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I was turning rapidly in my mind how I should pump “This is no laughing matter, Geoffry," I exclaimed anthe doctor, when he asked,
grily. “ Are you going as far as Leenawn ? ”
ci 'Pon my life I know it isn't, and yet it is so exquisitely “ Yes," I replied.
absurd that I can only see it from the apex of its absurd“ Then I can take the car on to Carrig na Golliogue ?” ity,” and he burst out again. I am going to Carrig na Golliogue.'
“Will you be good enough to inform me why you He gave a short whistle, and taking a very close look at brought me here, and if I have come upon a fool's errand ? "
I burst out angrily. “You're not going to Shulawn Castle, eh ?”
“Don't fizz up that way, old man,” cried my cousin. “I really don't know where I am going to. I received a “ Have a liquor, and you shall hear it all.” telegram from a cousin of mine, asking me to come to an I adopted his suggestion. inn and”
“ The fact is, at a ball at Athlone last month I met one “I know all about it. You're Mr. Greville. I intro- of the most piquant, exquisite, fascinating, bewildering duce myself — Denis Phelim Finnerty, surgeon to the little Irish girls that ever planted a dainty foot upon a Phoul a Phouca Militia. We have the same business in four-leaved shamrock. She was stopping for a few days hand. Let us settle the preliminaries,” and Doctor Fin- with some friends who resided near the town, and in these nerty rubbed his hands briskly together, as if he was en- few days I saw as much of her as I possibly could, and in deavoring to flatten a bullet between his palms.
these few days I discovered that she possessed but one “You must really enlighten me,” I said.
fault namely, a heap of romance laid on at the highest “ You are new to the business. Are you prepared to possible pressure. In fact she is a Lydia Languish, Anno act, sir, without seeing your principal? I am.”
Domini 187– Eh bien, mon brave, I followed her to her “ Before I reply to your question, I should wish to hear mountain home, and put up at this sumptuous and palatial your version of the story.”
hostelry ; I asked permission to make myself known to her This was to ascertain the exact state of things from his father, a splendid Irish Sir Anthony Absolute, but she point of view.
would not have me meet him for worlds. Our interviews “ You are welcome to it, sir. Your man has been sent were all mysteriously secret, and stolen, as if our respeca message. No gentleman wearing the Queen's scarlet can tive lives were to pay the forfeit of discovery. One day we refuse to meet another, when that other is his equal." met under the shadow of a clump of turf - this is a very “ Granted. And may I ask who has sent him this mes- open country; another day behind the solitary tree in the
barony — always accompanied though by an abigail — till “ The lady's father, sir, her natural and lawful'protector." one unlucky afternoon, last Thursday, by Jove i Sir An
“ Father! Can it be possible that my cousin is going to thony, who was returning from shooting, dropped upon us fight an old man ?”
just as I had asked her to be my wife, and was sealing the " He is bound to fight her grandfather if necessary. delicious • Yes' in the stereotyped and orthodox manner ; He'll be horsewhipped in his barrack-square if he shows
and then, mon cher, there was a shine. He wanted to shoot the white feather. Here's Leenawn, sir,” and the doctor me then and there, but kindly postponed it until you aralighted from the car on to the steps of the hotel, with the rived. He sent me a hostile message through a wiry little agility that laughed in the teeth of gout or rheumatism. doctor, who seems anxious to have blood at any price, true
Here was a pretty situation of affairs. My cousin Geof- to the instincts of his profession. This little gallipot warfry involved in a duel with some elderly gentleman, in rior has departed for Westport, for his barking irons,' whose ashes glowed their wonted fires. But why or where- and this is the state of the poll for you, and isn't it an exfore? Geoffry, with all his careless ways, was incapable quisite piece of fooling? of doing a dishonorable act. Of this I felt thoroughly as- “ Is this gentleman a lunatic ?” I asked. sured; yet that there must have been grave, painfully
“ Not quite." grave offense given to provoke this ultimatum there could " Is he a person of position ? " be no possibility of doubt. Doctor Finnerty had evidently “ As good as any in the County Galway, or any other assumed that I was proceeding to Carrig na Golliogue for county.' the purpose of acting as second to my cousin ; and it was “ Did you offer any explanation ?” now painfully apparent to me that my kinsman required “ As long as the road from this to Westport. I could my services in this very unenviable capacity, and hence have sold it by mile. Of course I couldn't say that it was his telegram.
