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courageous citizen,

APRIL 1897.

now deter any Government from sent to be contemptible for fear of
making use of the instrument being called tyrannical; or will
which Parliament has placed in they exert that authority which
their hands. « Old times are

is vested in all Governments for
changed, old manners gone." An their own protection, and throw
entirely new mode of opposition themselves on the support of the
has superseded the system known public, who desire nothing more
to Peel, Russell, and Tiernay. than to see an end to vacillation
To meet the method of and indecision in the conduct of
attack we must employ a new public affairs, and are ripe for
method of defence. The tactics of almost any measures which may
Frederick the Great were found have the desired effect.
useless against Napoleon. The Seasons may arise when the de-
closure, as we said last year, must parture from those maxims and
now be accepted as one of the reg- principles which guide our conduct
ular organs of parliamentary pro on ordinary occasions becomes a
cedure. We sympathise with the sacred duty, in obedience to a
reluctance of Conservatives to have higher law. Such a situation
recourse to a system so little con-

creates grave responsibilities, from
sistent with their own principles which, however, no statesman, no
and traditions. But they need honest and
neither be ashamed nor afraid of ought to shrink. At the present
exercising a power which has now moment every man is bound to
become absolutely essential to free consider by what means the effici-
dom of legislation, and which their ency of the Queen's Government,
opponents are certain to employ and the usefulness of the House of
without any constitutional scruples Commons, can be most successfully
if ever their turn comes round again. maintained. We must not sacri-
Mr Balfour has to choose between fice the end to the means.

If,
two alternatives which are both ex owing to such changes as we have
tremes. He may either let legis- just referred to, the action of the
lation take its chance, thinking it party system threatens to impede
enough that the people know the instead of assisting the progress of
reason why; or he may secure the legislation, the maxims which held
efficiency of parliamentary govern- good at a previous period may no
ment by curtailing some of that longer have any claim upon us.
liberty which members seem de Freedom of debate is a privilege
termined to abuse. He may either of great price. But it may be
abdicate his functions, or uphold necessary to contract its limits
them by main force. The great in order to preserve its life ; and
party which he leads must decide statesmen who recognise this truth,
between these alternatives, and and have the courage to act upon
let him know which they prefer, it, are the real friends of par
not only for the Education Bill, liamentary institutions, and not
but for all Bills--not only for this those who would earn
session, but for all sessions. Which cheap popularity by denying or
will they have? Will they con- deriding it.

VOL. CLXI,

RECENT BOOKS--FRENCH AND ENGLISII.

1

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There could scarcely be a more of seizième édition on its titlecurious literary sensation than to page, makes the wonder still more open a book by a French roman. remarkable

. Has France begun cist, bearing all the appearance of to disgust herself with her own a novel, and find in it, instead of special form of literature, and to those wearisome intrigues, enliv. learn that the obscene and impure ened more or less by sparks of are as dull as they are loathsome wit, degraded more or less by subjects of study, and that nothnoisome details of uncleanness, to ing is more monotonous than the which we are accustomed in that record of vice in which she has kind of production, a Pilgrim's so long tried to find entertainProgress, neither less nor more, ment? We think there are signs -the struggle of a soul, disgusted to this effect even in general literwith vicious life and all its accom- ature; but so singular a work as paniments, to find an opening into the one before us could not be purer air

, into faith and hope. other than individual, and we canThat this should come to us under not suppose that it marks any the name of a writer whose com common movement, or is anything mand of the varieties of circum- but the strange story of a soul stance in vice, and its favourite satiated, disgusted, sickened by a sentiments and descriptions, the life which at the same time does dreadful lore of the so-called not seem to have been any worse Realist, is well known, and cer- than that of the ordinary hero of tifies its popularity by stamp a French novel. The effect pro

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Printed by William Blackrood and Sons.

