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Generally the lady is passive, ready to conceive love, but not prepared to take the initiative. Some notable instances to the contrary, however, are found among our novelists. In "The Bread Winners," the lady renders material assistance, in fact is as cool as the traditional cucumber, and, although Arthur pours out words "hot as a flood of molten metal," she sings to him, accompanying herself without missing a single note in the bass; in her song accepts his proposition, accomodatingly leads him to the nearest sofa, seats him beside her, puts her arms around his neck, pressing his head to her beating heart, kisses him, and winds up by telling him how good she means to be to him.
Proposal by letters is not a favorable mode among novelists, since it does not afford the dramatic features necessary to maintain the interest of a story, and there is good reason to believe that "popping the question" at long range is no more in favor with ladies than with novelists. Ladies love courage, also proposal by word of mouth, and the letter, since it dodges the embarrassment of a personal interview, has about it something of cowardice which makes it distasteful; yet no less a novelist than George Eliot in "Middlemarch," makes Mr. Casaubon propose to Miss Brooke in a pompous letter containing about three thousand ems which she answers in a letter probably half as long. Almost as bad as the letter-proposal is the proposal vicarious in which the lover gets somebody else to go through the embarrassment on his behalf; yet even this plan has been made entertaining by Dickens through the proposal of the immortal Barkis.
Very differently is the subject handled by Lamartine in "Genevieve," who treats it in the French fashion. An old man asks a girl to marry his son, and although it was a plain, business proposal, the young lady's "heart felt like it had opened and as if something were poured into it, which, like eternal happiness, would never dry up." Of course she consented; it would never do to let that happiness be poured out again, and the old man went away vicariously happy with her "Oui, Monsieur, avec beauconp de plaisir.'
Curiosities of novelistic proposing are numerous. In Tourgenieff's "Dimitrie Roudine," the gentleman, after proposing, walks out, telling the lady if she loves him to send some one to call him, but taking the precaution to leave his hat. His foresight is unnecessary, for she sends the servant. A fair specimen of the roundabout proposal is given in "The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table." The hero, walking with the heroine, suggests to her that if she is willing to walk with him forever, when they come to the forks of the road she will take the long path and they will part no more. She takes the long path, and thus successfully gets rid of school teaching.
One of the most matter-of-fact proposals on record
is that recorded in "Hand and Glove," by Amelia Edwards. The gentleman asks the lady why she never married, and she makes the astounding answer that she never had an offer, and is now too old. He thereupon proceeds in the catechism by asking how old she is. She replies, with a candor rare among women, that she is thirty-two. He thereupon reflects that he himself is forty-six, and with the coolness of a life-insurance agent, proceeds to make a calculation as to how long she will probably live, coming to the conclusion that they would better live together the rest of their probable lives, and the bargain is forthwith made.
In Mulock's "Mistress and Maid," the gentleman begins his proposal by asking the lady an exceedingly impertinent question, to wit, "Are you engaged?" "No," she replies, upon which he piously rejoins "Thank God," and then, as calmly as a professor at the blackboard explaining a mathematical problem, he proceeds to disclose the state of his heart, with a happy result. Occasionally a novelist, in arranging the proposal, makes a startling innovation. In "But Yet a Woman," the gentleman tells the lady, "Nothing can keep you from me if you love me," which is not so startling, particularly as the lady did not want anything to keep him from her, so he took her hand, a performance which she did not resist, then received her into his arms, where, we are told, "she lay quietly, her eyes closed. eyes closed. He drew her closely and kissed her lips. She opened her eyes and smiled," then springing to her feet, cried, "Kneel down and pray with me." Ladies sometimes refuse an immediate answer, because they do not know their own mind. In Howells' "Silas Lapham," the lady will neither promise nor refuse, and at last, hearing somebody coming, she "presses her cheek tightly against his and flashes out of the room by one door just as her father enters it by another." To the ordinary man this would have been as good as an acceptance, and one would think that if the gentleman did not know it he was not fit to have a clever girl for a wife. This proposal was, however, without tangible outcome, and it is worthy of note that resultless proposals are generally so because of interruption. The father, the mother, the hostess, the ubiquitous small boy, each and all occasionally lend a hand in spoiling the young man's programme.
Thus far, with one or two exceptions, the cases have been those in which the answer was in the affirmative. Another class must now be considered, in which the lady regards it due to herself to decline the greatness her lover is anxious to thrust upon her. It is a delicate matter to refuse a proposal, but according to the novelist, the ladies always acquit themselves with credit. It invariably gives a lady much agony to refuse an offer, probably from the uncertainty of getting another, and they seldom refuse, save when either engaged or
tolerably sure of a second opportunity right away. In Grace Litchfield's "Knight of the Black Forest," the lady hesitated; "he was so good, so true, so safe. Could she?" She probably could, and would, but "just then another face came between them, a face with more poetry, more romance, more passion -a handsomer face." This second face was too much. She decided she could not, and said so "with great tears rolling down over her cheeks."