his daughter's fault.” When the belligerent physician rejoined me, a strong
" And he won't listen to reason ? " aroma of whiskey punch emanating from his person, he in- “ He'll listen to nobody but his medical adviser, and stantly repeated his inquiry as to my power to act in the that gentleman, as I have already told you, will have nothabsence of my principal. I infornied him that as yet I had ing short of blood.” not been informed by my cousin of the nature of the con- * And what is this hot-headed, foolish, unchristian-like trelemps, and that I would be glad to be more fully posted old man's name?” I asked in thorough disgust. up in the matter.
“In the first place,” responded my kinsman, “he is not “ Your cousin will post you up, sir, I'll go bail. Talk old, mark that I and in the second place, he is not unof the weather. There will be snow before morning," and christian-like, as he is the most charitable man in this or rolling the collar of his cloak over his ears, he spoke no
any other district." other word until we jerked up opposite a long straggling
« But his name - what is his name?" building, situated on the side of the road, which proved to “ His name is Myles Maurice Carew.” be the hostelry to which I had been so mysteriously and “What!” I exclaimed, bounding to my feet ; " is it unexpectedly summoned.
Myles Carew formerly of the Blue Dragoons ? I was ushered into a dingy apartment, redolent of the “The same man; but what is the meaning of this ? Do perfume of damp turf. Upon inquiring for Mr. Greville,
you know him?" I was informed by a young lady in bare feet that he was “ Do I know him I why, he was my father's most intimate “convaynient." This young lady commiserated my con- friend, although much his junior." dition by such exclamations as “ Och wirra! but ye must “ By Jove! I often beard my father speak of him, now be kilt wud the cowld. What brought ye out, ye crayture,
mention it. Hip! hooray!”
Of course I interviewed Myles Carew in his stronghold My gay and festive cousin greeted me with considerable at Carrig na Golliogue. warmth, and upon my gravely questioning him as to the Of course I arranged the preliminaries, not of a duel, dilemma into which he had plunged bimself
, to my irrita- but of a meeting between his romantic daughter and my tion and astonishment he burst out laughing.
BY LESLIE STEPHEN.
core selon nous.
Of course we enjoyed ourselves to our heart's content. the great Scotchman. With all these points of resemblance I believe that I found the Irish whiskey too much for me, between the men, it is astonishing that their work should but this is irrelevant. Doctor Finnerty came out like a
be so different. The fact is, that the English novel was hero, and narrated his duelling experiences with all the looking one way and seeking one set of effects in the hands gusto of a man who had stood his ground in the fifteen of Fielding; and in the hands of Scott it was looking acres; but inside of this line of fire, his heart was big, and eagerly in all ways and searching for all the effects that by in the right place.
any possibility it could utilize. The difference between I did not leave Carrig na Golliogue for a fortnight
I these two men marks a great enfranchisement. With Scott wish that I was there now.
the Romantic movement, the movement of an extended
curiosity and an enfranchised imagination, has begun. This I have just received a note from Mr. Geoffry Greville, is a trite thing to say ; but trite things are often
infrom Gibraltar. It refers to the sponsorship of a little definitely comprehended : and this enfranchisement, in as lady in whose career I am supposed to take a special inter- far as it regards the technical change that came over
modern prose romance, has never perhaps been explained Heigh ho! I envy Geoffry, but I will take another sum- with any clearness. mer out of myself for all that.