1 En Route. By J. P. Huysmans. VOL. CLXI. --NO. DCCCCLXXVIII,

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THERE could scarcely be a more of seizième édition on its titlecurious literary sensation than to page, makes the wonder still more open a book by a French roman remarkable. Has France begun cist, bearing all the appearance of to disgust herself with her own a novel, and find in it, instead of special form of literature, and to those wearisome intrigues, enliv- learn that the obscene and impure ened more

or less by sparks of are as dull as they are loathsome wit, degraded more or less by subjects of study, and that nothnoisome details of uncleanness, to ing is more monotonous than the which we are accustomed in that record of vice in which she has kind of production, a Pilgrim's so long tried to find entertainProgress, neither less nor more, ment? We think there are signs —the struggle of a soul, disgusted to this effect even in general literwith vicious life and all its accom ature; but so singular a work as paniments, to find an opening into the one 1 before us could not be purer air, into faith and hope. other than individual, and we canThat this should come to us under not suppose that it marks any the name of a writer whose com common movement, or is anything mand of the varieties of circum- but the strange story of a soul stance in vice, and its favourite satiated, disgusted, sickened by a sentiments and descriptions, the life which at the same time does dreadful lore of the so-called not seem to have been any worse Realist, is well known, and cer than that of the ordinary hero of tifies its popularity by a stamp a French novel. The effect pro

1 En Route. By J. P. Huysmans. VOL. CLXI. —NO. DCCCCLXXVIII.

2K

457
drawn into a particularly loath- pensionnat of girls, and a dim
some intrigue in order to pene- background of other women, him-
trate the secret of this horrible self the only man visible.
sect, and succeeds in being present
at a Messe Noire in honour of the

" The atmosphere became extraor-
Devil

, which, however, the writer dinary ; this furnace of souls warmed has failed to invest with any intel. the ice of the little building. These

were no longer the wealthy vespers lectual horrors, so that we are left of St Sulpice ; they were the vess wholly unmoved, except by disgust, pers of the poor

, the vespers of a by the narrative with which he family, in the plain-song of the fields

, evidently hoped to shock and followed by the faithful worship

pers with a prodigious fervour, in an The occult and the Satanic have, abstraction of inconceivable silence.

1

duced by a jeunesse orageuse upon is to listen to the music for which a man in the maturity of forty, it is famous, yet where he has wanattracted by better things, but dered in his forlorn and painful unable to drag himself out of the search after some influence which evil habits which cling to him like can save him from himself and the the limbs of Victor Hugo's devil- world. The reader will at once fish-haunted by horrible imagina- perceive that this personage, so tions, even more when alone than much unlike the

many

other memwhen in the worst company, yet bers of his class whom we have all the while straining and strug- known, must have been introduced gling to escape from the dreadful first in some preliminary work : impasse in which he finds himself, but we do not advise him to search -makes a very strange and novel for M, Durtal's antecedents in the picture, almost too sombre and book entitled La-bas, which repterrible for the common eye. It resents him as still in the midst is perhaps fortunate that such a of the usual adventures which are struggle could scarcely ever find supposed to be the commonplace of utterance in the natural reticence a young Frenchman's life, although of English speech, and we do not already moved by the disgust with know how the translator (for the vice which is about to throw him book has been translated into Eng- into the arms of the Church as the lish) can have managed to adapt only possible way of deliverance. it for ordinary reading; but the This disgust is in full possession of history of the recovery and con his being; but his case is not one version of Durtal is very novel to be reached by the ordinary and remarkable, and, as coming means, by the sermon which he out of the centre of Parisian life hears going on in the distance of and realistic literature, the most the great scarcely lighted church astonishing and impossible thing, while he takes his seat in the darkthough with every sign of truth, ness behind the altar to await the even fact, that could be conceived. music. He hears the ordinary "Oh wretched man that I am, but indistinguishable voice of the who shall deliver me from the preacher, which he recognises, "à body of this death ?” would be a la vaseline de son débit, à la graisse more appropriate motto than the de son accent,” to be that of "un sentence from St Bonaventura prêtre solidement nourri,” giving which appears on the title-page; forth the usual commonplaces of but it need scarcely be said that "ces gargotiers d'ames" to his among the crowd of saints quoted little congregation. Our sick and in the book St Paul has no place, sorry sinner has nothing to do with and that the methods adopted for these habitual discourses. He has the saving of the sinful soul are been more or less interested in the scarcely bis.

