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stances or reorganize the society around and left, lonely and unregarded, to eat them, as every ideal element tends to out their young hearts in activity at do. Their art serves only to keep vital home. These children cry out of cold heat in themselves, to separate them and darkness. “Jane Eyre” is a passionfrom vice and folly. It should animate ate appeal to common humanity against a circle of lovers, and quicken other the civilization of England, which comideal forces flowing out into new expres mits the education of children to such sion in sculpture, painting, poetry, and machinery as the system of boardingthe conduct of life. We know very schools, and degrades all culture, in well how little art has done for Europe the person of the despised governess, or the world, but Madame Sand recog- "That dreadful dummy," as Curtis nizes the ascension and true power of calls her, “in the English game of life." music. Why has she never given us a There is, in the novels of Goethe picture of that power in exercise ? himself, no woman able to accomplish Why are her artists thrown, one into what Jane Eyre has done. The tranthe bottom of a dry well, which serves quil, thoughtful, and tender Ottilie, him for a lunatic asylum, the other into whose nature is like the upper sky, filled that court, which the egotism of Fred- only with sunbeams, which kindle the eric converted into a prison, even for very clouds into forms and fountains of his sister.
light, would have lacked that concenWe complain that in all our novels trated energy which commands the rethere is too much fate, too much acci- spect and admiration of Rochester. dent and brute force, too much repres- Ottilie could not live and leave the obsion and too little power. The spir- ject of a love forbidden by her moral itual energy revealed in them is not sense. In Jane Eyre, we see the strugstrong enough to procure for itself suc- gle, and predict the victory of a force, cess and acceptance. The aspiration more mighty than any revealed in the of every hero is baffled. He is not able world of the German master, yet the to organize a serene and helpful activ- heroes and heroines of Goethe expand ity, but is beaten down by suspicion like flowers in sunshine, and, however and conservatism, and is poorly con- crossed by circumstance, their natural soled for the failure of his life by some tendencies are developed both by good sugar-plum, by a suitable marriage or and evil fortune. He shows the triumph a timely inheritance.
of an ideal which is not the highest, What does Jane Eyre propose to do and gives us so much more of hope and with Mr. Rochester after she has mar- courage. ried and adopted him. He is a poor, Mrs. Gaskell has written a novel broken, shipwrecked mariner, on the which deserves to be read. In “ North waters of passion and self-indulgence, and South," the attraction of incident whom she, with the strength and cour- is subordinated to that of character, age of an angel, has drawn to shore. and the principal figures are titanic in This burnt-out bully, after worrying strength and simplicity. and insulting the dependent girl, whose W e are made acquainted with two love was no secret to him, is now tho- large-natured lovers, but the book afroughly subdued by misfortunes. He fords no outlook beyond their marriage. begins life anew, a tiger deprived of This happy event, which ought to be teeth and claws, dependent for every the beginning of a life worth studying pleasure on the heroic heart beside and showing, is made a blank wall, and him-a heart always so much stronger, terminates our view. Children may be so much deeper than his own.
satisfied when Margaret is folded in the In Jane Eyre, as in Charlotte Brontë, arms of Mr. Thornton; but men and the grandest natural endowment, the women know that the power of love in utmost heroism, is barely able to sus- these young hearts is yet to be tried. tain itself and make life tolerable in the Will it lead to a gradual adjustment of midst of crushing neglect and discour- moral forces, in two natures which have agement.
encountered happily at a single point? The book “ Jane Eyre” is a cry of Formal marriage is common enough, agony. It is a protest against shock- and we all know that the road to it ing injustice and injury. In Christian winds through Paradise, and passes the England, three young girls, daughters margin of the pit-but is true marriage of a clergyman, are starved at school, possible? Can there be conjunction of thought and will without loss of person- nificance to common events by disclogal independence--without destruction ing their relation to life, and to the of the charm of remoteness and virginity development of character. There is of spirit? Can there be union yet free- ideality in her young heroines. They doin and spontaneity of impulse ? Can have a vague consciousness of powers blind tenderness become clear-sighted unexercised of rudimentary wings. In and not die? Can the energies of every house there is a plain sister, who chosen companions be harmonized and solaces herself as no young woman ever directed together to the highest ends ? twice attempted to do, by reading Plato To these questions our novelists and in solitude. poets have given no answer.
