Графични страници
PDF файл

prefer a set invitation at any time to a general one-people then know what they are to expect. The party dwindles away after this. Mr. Cartwright is pompous and dignified to the last, and the house has certainly made an impression.

Mrs. Cartwright is wearily occupied all the next day in seeing the silver properly counted and put away, in fastening all her splendour up again into brown bags, and descending from last night's pomp into the usual cold proprieties that grace the Cartwright ménage. Of course the Cartwrights have no children, which is a blessing, as they would be sure to spoil the furniture, but Mrs. C. has a French maid, which doubtless she considers far better, and Mr. C. is of opinion she must be the happiest woman in the world, with nothing to do except to look after her establishment, and not even the care of tending a flower, as the gardener takes all that trouble off her hands. Poor Mrs. Cartwright! she tries hard to be as happy as she thinks she ought to be; but there is such a thing

as gilded misery, and in spite of her house and furniture, her French maid, and her superb carriage and horses, she looks sometimes terribly miserable, and as though she would not object even to the vulgarity of a friend dropping in at all hours, or the liberty of her life in Jamaica, if she could be transported back there !

Captain Davis, who is now a rich, tough bachelor of fifty, has quite another theory about spending his money. “My money,” he argues, “was surely sent me for my own enjoyment. I don't know why I am expected to make ducks and drakes of it to please other people. I shall carry out my own hobbies with it."

Poor Captain Davis ! he should have said his hobby, for, beyond perpetually smoking a small black pipe, which is too universal a failing to come under that name, he has really only one hobby-boatbuilding. It is rather a wearisome hobby, too, as the boat-builders would tell you, for he can only conceive one kind of boat, and, whether little or big, all his boats must be built on this model.

" When


have found out a good thing,” he says, “ stick to it. What's the use of always altering and upsetting one's own notions and other people's ?"

And he does stick to it—always with the black pipe in his mouthlooking on to correct the smallest deviation from his plan. But he rarely goes to sea in his boats. He generally gives them one trial, to ascertain that they are sound and weather-tight, and then they are directly in the market. They don't stay there very long to be sure, for he will generally take half price for them, observing, sagely, “Well, I have had my pleasure in building them, and of course one must pay, for one's hobbies." Somebody once advised him to turn ship-builder, but, after debating the question, he said he was of opinion that it was not every one who would like to build exactly after his model, and as he should not choose to be put out with whims and fancies, he thought he had better remain as he was.

Mr. Evans is another rich bachelor, but of a different genus. He sacrifices himself and his fortune entirely to the ladies. It is for them that he keeps that elegant drag and four, that expensive and neatlyarranged bachelor establishment, and those beautiful gardens and conservatories. Not only his money, but his person, his mind, his accom



plishments, all are devoted to the fair sex. Not that he has the very smallest idea of marrying any one of them-not even that the very shadow of a heart exists beneath his white waistcoat, but it flatters his vanity to have a number of well-dressed women hanging about him, and if he attains that end it is really very immaterial to him whether he, or his turn-out, or his delightful gardens are the most run after and admired. Mr. Evans is the most useful man in getting up a pic-nic, or bringing provisions, or obtaining flowers when they are at unheard-of prices

, and between him and the ladies it is a mutual interchange of vanity and obligation, and nothing else. Sometimes, if he sees a very young lady of the party, he tries to persuade her that he has not yet outlived his young days of sentiment, and that there are feelings beneath that white waistcoat the cold world little dreams of. Then he plunges into poetry and romance, but as his literature is generally of the very oldest order, it is only upon the young ones that he can ever impose. He, too, is most likely to live and die spending his money after this exact fashion, and never altering it.

And now, having glanced at some of the ways in which John Ball disposes of his cash, let us try for once if we can be a Solon, and solve that world-mystery, how to get the greatest amount of happiness out of our money. And first, be content with what you have, and, while cultivating your tastes, do not indulge your hobbies. Unless there are circumstances against it, we would advise all our friends to live up to their income, but not beyond it ; to let a certain sum be put aside yearly for charities and casualties of any sort; another sum for housekeeping and dress; and a third for the gratification of their pleasures and tastes—and these cannot be too simple. Little things make up the sum of human happiness. Without true taste John Bull may revel in money, and spend it in the wildest eccentricities, and yet never derive half the pleasure or benefit from it that is known and felt by the man of limited means, yet refined ideas,


POPULAR literature must always be more or less the exponent of national feelings and aspirations. Excepting in respect to politics-a subject which is tabooed on the other side of the Channel—the French almanacks are peculiarly illustrative of the fancies and impulses of the hour. Hence it is that we return to them each succeeding year with undiminishing interest; aware that the expression of the most potent and the most stirring influences are interdicted to them, we still, even in their lamb-like and shorn condition, look to the position which they take, the literary verdure they crouch in, the poetic boughs they shelter under, and the sarcastic breezes beneath which they writhe, as so many indications as to which way

the wind blows.

