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sands breaking up, perhaps driven from their croquet pitches by the in-rushing tide. Sometimes, if time served, Monsieur was fain to secure another bathe, and might be seen flying over the sands, like a risen saint, wrapped in his white Turkish peignoir, urged on by a seasonable fear of being late for the soup. It was then, too, that our home newspaper used to arrive, and be read and lent to our English friends. What we should have done without it, we could not guess, the French papers being destitute of any news of general importance. As six o'clock drew near, the crowd of returning shrimpers, croquet-players, kite-flyers, streamed along the plage, to prepare for the important business of dinner. The wading nun returned to the care of the little old lady whose nurse-companion she seemed to be, the Parisian singer and her nice mother, the bald and amiable art-critic, the gentleman with the poodle, the stout matron from Rouen and her spectacled husband, little Lucie, Lucie's aunt and uncle, Mons, Gaston, who used to write out the bills and menus under the trees in the garden; Mons. Lebrun, who hired out bicycles; a greedy boy called George, and a well-bred boy whose name sounded something like Vitriolthese and all the rest of us crowded into the salle à manger, to do hearty justice to Mons. Bertrand's dinner. The bill of fare one day, I remember, included such good things as vermicelli soup, turbot, cantaloup, veal with mushrooms, cauliflowers, roast goose, and-on a hot August evening-blazing plum-pudding! This last was, of course, complimentary to us English; and the rest looked on with interest to see us batten upon our favorite food. For our national credit, in common gratitude, it was necessary to make an effort, but it was an effort. Not so great, certainly, as that called for on another occasion, when expectant excitement on the part of the French heralded the advent of a dish of great snails dressed au naturel, and Marie, who offered them, was followed by Emile carrying a well-equipped pincushion. Over what followed let us draw a veil.
Twilight was falling when, dinner ended, we wandered out into the sandy
courtyard in twos and threes, or adjourned for coffee to the garden. One evening somebody suggested cricket, and every Briton was enlisted forthwith. Croquet-mallets were used as bats, till we dared not risk breaking any more, when they had to be rudely fashioned out of odd lengths of wood. A real ball was forthcoming, as also proper flannels. Our six-foot Grand Monsieur made lofty catches, our ladies fielded, our scores rose emulously, while the unfamiliar battle-cries of "Charterhouse!" and "Blairlodge!" rent the air of Calvados, without conveying any meaning to the ears of our Norman conquer
When it got too dark to play any longer, it was time for long, delightful walks before going to bed.
Sometimes Luc, or St. Aubin, our fashionable neighbors on either hand, were, one or the other, en fête, and we went to see "to assist," as the kindly phrase is, at their fireworks and illuminations. If the fête was grander than usual, we might find music going on, showers of colored paper confetti flung to and fro, booths of marionettes, and huge merry-go-rounds in full swing. The last were immensely popular.
Patient groups were always waiting their turn; and one old lady was, we thought, not only extravagant, but selfish, who calmly kept possession, turn after turn, of the spotted elephant on which she was mounted, shaking her white cap and pressing her grave moustached lips tighter in determined refusal when any one came forward to beg for her place.
The fireworks generally ended with a Retraite des Lanternes, at which messieurs les baigneurs had been prayed earlier in the day to assist. These processions were wonderfully beautiful, as they wound along the dark plage, like a long moving bed of tulips of every color, glowing with light.
As beautiful in a different way was it to watch the fireworks from the deserted beach at Langrune - single rockets soaring and melting, starlike, in the still rosy sunset sky; colored lights flaring like terrestrial Auroras,
or, best of all, a glorious bouquet of rockets of all kinds and colors fitly closng the display of the evening.
Every one went early to bed in our village, lulled by the strong air to such sleepiness that we were glad at nine o'clock to clamber our steep little staircase, whose flickering night-light, floating in a tumbler, the ranging winds had often rushed up to extinguish, leaving us to find our way in the dark, and grope for the spluttering sulphur matches on which we depended for light. So to bed-to sleep, as nurses say, without rocking.
The weather during the three weeks of our stay was sometimes showery, and latterly, of an evening, cold. Before we left, the gay garden of the Petit Paradis was getting a little weatherbeaten; the glory of the Plantagenet's bush was passing over, and dry leaves were beginning to fall on the tables of the garden café. The bathing, too, showed signs of becoming less perfect, as after a storm the shore was heaped with seaweed, the farmers' harvest of varech.
