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Revenge, The Wild Irish Boy, The Milesian Chief, Women, The Albigenses.
John Banim-The Tales of the O'Hara Family. Thomas Leland--Longsword.
Sophia Lee The Recess.
Regina Maria Roche-The Children of the Abbey, The Chapel Castle, The Nocturnal Visit, The Nun's Picture, The Maid of the Hamlet, Clermont, The Bride of Dunamore, The Vicar of Lansdowne, The Tradition of the Castle, The Munster Cottage Boy, The Discarded Son.
Leitch Ritchie-The London Night's Entertainment, Schinderhannes, The Robber of the Rhine, The Game of Life.
Francis Lathom-Mystery, The Midnight Bell, The Mysterious Freebooter, The Impenetrable Secret, The Fatal Vow, or St. Michael's Monastery, The Unknown, or the Northern Gallery; Very Strange but Very True, Astonishment!!!!!
CHRISTABEL FORSYTHE FISKE, M. A., in Conservative Review.
The Care of Books.
The man who doesn't take good care of his books doesn't deserve to have any. I find the following in my scrapbook. The writer must have a real affection for books, something of the maternal instinct:
"When books are being dusted, do not impute too much common sense to those who are doing the work. Take their ignorance for granted, and tell them at once never to lift any book by one of its corners. That treatment is sure to strain the back, and it will certainly be found that the weight of the volume has been miscalculated, and the volume will fall, which will not tend to its improvement. Your female help too dearly loves a good tall pile to work at, and, as a rule, her ideas of the center of gravity are scarcely strictly accurate, leading often to a general downfall and the damage of many a corner. Again, if not supervised and instructed, she is very apt to rub the dust into instead of off the edges. Each volume should be held tightly, so as to prevent the leaves from gaping, and then wiped from the back to the fore edge. A soft brush will be found useful if there is much dust. The whole exterior should also be rubbed with a soft cloth, and then the covers should be opened and the hinges of the binding examined, for mildew will assert itself both inside and outside certain books, and that most pertinaciously. It has unaccountable likes and dislikes. Some bindings seem positively to invite damp, and mildew will attack these when no other books on the same shelf show any signs of it."
An Italian Goldsmith.
It seems sometimes as if destiny had made a mistake in the nationality of certain writers. Why was Heinrich Heine not a native of Thrums, for instance? The winning pathos of the "Lyrisches Intermezzo," the elfin humor of "Waldeinsamkeit," would have gained new charm by the little intimate surprises of the Auld Licht dialect. Then Dr. Max Nordau should obviously have been born in Paris. It is pitiable to note the ingenuity he has to waste in fabricating steel-pointed epigrams and incisive phrases out of the hopeless stolidity of his iron German. And, great as our own loss would have been, one cannot help regretting that Goldsmith flourished out of Italy; the crystal simpleness of his style, the charming gentleness, the shy humor, which is half sympathy with the little lot of man, would have been better clad in the childlike syllables of Tuscany than in the sterner vocabulary of England. And it would have suited him well to be distinguished by one of those pet names used by Italy to charm away the loneliness of fame, and transform a great man's popularity into a caressing national friendship.
But the literary wealth of Italy, though not permitted to add an Oreficino to its store, has of late years been increased by the works of a writer who bears a singular mental likeness to Oliver Goldsmith. Salvatore Farina occupies a unique position among the romance writers of our day; he alone has preserved the art of treating simple characters simply. Qualities which are so delicate that the consciousness of their possession at once 'destroys them, are necessarily the most difficult to depict. Any being who is simple, innocent, picturesque or selfish is obviously limited by the very loveliness that adorns him. One of life's lesser tragedies transacts itself in such a nature as soon as the "I am thus" dawns upon the mind. In the very moment of perception the "I am" has changed into the "I was," and even the memory of the lovelier phrase is blurred by the contrast that has followed it. If the changed creature turns to contemplate his past, he almost inevitably looks upon it through the medium of his present. He thinks how delightful was the simplicity, the picturesqueness he has lost; he cannot realize that the pleasantness he now imagines in it was impossible when it was there, because unconsciousness was a condition of its being. It is always a far greater effort of the imagination to create an absence than a presence; so great an effort, indeed, that when now and again some writer accomplishes the feat we are slow to see how much he has done.