To do so, it will be necessary roughly to compare the two sets of conventions upon which plays and romances are respectively based. The purposes of these two arts
are so much alike, and they deal so much with the same VICTOR HUGO'S ROMANCES.
passions and interests, that we are apt to forget the fundamental opposition of their methods. And yet such a fun
damental opposition exists. In the drama the action is Après le roman pittoresque mais prosaïque de Walter Scott developed in great measure by means of things that reil restera un autre roman à créer, plus beau et plus complet en- main outside of the art; by means of real things, that is,
C'est le roman, à la fois drame et épopée, and not artistic conventions for things. This is a sort of pittoresque mais poétique, réel mais idéal, vrai mais grand, realism, that is not to be confounded with that realism in qui enchâssera Walter Scott dans Homère. — Victor Hugo on
painting of which we hear so much. The realism in paintQuentin Durward.
ing is a thing of purposes; this, that we have to indicate Victor Hugo's romances occupy an important position in the drama, is an affair of method. We have heard a in the history of literature; many innovations, timidly made story, indeed, of a painter in France who, when he wanted elsewhere, have in them been carried boldly out to their to paint a sea-beach, carried realism from his ends to his last consequences; much that was indefinite in literary means and plastered real sand upon his canvas; and that tendencies has attained to definite maturity; many things is precisely what is done in the drama. The dramatic have come to a point and been distinguished one from the author has to paint his beaches with real sand: real live other ; and it is only in the last romance of all, “ Quatre man and women move about the stage; we hear real voices; Vingt Treize,” that this culmination is most perfect. This what is feigned merely puts an edge upon what is ; we do is in the nature of things. Men who are in any way typi- actually see a woman go behind a screen as Lady Teazle, cal of a stage of progress may be compared more justly to and, after a certain interval, we do actually see her very the hand upon the dial of the clock, which continues to ad- shamefully produced again. Now all these things, that vance as it indicates, than to the stationary mile-stone, remain as they were in life, and are not transmuted into which is only the measure of what is past. The movement any artistic convention, are terribly stubborn and difficult is not arrested. That significant something by which the to deal with ; and hence there are for the dramatist many work of such a man differs from that of his predecessors resultant limitations in time and space. These limitations goes on disengaging itself and becoming more and more in some sort approximate towards those of painting : the articulate and cognizable. The same principle of growth, dramatic author is tied down, not indeed to a moment, but that carried his first book beyond the books of previous to the duration of each scene or act; he is confined to the writers, carries his last book beyond his first. And just as stage, almost as the painter is confined within his frame. the most imbecile production of any literary age gives us But the great restriction is this, that a dramatic author sometimes the very clue to comprehension we have sought must deal with his actors, and with his actors alone. Cerlong and vainly in contemporary masterpieces, so it may be tain moments of suspense, certain significant dispositions the very weakest of an author's books that, coming in the of personages, a certain logical advance of fable, these are sequel of many others, enables us at last to get hold of the only means at the disposal of the playwright. It is what underlies the whole of them, of that spinal marrow true that, with the assistance of the scene-painter, the of significance that unites the work of his life into some- costumier, and the conductor of the orchestra, he may add thing organic and rational. This is what has been done to this something of pageant, something of sound and fury; by “Quatre Vingt Treize" for the earlier romances of but these are, for the dramatic writer, beside the mark, Victor Hugo, and through them for a whole division of and do not come under the vivifying touch of his genius. modern literature. We have here the legitimate continua- When we turn to romance, we find this no longer. Here tion of a long and living literary tradition; and hence, so nothing is reproduced to our senses directly. Not only far, its explanation. When many lines diverge from each the main conception of the work, but the scenery, the apother in direction so slightly as to confuse the eye, we know pliances, the mechanism by which this conception is brought that we have only to produce them to make the chaos home to us, have been put through the crucible of another plain: this is continually so in literary history; and we man's mind, and come out again, one and all, in the form sball best understand the importance of Victor Hugo's of written words. With the loss of every degree of such romances if we think of them as some such prolongation of realism as we have described, there is for art a clear gain one of the main lines of literary tendency.
