Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

was

the force, orders were at once perfect fire control, and believes that given for the construction of a

the Guides must have felt themselves bridge, without which it conquerors though retiring before found impossible to cross

the eight times their number of brave stream, On the evening of the

but undisciplined tribesmen." 12th April the bridge was suffici- To all who know how bold are ently completed to allow of the Afghan tribesmen in pursuit, and Guides infantry passing over to how trying is a retirement to all cover the work. The next morn Asiatic soldiery, the brilliancy of ing the corps, under Colonel F. D. this action will be specially apBattye (the third brother of this parent. The losses of the Guides distinguished family who served were small numerically, amountin the Guides), made a reconnais- ing to but three killed and nine sance into Bajaur territory; but, wounded; but they were rendered by a combination of misfortunes, more deplorable by the fall of the not only did Colonel Battye ad- gallant Colonel Battye, who was vance farther than had been in- shot just at the close of the tended from the river, but in action.

action. “By his death, at the addition to this the stream sud- moment when he had with great denly rose, and in the early morn- gallantry and skill brought the ing of the 13th the frail bridge battalion under his command out was swept away, thus cutting of a position of peculiar difficulty, off all possibility of reinforcing the Indian service has lost one of the Guides. Meanwhile, at noon, its most admirable officers." Colonel Battye found himself con This was the last occasion on fronted by two large bodies of which the Guides were seriously the enemy, who advanced rapidly engaged, and here this brief sketch against him down the sides of of their services during the last the surrounding hills.

He was half - century may be fittingly immediately ordered by heliogram closed. As lately as last year to fall back on the bridge-head, individual officers of the corps where he would be covered by the have been selected for important fire of the guns on the opposite service with the contingent sent bank; and it was in this retire- from India to Suakin, but the last ment that the steadiness and dis- service of the Guides as a whole cipline of the Guides were so bril- was in the Chitral expedition. liantly displayed. The battalion As has been shown, the courage retired in perfect order, inflicting and discipline of both officers and a loss of some 500 on the enemy, men have not deteriorated since "probably one for every sepoy of the days when they were led by the Guides engaged.”

Lumsden, Hodson, and Daly; and

whenever or wherever in the future “His Excellency," wrote the adju- they may be called on to defend tant-general in a despatch to Govern- the interests of the empire, the ment, “considers this a very remark

Queen's Own Guides may be able instance of the results that may be obtained under very trying cir

trusted to show themselves second cumstances by absolute steadiness, to no regiment or corps in the combined with high training and British army.

[ocr errors]

1 General Order of the Viceroy in Council.

EARLY VICTORIAN FICTION.

It has often been remarked that appearance while those of the first the novel is to the Victorian era are still predominant, and one what the drama was to the age of writer at any rate has brought the Elizabeth, or the narrative poem tone and manner of the Early to the epoch of the Great Revolu- Victorian era almost into our own tion-at once the favourite form time. The style of 'Kenelm Chilof literary expression and the lingly,' published in the seventies, most characteristic embodiment of betrays its author as the last surthe spirit of the time. The Eliza- vivor of the romanticists of the bethan literary world demanded older day.

older day. Roughly speaking, we action, vigorous language, and no may say that the period of which intrusive comments or explana we propose now to treat ended tions; the child of the Revolution with the Crimean War, although preferred a medium in which he waifs and strays which properly could intersperse his narrative with belong to it continue to make their his views on nature or the Rights appearance for some years thereof Man; and the later nineteenth- after, and its lofty solemnity had century writer, following out the long been threatened by the ensame idea, chooses the means by croachments of the rising generawhich, while pandering to the un tion of authors. It was the era of accountable liking of the public the belated pseudo-romantic, of the for a story, he may most freely imitators of the imitators of Scott, inculcate the tenets of the newest of tales of magic and mystery, and form of irreligion or the merits of of the novel of high life. Dickhis own particular nostrum for ens, Thackeray, Charles Kingsley, saving society. Since, therefore, George Eliot, Charlotte Brontë, the novel now occupies the place Charles Reade, and Mrs Oliphant of the pulpit and the platform as rose, or even flourished, during its well as that of the vehicle of “in- course; but their principal works nocent amusement” (to use a term belong more properly to the much reprobated by the novelists succeeding period, although the of the earlier part of the century), writers themselves have not all we feel that it is unnecessary to escaped the influence of the roapologise for undertaking a sur mantic era. To take but two invey of a part of the development stances, the Parisian experiences of this new social force during the of Rochester and his courtship years 1837-97.

