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The former want to become merchants or shopkeepers, in order to participate in urban enjoyments, and the latter dream of nothing but city fashions, city delights, city beaux. London is getting to be more and more the heart of England, as Paris has long been the heart of France. Glasgow grows six times faster than the rest of Scotland, Berlin twice as fast as the rest of Prussia, and Dublin holds its own while Ireland depopulates. Such being the fact, it becomes one of the most important questions, how the people of the towns can be made most comfortable, most healthful, most refined, in a word, most civilized. Mr. Olmstead's answer is, by the proper regulation and planting of the streets, and the multiplication of parks which will admit of all kinds of neighborly recreation. Nor, in our opinion, does he exaggerate the importance of these means. The gregarious instincts of human beings are nowhere so safely, harmoniously, innocently, beneficially gratified, as in the free, open-air assemblages of well planned and well-regulated parks.
We New Yorkers, who have felt the inestimable benefit of the Central Park, will commend with all our hearts to the residents of smaller cities the wise remarks of Mr. Olmstead, than whom no man in the nation is more competent to give advice on the subject.
We do not believe, however, that the country is going to be wholly deserted for the cities; on the contrary, we think that by means of a park-like arrangement, rural neighborhoods may be made as attractive as any towns. The great drawback of country life, now, is its solitariness, or the want of those conveniences which are to be found only in larger aggregations of families. The farmer and his family are comparatively isolated, or, if they have neighbors, they are so remote as to be of little use as society. Each house must suffice for itself, not only raising its own supplies, but furnishing its own recreations and amusements. VOL. VI.-22
If teachers for the children are wanted, they can only be had at great expense. Men of wealth even, who retire into the country, very soon find themselves deprived of many of the comforts to which they were accustomed, of ordinary humaa intercourse often, and are glad to hurry away to the watering places in summer and to return to the cities in winter. The remedy for this is in some sort of united settlement, where the lands, though not owned in common, may yet be laid out in common, and where a sufficient number of families will be joined together to command a good market, good mechanics, good teachers, and an adequate social intercourse. We have heard of one or two of these settlements, not far from this city, where all the advantages of both town and city life are combined to a surprising degree. The residents have their separate houses and patches of ground, but a common park to ride and walk in, plentiful supplies, good society, a frequency of amusements, and, in short, such attractions, that instead of going to Newport or Saratoga in the hot months, and instead of returning to the Fifth Avenue Hotel or the Everett in the winter, they stay all the year round in their own homes. Such rural parks, if more generally established, would counteract the tendency to concentrate in towns, and lend a charm to country life which, to the greater part of people, it has not now. To ruralize the cities, as Mr. Olmstead proposes, by shade-trees and public grounds, and urbanize the country by contiguous buildings and the clustering of estates, are at this time the supreme desiderata of a higher civilization; and without them, it appears to us, both city and country will degenerate.
What our correspondent says of the scheme of building houses in flats has a good deal of practical sense in it, and his suggestions will be heeded by capitalists who, like Mr. Stuyvesant and Mr. Livermore, will undertake the introduction of the new system. But one form in which "apartments" are likely to
come up he has not yet maturely considered. It is that in which a number of families unite to put up a common edifice, and conduct, on the joint-stock principle, a kind of combined household. No one who has thought of the subject will for a moment doubt the practicability, the economy, and the convenience of such a union. Families may coöperrate in their expenses in a way which will be a great saving to each, while it procures for all the luxuries of a large establishment. The success of the clubsystem for bachelors has been demonstrated in all the large cities abroad, and even in our own city, and we see no reason why the club-system could not be applied to families, without in the least infringing on their privacy. Some gentlemen, indeed, have already devised such a system, have procured their architectural plans, and made some progress in the organization of a company; and doubtless as soon as the cold weather arrives, if such a consummation ever comes---will bring their scheme before the public.
We published in our July number an article entitled "Disraeli as Statesman and Novelist," by Mr. J. M. Bundy, which contained as few errors of fact as most magazine contributions of a biographical sort. These errors we correct, at the instance of the author of the article mentioned, and are as follows:
1st. That Isaac Disraeli, the father of the novelist, was a foreigner in England. The former was born in England in 1765, and it was the grandfather of Benjamin Disraeli who was a Venetian merchant, came over to England in the reign of George II, and was the founder of the family. 2d. That Benjamin Disraeli was the editor of the "Representation," a daily paper founded by
some friends of Mr. Canning. Although this circumstance is narrated as a fact in the American Cyclopedia," we now learn that the statement is erroneous. Mr. Disraeli was a boy, and wholly unknown, at the time this shortlived paper was started. 3d. That Mr. Disraeli believed "in the success of the rebellion." This was not the case, and there was a prevalent impression in this country at the time to this effect. On the other hand, whatever may have been their private sympathies, both Mr. Disraeli and the late Lord Derby held a contrary opinion, and the consequence of this opinion was that the Tory party, during our war, never made any demonstration, as a party, in favor of the South, although isolated Tories, as well as isolated Liberals, did. We make these corrections without comment, as due to the truth of history.