of liberty and largeness of competence. Thus, painting, in
which the round outlines of things are thrown on to a flat When we compare the novels of Walter Scott with those board, is far more free than sculpture, in which their solidof the man of genius who preceded him, and whom he deity is preserved. It is by giving up these childish identilighted to honor as a master in the art, - I mean Henry ties that art gains true strength. And so in the case of Fielding, we shall be somewhat puzzled, at the first novels as compared with the stage. Continuous narration moment, to explain the difference that there is between is the flat board on to which the novelist throws everything. these two. Fielding has as much human science; has a And from this, there results for him a great loss of vividfar firmer hold upon the tiller of his story; has a keen ness, but a great compensating gain in his power over the sense of character, which he draws (and Scott often does subject ; so that he can now subordinate one thing to 80 too) in a rather abstract and academical manner; and another in importance, and introduce all manner of very finally, is quite as humorous and quite as good-humored as subtle detail, to a degree that was before impossible. He
can render just as easily the flourish of trumpets before a some day there will be found the man of science to stand victorious emperor and the gossip of country market women, up and give the explanation. Scott took an interest in the gradual decay of forty years of a man's life and the many things in which Fielding took none; and for this gesture of a passionate moment. He finds himself equally reason, and no other, he introduced them into his romances. unable, if he looks at it from one point of view, - equally If he had been told what would be the nature of the moveable, if he looks at it from another point of view,- to re- ment that he was so lightly initiating, he would have been produce a color, a sound, an outline, a logical argument, a very incredulous and not a little scandalized. At the time physical action. He can show his readers, behind and when he wrote, the real drift of this new manner of pleasaround the personages that for the moment occupy the ing people in fiction was not yet apparent; and, even now, foreground of bis story, the continual suggestion of the it is only by looking at the romances of Victor Hugo that landscape; the turn of the weather that will turn with it we are enabled to form any proper judgment in the matmen's lives and fortunes, dimly foreshadowed on the hori. These books are not only descended by ordinary zon; the fatality of distant events, the stream of national generation from the Waverley novels, but it is in them tendency, the grand salient framework of causation. And chiefly that we shall find the revolutionary tradition of all this thrown upon the flat board — all this entering nat- Scott carried further; that we shall find Scott himself, in urally and smoothly into the texture of continuous, intelli- so far as regards his conception of prose fiction and its gent narration.
purposes, surpassed in his own spirit, instead of tamely This touches the difference between Fielding and Scott. followed. We have here, as I said before, a line of literary In the work of the latter, true to his character of a modern tendency produced, and by thisio production definitely and a romantic, we become suddenly conscious of the back- separated from others. When we come to Hugo, we see ground. Fielding, on the other hand, although he had that the deviation, which seemed slight enough and not recognized that the novel was nothing else than an epic in very serious between Scott and Fielding, is indeed such a prose, wrote in the spirit not of the epic, but of the drama. great gulf in thought and sentiment as only successive This is not, of course, to say that the drama was in any generations can pass over; and it is but natural that one way incapable of a regeneration similar in kind to that of of the great advances that Hugo has made upon Scott is an which I am now speaking with regard to the novel. The advance in self-consciousness. Both men follow the same notorious contrary fact is sufficient to guard the reader road; but where the one went blindly and carelessly, the against such a misconstruction. All that is meant is, other advances with all deliberation and forethought. that Fielding remained ignorant of certain capabilities There never was artist much more unconscious than Scott; which the novel possesses over the drama; or, at least, and there have been not many more conscious than Hugo. neglected and did not develop them. To the end he con- The passage at the head of these pages shows how organitinued to see things as a playwright sees them. The world cally he had understood the nature of his own changes. with which he dealt, the world he had realized for bimself He has, underlying each of the five great romances (which and sought to realize and set before his readers, was a alone we purpose here to examine), two deliberate designs: world of exclusively human interest. As for landscape be one artistic, the other consciously ethical and intellectual. was content to underline stage directions, as it might be This is a man living in a different world from Scott, who done in a play-book : Tom and Molly retire into a prac- professes sturdily (in one of his introductions) that he does ticable wood. As for nationality and public sentiment, it not believe in novels having any moral influence at all ; is curious enough to think that Tom Jones is laid in the but still Hugo is too much of an artist to let himself be year forty-five, and that the only use he makes of the re- hampered by his dogmas ; and the truth is that the artistic bellion is to throw a troop of soldiers into his hero's way. result seems, in at least one great instance, to bave very It is most really important, however, to notice the change | little connection with the other, or directly ethical result. which has been introduced into the conception of character The artistic result of a romance, what is left upon the by the beginning of the romantic movement and the con- memory by any really powerful and artistic novel, is somesequent introduction into fiction of a vast amount of new thing so complicated and refined that it is difficult to put a material. Fielding tells us as much as he thought necessary name upon it; and yet something as simple as nature. to account for the actions of his creatures ; he thought