of his first wife might have The sixty years of the Victorian come straight from the pages of era lend themselves readily to a Lady Blessington, while the melorough division into three parts— dramatic portions of Nicholas and, in point of fact, we do dis- Nickleby' and other early works tinguish three separate periods in of Dickens reflect the methods the growth of the novel during both of the fashionable and of the reign, but the divisions are the purely romantic among his by no means equal in length, nor predecessors. do they follow consecutively on In thus restricting our field of one another. The characteristics view to the more old-fashioned of the second period make their writers of our period, it might be

imagined that we should find our were allowed to contribute to the selves confined to a very narrow great dailies ferocious leading range of interests, but this is not articles denouncing the Governthe case. The Early Victorian ment of the day. In this respect era had much more affinity with the world fifty years ago seems to our own as regards subjects and have been more advanced than it their treatment than has the suc is now, or was the speedy promoceeding period, and it even antici- tion of these young ladies due to pated not a few of the crazes of the fact that they worked without to-day. It had its Celtic Renas- remuneration? And the age poscence, to which, after the too sessed also its New Woman in famous Macpherson, Scott had fiction, for the heroine of Mrs given the first impulse by his Trollope's Life and Adventures studies of Highland character, and of a Clever Woman,' with her which was continued impartially diary carefully written with a by the Irish stories of Carleton view to its being read by other and Lover, and gained new life eyes, and her insistence on being from the publication (or should it taken seriously, might be the probe the republication ?) of the totype of Marie Baschkirtseff her

Mabinogion.' It had its Kail- self, while her calm calculation on yard School, which descended -or shall we say after?-marrying, through Scott to Galt and to Wil- that she had now a future before son, whose •Lights and Shadows her, might have fitted her to of Scottish Life' portrays the appear in a novel by Mrs Andrew Scottish peasant of the period as Dean. considerably more sentimental and But if the period has many less humorous than his modern points of likeness to our own, it is representative. It had its realists, not without strong differences. It who are now our romanticists, and may seem almost a paradox to say even, highly favoured age ! its lady that it was a far more literary age; exponent of popular mysticism, its but if we are to take as a test the Marie Corelli, so to speak, of whom effect produced by literature upon more hereafter. It possessed, more individuals and upon society, this over, its competing American liter

was certainly the case, in spite of ature (mostly pirated, it is to be the far smaller number of readers, feared), although the American and the costliness of books. novelist had as yet scarcely at- England,” says Mrs Gore, in the tained to the elaborate uncon • Dean's Daughter,' "official men sciousness of the existence of any talk chiefly of Melton or Newcountry but the United States, market, ballet-dancers or cooks. and any city but his own Orford Except on the day of publication or Hamilcar, let us say, which of a new Edinburgh' or 'Quardistinguishes him so pleasantly at terly,' or a crack pamphlet, or of this later day. It had even its the opening of the Session, or the lady journalists—not merely Har- downfall of a ministry, public meariet Martineau fulminating against sures are seldom canvassed among Toryism and Protection in the those who have enough to do in columns of the 'Daily News,' but, manufacturing them.” The first as Mrs Gore tells us, misses in and last charges may still be true their teens, who had been in- (we will not venture to assert that oculated with the virus of jour- this is so), but we doubt whether nalism by some mad editor, and there is any public man nowadays

" In

who could so much as name the writers Scott and Mrs Radcliffe, day on which the ‘ Edinburgh'or according as their tastes inclined the Quarterly' comes out, and to history or mystery; and the even more whether there is any authors of Adventure-books, with club at which the wealth of wisdom which may be grouped the few contained in their pages would be humorous novels of the period, tolerated, though but for twenty Fielding and Defoe. Some there four hours, as the sole topic of con- were, like Disraeli, impossible to versation. And what young lady class, for their works generally of to-day tries to model her per- united the first two elements, and sonal appearance upon that of the occasionally included the third ; heroine of the latest novel she has while others, like Lytton, tried read, as did the Miss Rebecca Lin- them all in turn, and later types net of "Scenes from Clerical Life'?