In pictures of childhood especially, the nonexistence of the man's world is a perpetual stumbling-block, and some charming little foreground
figures are spoilt by the impossible definiteness and explicable nature of the objects around them. So with other delineations of a simpler life; we feel that the artist has not realized the atmospheric effects of that simpler land; he has put in too many details that would be there invisible.
It is in dealing with such difficulties that Salvatore Farina has shown a peculiar power-a power that is the more realized the more we contrast him with his contemporaries. Through all the glamor of Pierre Loti's petites sauvagesses, or stalwart fisher-folk, we feel that their creator stands apart from them, casting on them the limelight of his genius. In Daudet's Dickensesque productions, half-caricature, half-photograph, the author again visibly occupies the showman's place. And in the terrible menagerie of Zola and Company, the simplicity is outside of our sympathy-it is not human. Thomas Hardy gives us unsurpassed pictures of peasant life, but he stands by, too, with a smile, asking us if we are not amused by the naivete of his puppets. Sundermann in his intensity of meaning, Ossip Schubin and Serao in their tender pictures of young lives, even Heyse in his picturesque groups, all bear the mark of the hour, with its stress and strain. All are unable to free themselves from the strenuous intention that is so characteristic of our present day portraiture, all ascribe too much to their subjects, or fail to stand aside and leave them alone in their sweet, slenderly detailed world.
But Farina moves easily through regions of peculiar limitation; he is so much at home in slightly furnished minds that we must pause and recollect all the difficulties he has overcome before we can appreciate him thoroughly. He is inimitably subtle in all that he leaves out.
He has discovered, too, how to combine an eighteenth century calm with the technical skill that later days have fostered. He never hurts, never ruffles, never, though his touch is unerringly fine, gives too heavy an outline to a humanly indefinite
He possesses also a very rare quility of humor, marked by a playful tenderness, a delicacy of perception, that make it the most revealing of all treatments for certain mental phases. And it reveals, but never exposes; it is always a purely gentle light. This humor is inseparable from pathos-or rather, they are but two manifestations of the same quality -a peculiarly sensitive sympathy with the ordinary man. Rare everywhere, such humor is especially rare in our literature; we find quite different types in the riotous laughter of our older novelists, in the pain-stricken mockery of Swift or the repelling jests of Sterne, in the dear Spectator's humorous moral studies, in Miss Austen's quiet smile over her own amusing details, in Thackeray's delicate satire, in Dickens' boyish fun, in the harsher, cynical pes
simism of later days. Only Goldsmith has the secret of this fascinating, sympathetic mirth-lighthearted, yet not free from the life-sadness that belongs to our earth's children. With unsparing, imperturbable childishness, he shows us little human inconsistencies and self-betrayals. He does not sneer, or complain, or exalt himself; he only shows the weakness of his characters, he only says, "See what queer little ways we human beings have, and are most of us very harmless after all!"
And we look, and laugh, and sigh, and are somehow oddly comforted. Because we know, most of us, down in the depths of our hearts, that we are not particularly grand, or heroic, or majestic, when we are quite alone-and we can recall numberless trifling signs of inconsistency and weakness in ourselves, of which we are secretly more ashamed than we should be of graver faults. And we are glad to leave off standing on tiptoe, and to acknowledge that we are by no means "more than common tall." It is a relief to us to perceive that this great, kind, genial man had felt as we do, and knew it all before.
It is just this sense of fellow-feeling which gives his peculiar charm to Salvatore Farina. In his works the same comfortable effect is also produced as in Goldsmith's, appearing miraculous at a period when physical comfort and mental uneasiness are cultivated to quite a morbid extent.