that These two propositions may seem mutually destructive, but each of these actions could be decomposed on the spot into they are so only in appearance. The fact is that art is a few simple personal elements, as we decompose a force working far ahead of language as well as of science, realizin a question of perfectly abstract dynamics. The larger ing for us, by all manner of suggestions and exaggerations, motives are all unknown to him ; he had not understood effects for which as yet we have no direct name; nay, for that the configuration of the landscape or the fashion of the which we may never perhaps have a direct name, for the times could be for anything in a story: and so, naturally reason that these effects do not enter very largely into the and rightly, he said nothing about them. But Scott's in- necessities of life. Hence alone is that suspicion of vaguestinct, the instinct of the man of an age profoundly dif- ness that often hangs about the purpose of a romance; it ferent, taught him otherwise; and, in his work, the indi- is clear enough to us in thought; but we are not used to vidual characters begin to occupy a comparatively small consider anything clear until we are able to formulate it in proportion of that canvas on which armies manœuvre, and words, and analytical language has not been sufficiently great bills pile themselves upon each other's shoulders. shaped to that end. We all know this difficulty in the Fielding's characters were always great to the full stature case of a picture, simple and strong as may be the impresof a perfectly arbitrary will. Already in Scott we begin
sion that it has left with us; and it is only because lanto have a sense of the subtle influences that moderate and
guage is the medium of romance, that we are prevented qualify a man's personality; that personality is no longer from seeing that the two cases are the same. It is not that thrown out in unnatural isolation, but is resumed into its
there is anything blurred or indefinite in the impression place in the constitution of things.
left with us, it is just because the impression is so very It is this change in the manner of regarding men and definite after its own kind, that we find it hard to fit it extheir actions, first exhibited in romance, that has since actly with the expressions of our philosophical speech. renewed and vivified history. For art precedes pbilosophy It is this idea which underlies and issues from a romance, and even science. People must have noticed things and this something which it is the function of that form of art interested themselves in them, before they begin to debate to create, this epical value, that I propose chiefly to seek, upon their causes or influence. And it is in this way that and, as far as may be, to throw into relief, in the present art is the pioneer of knowledge; those predilections of the study. It is thus, I believe, that we shall see most clearly artist he knows not why, those irrational acceptations and the great stride that Hugo has taken beyond bis predecesrecognitions, reclaim, out of the world that we have not yet sors, and how, no longer content with expressing more or realized, ever another and another corner ; and after the less abstract relations of man to man, he has set before facts have been thus vividly brought before us, and have himself the task of realizing, in the language of romance, had time to settle and arrange themselves in our minds, much of the involution of our complicated lives.
This epical value is not to be found, let it be understood, ters, Dom Claude and Quasimodo, the chill shelter of the in every so-called novel. The great majority are not works old cathedral. It is here that we touch most intimately the of art in anything but a very secondary signification. One generative, artistic idea of the romance : are they not all might almost number on one's fingers the works in which four taken out of some quaint moulding, illustrative of the such a supreme artistic intention has been in any way su- Beatitudes, or the Ten Commandments, or the seven deadly perior to the other and lesser aims, themselves more or less sins ? What is Quasimodo but an animated gargoyle ? artistic, that generally go hand in hand with it in the con- What is the whole book but the reanimation of Gothic art ? ception of prose romance. The purely critical spirit is, in It is curious that in this, the earliest of the five great romost novels, paramount. At the present moment we can mances, there should be so little of that extravagance that recall one man only, for whose works it would have been latterly we have come almost to identify with the author's equally possible to accomplish our present design: and that manner. There is much melodrama indeed. The scene of man is Hawthorne. There is a unity, an unwavering crea- the in-pace, for example, in spite of its strength, verges tive purpose, about some at least of Hawthorne's romances, dangerously on the province of the penny novelist. But that impresses itself on the most indifferent reader ; and for all that, there is little of the wilfully impossible. Still, the very restrictions and weaknesses of the man served even here, there are false notes. I do not believe that perhaps to strengthen the vivid and single impression of Quasimodo rode upon the bell ; I should as soon imagine his works. There is nothing of this kind in Hugo : unity, that he swung by the clapper. And again, the following if he attains to it, is indeed unity out of multitude; and it two sentences, out of an otherwise admirable chapter, is the wonderful power of subordination and synthesis thus surely surpass what it has ever entered into the heart of displayed, that gives us the measure of his genius. No any other man to imagine: “Il souffrait tant que par inamount of mere discussion and statement, such as this, stants il s'arrachait des poignées de cheveux, pour voir could give a just conception of the greatness of this power. s'ils ne blanchissaient pas" (vol. ii. p. 180). And,“ Ses It must be felt in the books themselves, and all that can be pensées étaient si insupportables qu'il prenait sa tête à done in the present essay is to recall to the reader the more deux mains et tâchait de l'arracher de ses épaules pour la general features of each of the five great romances, hurriedly briser sur le pavé” (p. 181). and imperfectly, as space will permit, and rather as a sugges- One other fault, before we pass on. In spite of the hortion than anything more complete.