M. Ch. Nisard, in his excellent work on “ Popular Books,” M. Victor Fournel, in his article on “ La Littérature des Quais,” and M. Rattray, in the Moniteur for 1853, have exposed at length a peculiarity in French literature which as yet only obtains in a minor degree in this country, and that is the system of " colportage," or book-hawking; it is by such means that the white, blue, and yellow-covered backs of the almanacks are made to delight the eyes of the humblest peasant in the land, and he to whom even “ Monte Cristo” and the “Mystères de Paris” are by their price sealed books, has still a few sous for his Almanach Comique, Astrologique, or Prophétique; there are almost none who have not one penny for a Nostradamus, or a Véritable Double Liégeois, or Normand. Hence the influence of the almanack, and if it did not contain that which is essentially French its day would long ago have gone by.

But before we proceed with the lighter and more characteristic features of the almanacks for 1859, let us, in accordance with what has become now an annual custom, take a glance at the progress of literature and the drama during the past year. With regard to literature, if we were to believe the courtier feuilletonist, M. Jules Janin, "peace, silence, and labour” are favourable to its development; and as the first two are preeminently enjoyed under the existing system, it is manifest that the third is only wanted to ensure the desired result. And to the proofs ! M. Thiers has completed his sixteenth volume of the “ History of the Consulate and the Empire," and M. Louis Blanc is continuing his “ History of the Revolution.' Now the latter labour is not precisely going on under the régime of " peace and silence.”

Great and worthy works have, however, been produced during the past year.

Witness Michelet's “ Richelieu et la Fronde,” which, if not history, is a truly interesting narrative; Guizot's “ Mémoires," loyal, serious, and conscientious, have been commenced ; Beaumont-Vassy has written the “ Histoire de mon Temps ;" Lanfrey has penned an “Essai sur la Révolution Française ;" Eugène Pelletan has produced two new books; we are indebted to M. de Barantès for his “Etudes Littéraires et Historiques ; Villemain has sent forth his “ Mémoires ;” and we have also had the “Mémoires de Béranger et ses Dernières Chansons.” Such have been, indeed, the chief literary productions of this year.

Among the minor, but scarcely less interesting publications, we may mention the fables of M. Pierre Lachambaudie, the songs of M. Nadaud, and M. Charles Blanc's History of the Great Exposition of Manchester. “ This fine work,” says M. Jules Janin, “is full of revelations for the ignorant among our species. It indicates to the reader all kinds of unknown lands, pictures, and paintings, with even the name of which he was before unacquainted." "Then, again, there is the story of the life and death of Marie Antoinette, written by two brothers, Edouard and Jules de Goncourt. " Who can read it without tears ?” 6. The book is an elegy, a 'complainte,' a De profundis.A very pretty romance, “ La Maison de Pénarvan,” opened the doors of the Academy to M. Jules Sandeau. M. Moleri's tales, “ Les Fièvres du Jour,” are also highly to be commended, not merely on account of their intrinsic merits, but on account of their rare morality.

M. Hippolyte Castille has published certain “ Portraits Politiques et Historiques," said to be of more than average biographical merit, and M. Claudius Saunier has published a work entitled “ Le Temps, ses divisions et ses mesures, eux époques anciennes et modernes.” A work called “ Aventures de Guerre,” by M. Moreau de Jonnès, contains a very curious chapter of old French history. The Princess Belgiojoso's “Scènes de la Vie Turque” have, with many other works above enumerated, been before noticed in our pages. M. Joseph Sue has written “Henri le Chancelier," the effect of which appears only to have been to remind people that Eugène was dead! Nor must we omit Alexandre Weill's

Histoire Juive,” M. Marmier's “Quatre Ages," and M. FrançoisVictor Hugo's “ Normandie Inconnue,” a work carefully digested in our pages. The same scion of an illustrious house is said to be engaged in a new and complete translation of the works of Shakspeare.