mysteries of occultism, and even It is

, however, of this subject in the mysteries deeper still of that the book is full, Durtal, the some foul travesty of religion bero, a man of letters and of the known as “Satanism,” in which an world, is suddenly presented to us apostate priest, with a small secret in the last place in which we number of depraved followers, should expect to find the type of carries on awful rites, to the great the cultured and unmoral Parisian, curiosity at least, if no more

, of in the Church of Saint Sulpice, in Durtal and his friends. Indeed, which, indeed, his primary object in La - bas Durtal himself is

stun us.

Durtal felt himself transported into however, both failed

in exercising the depths of a village, of a convent ; any influence over Durtal, and he his heart melted, his soul rocked as is now obliged to confess

that only in a cradle by the monotonous breadth in the Church can be find relief

. of the singing. He felt a real impulse, The difficulty with which a highly a dumb necessity, to pray also to educated Frenchman of his class the Incomprehensible: surrounded by acknowledges this conclusion, half these breathings, penetrated by the in despair, half in shame, is

, how. intluences of the place in which he

found himself, it seemed to him that ever, very powerfully shown. The his being dissolved, that he could first point is made by the music even participate far off in the tender which he loves, and we have a unity of these simple souls. He tried lengthened but brilliant descrip- to remember a prayer, but recalled tion of the effect of the “ De Pro- only

that which St Paphnucius taught fundis” and the “ Dies Ira" sung art not worthy to name Gord

, thou

to Thais when he said to her, "Thou by the choir of Saint Sulpice : and

canst only pray thus : Qui plasmasti afterwards amid the strange mys- me, miserere mei

. Thou who hast tic old-world charm of the little created me, have mercy upon me. ancient church of Saint Severin, He faltered this humble phrase, prayneglected and beautiful, where he ing not for love or for contrition, but attends the Sunday Mass, taking in disgust of himself, in the powerrefuge in a dark corner, biding him. lessness of getting free of himself, in self and his strange emotions--for he thought of saying the Pater

, but

regret that he could not love. Then
the fear of being taken for a fool stopped short in the idea that this
was still strong upon him ; "the prayer was the most difficult of all
idea of being seen on his knees in when the weight of its words is fully
a church billed him with horror; considered. Do not we declare to
the thought, if ever he communi God in fact that we have forgiven
cated, of rising, meeting every among those who address these worls
body's gaze as he went forward to to God, how many have pardoned their
the altar, was intolerable to him."

neighbours ?"
Strange adventures, however,
befell him as he roamed from one From this strange mixture of
church to another, always envel- sentiments Durtal is roused by
oped in his own thoughts. Once seeing the priest and the beadle
he found himself by hazard in the looking at him, and presently the
chapel of a convent buried in latter approaches him, as he sup-
the depths of shabby streets, a poses with the intention of bid-
shabby little chapel full of nuns ding him leave the church, as the
in their long veils, of a whole only man in such an assemblage

drawn into a particularly loath- pensionnat of girls, and a dim some intrigue in order to pene background of other women, himtrate the secret of this horrible self the only man visible. sect, and succeeds in being present at a Messe Noire in honour of the “The atmosphere became extraorDevil, which, however, the writer dinary ; this furnace of souls warmed

the ice of the little building. These has failed to invest with

any
intel-

were no longer the wealthy vespers lectual horrors, so that we are left of St Sulpice ; they were the veswholly unmoved, except by disgust, pers of the poor, the vespers of a by the narrative with which he family, in the plain-song of the fields, evidently hoped to shock and

to shock and followed by the faithful worshipstun us.

pers with a prodigious fervour, in an The occult and the Satanic have, abstraction of inconceivable silence. however, both failed in exercising the depths of a village, of a convent;

