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To the reading world the name and fame of Antoine Francoise Prevost, usually known as L'Abbe Prevost, are connected only with the little novel of "Manon Lescaut." The size of the learned and lengthy volume published some little time ago by Hachette, of which Professor Schroeder is the author ["L'Abbe Prevost"], is therefore some what curious. But although Prevost achieved fame with one novel only, he was, in fact, a voluminous writer. Not only was he a novelist, but criticism, geography, and history also attracted him and afforded work for his pen. This volume, however, is wisely restricted by its author to Prevost as a novelist and critic.
M. Schroeder does not deny that the novelist was not a model abbe, but he rejects the popular legend, derived, perhaps, from the hero of "Manon," that Prevost was, if not an abandoned criminal, at least an adventurer of the worst kind. He has tried to do justice, he writes, to a man long misunderstood, to rehabilitate a writer who, "if he were not a model of abstinence and virtue, at least possessed only contempt and hatred for hypocrisy and imposture."
he was again in London, where he founded the journal called Pour et Contre, following the style of the Spectator. In this magazine he wrote a considerable amount of criticism of English literature, and, according to M. Schroeder, contributed largely to the wider acquaintance in France of England and the English. At the same time he was working at his interminable novel "Cleveland."
Prevost was born on April 1, 1697, at Hesdin, in Artois, of prosperous, middle-class parents. After an education by the Jesuits at Hesdin he entered as a novice with the Jesuit fathers of Paris. In 1716 he left the Jesuits for the army, and later the army for the Benedictines, and "made profession" in 1721. After ordination he was sent to various abbeys, and in that of Saint-Germain des Pres in Paris he wrote his first novel, "Memoires et Aventures d'un Homme de Qualite." But the rigorous restrictions of the life weighed upon him, and in 1728 he left the abbey, and for security crossed to England.
Of his impressions of England Prevost has given a pleasant account in the later volumes of the "Memoires d'un Homme de Qualite," and in his later published journal entitled Pour et Contre. His first visit to England was, however, soon terminated by pecuniary difficulties, and in 1729 he left it for Holland. At La Haye, whither he went on the journalistic or literary tasks which gave him his means of living, Prevost underwent the experience which resulted in the novel of "Manon Lescaut." He seems to have fallen in love with a lady of no great character, by name Lenki"que tout la Haye connaissait pour une veritable Sangsne," writes his amiable companion, the suspicious Chevalier de Ravanne-in a very blind fashion. The adventure was not long in bearing fruit. While still in Holland, in 1631, Prevost published the exquisite story of "Manon." The novel had an immediate success, and has remained to this day the admiration of literature. In 1733
In the following year, however, through the influence of the Prince de Conti and the Cardinal de Bissy he was able to return to France, and after passing a fresh novitiate, entered the household of the Prince de Conti as almoner, "sans gage, sans logement et sans messe." The position gave him only a refuge from creditors. For his living he wrote such novels as "Cleveland" and "Le Doyen de Killerine," which began to appear in 1735. The year 1741 he passed in Berlin, Brussells, and Frankfort, and the last twenty years of his life were spent in France. He translated--prodigious task!--the novels of Richardson-"Pamela," "Clarisse" and "Grandison"-and commenced a vast historical and geographical work entitled "L'Histoire des Voyages." In 1754 he was nominated by Pope Benedict XIV. to the priory of Saint Georges de Gesnes. Prevost appears to have taken possession of the priory by proxy and never to have visited Saint Georges. His literary activity continued to his death, which occurred in 1764 at Saint Firmin, near Chantilly; and was caused by apoplexy.
For an analysis of the novels of Prevost other than "Manon" we must refer the curious to the volume of M. Schroeder, but it is interesting to note the extent to which England had entered into the literary conciousness of Prevost. The "Doyen de Killerine" is an Irish story which has been compared with the "Vicar of Wakefield"; the hero of "Cleveland" is a natural son of Cromwell. For the subjects of his historical works he takes the Margaret of Anjou, who figured in the Wars of the Roses, and William the Conqueror. On the other hand, he transplants his "Histoire d'une Grecque Moderne," a story founded on a Parisian episode, to Turkey.