M. Edgard Quinet has published a complete edition of his works in ten volumes; the house of Michel Lévy has completed the “ Histoire de la Littérature Dramatique,” in six volumes ; nor must we omit to mention the “Roi Voltaire," by Arsène Houssaye, although reviewed by us, nor even “Fanny!” “O Fanny, vicieuse, attrayante, épouvantable, abominable et trop réelle créature, allons, cachez-vous, ma fille, sous toutes les toilettes, dans tous les boudoirs. Laissez-vous lire, et tâchez d'éviter les grands moralistes, les austères philosophes, les censeurs moroses, les héritiers de La Harpe et de l'Abbé Trublet.”

According to Jules Janin, the finest and most sympathetic book of the year is that which has emanated from the pen of M. de Sacy,

« Les Variétés Littéraires.” Every page is impressed with honest sentiments and perfect loyalty. It is an exquisite and delicate production, written in the tone of the seventeenth French century, and in that marvellous style which distinguished the times of La Bruyère and Madame de Sévigné.

M. Alexandre Dumas fils, one of the most successful, yet by no means most judicious, dramatic authors of the day, did not allow the year to go by without an addition to his already large list of “Dames aux Camélias, “Demi-Mondes,” “ Dianes de Lys,” and “Questions d'Argent.” The last of this clever but reprehensible series has been the history of a natural son, whose mother is abandoned by the father at the very epoch of his birth. The child grows up, and as he is without constraint or prejudices, he troubles himself very little about his father, pushes his

way in the world, and attains to such prosperity and distinction, that the father is grievously distressed at not having recognised a son who conferred so much honour on him and cost him so little. But it was too late ; the young man had made a resolve to have only a mother, and all that the father could obtain from him is to be called uncle! Small materials, and those not of the most inviting character, wherewith to make a comedy in five acts! but there is so much sparkling wit, so much movement and animation, and Rose Chéri played the mother so well, that “ Le Fils Naturel” met with nearly the same success as the author's other contributions to a lax morality and a corrupt social system.

A dramatic writer, who penned another comedy in five acts for the same theatre (Gymnase Dramatique), called “ L'Héritage de M. Plumet," met with a very different reception : the play was one of the great failures of the year. The same fate awaited “ Le Retour du Mari,” a comedy in four acts, like the two preceding in prose, and which was only played at the Théâtre-Français after a preliminary loud sound of trumpets. To repair the damage done, the inexhaustible Scribe was appealed to, and he produced "Feu Lionel, ou Qui Vivra Verra,” a light love-piece of the most gossamer materials

, the history of a brave garçon, who throws himself into the water for love, and, being rescued, is so thoroughly ashamed at having made such a fool of himself, that he never ventures into society again, till dragged there by the relenting object of his affections. Nor is this all that the veteran dramatist produced during the past year,

With the assistance of M. Legouvé, “ Les Doigts de Fée" was brought out at the Théâtre-Français, in five acts, and, after much opposition, finally succeeded in establishing itself as a favourite for six long months. Yet are the materials, as is usual with most modern French dramas, of the very slightest description. A noble girl-a demoiselle, as they used to be called-cast off by her parents, expelled from her home, poor and unprotected, succeeds in making her fortune by dint of zeal and talent; the said fortune not being a castle in the air, solely because it is an equally illusory thing—a stage fortune. M. Ernest Legouvé and M. André Thomas set to work, each in his own way, to concoct a monster, but they succeeded so badly, their monster was so ugly, unmanageable, and repulsive, that he was hissed off the stage. M. Legouvé brought out "Le Pamphlet” at the ThéâtreFrançais, and M. Thomas “Le Pamphlétaire" at the Vaudeville, and both with the same ill success. They seem, indeed, to be rather the parts contributed by two “collaborateurs” to one play, disjointed, than two separate plays. In both the “monster" is the “pamphleteer, not in the ordinary sense of the word, but in that of the vilest of mankind—the defamer, the slanderer, the calumniator. It is possible, as Horace long ago said, for high art to make a serpent pleasant to look at, and to render even a moral monstrosity supportable, but the attempt to bring so vile, so disreputable, and so repulsive a creature as the mere slanderer on the stage, met with a most signal failure.

The moral sense ever makes a wide distinction between the cowardly calumniator, the depraved, low, unprincipled assassinator of a fellowcreature's good fame, and the bad, but hearty—the corrupt, but courageous—the criminal, but clever- bandit. Hence, whilst ' “ Le Pamphlet” was driven from the boards of the Théâtre-Français, and “ Le

2 M


« ПредишнаНапред »