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' Berghems, but Mr. Borthrop Trumbull had a kindly liquid in his veins: he was an admirer by nature, and would have liked to have the universe under his hammer, feeling that it would go at a higher figure for his recommendation."
We have him under the doctor's hands :
“Mr. Trumbull was a robust man, a good subject for trying the expectant theory upon — watching the course of an interesting disease when left as much as possible to itself, so that the stages might be noted for future guidance; and, from the air with which he described his sensations, Lydgate surmised that he would like to be taken into his medical man's confidence, and be represented as a partner in his own cure. The auctioneer heard, without much surprise, that his was a constitution which (always with due watching) might be left to itself, so as to offer a beautiful example of a disease with all its phases seen in clear delineation, and that he probably had the rare strength of mind voluntarily to become the test of a rational procedure, and thus make the disorder of his pulmonary functions a general benefit to society.
"Mr. Trumbull acquiesced at once, and entered strongly into the view that an illness of his was no ordinary occasion for medical science.
"Never fear, sir ; you are not speaking to one who is altogether ignorant of the vis medicatrix,' said he, with his usual superiority of expression, made rather pathetic by difficulty of breathing. And he went without shrinking through his abstinence from drugs, much sustained by application of the thermometer which implied the importance of his temperature, by the sense that he furnished objects for the microscope, and by learning many new words which seemed suited to the dignity of his secretions."
Further on, we have him in his glory, though the immediate subject of his eloquence is only a book of riddles: “No less than five hundred printed in a beautiful red. Gentlemen, if I had less of a conscience, I should not wish you to bid high for this lot — I have a longing for it myself. · What can promote innocent mirth, and I may say virtue, more than a good riddle? It hinders profane language, and attaches a man to the society of refined females. This ingenious article itself, without the elegant domino-box, card-basket, etc., ought alone to give a high price to the lot. Carried in the pocket, it might make an individual welcome in any society. Four shillings, sir? four shillings for this remarkable collection of riddles, with the et ceteras. Here is a sample:—How must you spell honey to make it catch lady-birds? Answer — money.' You hear? - lady-birdshoney — money. This is an amusement to sharpen the iniellect: it has a sting - it is what we call satire, and wit without indecency."
The lot was “finally knocked down at a guinea to Mr. Spilkins, a young Slender of the neighborhood.” How many who read this will remember that Slender when anxious to make himself agreeable to Anne Page, asks his man Simple if he has The Book of Riddles about him, and learns that it has unluckily been lent to Alice Shortcake?
But these are broadly marked characters, to be drawn with a bold outline. And yet she is equally at home with those dim twilight in
tellects, so exasperating to the logical mind, whose ideas are but a confused groping in a mist, and whose inferences are drawn in ways that there is no finding out. Take, for example, the gossip at the public house about Mr. Lydgate's medical skill:—“Mrs. Dollop became more and more convinced by her own asseveration that Doctor Lydgate meant to let the people die in the hospital, if not to poison them, for the sake of cutting them up without saying by your leave or with your leave; for it was a known 'fac' that he had wanted to cut up Mrs. Goby, as respectable a woman as any in Parley Street, who had money in trust before her marriage - a poor tale for a doctor, who, if he was good for anything, should know what was the matter with you before you died, and not want to pry into your inside after you were gone. If that was not reason, Mrs. Dollop wished to know what was; but there was a prevalent feeling in her audience that her opinion was a bulwark, and that if it were overthrown there would be no limit to the cutting-up of bodies.” How finely is the mere rumor that he wanted to cut up Mrs. Goby, strengthened to authentic fact by her having had “money in trust before her marriage.”
Or the same lady's appraisal of Mr. Bulstrode :-“As I said when Mr. Baldwin the tax-gatherer comes in, a-standing where you sit, and says, “ Bulstrode got all his money as he brought into this town by thieving and swindling'- I said, "You don't make me no wiser, Mr. Baldwin. It's set my blood a-creeping to look at him ever sin' here he came into Slaughter Lane a-wanting to buy the house over my head. Folks don't look the color o'the dough-tub, and stare at you as if they wanted to see into your backbone for nothingk.' That was what I said, and Mr. Baldwin can bear me witness.