The novel of "Manon" was intended by Prevost to be an appendix-"mais quel appendice!" exclaims M. Schroeder-to the "Memoires d'un Homme de Qualite." In the history of fiction the peculiar charm and pathos of the story stand alone. The inevitableness of the tale, the fascination of the complicated and faithless Manon, the suffering of her lover, these are things which no writer has touched with an equal exquisiteness. The art of concealing art has no finer example than this novel. Indeed, every word of it is so perfectly natural and simple that the idea of art seems cumbersome in comparison with its charmed sim
plicity. It is too well known to permit a recapitulation of the story here, and indeed the plot is so slight that a brief condensation of it seems commonplace and uninteresting. But it is a permanent addition to the world's collection of unfortunate love stories. The enslavement of the youthful Chevalier des Grieux, his devotion to a faithless mistress, are not the principal features of the novel. It is in the character of Manon that Prevost has attained his highest originality-Manon, who is at one and the same time a symbol of simplicity and of rouerie; who loves while she betrays, and betrays though she loves; who is at once constant and fickle, remorseful and infamous, and whatever she might be at any given moment is always the adorable and delightful-at least, to the reader. At a later date Prevost himself wrote in his Pour et Contre an apology for his novel, naively pointing out the moral of the tale, "les dangers du dereglement." Undoubtly, this moral may be read into it; but it is better omitted. The story is very much less an illustration of the dangers of unchecked emotion than an example of inevitable tragedy, the Greek necessity or fate. But the picture of Prevost "pointing his moral" is a trifle ludicrous and does prove that we have advanced a little, since it is not usual for a novelist now to explain the virtuous tendencies of his work. Although it is usual to deny to the novel the dignity of the tragedy in verse, yet the tragedy of such a novel as "Manon" is not less terrible and poignant than that of Edipus or Othello, if looked at from a moral point of view. To Des Grieux the sight of his mistress carried from Paris to Harve with a convoy of filles is not less agonizing than the moral torture of the protagonists of Shakespeare and Sophocles.-Literature.
BARGAIN HUNTING IN OLD BOOKS.
Every once in a while is heard the wail of a discouraged collecter who laments the passing of a time when bargains in old books could be "picked up." The now priceless gems of Americana which Brinley and Henry Stevens secured for a few pence are spoken of in envious accents, while on going back to an earlier period, we are told of a golden age when quarto Caxtons were sold for ten shillings, folios going for a guinea apiece. In that day, too, a first folio Shakespeare could readily be obtained for a ten-pound note, while such books as Denton's "New York," Smith's "History of Virginia," "The New England Primer," if sold at all, were thrust upon unwilling buyers at prices ranging from sixpense to a crown. "No," cries the wood-be collector, "I was born too late; these are bargainless days and inexhaustable must be the purse of him who would buy books!"
Foolish man, thou art either blind, ignorant, or lazy. We affirm, and will prove, that we are living in the midst of plenty, that at no other time and in no other place (always excepting London) could such bargains be secured as to-day in New York. You smile sadly, you are incredulous, but, faint-hearted one, do you know that a very little while since a well-known Brooklyn collector bought one of the rarest of Hawthorne's books— "The Universal History-both volumes complete. for 25 cents? This bargain was found in a New York book store. Another man secured for a few dollars a remarkably interesting engraving by Amos Doolittle. It was intended as a memorial to officers killed at the beginning of the Rovolution and is easily worth $200. But it was bought in a furniture auction room on Fifth avenue a very little while since for a modest sum.
Within two years a volume of the "Massachusetts Laws" has been sold for $3 at auction in Boston. At the end were bound some additional laws of later date. One of these was imperfect, and the cataloguer, thinking it part of the volume as originally published, said in the sale catalogue, "imperfect at end." The buyer sent the book to England (after removing the one imperfect law) and it sold at Sotheby's for the substantial price of £27! Did not "Outcroppings," a volume containing Bret Harte's earliest printed efforts, sell for between $20 and $30 in a recent auction? But the collector who had owned it paid only a few cents for it. A well-known autograph dealer bought a large quantity of Madison papers at a Philadelphia auction-his outlay for the whole. being less than $1,000. Within sixty days he received an offer of $7,500 for them. Like a sensible man he accepted it.
In an up-town book store may be seen half a dozen original water colors by William Blake. They are valued in the hundreds, but all were picked up in one of New York's largest art auction rooms for about $10 each. The magnificent series of New York Revolutionary broadsides now in the possession of Mr. John D. Crimmins, originally formed by Gerard Bancker, were picked up at ridiculously low prices. The photographic facsimiles of some have been published and sold for a higher price than the originals cost.
But there is a wider range for the bargain hunter than to look for articles of established value. He must not lose sight of the fact that there is a to-morrow, that what he slightingly passed by to-day may in a few years become precious. To buy with an eye to the future requires more than knowledge of present values. To him ambitious to anticipate the future there must attach a keenness of judgment, a faultlessness of taste, a contempt for ridicule, and a matchless patience, which few men possess. He must
be a born collector, in the truest sense of the word. Such a man was Brinley, such a man was Fredrickson, and such a man was the late T. J. McKee.