ANOTHER PLAN FOR BROADWAY.
If Broadway is to be given up to a railroad, the best plan for one yet proposed is that of Mr. Richard P. Morgan, of which we published a view last month. It seems to us to combine more advantages, with fewer disadvantages, than any other that we have studied. Our readers will remember that it proposes a sort of iron gothic arch, to be stretched from one side of the street to the other, and supporting a platform on which the cars are to run. The practicability of it will be confessed by any competent engineer, while its superiority to other plans consists in this, that it will not interfere with the street traffic below, will not obstruct access to the stores already built, and will cost, according to the estimates, some two millions of dollars less than the underground plan. Besides, as a structure it will be ornamental, which is more than can be said of most things of the kind.
ENGLISH Fiction is more largely indebted to Charles Dickens than to any novelist of the century, for more than any other novelist he brought it home to "the bosoms and business of men." Before his time fiction occupied itself with the lives and fortunes of the great, not necessarily royal personages, and the nobility and gentry, but those who move in the upper walks of society; but he came and changed all that, effecting a Revolution without parallel in the world of letters. He saw, like Shakespeare, that there was nothing in humanity beneath his notice,—nothing too low for his art, except unmitigated wickedness, which happily does not exist in nature. Whatever concerned man interested him, as it did Shakespeare, particularly whatever concerned man in the lower walks of life, whence he drew his most admired creations. His sympathies were averted from high life, so called, of which he knew nothing, or only so much as enabled him to caricature it, but they overflowed in all o her directions, rejoicing to expend themselves in the service of the poor and the suffering.
"He taught the virtues first and last;
He taught us manhood more and more;
Love for all creatures, great and small,
The very quality, however, which made Dickens what he was, and which gave him such power over us, was the one quality above all others which needed the most careful watching; for strength pushed to excess always ends in weakness. As long as Dickens was content to draw character he was strong; as soon as he attempted to correct abuses, he was weak. He was by nature a novelist, not a jurist, a political economist, a statesman. He thought otherwise, at least in the later years of his
life, and his novels degenerated in consequence, many of the characters therein standing for ideas, the effect of the whole being that of a blue-book giving itself life in a dream. We forgive this in Dickens, (as what do we not forgive in writers whom we love?) and were it confined to him we should say nothing about it. But unfortunately it is not confined to him, for, being his weakest and worst trait, it is the very one which his imitators have seized upon, and reproduced with most success. They have caught the trick so completely that we cease to think of the great magician whom these little jugglers have elbowed off the stage. What a brilliant player, for instance, is Mr. Charles Reade, manipulating the balls of prison-reform, mad-houses, and trades-unions; and how dextrous is Mr. Wilkie Collins, with the abuses of Irish and Scottish marriages! Mr. Collins is a man of genius, whose greatest defect is an excess of cleverness in the construction of plots, and whose greatest excellence is insight into character of a certain sort. His range is narrow, but within that range he is a master. One character in his last novel, Man and Wife (Harper & Brothers), is an addition to Literature. We mean, of course, Geoffrey Delamayn, an athlete, who exhibits in perfection the ultimate result of the extreme physical training which is having its apotheosis in England. We are familiar with the Muscular Christian of Mr. Kingsley, and his followers,-a popular myth, which the author of "Guy Livingstone" has done all he could to discredit, without intending it, and which Mr. Collins, fully intending it, has now, we think, shattered forever. We commend Geoffrey Delamayn to Mr. Collins's admirers, as being the finest study of character that he has yet produced,—— the natural result of unnatural causes,—
not such an arrested development as Mr. Kingsley's Muscular Christian, but such a perfected development as Achilles, the Achilles of the nineteenth century, slow, good-tempered, restrained, but cunning, brutal, murderous-the Muscular Pagan. We shall not enter into the plot of "Man and Wife," partly because it is difficult to analyze the plots of Mr. Collins, and partly because the majority of novel-readers must already be familiar with it. Our opinion is that it is at once the simplest and the best that Mr. Collins has yet constructed; and we trust it portends a turning on his part to the world of probable occurrences. How clever he can be he has shown us over and over again; let him show us now that he can be natural. And let him in future drop social abuses, which Mr. Reade will make his own to the end of the chapter. What we want is not reformers, but novelists-such novelists as Dickens was in the early part of his career, as Thackeray was all through his career, and as Mr. Collins can be when he chooses. He has no equal in the art of telling a story, and but few equals in drawing character, when character "pure and simple " is his object, as it evidently was in several of the actors in "Man and Wife," as Sir Patrick Lundie, Bishopriggs, and Geoffrey Delamayn.