"And this Doctor Lydgate that's been for cutting up everybody before the breath was well out of their body — it's plain enough what use he wanted to make o’looking into respectable people's insides. He knows drugs, you may be sure, as you can neither smell nor see, neither before ihey're swallowed nor after. Why I've seen drops myself as made no difference whether they was in the glass or out, and yet have griped you the next day. So I'll leave your own sense to judge. Don't tell me!”
On an intellectual plane one grade higher are the voracious Featherstone brood, who have settled like a flock of buzzards in the house where their rich brother lies dying, with his testamentary dispositions unknown. Every one of these has his character given, from the dismal unctuous Mrs. Waule, and the more openly greedy Solomon, down to the stupid young Cranch ; while all are generalised with a scientific precision, in a paragraph ending -“In fact there was a general sense running in the Featherstone blood, that everybody must watch everybody else, and that it would be well for everybody else to reflect that the Almighty was watching him."
Pass again from these to kindly, honorable, wisely.simple Caleb Garth, who found thoughts so abundant and words so scarce ; to his faithful, shrewd wife, with her bit of pride in her superior knowledge of grammar and geography, and who can lay down sound views about nouns and pronouns to her children, while she wields the rolling-pin; to the thoroughly healthy and lovable nature of Mary Garth, with her sentiment tempered by epigrammatic common sense, that gives her an undercurrent of quiet amusement in all she sees. It is not until we have looked at the various types (of which we have touched but a few) and seen how they are analysed and shown to us living and thinking, that we get a perception of the breadth and penetration of George Eliot's powers.
Middlemarch seems to our mind to mark the furthest point of removal that has yet been reached by the novel from its starting-point. At first it was simply a story of incident - of heroic or erotic adventure, in which the interest centred in the calamities or successes that befell the puppets of the story, the perils that environed them, or the marvels they saw; and not in the personages as crushed by the calamity or striving with the peril. If there were any ethical purpose, it was that simple one for which Photius so highly praises Antonius Diogenes, that in his story “the evil-doer, though he may seem again and again to escape, is brought finally to suffer just penalties; and the innocent, though thrown into great peril, are brought out safe and sound at last."
In Middlemarch the incidents are nothing except for their effect on character. One or two ill-sorted marriages, the loss of an expected legacy, omission of a direction to a nurse, are shown to be events upon which the whole tragedy of a soul may turn, and so of infinite moment. And instead of preserving absolute impersonality, except in the way of pointing a general moral, the author goes with us every step of the way, admiring, pitying, judging, excusing, as sympathising and as amused as we are ourselves with her little living world. No writer that we know of has carried this sympathy so far as George Eliot; and this with her extraordinary creative genius, her insight, and her wonderful mastery of expression, entitles this book to rank with the masterpieces of fiction.
W. H. B.
The Philosophy of Art. By H. Taine. Translated by J. Durand,
New York: Holt & Williams. 1873. This little book, while properly forming an introduction to the author's essays and lectures on the fine arts, may be considered an introductory chapter to all his works, for in it he points out the direction that his criticism takes, and the general laws that underlie all his views of æsthetics.
He here explains how each work of art must be studied as a portion of three aggregates: the entire production of the individual artist; the school to which he belongs; and contemporary society generally — since these together give all the conditions which determine its existence and character. The object of Art is next studied; and a result arrived at by a series of inductions which we will sum up in the author's own words:
“We have now arrived at a definition of a work of art. for a moment, cast our eyes backward, and review the road we have passed over. We have, by degrees, arrived at a conception of art more and more elevated, and consequently more and more exact. At
first we thought that the object of art was to imitate sensible appearances. Then separating material from intellectual imitation, we found that what it desired to reproduce in sensible appearances is the relationships of parts. Finally, remarking that relationships are, and ought to be, modified in order to obtain the highest results of art, we proved that if we study the relationships of parts it is to make predominant an essential character. No one of these definitions destroys its antecedent, but each corrects and defines it. We are consequently able now to combine them, and by subordinating the inferior to the superior, thus to sum up the result of our labor :-“The end of a work of art is to manifest some essential or salient character, consequently some important idea, clearer and more completely than is attainable from real objects. Art accomplishes this end by employing a group of connected parts, the relationships of which it systematically modifies. In the three imitative arts of sculpture, painting, and poetry, these groups correspond to real objects.'”
Next the laws of artistic productiveness are studied, and the reasons given for the predominance of any particular form of art at any period. This division of the work — though perhaps tending too much to-decisive generalisation, the author's foible — is especially interesting. He shows why sculpture was the dominant art of Greek antiquity, architecture of the middle ages, painting of the Renaissance, tragedy of the seventeenth century, and music of modern times.