Possibly the likeliest lines for "finds" to-day are items relating to the Revolution, handsome specimens of American bookbindings executed before 1830, and books illustrated with copper plates by American engravers. There are scores of books to day of the latter kind waiting for purchasers in New York book stores and now to be had for nominal prices. Take such a book as Morse's American Geography." The ordinary Americana collector would pass it by without a thought. The latter-day Brinley would buy it at the $3 or $4 usually asked and would know he had secured a bargain. Of this book it is necessary to secure the first, second, and third editions. You ask why? Go and look at the engravers' names upon the maps, read the prefaces to the various editions and become a wiser man. For about the same price as you must pay for Morse you can buy a first edition of "Hiawatha." Buy it. In a few years you will be very well contented. Buy all the Hawthornes, all the Irvings, all the Coopers-in fact, any books by the great writers of this country, and you cannot go wrong. Most of them are disgracefully cheap, but they won't always be. Read the lives of great writers, learn of their early books, be equipped with special knowledge, and you will make values. remain among the dumb driven cattle collectors; be a hero in the strife.
Go and ask half a dozen dealers if they have Franklin Evans' "The Story of an Inebriate." The chances are if one did have a copy he wouldn't know it; it would be in a pile with "other junk." But if you chance to find it, be sure to buy it, because it is the work of Walt Whitman, his first publication; and there is no record of a copy having sold at auction. Nothing is hopeless, nothing absolutely unobtainable. A member of the Grolier Club bought a copy of the 1655 edition of "The Rape of Lucrece" for a song, but it lacked the rare and beautiful frontispiece. He never expected to get it, but going over some prints one day in a well-known print store, he saw a beautiful impression of the very print wanted to complete his book. Both together cost him about $75. As things go nowadays, we suppose $500 would be a moderate estimate of his perfect book.
How foolish, then, with such experiences--all of recent date-it is to talk of the passing of the time for bargains. Seek and ye shall find them; use your eyes and your brains and you will soon learn how the work pays, mentally, physically, (you will have lots of walking,) and financially. Forget the impossibilities, the Caxtons and first folios, and go for the things there remain chances to secure.-New York Times.
TOLSTOY REVISED AND UNREVISED.
Any one who has read Tolstoy's "Kreutzer Sonata" knows that, even when the most worthy purpose inspires him, his work can not always be counted on as appropriate to the pages of a popular magazine. When his latest novel, "Resurrection," was withdrawn by Tolstoy's agent in England from the pages of The Cosmopolitan, after the first instalment of twelve chapters had been published, because of the alterations made by the editor of the magazine, it was supposed that those alterations were such as were rendered necessary by Tolstoy's unshrinking treatment of the social evil. The complaint made by Tolstoy's friends, however, goes farther then that. His literary style and social views were also, as charged by Mr. H. P. Archer in the London Chronicle, flagrantly misrepresented; in fact, the American censorship "would have been remarkably thorough even for Russia." This censorship is the more resented because the work was written as a labor of love, the proceeds to go to the aid of the persecuted Doukhobors, and, according to Tolstoy's statements to Mr. Archer, the distinguished Russian had never written any other work that "so utterly captured him." Mr. Archer goes on to specify the nature of the changes made in the author's manuscript:
"For instance, Tolstoy describes a girl of fifteen running swiftly, 'her firm young legs moving rapidly.' The censor objects to 'legs' as indecent, and makes her 'supple limbs' move rapidly. Nekhludoff, the hero, is described as being 'quite pure' at the age of nineteen. Too suggestive, decides the censor; 'still quite unfamiliar with the ways of the world' is a more delicate way of putting it. This unmarried woman had a baby every year.' 'Badly cared for, with no particular ideas of the ethics of life, she had lived in a desultory way,' is the elaborate circumventing phrase of Tolstoy's censor. Tolstoy nowhere says she was badly cared for, and does not mention her deficiency of ideas of the 'ethics of life.'”
Tolstoy applies the scriptural command, "Judge not that ye be not judged," to courts as well as to individuals, and this attitude, as expressed in "Resurrection," required more editing:
"The description of the trial of Maslova is instinct with a gentle irony, reflected in the characterization of the the court officials and the des
cription of the proceedings. It is impossible here to detail the numerous alterations made in this court scene. The chapters are cut about, transposed, and altered throughout-rewritten in fact. The omissions, almost without exception, are those passages expressing Tolstoy's conviction of the error of men judging one another, and without these passages the chapters are comparatively colorless and dull."