Delightful as Farina always must be, it is in his earlier works that his charm appears most arrestingly. In the "Amore ha Cent' Occhi," for instance, there are scenes and characters that no one who has once enjoyed them would willingly forget. The ruin of a noble Sardinan and Milanese family is completing itself at the commencement of the tale, while the lady of the house, the noblissima signora contessa Veronica Rodriguez de Florinas dei conti de Nardi di Ploaghe, quite unconscious of the disasters that generations of extravagance have brought upon her house, bequeaths estates to her son, jewels to her daughter-in-law, legacies to her servants, and dies-without discovering that the man she takes for a doctor is, in fact, a dealer bargaining with her old steward for the furniture and treasures of the palace.
The scene in which the servants receive their legacies, and the news that they are dismissed on account of their master's rùin, is evidently a study after Farina's own heart. They are very good fellows, these servants, filled with veneration for the noble house they serve; it is awe-inspiring to most of them to enter the count's apartment; only Francesco, the house servant, enters with an unembarrassed air, which is "the admiration of the stable and the kitchen," and takes his place by Annetta, the lady's maid, who receives him "with a dignified bow." It is a very solemn occasion, of course; they are to hear their late mistress' will read, and the
voice of the notary has a melancholy, wailing sound; but they cannot help being over-excited by the news that they are each to have a thousand lire; they must have some excuse for smiles, and when they finlly hear the very kitchen boy, Cecchino, described by two names as Cecchino Misirolli, their gravity can stand the strain no longer. Misirolli! Who had ever heard anything so absurd! Even the young countess' cannot help smiling as she sees the servants' amusement.
But tears replace their smiles when their master calls them in one by one to tell them of their dismissal and its cause.
"In the count's little room each one has been shown the confused image of a misfortune to which he could give no name. And whilst they consoled each other by loudly declaring that it could not kill you to be dismissed from a good house with a good character, that there were plenty of gentlemen's houses in Milan-while they said such things they were perplexed by finding in their hearts something stronger than the thousand lire, taking away the value of that banknote. Cecchino, for instance, was certain that if the 'signor conte' has said to him, 'give me back your banknote and I will take you with me to Sardinia,' he would have said 'yes.' Giovanni, more sincere or more prudent, confessed that he would have asked for time to reflect, and would have said 'no' in the end; but they all knew there was some one inside them who would have longed to conclude such a ruinous bargain."
Then, again, the thought of Sardinia, the old home of his race, to which their master is returning, is perplexing. The kitchen boy, who always likes to show that he has learned something at school, hastily explains that Sardinia is an island. The cook, as usual, promptly quenches him.
"I know it is an island; but I want to know what sort of an island it is, if it like our parts, if the people talk a language one can understand. Because, my boy, I knew before you were born that an island was one thing and a mainland another. We have mainland here, Milan, Como, Pavia, Brescia. Sardinia, instead, is an island."
To this island most of the servants succeeded in following Count Cosimo and Countess Beatricetheir friend Professor Silvio and his little niece Angela (connections of the family), and the maid Annetta, who are escorting the coffin of Countess Veronica to Sardinia, where she has "willed" to be buried. It is a trying journey. Some passengers refuse to go on board with them; they agree with the old sailors, who observe that, "it is never lucky to have a corpse on board. Of course, if the soul is in purgatory, you get on somehow, but if it is a lost soul, there's no saying what may happen." The last traveler who rushes on board just as they are starting considers himself aggrieved and stands
glaring about him for "the owners of the corpse." Poor Annetta, meanwhile, consoles herself by the familiar, childish amusement of "pretence."
"Very stiff, with uplifted head and anxious eyes, she busied herself with playing the part of the little Englishwoman, thin and nervous-and she succeeded very well, partly assisted by a large green veil in which the Countess Veronica, poor soul, had made her first sea voyage. The honest girl had no wish to cheat her neighbor, she was incapable of long concealing her true self-but she experienced an indescribable pleasure in the thought that the sailors and passengers would take her for an Englishwoman, until she chose to undeceive them by asking some questions in good Italian."
And so around the private tragedy, the dead woman, the perplexed little knot of mourners with their uncertain future, their anxieties, their lost place in the world, gather all the callous incongruities of the outer life, the bustle, the fret, the quaint humor, the unresting, busy ways. Few of us have not sometimes experienced the sort of oppression so daintily depicted here, in our darker days, when Frau Sorge no longer "sits by the bedside knitting," but tramps through our desolate rooms, pulls up our shrouding blinds, torments us with the distracting energy of a too-busy housewife.