Ladies never desire to hurt the feelings of the gentlemen they refuse. In "Newport," the heroine declined to hear a proposal, declaring that she cannot explain, but that "he must not go on." Of a different character is the lady in the "Fair Barbarian." With a nice appreciation of her own gifts and graces, she tells her lover that she is not the person he wants at all; that he needs somebody weaker, but so far from appreciating this kindly explanation is the gentleman that he becomes "pale with wrath." He rises, so does she, and much to her credit, is "neither exultant, confused, pale nor flushed." Sometimes the lady is represented as enjoying her triumph. The flirt in "Upon a Cast" mortifies her suitor by inquiring: "Does your mother know?" And upon his affirmative answer rejects him "with an unmoved air, even cold and defiant." At last she bids him leave her, which he does, "going out blindly," we are assured, "with the cold winds rustling in his ears."
When parting with a rejected lover, the lady is represented as collected and dispassionate, a good illustration of which is seen in "Through Night to Light." The gentleman proposed, but had offended the lady, and they were to part.
"Farewell, Oswald!" "Forever?"
A pleasing dialogue, impressive to the readers, and delightful to the heart of the printer from the amount of fat" contained in the lines.
The behavior of the lady on the occasion of rejecting a lover is more creditable than that of the gentleman for, to tell the truth, the latter frequently acts in a way that would be denominated by his female acquaintances "perfectly awful." In "Our Mutual Friend," Headstone becomes angry when the lady hopes he may be happy, pounds the stone wall until his knuckles bleed, and hopes he may never kill his rival; while in the "Queen of the Regiment," the lover becomes furious with his lady for throwing sticks at a water lily while. he is telling her a pretty fairy tale; "Cease this folly,' he cried sternly, with angry, troubled eyes." The lady was frightened and ceased, but on the spur of the moment, not knowing what else to do offered her friendship, which he did not want. Occasionally, the proposal is renewed, as in "Zury," where the aged hero proposes again a considerable time
after his rejection. As befitted the occasion, "his eyes were hot and dry, his voice husky." He was conditionally accepted, however, upon which he piously observed, "Thank the Lord for all His mercies, and all that is within me bless the Lord."
From the instances given, the gentleman who has proposal in mind and the lady who suspects somebody is on the brink of popping the fateful question, have no doubt been able to cull much interesting and valuable matter; interesting as showing how the thing ought to be done; valuable as giving pointers with regard to behavior when the awful moment arrives. It is well, however, to guard such readers in one particular-that no matter how carefully conceived the speech, or how well considered the action, all will probably go for naught, for such is the mutual embarrassment that preparation is useless; the choicely culled words are forgotten; the appropriately selected actions are unthought of; the victim blunders on to his fate as awkwardly as though born with his hands in his pockets and his heart in his mouth.
The age is so scientifically exact, that, not to lose the respect of the present generation for this treatise, four tables of conduct have, with infinite pains, been prepared, giving data drawn from standard novels, of the conduct of the gentleman when accepted, of the lady when accepting; of the actions of the gentleman when rejected, and of the lady when rejecting. In the two first given, one hundred cases were taken, and the frequency of any particular phenomenon in these, indicates the probability of its recurrence in a similar number of actual proposals. For instance, eighty-six per-cent of the gentlemen take the ladies in their arms after being accepted; any gentleman on being accepted, will, therefore, have eighty-six chances in a hundred of finding the lady in his arms, sixty-seven chances that he will kiss her on the lips, and but one that his salute will be on the end of her nose. For further encouragement, it may be stated that chances for a lump in the throat are only as fourteen to one hundred, while Buckle's "Doctrine of Averages" holds out the hope that only in three cases out of a hundred will there be "qualms." To the ladies it will afford comfort to know that they have eighty-one chances of "sinking into the gentleman's arms"; eighty-seven of being forewarned, which is to be forearmed; only fourteen of being "flushed and warm," and but five of giggling and making themselves themselves otherwise ridiculous.
Cases of rejection are so rare that but fifty bona fide refusals could be found among the standard writers, and faint-hearted male lovers may take courage on finding that in thirty-one cases out of fifty, they can "rush madly away," while in only seven will they probably "throw themselves on the grass," etc., to be miserable in the presence of the obdurate object of their regard. The lady having
obey him, and she is not that
(a) Probably an omission of the novelist. This should read 50.
RUSSIA'S NATIONAL LIBRARY.