Durtal felt himself transported into any influence over Durtal, and he his heart melted, his soul rocked as is now obliged to confess that only in a cradle by the monotonous breadth in the Church can be find relief. of the singing. He felt a real impulse, The difficulty with which a highly a dumb necessity, to pray also tó educated Frenchman of his class the Incomprehensible: surrounded by acknowledges this conclusion, half

these breathings, penetrated by the in despair, half in shame, is, how- found himself, it seemed to him that

influences of the place in which he ever, very powerfully shown. The his being dissolved, that he could first point is made by the music

even participate far off in the tender which he loves, and we have a unity of these simple souls. He tried lengthened but brilliant descrip- to remember a prayer, but recalled tion of the effect of the “De Pro- only that which St Paphnucius taught fundis” and the “ Dies Iræ" sung art not worthy to name God, thou.

to Thais when he said to her, “Thou by the choir of Saint Sulpice : and

canst only pray thus : Qui plasmasti afterwards amid the strange mys- me, miserere mei. Thou who hast tic old-world charm of the little created me, have mercy upon me.' ancient church of Saint Severin,

He faltered this humble phrase, prayneglected and beautiful, where he ing not for love or for contrition, but attends the Sunday Mags, taking in disgust of himself, in the powerrefuge in a dark corner, hiding him

lessness of getting free of himself, in self and his strange emotions—for he thought of saying the Pater, but

regret that he could not love. Then the fear of being taken for a fool stopped short in the idea that this was still strong upon him; "the prayer was the most difficult of all idea of being seen on his knees in when the weight of its words is fully a church filled him with horror; considered. Do not we declare to

God in fact that we have forgiven the thought, if ever he communi

the sins of our neighbour? But cated, of rising, meeting every among those who address these words body's gaze as he went forward to

to God, how many have pardoned their the altar, was intolerable to him.”

neighbours ?" Strange adventures, however, befell him as he roamed from one From this strange mixture of church to another, always envel- sentiments Durtal is roused by oped in his own thoughts. Once seeing the priest and the beadle he found himself by hazard in the looking at him, and presently the chapel of a convent buried in latter approaches him, as he supthe depths of shabby streets, a poses with the intention of bidshabby little chapel full of nuns ding him leave the church, as the in their long veils, of a whole only man in such an assemblage

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459

"But the next moment he drewed the fifteenth century and was
back terrified, attempting to fly before an adept in the black mysteries of
the decision which it was his duty to the worshippers of the Devil—now
make, exhausting himself in efforts turns to the opposite extreme, and
to excuse himself

, with
that lasted for hours, invoking the determines to devote himself to
most miserable reasons for remaining the elucidation of the life and
as he was.

writings of the Blessed Lidwine, a
**What shall I do? If I obey the Dutch saint and mystic of still
command which becomes more and earlier date. In searching for in-
more imperious in me, I am prepar; formation on this subject he en-
ing myself a life of remorse and
revolts : for I know very well that I counters in a bookseller's shop the
ought not to pause for ever on the Abbé Gévresin, with whom he has
threshold

, but enter into the sanctu- many walks and talks upon the
ary and remain there. And if I de subject of this saint and others,
ciđe-ah no, how can I?—for then I and finally on the whole mystic
should have to bind myself to a mass world of the cloister, and on the
of exercises, go to Mass on Sunday,
fast on Friday, live like a bigot, look

verts dedicate themselves" that
like a fool.""

of observances, submit to a succession Reparation to which many con

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of women. But the official's mis- violent convulsion of the soul, a
sion is of a very different kind. thunder-stroke, or else of the Faith
It is to inform Durtal that it is making at the end an explosion in
the custom in the procession of ground already carefully mined. It

is very evident that conversions can
the Sacrament, which is about to

be brought about either in one or the take place, that the men present other of these ways, for God acts should take the lead, walking at according to His pleasure ; but there the head of the women. Startled, must be a third way, which is no not able to escape, the astonished doubt the most ordinary, that which flâneur finds himself with a candle

the Saviour has employed with me.