In the midst of it all, Count Casimo is alone with his most piercing anxiety. This lovely, laughing, little wife of his, always treated as a plaything, always kept in the dark as to his troubles, this Beatrice, who "knows nothing, sees nothing," he thinks, how is he to prepare her for their changed life? As the night darkens, as he feels round him the solitude of the sea, he paces the deck, asking himself these things, until a gentle voice calls him. Beatrice comes to his side, and he finds, remorsefully, that the butterfly soul he had imagined, is, indeed, a woman's, alive with keen and delicate perceptions, wounded by his attempt to suffer alone. As soon as he has told her his troubles, she is content; when he would add hopeful words she stops him.
"It is enough," she says, "that you confide in me to-night-you shall comfort me to-morrow."
But to-morrow she needs no comfort; the simple, picturesque, Sardinian life; the melancholy landscape, the new interests, are welcome to her. Her quick sympathies, her own tried feelings, the vigilant love that reveals to her the consequences of a young intrigue of Casimo's, the troubled heart of Silvio, the real parentage of the child she resolves to adopt, all her bright, bird-like, tender ways make Beatrice a fascinating creation. With her penetrating womanliness is contrasted the girlish sentiment of little Angela, whose whole heart goes out to a poor outlawed father, hiding among the wild shepherd-folk of the island. Among them we are intro
duced to a specially delightful old shepherd bandit, who has defied "justice" out of pure love for the outlaw Giorgio. He carries a little spelling-book about with him as constantly as his gun and pistol, for he has set his heart on learning to read Giorgio's letters when he has to leave the island. He is a cheery old fellow, but not altogether free from the torments of remorse; for in self-defense he has maimed a soldier and killed a spy, and he is truly sorry that he did not maim the spy and kill the soldier. After all, the soldier was a brave fellow, who deserved to die quickly, while the spy was a traitor, and it would have served him right to be kept limping about the world for years.
There is a connecting link between "The Hundred Eyes of Love" and the later work, "Pe' belli occhi della Gloria," where one of Farina's pathetically simple characters, a painter who goes blind in his old age, seems occasionally to speak for the author himself.
"After all," he says, speaking of his fame abroad, but hostile criticism at home, "we are but flesh and blood, and our life and happiness depends upon the flesh and blood that is nearest"; an observation that has an autobiographical ring about it. And when his son is praised for "faithfully reproducing what he has seen," he objects:
"You know better than I do,' he says, 'that exactly the contrary has occurred; it is not truth that preserves art, for art has no need of preservation by anything whatever, but it is eternal art that preserves truth. And this is the great merit of the artist, that he can throw a veiled effect over common things, and make them beautiful. You have idealized a marsh, and that is your glory. I do not know what happens among writers, but no one will get it out of my head that the scenes which they represent with the pen are somewhat idealized, even when they are most real. Because they have to say something, and they can only say what the author has seen, and you know that out of every ten persons looking at the same thing, nine will see something different which each has put in for himself.' 'And the tenth?' asked Tito, smiling. "The tenth is the copyist, the man who cannot interpret, who makes an inventory and thinks himself the most truthful of all, because he scrupulously says nothing; therefore, he is not an idealist, he is simply false.""
The pictures of the old painter and his son in this book form its great charm; the love affairs of Tito being less successful. On the whole, we scarcely think it equal to "Amore ha Cent' Occhi," or to the home chronicles of his advocate, Placidi, so happy with his careful young wife, so absorbed in care for his children, so skillful in giving us an entirely satisfying picture of quiet home life. This is a production that has few defects, but perhaps the work that
will most surely uphold Farina's fame is the "Last Battle of Priest Agostino." Nothing could excel the unaffected humanness of this priest, who is almost as powerful to make us smile at him and love him as the Vicar of Wakefield himself. He stands before us with a far more convincing reality than the "Abbe Constantin," and it is quite free from that barley-sugar effect which is too often inseparable from the simple piety of French fiction. In the "Priest Agostino," on the contrary, we find a masterly delineation of simple piety as it is found in real life—that is, a mental condition unable to draw a distinction between the most awful abstraction and the concrete details of common life. Such a mind habitually views the most startling contrasts on the same level, and reduces its religion to a set of practical rules, producing present or future practical benefits. It knows no wrestling with the strong and torturing angel for the incommunicable name of God. To the other class of mind, wherein that tremendous Word is inseparable from the mysterious echoes it awakens, the sounds these simple ones hear seem strangely short and crude. The mystic, abruptly confronted by them, is arrested with a sort of dislocating shock-he is like a classical scholar trying to make the unlearned feel the charm of some immortal tale of Greece, and finding that shorn of its associations it shows but as a silly legend of a barbarous age. Such is the piety of "Priest Agostino."