In “Bertha," however, we have the In "John Halifax” we have a picture old complaint, the old despair. Sho is of married life. No modern writer has another lonely victim, only reaching to painted more forcibly the dawn of love's prophesy and prepare a better condimorning—no one has more magnified tion for her sex. The influence of the expectation with which a noble woman is crushed in the house of her heart awaits and entertains its sacred hard father. The early history of his ray.
children is dismal "skip.” Tragedy, Yet the marriage is here a point of to be tolerable, must be grand and imdeparture, and introduces the career of posing. Great calamities may be enone - gentleman." The idealism of this dured in fiction or reality, but the death book is intense but narrow. There is in life, which falls upon gentle natures in it no society, no festival, no influence subjected to the tyranny of dogmatism, of art or literature. The life of the selfishness, and conceit, is too dismal hero is strictly domestic and moral, full to contemplate. If the tragic element of the sternness of duty and the bitter be employed in art, it should not largely ness of a long struggle with misfortune enter in the shape of " moaning women, and injustice. For this is another pro- hard-eyed husbands, and deluges of test against the inequality of social con- Lethe.” ditions in England. It is a strong book, We will not accuse novelists, espebut affords no large view of life. In it cially women, of aiming at a vulgar only the moral element is developed effect, and seeking to excite and agitate only devotion to duty is honored-not feeble minds. They plainly celebrate love of beauty or of truth. While read- sorrows they have felt, injuries they ing, we are in church and not in nature. have borne. We ask them only to conIt is a world like the heaven of Sweden- sume in private their private griefs, and borg, wherein the secular sun is dis- publicly to do some justice to the genplaced by a moral luminary, whose ray eral joy. is neither intelligence nor joy, but a From every partial report of the tensentiment of unmingled obligation. dency of human nature toward perfec
We have a single American novel, tion, we return with pleasure to the “ Margaret.” Its criticism is directed broad and sunny page of Goethe. He against the old dogmatic theology of is open-eyed to the infinite variety of New England. Its ideal element is the interests in life. His characters are not expansion of a young mind, so dear to emphasized as saints, as heroes, as lovnature that it will not be contained in ers, because they have a widely-diversisuch a system. Yet the heroine is only fied activity which prevents the mordelivered from dogma to dogma, and in bid concentration of force upon a single the end of the book we are outraged by point. Some example we have here of the advent of a sentimental millennium. every kind of spiritual development.
The author is a theologian, who has The interest of the tale is distributed broken the shell of a narrow creed, but among many actors; their peculiarities could not throw off the creed-making are marked and significant. In each is tendency and become a poet.
exhibited a moral activity, whose direcMiss Bremer's page is healthy though tion is carefully shown. When once the her circle is small. In her conception bias, impulse, and motive of character is of home she is happy, and has made, distinctly indicated, the artist stops. He perhaps, the best contribution toward will not carry out any tendency to exà solution of the vexed question of treme results, but leave the mind of the woman's destiny. She has shown true reader to complete that history. The poetic power, giving interest and sig- curious, experimenting, impressible Wilhelm is assisted by older observers and Thackeray and Dickens, that common actors. We cannot afford to lose the honesty and common decency are necescompany of one of these men--of one sities of life. We dispose of several of these women. In each is revealed an tons of fiction by simply declaring that element that must be cultivated in us, a self-respect superior to snobbery, and that must be limited and guarded. They a social system which affords equal ophave virtues, they have vices; but, at portunity to all, are decidedly desirable, the worst, they live, and act, and grow, and very few people doubt it. But who Here is reinforcement of character, will tell me what to do with my day? I which in nature is always amelioration; am haunted by a suspicion that it is here is growth in wisdom and skill, for as good as any day ; that it would be truly in every breast there is some no better if it were filled with “moving measure of aspiration-some freedom accidents." They would only, as we and obedience to the attraction of beau say, "divert” me--that is, draw me off ty, truth, and excellence in one or other from the way of enduring happiness. I of their innumerable manifestations. want a permanent and large activity, We may demand of the novelist, since and there is surely work enough to be Goethe has furnished so high a stand. done in every village before society ard, that the ideal tendency which he will be possible among men. I want exhibits shall have fair play, and not be sympathy and coöperation, and I see in overwhelmed or exhausted in a struggle the breasts of my neighbors a latent with conditions. We will be grateful to humanity whose extent is incalculable, those who, like Charlotte Brontë, show and which points toward everything us the central fire of the inextinguish- dear to me. If I could be taught to able spirit expanding under the burden take hold on what is so near me, someof mountains and continents, which it thing great and beautiful might yet be cannot yet upheave for its own deliver- done even here. ance; but we need to see the same ele. I have passed the period of romance. ment sustaining the happy world of or- Only children wait for adventures. I ganization and intelligence.