ror and misery that pervade all of his later work, there is
in it much less of actual melodrama than here, and rarely, The moral end that the author had before him in the I should say never, that sort of brutality, that useless, inconception of Notre Dame de Paris " was (he tells us) to sufferable violence to the feelings, which is the last distinc"denounce" the external fatality that hangs over men in tion between melodrama and true tragedy. Now, in “ Notre the form of foolish and inflexible superstition. To speak Dame," the whole story of Esmeralda's passion for the plainly, this moral purpose seems to have mighty little to worthless archer is unpleasant enough; but when she bedo with the artistic conception : moreover it is very ques- trays herself in her last hiding-place, herself and her tionably handled, while the artistic conception is developed wretched mother, by calling out to this sordid hero who with the most consummate success. Old Paris lives for has long since forgotten her well, that is just one of these us with newness of life: we have ever before our eyes the things that readers will not forgive; they do not like it, city cut into three by the two arms of the river, the and they are quite right; life is hard enough for poor morboat-shaped island“ moored” by five bridges to the dif- tals, without having it indefinitely embittered for them by ferent shores, and the two unequal towns on either hand. We forget all that enumeration of palaces and churches and convents which occupies so many pages of admirable We look in vain for any similar blemish in “ Les Midescription, and the thoughtless reader might be inclined sérables.” Here, on the other hand, there is perhaps the to conclude from this that they were pages thrown away ; nearest approach to literary restraint that Hugo has ever but this is not so: we forget, indeed, the details, as we for- made : there is here certainly the ripest and most easy deget or do not see the different layers of paint on a com- velopment of his powers. It is the moral intention of this pleted picture; but the thing desired has been accom- great novel to waken us a little, if it may be, · for such plished, and we carry away with us a sense of the " Gothic awakenings are unpleasant, — to the great cost of this soprofile” of the city, of the surprising forest of pinnacles ciety that we enjoy and profit by, to the labor and sweat of and towers and belfries," and we know not what of rich those who support the litter, civilization, in which we ourand intricate and quaint. And throughout, Notre Dame selves are so smoothly carried forward. People are all has been held up over Paris by a height far greater than glad to shut their eyes; and it gives them a very simple that of its twin towers: the Cathedral is present to us from pleasure when they can forget that our laws commit a millphe first page to the last; the title bas given us the clue, ion individual injustices, to be once roughly just in the and already in the Palace of Justice the story begins to general; that the bread that we eat, and the quiet of the attach itself to that central building by character after family, and all that embellishes life and makes it worth character. It is purely an effect of mirage ; Notre Dame having, have to be purchased by death — by the deaths of does not, in reality, thus dominate and stand out above the animals, and the deaths of men wearied out with labor, and city; and any one who should visit it, in the spirit of the the deaths of those criminals called tyrants and revolutionScott-tourists to Edinburgh or the Trossachs, would be al- aries, and the deaths of those revolutionaries called crimi. most affronted at finding nothing more than this old church nals. It is to something of all this that Victor Hugo wishes thrust away into a corner. It is purely an effect of mirage, to open men's eyes in * Les Misérables ;” and this moral as we say, but it is an effect that permeates and possesses lesson is worked out in masterly coincidence with the artisthe whole book with astonishing consistency and strength. tic effect. The deadly weight of civilization to those who And then, Hugo has peopled this Gothic city, and, above all, are below presses sensibly on our shoulders as we read. this Gothic church, with a race of men even more distinc- A sort of mocking indignation grows upon us as we find tively Gothic than their surroundings. We know this gen- society rejecting, again and again, the services of the most eration already : we have seen them clustered about the serviceable; setting Jean Valjean to pick oakum, casting worn capitals of pillars, or craning forth over the church Galileo into prison, crucifying Christ. There is a hauntleads with the open mouths of gargoyles
