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the errors of observation have been reduced to so low a point, and eliminated with so much ingenuity, that they seem to be almost merged in the greater irregularities caused by local attraction. The same perseverance which has overcome difficulties of one kind may be equally successful in struggling against what has now become the most formidable enemy; and if mathematical science and practical skill shall ever attain to a yet more exact solution of the great problem of geodesy, it may be confidently predicted that England will not be behind in the race while she is represented by the engineer officers and men to whose masterly handling she owes the successful completion of the scientific campaign which General Roy began more than seventy years ago.
T is the fashion with some who claim to be leaders of public opinion, and assume to be in advance of the intelligence and above the prejudices which surround them, to deplore the deadness of our middle classes to the merits of French romance; a deadness which the shelves and counters in some of our booksellers' shops might lead us to question. This apathy is treated as so much wilful indifference to truth, which must be combated, and, as far as in them lies, corrected. The objections of what is characterized as that unhappily large section of the English public which obstinately protests against the truth wherever the truth is painful,' and has the weakness to recoil from those dreary aspects of human life, drawn literally, exactly, nakedly, as the novelist finds them,' are considered to have cramped our intellectual development long enough, and translations are impatiently called for. Now, however little we may share these wishes or regrets, we need not, as moralists, be very much afraid of translations from the French. It would be something very like showing vice in its naked deformity to present Balzac to the English reader under the rendering of a hack translator. The 'Lelia' of George Sand would be too dull to do harm so disguised. The more wholesome interest of Monte Christo' and 'Notre Dame' is, in their English dress, due solely to their picturesque situations and profusion of incident: that brilliancy and grace of expression which give them fascination cannot be transferred to another tongue. But these representations may have the effect of diminishing that salutary mistrust which puts certain French authors out of the reach of the English family circle, and so may enlarge the number of readers in the original, a result we would do our best to guard against. As it is, we are told there is a steady demand amongst our upper classes' for what is especially understood by French novels-particularly for those of George Sand-and one that keeps its ground, though time has worn out their authors' powers for new mischief. Where people live for excitement, we can scarcely hope to dissuade them from seeking it wherever it is to be found; but warning and remonstrance
1. Euvres de George Sand. Garnier Frères. Paris.
2. L'Histoire de ma Vie.
3. Elle et Lui,
4. Lui et Elle.
1859. Hachette et Cie. Paris.
Le Magazin de Librarie. Paris.
may be of service where the old defences have not yet given way, as we believe they have not in the heart of quiet English society.
Though we do not at all believe that a search after truth is the plea of the readers of Paul de Kock, Eugène Sue, Balzac, or George Sand, but that they would candidly admit amusement to be their real object, yet, as it is pleasant enough to be persuaded that our aims are higher than we thought them, we may as well inquire a little what the high aim attributed to these authors means. At best, the principle that stimulates the writer, and which he hopes to infuse into the reader, is a cold curiosity, a desire to be informed on certain points and questions which the moral world has not yet felt matter for the pen. But it is a fact very near the ground-work of decency and morality, that there are an infinite number of subjects not suited for easy conversation or popular writing. The advocates for pernicious French inquisitiveness treat this axiom as an ignorant, narrow-minded prejudice. They maintain that the existence of certain facts proves that they ought to be the subjects of literary delineation; that, for instance, every disease of our nature is fit food for study as a science, and for its own sake; simply because it exists. Now all this talk about truth leads us to ask what it is, and why this form of truth need be sought into with such persevering exclusive persistence. Truth ought surely to be something distinct from fact. We assume that no one thinks it desirable to the highest cultivation of heart and intellect to know every fact, or, as this is impossible, that all facts, as such, are of equal value; that because a thing is a fact, and therefore true, it is necessary we should know it. Moral truth as an object of search, as something precious, as distinct from fact, surely means those revelations and mysteries of our being which bear upon our higher nature, which give us a clue to human sympathies, and elevate our own heart, or, if we have the gift of expression, assist in raising the general intelligence and sympathy. Truth, by bringing all men nearer to each other, ought to bring all men nearer to God. All study of human nature worthy to be called truth should tend upwards. Minds thus occupied must in the course of their studies become acquainted with vice in its workings; they must even speculate upon it, but not resting there, not as finding vice interesting or attractive in itself. The mere knowledge of wickedness is not wisdom; sought into without an adequate purpose, it is folly, as is abundantly shown in the lives of all these seekers for truth in the gutter.