These things made it a little easier to go home, and yet we left the scene of our delightful holiday with great reluctance. It has not been possible in so short an account of it to speak of half the pleasures we experienced. I have not even mentioned the great fourteenthcentury church of Langrune, so beautiful in itself, so quiet and holy a place, always open for prayer. The old Triton, who bathed the timid; the naphtha-lit stall where hot guimauve was sold at night; the curious old metal work to be found everywhere, from the finely flowered handles on our chests of drawers, to the dragon-vanes on the farmhouses; the lacemakers; the fat ladies who could not run fast enough to raise their kites, yet persevered; the procession to bless the sea, headed by the good old curé, whose saintly face was in itself a benediction; the red-tiled room wherein the village barber practised, and the gilt-wire château, adorned with a china clock, in which his canaries lived; the cook who not only knew and could say "Good-morning," but was always willing to cook
any quantity, however small, of prawns; the yellow hollyhock at the washerwoman's door; the curiosity shop; the post woman's little girl, who, though she had but four years, could name the six parts of the world (one, it would appear, is Algérie); the Havre light, shining out intermittently at dusk across the wide bay of the Seine, like a captive meteor struggling to flash away and escape; the picture-book of memory has many more such leaves than there is time to turn over. Suffice it to say that we six found our family holiday in Normandy an entire success.
For the practical reader I add a few notes regarding ways and means. Our journey from and to London (second class, train and cabin) cost less than nine guineas. We had arranged for pension at six francs a day each (except Le Petit, who was only charged four); for this we had everything we required, and our bills did not contain a single "extra." We found on inquiry that so large a party making some little stay might by prearrangement secure pension at ours and many of the other less pretentious hotels in the neighboring villages, for five or five and a half francs a day, tout compris. (These words it is as well to use in contracting.)
We had been warned the water was bad, though clear to the eye; and as it was drawn for all purposes from a well in the midst of an unclean farmyard, we were careful to boil all we used, and learned very soon to like the unlimited supply of cider which took its place at table. This cider tastes like the lightest of lager-beer, and is considered remarkably wholesome. It came in huge tonneaux from the hotel-proprietor's orchards, and was not to be confounded with bottled cider, the sparkling Mousseux, which resembles champagne. Drains and water-supplies, we were told-indeed, all sanitary arrangements -we should find non-existent. So it proved. "Figure to yourself," Marie would say, when she came panting upstairs with a brimming pitcher, and stood a moment to take breath, "each drop one must carry all the way through the garden, and along the street
from the yard. Madame has seen it? still more marvellous gifts. From But yes, it is frightful, is it not?" Thinking of this, and the seventy people, more or less, whose wants must be supplied, we were as careful as we could be of our daily allowance, accepting with travellers' philosophy the customs of the country.
For those who are familiar with
early womanhood, before she was quite
It is wise to take as large a purse for sundries as possible, as, even when expeditions are few, many small occasions of expense are sure to arise in the course of the day among a large party. (One charge, and one only, we found exorbitant, and that was our laundry bill.)
But even with a comfortable margin for pocket-money, the cost of such a holiday is, as I have said, little, and the pleasure great. We returned home completely refreshed, all old worries effaced from our minds, leaving them as clear as an unwritten sheet, ready for a fresh beginning of autumn work. was difficult to believe that our invigorated, sun-burnt party had not been making a year-long voyage round the world, but only spending three weeks by the sea in Normandy.
just compare "Lucy Crofton" with "The Ladies Lindores"-that the present writer, one of her devoted admirers, who, like Kinglake, felt that life was happier when one of her novels had appeared, once asked Mr. Blackwood at Strathtyrum whether he had ever suspected Mrs. Oliphant of employing ghost. "Yes," was the unexpected reply of that most acute of born critics, "but the suspicion was unfounded. The hills and plains are all in her mind." There were hills and plains, but the hills reached to a wonderful height. Mrs. Oliphant, whom, in spite of the great merit of her blographies, especially the "Life of Irving," and the still greater merit of many occasional essays, we refuse to consider except as a novelist, produced stories of three ab
MRS. SCOTT MONCRIEFF.
From The Spectator.