. About them all, ing and horrible sense of insecurity about the book. The there is that sort of stiff, quaint unreality, that conjunction terror we thus feel is a terror for the machinery of law, that of the grotesque, and even of a certain bourgeois gnugness we can hear in the dark, tearing good and bad between its with passionate contortion and horror, that is so character- formidable wheels with the blind stolidity of all machinery, istic of Gothic art. Esmeralda is somewhat an exception ;
human or divine. This terror incarnates itself sometimes she and the goat traverse the story like two children who and leaps horribly out upon us; as when the crouching bave wandered in a dream. The finest moment of the book mendicant looks up, and Jean Valjean, in the light of the is when these two share with the two other leading charac- street lamp, recognizes the face of the detective; as when
the lantern of the patrol flashes suddenly through the "a conspiracy of the indifferency of things" is against darkness of the sewer; or as when the fugitive comes forth him. There is not one interest on the reef, but two. Just at last at evening, by the quiet riverside, and finds the po- as we recognize Gilliat for the hero, we recognize, as imlice there also, waiting stolidly for vice and stolidly satis- plied by this indifferency of things, this direction of forces fied to take virtue instead. The whole book is full of op- to some purpose outside our purposes, yet another charpression, and full of prejudice, which is the great means of acter who may almost take rank as the villain of the novel, oppression. We have the prejudices of M. Gillenormand, and the two face up to one another blow for blow, feint the prejudices of Marius, the prejudices in revolt that de- for feint, until, in the storm, they fight it epically out, and fend the barricade, and the throned prejudices that carry Gilliat remains the victor; a victor, however, who bas it by storm. And then we have the admirable conception still to encounter the octopus. I need say nothing of the of Javert, the man who had made a religion of the police, gruesome, repulsive excellence of that famous scene; it and would not survive the moment when he learned that will be enough to remind the reader that Gilliat is in purthere was another truth outside the truth of laws; a melan- suit of a crab when he is himself assaulted by the devilcholy and a very just creation, over which the reader will fish, and that this, in its way, is the last touch to the inner do well to ponder.
significance of the book; here, indeed, is the true position With so gloomy a design this great work is still full of of man in the universe. life and light and love. The portrait of the good Bishop But in “Les Travailleurs," with all its strength, with all is one of the most agreeable things in modern literature. its eloquence, with all the beauty and fitness of its main The whole scene at Montfermeil is full of the charm that situations, we cannot conceal from ourselves that there is Hugo knows so well how to throw about children. Who a thread of something that will not bear calm scrutiny. can forget the passage where Cosette, sent out at night to There is much that is disquieting about the storm, admidraw water, stands in admiration before the illuminated | rably as it begins. I am very doubtful if it would be posbooth, and the huckster behind “lui faisait un peu l'effet sible to keep the boat from foundering in such circumd'être le Père éternel”? The pathos of the forlorn sabot stances, by any amount of breakwater and broken rock. laid trustingly by the chimney, in expectation of the Santa I do not understand the way in which the waves are Claus that was not, takes us fairly by the throat; there is spoken of, and prefer just to take it as a loose way of nothing in Shakespeare that touches the heart more nearly speaking, and pass on. And lastly, how does it happen The loves of Cosette and Marius are very pure and pleas- that the sea was quite calm next day? Is this great hurant, and we cannot refuse our affection to Gavroche, al- ricane a piece of scene-painting after all? And when we though we may make a mental reservation of our profound have forgiven Gilliat's prodigies of strength (although, in disbelief in his existence. Take it for all in all, there is soberness, he reminds us more of Porthos in the “ Vicomte no book in the world that can be compared with it. There de Bragelonne" than is quite desirable) what is to be said is as much calm and serenity as Hugo has ever attained to his suicide, and how are we to condemn in adequate to; the melodramatic coarsenesses that disfigured “ Notre terms that unprincipled avidity after effect, which tells us Dame” are no longer present. There is certainly much that the sloop disappeared over the horizon and the head that is painfully improbable; and again, the story itself is under the water, at one and the same moment ? Monsieur a little too well constructed; it produces on us the effect Hugo may say what he will, but we know better ; we of a puzzle, and we grow incredulous as we find that every