One of the great libraries of the world is to be found in Russia, a country which is generally credited with being backward in education and civilization. But the imperial library at St. Petersburg is something of which Russia may well be proud to make her boast. So far as outward appearances are concerned the imperial library is a big, plain, substantial-looking building, with little to recommend it. The interior, however, is most excellently adapted for the purposes of a national library, and has good features which might advantageously be copied. The books are extremely well arranged, and the cataloguing of them is superior to that of the great French library or of some others one could mention.
Russia's imperial library dates back to the year 1700, and has to-day about 1,155,000 works in it, as well as over 26,000 manuscripts. This cannot be considered bad for a "benighted country." And it is noteworthy that every facility is given for the use of these by the people of St. Petersburg, who do use the library in no small measure. The czar and czarina take much interest in its increase and progress, and often give their advice and help in connection with it.
So advanced has Russia become under the beneficent reign of the present czar, in respect to such educational projects as this library, that there is a regulation that the imperial library is to be open to any boy over the age of 12 years who may wish to avail himself of its help. Even the British Museum has not so far arrived at this stage of encouragement and trust for youthful students.
The most famous treasure of the great St. Petersburg collection is the "Codex Sinaiticus," which is not only priceless, but is practically unique. The imperial library takes the greatest care of it and guards it jealously, not even the highest officials being allowed to remove it from its case without a special order.
THE POEMS OF FRANCOIS VILLON.
Although the poems of Francois Villon have been closely studied, beautifully translated, and remain "the observed of all observers," it is to be doubted
if they have yet been fully understood. Clément Marot, in his edition of 1533, declares that a man
should have lived in Paris in the days of Francois Villon if he would understand the full scope of his legacies and his verse (l'industrie de ses lays). And the father of Marot, who himself was a poet, and learned his art at the school of Villon, was born during the lifetime of our poet. So the memory of these things had so quickly flown that one generation did not understand allusion to people of the former generation. The commentator Le Duchat (whose posthumous notes were printed in 1742) tried to point out a few facts; but till the "Biographic Study" of M. Longnon came out in 1877, nobody had thrown a real light on the sense of the poems. Even this bundle of documents, however interesting, did not unravel much of the mystery. We learned a few events of the life of the poet, and the positive existence of the persons whose names occur in the "Great Testament" was proved by authentic papers of the Record Office. But what did Villon mean? Why did he name these persons and why did he hate them? Where lies the "point" of the farce? What was the reason of the extraordinary success of the work in its time, so great that, although Marot could not understand it, many old people whom he knew could quote by heart the tedious details of the bequests in the "Testaments"?
All this remained a puzzle. It could only be solved by a careful study of Paris and the Parisians in the middle of the fifteenth century. An attentive scrutiny of the registers of the Tax Office, of Civil Parliament, of the churches, etc., has yielded quite interesting results.
The first fact that strikes the patient student when he comes to know accurately the set of victims of the poet's raillery is that half of them were more or less connected with money business. For instance : Bailly, or Jehan de Bailly, was Purveyor of the College of the King's Secretaries. Blaru, or Jehan de Blaru, was Secretary of the King, and had married the daughter of a rich changer of the Treasury. Pierre Bobignon was brother to Jehan Boubignon, Surveyor of the income of the Seal, and himself a clerk's clerk in the Treasury. Mademoiselle de Bruyeres was a rich old woman, the widow of a Secretary of the King, and her daughter, Isabelle de Bruyeres, married, first, Regnault de Thumery, who succeeded the famous Jacques Coeur as MasterGeneral of the Mint, and secondly, Thomas Corneille, one of the greatest Parisian bankers. Guillaume Charruau was Surveyor of the King's Salt in Etampes. Guillaume Colombel, "a rich and powerful man," writes Jehan de Roye in his Chronicle,
