« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
allowance for any defects and shortcomings which vigilant critics may have been able to discover, beyond all question this is a wonderful production for a youth of twenty-three. "What wit, what piquancy, what knowledge of human nature and of society, are here! And then how fresh and original is its tone, how great the powers of observation and description, how remarkable the stores of information which it displays! The progress of this work in public esteem was at first slow, but before many months had passed its success was assured, and the fame of its author established. Both in England and on the continent it produced an extraordinary sensation. Its youthful author did not pause, however, to enjoy at his leisure the intoxicating draught presented to his lips. Nor did he, as is so often the case, display a moment's hesitation in risking the renown already won by trying a second venture. With characteristic energy and daring, when the printer's ink was scarcely dry upon the last page of Pelham, he staked his already won reputation upon the success of The Disowned. Then in rapid succession followed volume after volume of fiction, meeting of course with various degrees of success, but presenting no instance of discreditable failure, and on the whole constantly extending and elevating his fame.
Outside of his own more peculiar department, England and the English, The Student, and various miscellaneous essays attest the activity and versatility of his mind, and his unwearied energy at this period. As might have been expected, the strain upon his constitution was too great. He was obliged to retire from the editorial chair of the New Monthly Magazine, which he had assumed in addition to his other avocations, and seek in foreign travel the restoration of his health. But even under these circumstances he did not abandon his intellectual labors. He has told us in one of his essays that “a brain habitually active will not be ordered to rest.” Here no doubt he drew upon his own experience. A little further on he gives his recipe for the cure of an overworked brain : “Change the occupation, vary the culture, call new organs into play, restore the equilibrium deranged in overweighting one scale by weights thrown into another." If he did not, at this period, change essentially the nature of his occupation, he, at any rate, employed his powers upon new scenes and new subjects. The fruits of his Italian tour may be found in The Last Days of Pompeii, and Rienzi. He says in one of his letters that he experienced the gloomiest forebodings in regard to the fate of the former. The result by no means realised these anticipations. It is one of the most interesting and successful of fictions dating from the classical period. The task accomplished was a most difficult one ; indeed the work may be considered, we believe, as sui generis of its peculiar type.
It was after his return from this visit to Italy, and on the occasion of Sir Robert Peel's being requested to form an administration, after the fall of the Whig government, that Bulwer wrote his famous pamphlet called The Crisis, in support of the Melbourne party. It was brilliantly successful, and Lord Melbourne, on the return of the Whigs to power, offered the author one of the Lordships of the Admiralty, accompanied by apologies for not being able at the time to tender him a higher position, and promises of speedy promotion. The offer was declined, and the brilliant and successful pamphleteer continued to devote himself principally to literature. We have not space here to follow him through the various phases of his political life, as he develops from a progressive, in his youth, into a conservative in his maturer years, from the supporter of the Reform Bill of 1832 into the opponent of the Reform Bill of 1860. Neither is it possible for us now to enter upon an examination of the long catalogue of brilliant and successful works which bear his name. It might well have been thought, previous to the appearance of the Caxton novels, that he had exhausted all the possibilities of variety that lay open to him as a romance writer, and that nothing in a new style could reasonably be expected from his pen. In these works, however, he struck into a fresh and rich vein, which he worked with his accustomed vigor, and with even more than his accustomed success. They are the most generally admired and popular of all his fictions. Thus at a time when, considering the number of his previous productions, it inight naturally have been feared by his friends that he had in technical phrase "written himself out," did the literary veteran baffle the assaults of hostile critics, and surpass the expectations of his warmest admirers.
We are well aware that in the foregoing pages we have performed but half, and that in the judgment of many the least important half of the critic's duty. Indeed, Poe has gone so far as to say that the pointing out of beauties was no part of the critical office. To this dictum we can hy no means assent, but we readily admit that it should not be confined to the bestowal of praise, however well merited. We have forborne to call attention in this article to the faults and blemishes of Lord Lytton's performances, not because we were by any means unconscious that they existed, but because the nature and scope of our notice did not render it necessary; and it was more consonant with our inclination, under the circumstances, to dwell upon the lights than upon the shadows of the picture. His productions have been subjected repeatedly to the ordeal of unfriendly criticism. Their merits have been scrutinised with no partial eye, their faults exposed with no sparing hand. He has not owed his renown to the partiality or the forbearance of critics. Undoubtedly, he will hereafter be submitted to the crucible of close and severe scrutiny before his claims are finally decided upon. The time for this, in our judgment, has not yet arrived. Had we intended to attempt a critical examination of Lord Lytton's works, we should of course have entered at large into the less pleasing portion of the subject. There is no reason to shrink from it. The lights in the picture are sufficiently broad and strong to bear the contrast of some shadows. That there are such shadows, imperfections, defects, and blemishes, no sane admirer would attempt to controvert. But after all due allowance has been made for these, there will yet remain enough amply to attest the large generosity with which he has discharged his obligations to his country and his age, and to vindicate his claim to the epitaph which he so long ago expressed a desire to have inscribed upon his tomb :
“Peace to his errors -- he hath served mankind.”