very well that they did not; a thing like that raises character fits in again and again into the plot, and is, like up a despairing spirit of opposition in a man's readers; the child's cube, serviceable on six faces; things are not they give him the lie fiercely, as they read. Lastly, we so well arranged in life as all that comes to. Some of have here, already, some beginning of that curious series the digressions also seem out of place, and do nothing but of English blunders that makes us wonder if there are interrupt and irritate. But when all is said, the book neither proof-sheets nor judicious friends in the whole of remains of masterly conception and of masterly develop- France, and affects us sometimes with a sickening uneasiment, full of pathos, full of truth, full of a high eloquence. ness as to what may be our own exploits when we touch
upon foreign countries and foreign tongues. It is here Superstition and social exigency having been thus dealt that we shall find the famous “first of the fourth," and with in the first two members of the series, it remained many English words that may be comprehensible perhaps for “Les Travailleurs de la Mer" to show man hand to in Paris. It is here that we learn that "laird” in Scothand with the elements, the last form of external force land is the same title as “lord” in England. Here, also, that is brought against him. And here once more the is an account of a Highland soldier's equipment, which we artistic effect and the moral lesson are worked out to- recommend to the lovers of genuine fun. gether, and are, indeed, one. Gilliat, alone upon the reef In “L'Homme qui Rit,” it was Hugo's object to " deat his herculean task, offers a type of human industry in nounce” (as he would say himself) the aristocratic princithe midst of the vague “diffusion of forces into the illim- ple, as it was exhibited in England; and this purpose, itable," and the visionary development of “wasted labor.” somewhat more unmitigatedly satiric than that of the two in the sea, and the winds, and the clouds. No character last, must answer for much that is unpleasant in the book. was ever thrown into such strange relief as Gilliat. The The repulsiveness of the scheme of the story, and the great circle of sea-birds that come wonderingly around him manner in which it is bound up with impossibilities and on the night of his arrival strikes at once the note of his absurdities, discourage the reader at the outset, and it preeminence and isolation. He fills the whole reef with needs an effort to take it as seriously as it deserves. And his indefatigable toil; this solitary spot in the ocean rings yet when we judge it deliberately, it will be seen that, here with the clamor of his anvil; we see him as he comes and again, the story is admirably adapted to the moral. The goes, thrown out sharply against the clear background of constructive ingenuity exhibited throughout is almost mor
And yet his isolation is not to be compared with bid. Nothing could be more happily imagined, as a reductio the isolation of Robinson Crusoe, for example; indeed, no ad absurdum of the aristocratic principle, than the adventtwo books could be more instructive to set side by side ures of Gwynplaine, the itinerant mountebank, snatched than “ Les Travailleurs ” and this other of the old days suddenly out of his little way of life, and installed without before art had learned to occupy itself with aught that lies preparation as one of the hereditary legislators of a great outside of human will. Crusoe was one sole centre of in- country. It is with a very bitter irony that the paper, on terest in the midst of a nature utterly dead and utterly which all this depends, is left to float for years at the will unrealized by the artist; but this is not how we feel with of wind and tide. What, again, can be finer in conception Gilliat; we feel that he is opposed by a “dark coalition of than that voice from the people heard suddenly in the forces," that an “immense animosity” surrounds him; we House of Lords, in solemn arraignment of the pleasures are the witnesses of the terrible warfare that he wages and privileges of its splendid occupants? The horrible with “the silent inclemency of phenomena going their own laughter, stamped forever “ by order of the king " upon way, and the great general law, implacable and passive: the face of this strange spokesman of democracy, adds yet