There was a time when Miss Julia Kavanagh was in the front rank of English lady-writers, but it was before George Eliot wrote " Adam Bede" and "Romola," and Mrs. Edwards, "Steven Lawrence" and "Archie Lovell." Miss Kavanagh is not equal to these ladies, but she is superior to many who now have the public ear, and who may be said to have pushed her from her stool-some of them with an impudence which is refreshing, dressed as they are in the very garments they have stolen from her wardrobe. What distinguished her from her sister novelists of twenty years ago was the vigorous life she imparted to her heroines, and the graphic manner in which she painted the lovestruggles between them and her heroes, who were drawn with equal vigor. She
was as truly the novelist of love as was George Sand, whom she resembled as much as an English nature could a French one, and a lesser genius a greater. But one day she found her occupation gone, or rather we did,-for in place of her characters came others of the sme race, though of different parentage, who usurped their place in our hearts. Twenty years ago we should have thought more of Sylvia (D. Appleton & Co.) than we do to-day, for then it would have possessed a freshness it lacks
It is a pleasant story, however, and to those whose memories are less thickly peopled than ours with lovers, it will have a charm often wanting in works of profounder and more original character. The heroine, Sylvia Nardi, an Italian girl with a dash of English blood in her veins, is such a woman as most determined men would be glad to win; for once won they would be sure of her till death. We prefer her to many heroines with fewer faults, and to any of the present brood, of whom Jane Eyre, somewhat beautified and softened, is the type. Whether in her place we should prefer Mr. Meredith to the more brutal and stupid heroes who are now in fashion, we hardly know, but we suppose we should, having a weakness for a gentleman. There is little that is new in "Sylvia," but for old work, it is faithfully and well done.
Though the thoughts of mankind have turned for ages towards the East, it is still in certain regions less known than any other portion of the civilized globe. One would think that Palestine, for example, would by this time have been thoroughly explored; that its mountains would have been ascended, its valleys penetrated, its rivers tracked to their sources, its ruined cities excavated, and its secret places brought to light. But one would be mistaken in so thinking, for much of it is still a terra incognita. No river in the world is so widely known as the Jordan, and of none has the world remained really ignorant so long. Flowing through a land which men have agreed to call Holy, and through which for thousands of years has flowed the
holiest stream of history, it is only within a year or two that the Jordan has been navigated from Tell el Kady to the Sea of Galilee. The record of this journey has just been republished by the Harpers, under the title of The Rob Roy on the Jordan, by J. Macgregor, M.A., the Rob Roy being the name of the canoe in which the journey was performed. We all remember something of the difficulties attending Eastern travel, and at first sight it would seem as if there should not be many here: for what can be easier than to paddle one's own canoe? Precisely; but not in a river like the Jordan, to which one has to get his canoe, from England first, and last from Damascus, and along which, when one has finally got it there, it must occasionally be carried on land; or the Jordan is not navigable throughout, as Mr. Macgregor satisfied himself, and as he will satisfy his readers, if they follow him as closely as we have done. He is not a good writer, particularly at the beginning of his volume, but he has so much to tell us that is interesting, that we are content to overlook his slovenly and over-fervid style. He strikes us as being a narrow man, who has eyes for nothing but what he set out to see; consequently his chapters on the Suez Canal and the Nile are dull and meagre. He is better when he comes to Abana and Pharpar; better still in the giant cities of Bashan, and best of all on the Jordan. Here is his description of its mouth: "At this place the papyrus is of the richest green, and upright as two walls on either hand, and so close in its forest of stems and dark, recurving hairlike tops above, that no bird can fly into it, and the very few ducks that I found had wandered in by swimming through chinks below, were powerless to get wing for rising; and while their flappings agitated the jungle, and their cackling shrieks told loudly how much they wished to escape from the intruder, the birds themselves were entirely invisible, though only a few yards from me all the time. But they were safe enough from me or any other stranger, for in no part could I ever get the pint of the Rob
Roy to enter three feet into the dense hedge of this curious floating forest."
Though admiration of greatness is inherent in man, it manifests itself differently in men of different lands. We have never been overburdened with it in America, and what we have is generally bestowed upon public men, beginning with our military leaders, and ending with our leading politicians. Washington was a great Name sixty or seventy years ago, but is he such to-day? Does the Father of his Country still have power over the minds of his children? We doubt it. Of course, we respect his memory, or think we do, and we try to like to read about him. Without doubt he was a great man-for his age; but what was his age compared with ours? What was his resistance to England and George the Third, compared with our resistance to the South and Jefferson Davis? Why, some of our generals lost more men in one battle than he ever had under him at one time. The Revolutionary War, indeed! There was no such thing as war then, as we understand the word now; at most it was a series of skirmishes, some of which were won by us, and some of which were won by the British. Neither side was whipped, but they were tired out first, so we obtained our freedom. This, or something like it, is probably the opinion of the average American in regard to what Paine called "the times that tried men's souls," and to the man whom Henry Lee declared to be "first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen." We shall not undertake to say that our irreverent contemporary is wholly in the wrong, but we will say that a Republic has forgotten something when it has forgotten to honor the men who founded it. It is more than whispered that some of our first great men were not really great, and the charge may be true; but they were great enough to do their work, and do it well, which is more than can be said of our great men now. Is there one of the later brood in whom we are so interested as to be willing to read four or five hundred pages about his