as well. “Nothing but an acquaintance with of our readers, who entertain a

It may seem surprising to some the course of her studies," we are told, vivid remembrance of the kind of “could afford a clue to the rapid transitions in her dress, which were sug

fiction supplied to them in youth, gested by the style of beauty, whether that we have not allotted the di: sentimental, sprightly, or severe, pos

dactic novel a class to itself. The sessed by the heroine of the three reason is simple : all fiction, with volumes actually in perusal. A piece the occasional exception of the of lace, which drooped round the edge humorous novel, was didactic of her white bonnet one week, had been rejected by the next. ... The professedly and aggressively diblack velvet, meeting with a crystal dactic. Considering the disfavour clasp, which one evening encircled in which fiction was held by the her head, had on another descended educationists of the time, it can to her neck, and on a third to her scarcely be said that the novelist wrist, suggesting to an active imagina was expected to moralise; but tion either a magical contraction of moralise he did, whether because the ornament, or a fearful ratio of expansion in Miss Rebecca's person.”

it was the fashion of the day, or

because he sought humbly to In the case of certain heroines justify his existence to his stern of recent fiction, flattery of this censors, who shall say? We need eminently sincere order would be not believe all that their detractors unadvisable, if not in the English say against Bulwer Lytton or the climate impossible; but it has not Countess of Blessington, to feel been our hap to meet with any surprised by the lofty moral tone young lady in the habit of practis- expressed, if not always implied, ing it at all.

in their works—a tone which was The fiction which exercised so so prominent a feature in the books powerful an influence over the of the lady that, as we learn from minds of the gentler readers of her niece and biographer, “in. the time may be divided into three numerable numbers of the clergy, groups - the Society novel, the with whom she had no personal purely Romantic, and the novel acquaintance, addressed to her of Adventure. The scope of these letters of compliment and apmay be more clearly defined by proval.” This must have proved saying that the Society novelists extremely gratifying to the author, followed Richardson and Jane even if it strikes a later age as Austen (at a respectful distance, scarcely flattering to the disbe it understood); the Romantic cernment of her reverend cor

respondents, and we can hardly the fancy of the reader. But in wonder that a spirit of pardon- 'The Cardinal Virtues' the inculable emulation should have led the cation of pure and righteous prinwriter of an inoffensive, if some- ciples constitutes the staple or main what involved, historical work ingredient of the work; to which called “The White Mask' to end the story serves no other purpose her book with a quotation from than that of ornament—the setting Butler's · Analogy,' and the follow. which surrounds the jewel—full of ing sentence: "My endeavour has taste and beauty, yet, as compared been to show in a Romance, in with the jewel itself, utterly valuethe course of which I have taken less.” Surely the force of vicarious many liberties with the muse of self-abnegation on the part of an history, that there is a retribu- author could no further go. tion even here.” This assurance, In spite, however, of all the which seems unnecessary if the moralising of all the novelists, the endeavour was successful, recalls taste of the age continued to be the conclusion of one of Artemus corrupt—in fact, if we may trust Ward's most delightful pieces of Lady Blessington, who in "Victims absurdity: “This is my 1st at- of Society' doubles the rôles of tempt at writin a Tail and it is far Juvenal and Cassandra, it detefrom bein perfeck, but if I have riorated steadily. “ We live," indoosed folks to see that in 9 laments one of the characters, cases out of 10 they can either “in an age . . . when none but make Life as barren as the Dessert exciting subjects have any inof Sarah, or as joyyus as a flower terest. Tears are now only shed garding, my objeck will have bin when great crimes are their source; accomplished, and more too.” It domestic feelings are passés de is evident that the clergy were not mode ; and those who would always to be trusted to find out awaken sympathy must dare the moral for themselves. Some- guilt.” This denunciation, which times, however, they were good seems oddly to echo the diatribes enough to point it out to the of certain lady novelists not ungeneral reader, by means of a known at the present day, is preface contributed to a book, as supported by a scathing review was the case with the Rev. G. R. of the manners and morals of Gleig, who is remembered to this the upper classes in England. day chiefly as author of that delight. If we are to credit our author, ful book, 'The Subaltern,' but who who undoubtedly possessed the was also known to his own genera- advantage of an intimate tion as a novelist and an editor of quaintance with the life she dethe works of others. In the preface scribed, to have used the words to a posthumous novel by a Miss “decent society" at this epoch Campbell, he apologises for the would have been to utter a concomparatively un-didactic charac- tradiction in terms. As with the ter of the book, when contrasted Spartans of old, it was not guilt, with an earlier one, in terms which but its discovery, that was held awaken wonder, not unmingled to merit punishment. With the with awe, as to the nature of the laudable object of stemming the latter. "Harriette Campbell never, tide of corruption, Lady Blessingindeed, wrote a line, of which the ton depicts a series of incidents tendency was not to improve the in aristocratic life, both in France moral feeling, as well as to amuse and England, which read like

ac

« PoprzedniaDalej »