It is true we may stop to inquire whether tragedy was not as characteristic as sculpture of the Periclean age of Greece, or may feel a little suspicious that so brilliant and clever a writer would have found reasons equally satisfactory and convincing if it had happened that the middle ages had excelled in music and the modern period in painting ; but we are not disposed to raise questions while we are following his clear, systematic, and beautifully illustrated exposition. Whether we agree or disagree with a writer like Taine, there are always profit and pleasure to be had in following his thoughts.
THE GREEN TABLE.
EBRUARY 19th, 1872, the “ Joint Select Committee to inquire into
the condition of affairs in the late insurrectionary States” made their report to Congress. This report, comprised in thirteen 8vo volumes, each one containing six hundred to seven hundred pages, I have examined pretty closely, seeking information concerning affairs at the South. The first volume contains the preliminary reports of the majority and the minority of the committee; the other volumes embody the testimony in extenso which was taken by the Committee. One branch of the majority report is devoted to the report of Mr. Stevenson, of Ohio, on the debts and election laws of the Southern States. The general conclusions arrived at in these several reports are pretty widely known, and I do not propose to traverse them, since nothing could be effected by so doing. One point, however, which is insisted upon both in Mr. Stevenson's report and in the general majority report, deserves, I think, special attention, because it states that to be a fact and now existing which, as I am sorry to believe, is certainly a possibility of the future, and a dreadful one. The charge is briefly, that the legislative and other corruption which is ruining the South cannot be laid at the gates of any one party or class; that it affects all the stages of society, “bringing to the same level patriot and rebel, white and black, the old citizen and the new"; that “that public abhorrence of corruption which is the safeguard of popular government seems wanting or dormant,” and that even the old aristocratic class, to whom we had been taught to attribute sentiments of chivalric honor, have not scrupled to bribe officials.”
Passing by unnoticed this fine sneer at the “old aristocratic class," which being rather out of the range of Mr. Stevenson's vision, must expect to be misunderstood by him, I will remark that there is both a positive and a negative refutation of the committee's assumption that the complicity of the real Southern people was a condition sine quâ non of the corruption under consideration. The negative refutation lies in the simple fact that, so long as the real Southern people managed their own State affairs for themselves and without the kind assistance of the carpet-bag gentry, this corruption did not exist. The positive refutation consists in the further fact that the presence of this peculiar Northern element in Southern matfers, and its active participation therein, is sufficient to account for all the phenomena of the corruption in question, various and monstrous as they have been. I pass by the Legislature of Pennsylvania, leprous to the bone ; I pass by the New York “rings, and content myself with simply calling attention to Kansas, the State that once bled at every pore in order to fire the Northern heart, and now, its wound healed, reeks ordure through every chink, to disgust the Northern nostrils. Now bleeding Kansas in the excitements of 1854 and subsequent years was settled with the best specimens of the various classes which have dropped in upon the South since the war ended. All the isms had representatives in that witches' cauldron ; all the fanatical frenzies sent delegations to dance around it. “Earnest” men, we are told, and earnest women too — all of them intent upon a single purpose, and willing to be martyred for it; the concentrated essence of Radicalism, in fact. John Brown got his recruits from Kansas when he was preparing to raid on Harper's Ferry. Rev. Col. Higginson got his lieutenanis thence when he organised the first negro regiments at Port Royal. It is and has long been in fact the place of all others to recruit in, whether you wanted a fanatical preacher or a horse-thief, a free-lover or a murderer.
Well, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church, we know. What sort of broth do we get out of the Kansas cauldron ? The ismtinctured Legislature of free Kansas is to-day more corrupt than the negro concern in South Carolina or the black-and-ian misery in Louisiana. Nowhere is there such notorious and open bribery; nowhere so much plunder, such hideous inefficiency. Township, county, State, everywhere money buys everything but good bonest service. The proof of this is so patent that it needs not to be dwelt on. Nobody denies it, no more than Senator Pomeroy denies his little railroad jobs that have put ten or twelve millions of dollars in his pockets, nor than Senator Caldwell denies that he purchased his election as senator for the sum of $175,000, part cash, part paper.
That is the point then. Kansas, settled by Northern Radicals, earnest