He does not celebrate the first mass at St. Angelo every day, because he is so saintly and self-denying, as his landlady imagines, but because he is very poor, and for the celebration of the first mass he receives more than the two lire he would get later in the day. Yet he is most careful to celebrate devoutly. He is pleased with the devotion of his landlady, who attends this first mass every morning; he is equally pleased with her rapidity in running home directly he has pronounced the "Ite missa est," to get the hot coffee ready for his return. He is not above jesting with his landlord, a freethinking railway employe, and playing with his suspicion that the priest is a miser who hoards money; he is frankly delighted when the landlady gets a specially good dinner for him, and he coaxes her mischievous little boy into learning his catechism and desiring to serve at mass by a reward of caramels. He is even a little cold in his reception of the devout mother's hopes of indulgences hereafter.
""Tell him,' she urges the priest, 'tell him how many days' indulgence a person gets by serving at mass-only tell him!'
"A great many,' answers the priest; but mindful of little Bortolino's probable point of view, he hastens to add: 'Bortolino can gain both indulgences in purgatory and caramels on earth.'"
Yet all these little concessions and frailties do not
leave his conscience quite easy. Perhaps, he thinks, he ought to have spoken more of the Absolution and of the joys of Paradise than of such things as caramels. But then Bortolino cared so much more about caramels! Only suppose he had been encouraging the boy to learn his catechism through the deadly sin of gluttony. Poor Agostino cannot quiet this scrupulous conscience of his.
"An old priest like you,' it says, 'ought not to care so much about dinner, breakfast and coffee. An old priest ought not to encourage Severino's fancy that you are rich and miserly-he ought not to speak the truth, hoping it will be taken for a lie, as you did when you said you were as poor as a church mouse.'
Yet, with all his scruples and his poverty, the old man is happy; he loves his walks through the sweet spring weather, and the greetings of the little children, who are all friends of his; he has great delight in his Horace and Catullus, and every evening he enjoys a game at "tarocco" with a few friends in a room behind the chemist's shop. Every night at Io he is in bed, reading a Latin poet; every night at II he takes leave of Lesbia, or of the muse, to make his peace with the Lord, and by a quarter past he is sleeping sweetly.
"Already having entered into the great silence of old age, he loved to listen to the alluring voices of nature, mingled with a hundred other voices, that once had spoken within him. There were voices among them that had been cries of pain. Now the place of forgetfulness was found, and Prete Agostino rejoiced, because he felt no more the torment of the past... And then men, feelings, ideas, even passions-all the old world that he had well-nigh forgotten-received new splendor on some sunny days and iridescent brightness he had never seen before. And there was revealed to him the charm the living thing has not, or rarely has, but which the thing that has lived keeps forever."
And so he tells himself the struggle is over, the battle of life ending in peace, until his calm is broken by an appeal for spiritual aid from a neighbor of his, a scientific man, who has been prostrated by illness and by the death of his wife and children. The shrinking of the old man from this interview, his pathetic procrastination, the effort with which he enters the sick man's room at last, are beautifully told; and then, in this dreadful moment of conscious inadequacy, face to face with a stranger who is probably familiar with chemistry and other sciences terrible to his imagination, Agostino finds nothing but a mocking line from Horace recur to his mind
"Da mihi fallere da justum sanctumque videri." The very statement of the skeptic's doubts suggests to him terrible misgivings, and he feels in himself no spiritual resource whence to draw