There has been no road to Damascus, in his hands, which he can ill

no events leading to a great crisis ; all manage, circling round the little

that has happened is that, waking
chapel with all the white com-

one fine morning, without knowing
munity behind him! not beautiful how or why, the thing is done.”
nuns of romance but working
Sisters of the Poor, with homely But this conviction, which has
weather - beaten faces, and hands come upon him so suddenly, is as
rough and red with labour. No- yet of little potency to heal the
thing could have been easier than troubles of his soul.
to turn such a scene into ridicule.
But though we see the puzzled

“Like all unbelievers he had said

to himself before his conversion, 'If confusion of the fine gentleman, I once believed that Jesus was God, his fastidious disgust at those and that eternal life was not an illuhomely figures, his horror at his sion, I should not hesitate to change own position, even the difficulty all my habits, to follow as much as of kneeling, when he is placed, still possible the rules of religion, to make more to his horror, on the steps my life at all events chaste.' And he of the altar while the service is

wondered much that people whom he

had known, under the same conditions brought to a conclusion-il n'avait

as himself, should not hold an atti-
pas

l'habitude de cette posture—yet tude superior to his. He who had
are by this time too much

for long been so indulgent to himself
interested in Durtal's difficulties became singularly intolerant as soon
to be tempted even to a smile. as a believer was in question.
He reviews these difficulties, going of his judsnents, and began to under-

He perceived now the ignorance
on with a continual reverie which; stand the abyss which lay between
however, never loses its interest belief and action ; and though he had
through all the impossibilities as

no desire to die

uss this question with they appear to him of reconciling himself, yet it returned upon him and his new-born faith with his life. overcame him, notwithstanding his How, he asks himself, has he be- reluctance, obliging him to confess come once more a Catholic-how the folly of his arguments and the has he reached to that point?

contemptible nature of his resistance.

He was frank enough to say to him. “ And Durtal replied to himself. self, 'I am no longer a child ; if I "I know not; all that I know is that believe, if I admit the Catholic faith, after having been for years an un I cannot conceive it as lukewarm believer, now I believe.

and floating, continually renewed by however (he added to himself], the the fumes of a false zeal. I desire reason of it, if in the obscurity of neither compromises nor truce, al. such a subject good sense may still ternations of debauch and of holy hold its place.

communion, now libertine and now “My surprise arises from precon- pious. No, all or nothing: a change ceived ideas on the subject of conver from the foundation, or no change sions. People talk of a sudden and at all.'

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law of the substitution, that mar

vel of absolute Charity, that super-
These reflections are embittered buman victory of Mysticism." It
by his recollections of people who is to this priest that Durtal ad-
follow these rules, des gens assidus dresses himself when his troubles
dans les églises, the pécores pieuses, prove too great to be borne, and
whom he holds in contempt; and in whom he finds the most gentle
the priests, mediocre and luke- and tolerant of guides. At one
warm, who form the common stock bitter moment, when the penitent
of the servants of the Church. "I is almost overwhelmed by fierce
see myself telling all this to the temptations, chiefly of the well-
priests !” he cried.

known ancient kind which drove

to frenzy the fathers in the desert,
"They will tell me that it is not
my business to occupy myself with the dancing nudités and carnal
questions of mysticism, and in ex. fascinations which not only the
change they will present me with a French mind, but the Catholic
little religion, une religionette, fit for Church in general, reckons as the
a sick woman : they will endeavour great and continually repeated
to mix themselves up in my life

, to ordeal through which the saints
press me concerning my soul, and in- have to pass, -- the Abbé, when
convince me that Art is a danger; everything else fails

, delivers they will force imbecile books

Durtal by transmitting his case

upon
me'; they will feed me with their to some of the communities of the
veal- broth of piety. And I know Reparation, who suffer, do penance,
myself: at the end of two interviews and pray for him, till he is for the
I will revolt, and return to my for- time delivered from these terrible
mer fare."

obsessions,
While he is thus painfully en Finally, the Abbé sends his peni-
gaged in discovering what he must tent to a monastery of La Trappe,
do to reach the higher life, Dur. whither the Parisian, with all his
tal — who had completed in the besitations and revolts of intelli-
earlier part of his history the life gence, goes unwillingly and with
of a certain Maréchal des Rais, a much alarm, lest the stern régime
monster of iniquity, who illustrat- should crush his agitated mind

Let us see,

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