Tolstoy also takes occasion to express his condemnation (with Henry George) of the private ownership of land; but "the censor actually alters the whole thing, and corrects the novel so that
the emphasis is removed from a condemnation of private land-owning in general to a condemnation limited fo the cruelty and injustice practised under Russian landlordism."
As the Russian censor altered the same passages so as to absolve the land system of Russia while condemning that of other countries, the American. censor's course has a sort of poetical justice in it.
Another of the counts in Mr. Archer's indictment is that Tolstoy's simple and unpretentious style is changed into a more florid style; as, for instance, "He took his siesta under the trees"; and, "she remembered her present position" becomes "some remembrance of the past to mind in contrast with her present position."
EDGAR A. POE.
Reminiscences of Gabriel Harrison, an Actor, Still Living in Brooklyn.
An old man sat in a big armchair, puffing clouds of tobacco smoke into the air. He was gazing into the smoke with meditative eyes, as if it were the misty curtain of bygone years, and he was telling what he saw a picture of the days in old New York when "Prince" John Van Buren, the son of the President, led nightly gatherings of good fellows in the cozy taverns around the Park Theatre in Park Row; when the dramatic and literary lions were entertained by social leaders in their residences on Cherry Hill, and when obscure and struggling poets like Poe were fond of wandering in the quiet lanes above Fourteenth street. The old man saw himself in stirring scenes of the old days, for he was Gabriel Harrison, who was a popular young actor in the forties, and also an artist and politician and friend of celebrated men. Of all these wise and witty gentlemen he is the sole survivor. He lives in Brooklyn with his memories and his mementos of great names and great occasions.
He received me in his "den," the walls of which are adorned with queer theatrical trophies and with paintings and engravings from his own brush and pencil. The originals of his illustrations for his "Life of Forrest" were here, and many other products of his artistic talent; but all seemed dominated by one picture-a striking portrait of a man with a great brow, overhanging, large, melancholy eyes set in a face that was peculiarly sensitive and expressive.
"I remember well the day," Mr. Harrison was saying, "when I took the daguerreotype of Poe from which I made that portrait. It was, I think, in 1846, and soon after I had temporarily abandoned my stage career to give play to my artistic tendencies as chief operator for the celebrated John Plumb in his daguerreotyping establishment.
This art was then comparatively new, you know, and was regarded as one of the wonders of the world. I was one of Poe's few intimate friends. He would drop into the studio at about closing time in the afternoon, and we would walk up town together, or down Broadway to the Battery, where we would sit on the old stone buttress and talk poetry and philosophy as the golden sunset was reflected upon the waters of the bay and the shadows deepened over on the wooded shore of Long Island.
"I asked Poe several times when he was at the studio to sit for his portrait, but he always refused on the ground that his clothes were too shabby But one afternoon I caught him in an unusually complacent mood and obtained the original of the engraving you see there on the wall. This was but three years before Poe's death, and he was not at all prosperous. I recollect that once we were walking up town together late in the day when Poe began to sway from side to side and then stopped. He said he felt faint. We went into a cafe, where we had a glass of wine and a biscuit. Poe then told me that his sudden dizziness was the result of not having eaten anything since early morning.
"The manner in which Poe and I first came to scrape an acquaintance was, on his side, thoroughly characteristic. Perhaps you would like. to hear the story. Well, in 1843 I decided that riches in real life would be more satisfy ing than prodigious wealth as a mimic king or lord, and so I opened a store for the sale of general merchandise. My shop was a part of the property of William Niblo, and was on the corner of Broadway and Prince street. Next door was the florist estab lishment of Grant Thorburn, the eccentric Scotchman and author of 'Forty Years in America,' 'Flowers from Larry Todd's Garden,' etc.
"One chilly evening I happened to glance through my window and saw a small man with a large head looking in rather wistfully at some beautiful plugs of tobacco I had displayed. In a moment he entered and asked the price of tobacco. When I had told him he made no move to buy, and after a few general remarks started to leave, I was struck by a certain indefinite something in his manner, by his voice, and by his fine articulation. My ear was very sensitive on this point, for the reason that I was an actor, and because I had been taught to read by Aaron Burr, the finest natural elocutionist I ever listened to. So I offered the man a piece of tobacco. He accepted, thanked me, and departed. Two or three weeks afterward he came in again. At the time I happened to be in the throes of composing a campaign song for the White Eagle Club, a political organization of which I was President.