was Payer of the wages of Parliament. Jehan le Cornu was Secretary of the King and connected with the Treasury. Guillaume Cotin, Dean of the Chapter of Notre Dame, was a most wealthy old man, and Counsellor of the King's Exchequer held once a year in Normandy. André Courault was Counsellor of the Exchequer of René, King of Sicily and Duke of Anjou, and Counsellor of the Justice of the Treasury under Louis XI. Michault Culdoe was a rich banker who made much profit of the confiscated goods of Jacques Cœur. Jehan de la Garde was a wealthy grocer, and particular grocer to the College of the King's Secretaries. Girard Gossouin, surveyor of the King's salt at Rouen, later became a powerful speculator on salt in Paris; Denis Hesselin elect in matter of the taxes in Paris; Jacques James, the son of the wealthy Master of the Works of the City of Paris and of the church of Notre Dame; Michel Jouvenel, a very rich man, one of the elect in matter of the war-taxes for the diocese of Clermont, and brother to the Chancellor of France; Nicolas Laurens, a powerful merchant of salt and money-changer; Nicolas de Louviers, Receiver of the Taxes in Paris and Counsellor of the Exchequer; Pierre Mairebeuf, a dealer in cloth, probably associated with the business of Nicolas de Louviers; Jehan Marceau, Dean of the Grande Confrérie aux Bourgeois, a very powerful usurer and moneylender, who had dangerously meddled in things of money and jewelry with Henry VI., King of England, with Charles, Duke of Orleans, and with Louis XI., King of France; Ythier Marchant, Master of the Private Treasury of Charles, Duke of Guyenne; Merle, or Jehan de Merle, the greatest changer and banker in Paris, who dealt for the Duke of Brittany and the Duke of Orleans, also controller of the King's Exchequer; Jehan and Francois Perdrier, the sons of Guillaume Perdrier, changer and clerk of Antoine Raguier, Treasurer of the Wars; Jehan and Jacques Raguier, of the family of Antoine Raguier, Treasurer of the Wars; Guillaume du Ru, a rich grocer and chandler in Paris; Pierre de Saint-Amand, clerk of the Treasury; Charlot Taranne, a wealthy old man, son of Jehan Taranne, changer under Charles VI.; Robin Troussecaille, a clerk's clerk of the Treasury; Robin Turgis, messenger of the Treasury (he also kept the tavern of the "Pine Apple"); Guillaume Vollant, a speculator in salt; Thibault de Vitry, brother to the Master-General of the Mint, uncle of the Chancellor, himself general of the Justice of the Taxes, a most powerful old man: Jehan Balue, who later became Cardinal Balue, was his clerk, and we read in the "Journal de Jehan Maupoinct" that Thibault de Vitry introduced him to the favor of Louis XI.
Now arises the question, How did Francois Villon know all these high masters? For we may be certain that they played some part in his llfe. Villon is an egotist among poets, and never names a man
but that he has his own petty reason for doing it. And here the documents help us to that very conclusion. We know that quite early, when he was a young boy, Villon entered the house of Guillaume de Villon, the chaplain of St. Benedict, and that he became there the intimate of a young nobleman, Regnier de Montigny (probably the nephew of another chaplain of St. Benedict). The father of Regnier had been an elect in the matter of the taxes for Paris, and had married Colette de Canlers, sister to Charles and Jacques de Canlers, both clerks in the Exchequer. The Canlers were a noble famliy, with many high relations. After the death of Regnier's father, the uncle of the boy, Charles de Canlers, took him to his house; and among the friends of this family, where Regnier was brought up, we find Pierre de Saint-Amand, Jehan de Blaru, and Jehan de Cornu, who were all connected with the Treasury, and who played an eventful part in the life of Villon. (Their names occur already in the "Little Testament," anno 1456.) Young Villon came to know all these masters of the Treasury, of the Exchequer of the Taxes, in the house of Charles de Canlers. And the mention of some clerk's clerk, as of Robin Trascaile (the true name of Robin Troussecaille), or of Pierre Baubignon (the right spelling of Bobignon), points to the fact that Francois Villon was their comrade, and started in life as a clerk's clerk in the Treasury. We know particularly that Pierre de Saint-Amand kept a number of young clerks; and Villon had a grudge against his wife, an old woman, who, as he says, treated him "as a beggar." So we may fairly admit that Villon was for a time the clerk of master Pierre de SaintAmand.
Much as this does to account for the precise science of legal and technical words which is displayed in the "Testaments," it still better explains the knowledge that the author had of many a Parisian banker, and also the hatred he felt for them, poor and despised "beggar-clerk" as he was. In the age when the body is brimming with life, and the soul overflowing with aspirations to everything, the unhappy boy thought he could be an Alexander, or conquer Dido, queen of Carthage, for his wife. But not a groat had he in his pocket. And beside him Jeahn Marceau, or Jehan de Merle, or Thibault de Vitry were summing accounts with master Pierre de Saint-Amand, and weighing full bags of gold ducats. No wonder poor Villon went astray. If he fell into the temptation, surely he was led to it. This connexion with the maternal family of Regnier de Montigny explains both the errors of his life and the sarcasms of his book.
When the "Great Testament" came to be read at large, the people thought it vindicated their own wrongs. There was a universal hatred in the latter part of the fifteenth century against surveyors the King's salt, bankers, collectors of the taxes, and In a few days the verses of Villon, who abused many of these, were popular. And so the poet who had only put his own grief into words unwittingly achieved the summum of art: he had also put into words the grief of the people.
MARCEL SCHWOв, in Literature.