do not look for sudden wealth or pover, The power of heat is shown, not in ty. I do not expect to fall in love with volcanic convulsions, but in its vital re a princess, a beggar, or an opera-dancer. lation to plants, and animals, and man. I can earn my bread, and am not exThe strength of Jane Eyre, and Ro- posed to great misery in any turn of the chester, and Consuelo is condensed wheel of fortune. Is life, then, for me like that of pent-up lightning in a no longer worth living? cloud. We need to see the same force After the dragons are all killed, what diffused, like the electricity which stirs shall we do? The great poet, only, can in the air and water, in the sap and in answer this question. He can show the blood. For the ideal should visit us power in his figures, without throwing not to make misery tolerable, but to them into convulsions—can exhibit in render common life a cheerful satisfac- sunshine the energy which is capable tion. We want imaginary companions of fronting every storm. It is surely who will draw near to us on the level better worth while to see men helpful, of every-day experience—who will take than to see them contending. Civility up all that is best in culture and en- is fairer to behold than barbarism. deavor, and walk in advance of us, What mind will outrun the confusion bearing our burdens. The wise bave that roars around and fills the noisy accepted such companions, instruments, century, to anticipate the next ages, and enterprises as they find in the world, and show to what good result our best and are striving and learning to use mental and moral effort is conducting them. Upon many abuses, judgment is man? The right novel, the true poem, speedily passed. Our novels are hot is a hand that points forward. It will arguments upon questions no longer show the manhood, not the childhood, of open in any sane mind. We concede the race. It will not need to elaborate a to the author of “Uncle Tom's Cabin," black background of misfortune to serve that slavery, if not a bad, is at least an as a foil for doubtful happiness, but unfortunate relation. Then that book will exhibit an activity so splendid that falls to the ground. We are all demo- it must shine in relief upon the dingy crats in principle; we despise castes gray of ordinary circumstances, duties, and classes in society; we agree with and relations.
THE BAL A AMS.
AT the present moment, of course, we In March, Mrs. Balaam says, " Spring A are all in the country. Those of us will soon be here, my dear;" and she who are not in the country are in Europe. looks around her well-scrubbed mansion Those of us who are not in Europe are with the eye of a woman who is not to still further away.
be put down by any shams and shows The great point is, that we are not at of cleanliness. Her husband finds her home. We are somewhere else. We on chairs, dusting the tops of door-frames come to town for a day, and look at it in the chamber, and sighs to hear her curiously. We sleep in our own city say: " How dirty this house is : it's beds for a night; but we are not in town. shameful !” We say "good-morning" to the cham- The good Balaam-a mild man, of bermaid as to a stranger. We contem- course (Mrs. Balaams always marry plate the parlors as places we used to mild men, or make them so-does not frequent. We are in the house; but we dare to cherish any hidden corner for are not at home.
litter. He is dreadfully perplexed with Who could be at home on straw car his pieces of string and paper. Whatpets? Mattings they are called by ever he does—however he tries to desuperior housekeepers. Will any body stroy their existence by casting them mention why, in a climate where we into the fire, or throwing them into leave the fire with many a lingering, coal-scuttles, or drawers, or wherever longing look, in June, and return to it else his tortured invention suggestsin September, we put up muslin cur- he is sure to hear Mrs. Balaam crying tains and put down straw mattings? It out to him: “Don't, don't, my dear! is a preposterous innovation of the tro. How can you litter about so? It's as pics. Is anything more thoroughly dis much as my life is worth to keep this mal than the American gentleman in house decent !” thin drillings, promenading upon a Balaam, as a bachelor, smoked. He straw matting, while the bars of his has only a vague remembrance of it. grate are scarcely cool, and it was but He looks at men who take their ease yesterday that he slid down his own with their cigar, with an incredulous ice-glazed front door steps upon his own curiosity. Once, and once only, he back?
smoked since his marriage. It was at I have seen Balaam do both these a supper, late at night. Balaam was, things.
probably, flown with wine. When the Mrs. Balaam-whom I name with re- party broke up, Balaam rememberspect, knowing my happiness and thank- od he must go home-go, in fact, to ful for it-Mrs. Balaam is what is fondly bed. That reflection sobered him. Now termed a superior housekeeper—an ac- a man who has not only passed the tive, energetic woman. Mrs. Balaam evening in a warm room with smokers, might easily have invented straw mat- but has himself smoked, cannot hope to tings. At least she uses them rigorously conceal his crime: he can only endure and in the proper seasons. One ad- its consequences. mires-as the older English has it Of course, under the circumstances, what a baby-house Mrs. Balaam must Balaam resolved to pass the night have had in the days of her youth. out--not to go home at all. But the One sighs to think how the roses must vision of Mrs. B., sitting up for him all have withered, under ceaseless wash night in her night-cap, as grand inquisings, in the cheeks of Mrs. Balaam's itor, and saying: “BALAAM, WHERE dolls. That, of course, was long before AND WITH WHOM DID YOU PASS THE she came, saw, and conquered the NIGHT ?" was too overwhelming. He worthy man whose name she adorns, was sure that he could never explain his and whose home she keeps in a manner absence to the satisfaction of Mrs. B. which is the despair of all the easy. Her sighs of martyred wifehood and going, hoopy, flouncy, little women, womanhood would force him into a prewho have made sundry tomtits happy mature grave. He, therefore, resolved by allowing them to pay their dry- to go home. goods bills.
