long before she came, saw, and conquered the worthy man whose name she adorns, and whose home she keeps in a manner which is the despair of all the easygoing, hoopy, flouncy, little women, who have made sundry tomtits happy by allowing them to pay their drygoods bills.
In March, Mrs. Balaam says, "Spring will soon be here, my dear;" and she looks around her well-scrubbed mansion with the eye of a woman who is not to be put down by any shams and shows of cleanliness. Her husband finds her on chairs, dusting the tops of door-frames in the chamber, and sighs to hear her say: "How dirty this house is: it's shameful!"
The good Balaam-a mild man, of course (Mrs. Balaams always marry mild men, or make them so)-does not dare to cherish any hidden corner for litter. He is dreadfully perplexed with his pieces of string and paper. Whatever he does-however he tries to destroy their existence by casting them into the fire, or throwing them into coal-scuttles, or drawers, or wherever else his tortured invention suggestshe is sure to hear Mrs. Balaam crying out to him: "Don't, don't, my dear! How can you litter about so? It's as much as my life is worth to keep this house decent !"
Balaam, as a bachelor, smoked. He has only a vague remembrance of it. He looks at men who take their ease with their cigar, with an incredulous curiosity. Once, and once only, he smoked since his marriage. It was at a supper, late at night. Balaam was, probably, flown with wine. When the party broke up, Balaam remembered he must go home-go, in fact, to bed. That reflection sobered him. Now a man who has not only passed the evening in a warm room with smokers, but has himself smoked, cannot hope to conceal his crime: he can only endure its consequences.
Of course, under the circumstances, Balaam resolved to pass the night out--not to go home at all. But the vision of Mrs. B., sitting up for him all night in her night-cap, as grand inquisitor, and saying: 66 BALAAM, WHERE
AND WITH WHOM DID YOU PASS THE
NIGHT?" was too overwhelming. He was sure that he could never explain his absence to the satisfaction of Mrs. B. Her sighs of martyred wifehood and womanhood would force him into a premature grave. He, therefore, resolved to go home.
But he found the way home like the
road Jordan. It was a very hard one to travel, and he went very slowly. It was a bitter midwinter midnight, but Balaam moved as leisurely as Romeo from Juliet's balcony. He reached his house, at length, and he found his own keyhole without difficulty.
In truth he was only too much awake -too profoundly aware of his situation. He certainly never opened the door so softly before, and never before crept so noiselessly up stairs-undressing, as there is reason to believe, in the dark. It was evident that he hoped not to disturb the innocent slumber of his spouse. But scarcely had his head touched the pillow than, without saying a word, she arose, opened every window in the room, opened the doors, opened the windows in other rooms, and betook herself, in majestic scorn and silence, to a remote and solitary chamber for the rest of the night.
For two days those windows were inexorably open, and all the doors. Unchallenged winter reigned. The servants left. Mrs. B. went about in her bonnet and furs. She sent the children to her sister's. Balaam's nose was blue the whole time. Mrs. Balaam did not speak of tobacco, but she shuddered and compressed her mouth from time to time, and said to him, in a dry, wiry tone, as they sat shivering in the parlor: "Isn't it dreadful! But what can you do when a house smells so !"
By-April the Balaam spring-cleaning sets in. Mrs. Balaam's costume during this month is an old black bombazine bonnet, a tartan shawl, and india-rubbers. The house is damp and cold, and Balaam's study is put in order and well washed. The carpets are taken up and turned over into the middle of the room; the pictures are covered with linen sheets, and the furniture is strewn about the room, packed under table-cloths which are made fast around the legs of chairs and book-cases. Balaam tumbles over mops and falls into slop-pails, and eats his dinner in a corner of the kitchen, while the indomitable wife is charging, at the head of a brigade of washers and sweepers, upon specks of dust that she suspects may have settled in various parts of the house.
Balaam feebly suggests little excursions into the country. "My dear Balaam," she replies, stopping upon the stairs with a faded handkerchief wound about her head, a limp morningwrapper upon her person, and odd gloves with holes in them on her hands, which hold, the one a duster, and the other a broom, " my dear Balaam, could you sleep comfortably if you knew you had run away, like a coward, from a house which was a HEAP OF FILTH ?"
Mrs. Balaam is not beautiful at this season; but she hopes Christian wives and mothers have something better to do than to be ornamental sticks of candy.
Balaam sinks into silence under an overwhelming sense of universal dirt, and, in complete confusion of mind and a false perception of proprieties, wipes his clean shoes carefully upon the mat as he goes out at the front door into the street. When the spring cleaning is over, the indefatigable Mrs. Balaam reposes her hands and feet, but not her eyes nor her mind. They are busily engaged in spying out new contaminations of that household purity, and devising fresh campaigns against dirt. Then, as if still panting from the spring cleaning, she suddenly summons all her forces and begins "to put to rights for the summer."
This process is one of baling and bagging. In early June, the parlor furniture looks as if it were all just going to bed. The chandeliers and candelabras have on night-caps, and the easy-chairs and lounges, baggy night-gowns. The pictures are tucked up behind musquito-nets, and the clock, muffled in gauze, stops and sleeps. The matting is put down, and then comes another change. The odor of the straw is foreign and sickly. is foreign and sickly. It suggests the East Indies and elephantiasis; and suddenly the whole parlor, in that cold, dreadful odor, becomes a hospital, and the chairs, lounges. and clock are all in long bed-gowns, with frightful dis
When the hideous effect is completed, Mrs. Balaam declares that Balaam must take her to the country for fresh air. Balaam does not resist. He is carried to railroad stations, and engages in fearful quarrels with porters, merely because Mrs. Balaam stands by, among the boxes and trunks, holding the family umbrella, and he prefers to settle with the porter, at any risk, rather than with Mrs. B. The same scenes take place at the steamboat landings. But Balaam weakly thanks his stars that Mrs. B. prefers to