Mrs. Oliphant's marvellous industry impeded the public recognition of her
solutely distinct kinds,-in novel of religious mystery, she stood absolutely alone without rival or felow; in another, the novel of description, the only reasonable comparison is with Sir Walter Scott; and in the third, the novel of modern society, she rivals, both in humor and the subtle delineation of ordinary character, Jane Austen. There is nothing in English literature of its kind like "The Beleaguered City," the account of the invasion of the city of Sens by an army of ghosts, so audacious, so weird, in its effect, yet so intensely softening and spiritual. We know of nothing like the painting of the different personages in that book,-of the honest mayor, his bourgeoise mother, and his angel wife; of the earthly priest, who yet longs to be a true priest; of the old aristocrat; and of the mystic Lecamus, the feeble man for whom alone God has opened his inner eyes, all so exquisitely natural while surrounded, engulfed, lost in an overwhelming mystery which, though it is like nothing ever recorded or even imagined before, the reader feels as he advances and slowly drinks in an impression which thenceforward never leaves him, might have happened. The atmosphere of the story is the atmosphere of another world permitted for a moment to supersede the atmosphere of this one, but in it move figures of this one, in all of whom, without exception, their special characteristics are brought out softly, yet sharply, by the very fog, which yet is not a fog but a haze let down from heaven, in which they are enveloped. Only a genius of the loftiest order could have produced that book, which never had a predecessor and will, we think, never have a successor, the most wonderful example in literature of the range of a woman's imagination. It is the more wonderful because Mrs. Oliphant, though she tried two or three times, could never do the same thing again, and in spite of the exquisite style and painting of the first part of "Old Lady Mary," her other excursions into the spiritual world were distinctly fail
We have said that in some of her novels the true comparison for her powers is with Scott, and Scott alone, and this is true in a special degree of "Young Musgrave," "The Minister's Wife," "The Son of the Soil," "Katie Stewart," "The Ladies Lindores," "May," "The Wizard's Son," "The Last of the Mortimers," and parts, at least, of "Whiteladies." There is the same breeziness, the same healthy realism, the same power of story-telling, the same perception of originality and force in ordinary or inferior characters. There are chapters in "Young Musgrave," especially the one in which the old gipsy-woman appears in court to hear for the first time that one son has guiltlessly murdered another, of which, in their restrained force and passion, Scott would have been proud, as he would have been of the revivalist scenes in "The Minister's Wife," so like in their power the best chapters of "Old Mortality," and of the character of Rolls the butler in "The Ladies Lindores." The irresistibleness of the comparison with Scott is the more striking because Mrs. Oliphant's central figures were always women. There is perceptible through all her stories a faint contempt for men, as unaccountable, uncomfortable works of God, whom she understood best when they were most ordinary, like the slightly thick-witted and entirely loveable hero of "Harry Joscelyn," or most foolish, like Paul in "He who Will not When he May." It was women she loved to depict, but they are the women Scott would have drawn under the very circumstances he would have created, had his genius taken him that way. This fancy for studying women comes out in all her stories, and especially in some of those of which the scene is laid in Carlingford-"Miss Marjoribanks," "Phoebe Junior," "The Perpetual Curate"stories in which Jane Austen would have recognized a humorist as great as herself, though of a different kind. Mrs. Oliphant entirely lacked Miss Austen's power of painting the inherent vulgarity in some women who
yet are ladies, and though, like Miss Austen, she never made of crime a motif-there is a partial exception in "Whiteladies"-and never condescended to what is now called the sex question, yet her social situations are stronger and more interesting, and she could conceive of a woman like Lady Car as she appears both in "The Ladies Lindores" and in the sequel called by her own name, who was wholly beyond the limits of Miss Austen's range. We say nothing of "Mrs. Margaret Maitland," for that is not a novel but a sketch drawn most lovingly from life, and the original neither came nor could have come in Jane Austen's way. Add that Mrs. Oliphant had in the most unusual degree the faculty of pleasant story-telling, so that her novels gave acute pleasure to many different minds, and were waited for by like the late Mr. Kinglake through life with eager expectation, and we have a novelist who in our own day was infeMrs. Olirior to George Eliot alone. phant's humor, though of a subtly pleasant kind, was not mordant like George Eliot's, nor could she have drawn either Maggie Tulliver or Dorothea; but her stories had a healthy breezìness in them as of the Scotch scenery she loved, which it was not in George Eliot's powerful imagination to infuse into her tales.
We believe that as time advances there will be more, and not less, appreciation of Mrs. Oliphant, and we trust that Messrs. Blackwood, who through two generations regarded her as a dear friend, will see their way to an edition of some twenty of her best novels, if possible in the two-volume form. Mrs. Oliphant put a quantity of work into all she did, and when compressed into a single volume most of them require a type too small for eyes. 'To publish a collection of all her novels is to do her injustice, even "Hester," for example, in spite of the delicious character of the heroine, has in it sonie quality of tediousness, as if a tired writer were recollecting what passed, -and we see no sense in printing the works of imagination and the works of
labor together. The latter contain many fine things, but with the exception of the "Life of Irving" they bear little trace of the original genius which most unquestionably dwelt behind those humorous, watchful eyes, which saw and comprehended everything except, indeed, the man who is at once able and good. In all the vast array of her stories there is not one such man, though she thought of one in Russell, in "The Poor Gentleman," and even him she was obliged to make a do-nothing who knew himself.
From Blackwood's Magazine. MRS. OLIPHANT.
"It has been the fate of Blackwood's Magazine to secure a genuine attachment from its contributors more than any other literary organ has ever had. The same sort of feeling which makes sailors identify themselves with their ship, rejoicing in the feats which they attribute somehow to her own personality, though they know very well what is their own
share in them, and maintaining a gener ous pride in the vessel, which would be but a paltry feeling were it translated into a mere self-complacence as to their own achievements. I hope this is being kept up in the younger generation; it certainly was very strong in the past."
In any circumstances these words would have been significant and very touching in their loyalty, coming from one who for the long period of forty-five years had lent to the magazine the support of a powerful and brilliant and papen, but they derive a new thetic significance in light of the fact that that cunning hand is now still forever, and that the devoted historian of "Maga," from whose unpublished work we quote, has been-to use a touching phrase of Lockhart's-"released from all service."
It is no part of our task at this time to attempt to record the full extent of that service, or to enumerate the works that flowed from this facile and always graceful pen. Mrs. Oliphant belonged to the race of literary giants to whom