A WINTER LESSON.
UT yesterday the world was bleak and drear,
The wintry wind with anguish unavailing O’er forests stripped, o'er meadows dun and sere
Swept by in ceaseless wailing.
The desolate earth, despoiled of all the gems
Set by the loving hand of Spring and tender, Of Summer's rich and changing diadems,
Of Autumn's regal splendor
Sits a discrowned queen, with vestments torn,
Her beauty fled, her happiness departed ;
And weeps all broken-hearted.
And thus night's shadows gather o'er her head,
Bowed in the agony of bitter sorrow; No kindly star its friendly radiance shed,
Nor hope shone for the morrow.
Come, blessed sleep! thou sweet strange mystery,
And give some promise of a new creation: Lo! the day dawns – the world awakes to see
A glorious transmutation.
Field, fell and moorland, knap and craggy scar,
Where yonder gorge the rugged road discloses; The sacred mounds whose marbles gleam afar,
Where hallowed dust reposes;
The zigzag fence, the rude unsightly rail ;
The straggling furze, the ragged hawthorn hedges, From whose frail shelter whirrs the frightened quail;
The river's rocky ledges;
The huge wood-pile, the neighboring barn well-browned;
The distant homestead, desolate and cheerless; The idle harrow and the patient ground,
Wear Winter's mantle peerless.
The fleecy down sleeps on the sloping croft,
Drapes the bare rocks, the mountains grim and hoary; The sturdy forest branches bear aloft
Their feathery plumes of glory.
Ah! whose the Master Hand that in one night
Can cause such swift, such silent transformation, Changing to beauty, matchless, calm and bright,
Such dreary desolation ?
Hath some kind Power selected as His bride
This sinning earth, of all Heaven's radiant cluster, And clothed her in this glistening robe of pride
Of pure and fadeless lustre?
Doth incensed Justice thus her cause uphold,
Her wrong to judge and her award determine, That tenderly her form He doth enfold
With his own spotless ermine ?
Or, in the consciousness of innocence,
Hath she arrayed herself in pristine beauty, Still plodding, stainless, as her best defence,
The royal road of duty ?
Not thus, O Earth, thou winnest such reward :
Unworthier worshipper ne'er looked to Heaven ; The mercy-woven garb is from the Lord,
Thy dower is Christ-given !
O sinning soul! this lesson is for thee:
Through Nature's voice, God speaks in wondrous sweetness ; Guilt-stained and vile, Christ's robe of purity
Hides fully thine unmeetness.
ROGER GRAHAME. GLENGOLDY.
Part II.- Lily.
“Oh, Goldie, my jewel, are you sure it's yourself?" Then these two sisters, parted for five long years, and passing up the years that near womanhood by far unlike paths, clasped their arms about each other and cried a little for their very joy.
Lily recovered first, lifting her glorious golden head from its nest in Goldie's arm.
“Goldie, tell me everything you have done all this time."
“Tell me about yourself first; I am sure your story is a prettier one than mine."
“No indeed. I am tired of everything, and of myself most of all." “Tired of everything in Europe?”
“Oh, Goldie, I wore the charm off of everything. I was so enthusiastic at first ; now I am bored, tired. I never shall know what it is to cry at the theatre again ; I don't believe any opera-singer could send her voice to my heart any more. I am weary of compliments. I have frittered all my heart away, at least all those parts ever devoted to men ; but oh, Goldie, there is just one little pure place left for you."
There was a pause.
The pause came again. Then a white hand sought Goldie's neck, and Lily's head went down.
“Goldie, don't let us have any secrets, we two. I never told a soul before: I loved somebody once; he doesn't care for me now."
“ And did he?"
“No, he will never come back to me. I will tell you all about it some time. He was, oh, so handsome, Goldie ; such a manly figure, and such a clear, bright, sunny face !
Uncle Phil said he was a reckless, wild lad, but everybody liked him. Aunt Eleanor had a gracious, kindly way with him that she has with few people ; and I liked him, and flirted with him for a while."
“Oh, it was all silly and confused and wild. I fell in love with him after a while, and he said he loved me. After he said so — - oh, Goldie, no one else ever dared to touch my hand. But he kissed me as a king might, as royally, as courteously. People call it fast," she broke off ; "they say we girls will repent if we do that. He kissed me, and he does not love me now. But I am not sorry. I can feel his kiss like fire ; I can feel his arm around me when I am so desolate, so alone, with no one in his place; and it comforts me. Once