No person can allow his mind to run with impunity on the scenes, the characters, the propensities which work out certain
odious facts connected with our nature, unless he is defended by some valid reason, some purpose of philanthropy or Christian charity-unless he is, indeed, actuated by the hope of doing good, of rescuing the victims of low instincts from their prison-house, of warning others by their example: as a study beginning and ending in itself, it is sure to degrade both author and reader. We cannot detach truth from purity.
The surgeon has to encounter every form of disfigurement and mutilation in the human frame; he has to devote his time, to concentrate his ideas upon them. His purpose sustains him; he is perpetually occupied in the work of restoration but Sue, Balzac, and others, act as that painter or sculptor who should invade the doctor's province merely to delineate wounds and diseases for their curiosity, for their very repulsiveness, and afterwards exhibit these chefs-d'ouvre to amuse a world ignorant and indifferent to the art of cure. His disciples, in proportion as they yield to their admiration of the painter's dexterity, as they suffer themselves to be drawn by that morbid interest which attaches to the revolting, will let go their power of appreciating man as the work of God, as still bearing some traces of the divine image; and lose a faculty, while they gain worthless, barren knowledge.
There is danger to every one of us who suffers himself to be fascinated by the pictures of vice, impurity, and selfishness, which the pages of these novelists exhaust all their art to render natural; striving, as it seems, to awake that lurking sympathy with evil, that impatience of the check of right and wrong, which no doubt can be aroused in every mind which relaxes its self-restraint and gives up its safeguards. Those persuasions, which come, as it seems, from the depth of the author's conviction that the passions are irresistible, must surely tell unfavourably on the moral vigour; that perpetual triumph of temptation, which in every tale wins the day; that inevitable fall, whatever the resistance, before the demand of feeling, interest, or natural bias, must weaken the reader's faith in the power of conscience and will; but even if the mischief stop short of this, if the attraction be merely the indulgence of curiosity, it cannot be without its hardening, deadening effect.
The fact that this literature is largely read, and that an effort is being made to extend its influence, has led us to a consideration of some main characteristics, as seen in one of its most distinguished writers. We have chosen George Sand as perhaps the fairest as well as the most presentable example; for whatever the principles of the lady who has made this name famous, her language and style have a comparative reticence
and propriety, and she has the merit, if we may call it so, of possessing an ideal. While her thirst for truth is the boast of her admirers-while, by her own account, it is the occupation of her life-a constant struggle, eliciting the cry from her worn heart, C'est un Calvaire que cette recherche de la vérité abstraite,' -she has not Balzac's pleasure in ferreting out the course of sordid and base instincts; she has a view to embellish and exalt after her fashion,--something to recommend: she has not, like him and others of his sort, scoured the purlieus of great cities for the worst models, and given to their vices heroic proportions; the fresh country air, in which much of her life has been passed, has preserved her from this morbid propensity, and gives more of daylight to her scenes. Because she has this ideal, because she has some pure tastes, there are people who maintain that her works are moral, or, at least, that she has written with a serious, moral aim It is certain that her influence has been great amongst her countrywomen, and as a woman of vigorous, daring mind, she has awakened the sympathy of that portion of her sex here who hope for a fundamental change in the position of women. They wish to believe her in earnest, and are anxious to make the best of her. Margaret Fuller, the American transcendentalist, who may almost be called a disciple, answers for her as all right in the main, whatever Bacchante impulses she may have shown: in the jargon of that school, she is sure her generous heart has not failed to draw some rich drops from every kind of wine-press.' Our English poetess, in a deprecating strain of homage, addresses her as embodying the heart and intellect of either sex,
'Thou large-brained woman and large-hearted man.'
Even Miss Bronte favourably contrasts her with Balzac, and compares the different effects on herself of their two styles. On the grounds, then, of being at once a conspicuous and modified example of her class, George Sand suits our purpose; and for the further advantage, that we have the opportunity of tracing the course of her mind and genius; for we are in possession of the history of her life from her own pen; and every autobiography tells the truth about its subject, whether the writer intends it or not. We have, then, the opportunity of judging how serious has been this boasted moral aim, under what influences the agonized search for truth' has been carried out, and how her principles and character have worked on each other.
George Sand, an idea including the nom de plume and the character and works connected with it,-has been regarded by