"Ah,' said my visitor, 'I see you are writing; I'll call again.'
"Wait a moment,' I called to him. 'Perhaps you can help me. I'm trying to write a song for my political club.'
"He immediately showed interest and sat down when I began to explain the matter to him.
"Let me have your pencil,' he said. At that moment a customer came in. In about fifteen minutes I returned to my visitor.
"There,' he said, handing me the paper, 'how will that do?' What was my surprise when I saw written a song of five stanzas with chorus. At this moment, nearly sixty years later, I can remember only a few lines, which ran thus:
"'See the White Eagle soaring aloft to the sky,
"I was delighted and wanted to pay him something for his trouble, but the only thing he would accept was a bag of my best coffee. As he was going I said that I should like to know his name. "Certainly,' he answered, with a faint smile. 'Thaddeus Perley, at your service.'
"I had 'Mr. Perleys' song set to music and we sang it with great success throughout the campaign. But I saw nothing of its author. I felt curious about a man who could drop into a shop, write a poem, and leave again inside of fifteen or twenty minutes.
"One of my friends was Fitz-Greene Halleck, then private secretary to John Jacob Astor, whose office was in a small brick building in Prince Street, two doors from Broadway and only a few steps from our store. Halleck often would come around to the shop in the evening. I had partitioned off a cozy corner with a pile of tea boxes, and there we would sit and discuss the topics of the day. Frequently old Grant Thorburn would join us, and he was welcome, for he was brimful of incidents of the country he had left behind him, and never spoiled a good story in the telling.
One night after Halleck, Thorburn and myself
had been ensconced in our corner for several hours talking of many things and feeling the more comfortable for a storm outside, Halleck and I decided that it was time to conduct our old friend, who had been sampling my stock of vintage with some zest, to his flowery kingdom next door. We put him to bed and then returned to the shop. I was surprised to see a man standing by the counter. I stepped quickly forward.
was intended and none done. I knew that the facts would develop themselves. I have walked several miles through the sleet and rain, and, seeing a light in here, thought that perhaps Mr. Harrison would let me warm up somewhat.'
"Why, of course,' I answered; 'here is the stove behind the tea boxes almost red hot. Take off your coat and dry it. What will you have, some of this old port?' I spread out some crackers, an old English pineapple cheese, and we all nibbled and bent our elbows in homage to his crimson majesty the old port, and talked of pleasant things till my big clock struck the hour of midnight. Poe left with Halleck and stopped at his house that night. He returned to his home in Philadelphia the next day, I believe, but soon afterward came to New York to reside.
"Poe died in 1849, and quite accidentally, in 1852, I made the acquaintance of his mother inlaw, Mrs. Marie Clemm. Lawyer S. D. Lewis, the husband of Stella Lewis, the poet, invited me to his home in Dean Street, Brooklyn, and there, to my utter astonishment, I met Mrs. Clemm, of whom Poe had spoken to me many times. She was a handsome old lady, with white hair, half covered by a pretty trimmed cap. We talked much about her 'Eddie,' as she called Poe, and not a great while afterward, so quickly did our friendship grow, she named me her second Eddie, and asked me to call her 'Muddie,' as Poe had done. Mr. Lewis gave Mrs. Clemm a comfortable home for many years, but finally the Lewis family was broken up, and Mrs. Clemm was taken to the Church Home in Baltimore. While she was there I presented her with a portrait of Poe, colored with the hues of his eyes, hair, complexion, and dress, which I made from the daguerreotype I took of him in 1847. Mrs. Clemm was so grateful for the photograph that she took from her finger her own and Poe's wedding ring solidified into one and gave it to me. This ring and the colored
photograph I have since presented to the Long
Island Historical Society."
"Why, good evening, Mr. Perley, I began. Halleck interrupted me. 'Great heavens, Poe, is this you!' he exclaimed. 'Poe? This is Mr. Perley,' I broke in.
"Poe looked at me and then at Halleck, and after an instant's hesitation said: "The fact of the matter is, Halleck, I have made this gentleman's acquaintance under the name of Perley; no harm.
Gabriel Harrison is a stanch defender of Poe's memory. He is the poet's sole surviving friendthe one connecting link between the present generation and Poe the man.
Thomas Hardy writes his novels with copying ink, so that he always has a duplicate of each story on hand, without invoking the services of a copyist. He considers 3,000 words a good day's work. As everybody knows, it was "Tess" that brought him with a rush from the ranks of the well-known novelists into the more limited class who are "great" because they have made a sensation. It may be of interest to learn what Mr. Hardy himself thought of "Tess" before it saw the