But he found the way home like the VOL. X.-7
road Jordan. It was a very hard one Balaam feebly suggests little excurto travel, and he went very slowly. It sions into the country. “My dear was a bitter midwinter midnight, but Balaam,” she replies, stopping upon Balaam moved as leisurely as Romeo the stairs with a faded handkerchief from Juliet's balcony. He reached his wound about her head, a limp morninghouse, at length, and he found his own wrapper upon her person, and odd gloves keyhole without difficulty.
with holes in them on her hands, which In truth he was only too much awako hold, the one a duster, and the other - too profoundly aware of his situation. a broom, “my dear Balaam, could you He certainly never opened the door so sleep comfortably if you knew you had softly before, and never before crept so run away, like a coward, from a house noiselessly upstairs - undressing, as which was a HEAP OF FILTH ?”. there is reason to believe, in the dark. Balaam sinks into silence under an It was evident that he hoped not to dis- overwhelming sense of universal dirt, turb the innocent slumber of his spouse, and, in complete confusion of mind and But scarcely had his head touched the a false perception of proprieties, wipes pillow than, without saying a word, she his clean shoes carefully upon the mat arose, opened every window in the room, as he goes out at the front door into the opened the doors, opened the windows street. in other rooms, and betook herself, in When the spring cleaning is over, the majestic scorn and silence, to a remote indefatigable Mrs. Balaam reposes her and solitary chamber for the rest of the hands and feet, but not her eyes nor night.
her mind. They are busily engaged in For two days those windows were spying out new contaminations of that inexorably open, and all the doors. Un household purity, and devising fresh challenged winter reigned. The sery- campaigns against dirt. Then, as if ants left. Mrs. B. went about in her still panting from the spring cleaning, bonnet and furs. She sent the children she suddenly summons all her forces to her sister's. Balaam's nose was blue and begins « to put to rights for the the whole time. Mrs. Balaam did not summer.” speak of tobacco, but she shuddered This process is one of baling and and compressed her mouth from time to bagging. In early June, the parlor time, and said to him, in a dry, wiry furniture looks as if it were all just tone, as they sat shivering in the parlor : going to bed. The chandeliers and “Isn't it dreadful! But what can you candelabras have on night-caps, and do when a house smells so !!!
the easy-chairs and lounges, baggy By-April the Balaam spring-cleaning night-gowns. The pictures are tucked sets in. Mrs. Balaam's costume during up behind musquito-nets, and the clock, this month is an old black bombazine muffled in gauze, stops and sleeps. The bonnet, a tartan shawl, and india-rub matting is put down, and then comes bers. The house is damp and cold, and another change. The odor of the straw Balaam's study is put in order and well is foreign and sickly. It suggests the washed. The carpets are taken up and East Indies and elephantiasis; and turned over into the middle of the room; suddenly the whole parlor, in that cold, the pictures are covered with linen dreadful odor, becomes a hospital, and sheets, and the furniture is strewn about the chairs, lounges, and clock are all the room, packed under table-cloths in long bed-gowns, with frightful diswhich are made fast around the legs of eases. chairs and book-cases. Balaam tumbles When the hideous effect is completed, over mops and falls into slop-pails, and Mrs. Balaam declares that Balaam must eats his dinner in a corner of the kitchen, take her to the country for fresh air. while the indomitable wife is charging, Balaam does not resist. He is carried at the head of a brigade of washers and to railroad stations, and engages in fearsweepers, upon specks of dust that she ful quarrels with porters, merely because suspects may have settled in various Mrs. Balaam stands by, among the boxes parts of the house.
and trunks, holding the family umbrella, Mrs. Balaam is not beautiful at this and he prefers to settle with the porter, season; but she hopes Christian wives at any risk, rather than with Mrs. B. and mothers have something better to The same scenes take place at the do than to be ornamental sticks of steamboat landings. But Balaam weakly candy.
thanks his stars that Mrs. B. prefers to