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men trying to amuse the public. Some of them I am told are positively fond of politics.'” Yet this heroic artist, who professes to be superior to the desire for fame__“Vulgarity'made immortal” as he calls it—eventually confesses that the absence of a publisher and the want of money are the real reasons which prevent his seeking for it. He very gladly allows the heroine to publish for him, on the condition that he alone dictates the style in which the volume is to appear; the result of which, as regards the cost, is somewhat alarming. But before that he reads the poems aloud before an audience of three ; and there are some humorous touches in the description of this ceremony: “ His poems belonged to what might be called the literature of disease. In principle, they said to corruption, ' Thou art my father, and to the worm, 'Thou art my mother and my sister.' They dealt largely in graves and corpses, and the loves of skeletons and the sweet virtues of sin, and the joys of despair and dyspepsia." This is excellent good; but the feeling of the heroine in listening to these
these ghastly rhymes contains something better still, for it reveals the reason why this nasty Bandelaire school has no actual life in it. “ When she saw the genuine earnestness of the poet her inclination to laugh all died away, and she became filled with pity and pain. Then she tried hard to admire the verses, and could not. At first the conceits and paradoxes were a little startling, and even shocking, and they made one listen. But the mind soon became attuned to them, and settled down and was stirred no more. Once you knew that Mr. Blanchet liked corpses, his peculiarity became of no greater interest than if his liking had been for babies. When it was made clear that what other people called hideousness he called beauty, it did not seem to matter much more than honest Faulconbridge's determination, if a man's name be John, to call him Peter.” Here lies the whole thing in a nutshell. When we have accepted the fact that a certain school of poets prefer corpses, skeletons, vampires, death's heads, and all things ghastly to any form of healthy beauty ; when we know that they like making love to lepers, and leaping into graves without Hamlet's excuse of a distraught mind; when we have fully taken in the ineffable merits of sensuousness, satiety, sickly sin, and all the rest of it—what then? Why, then, we look to the music and the merits of the verse, getting used, if we can, to the likes and dislikes of the author. And we cannot but feel a sympathy for the unfortunate poet who must henceforth be, to use a phrase of Mr. Higginson's lately applied to a very different class of writers, the victims of their own attitudes. Having declared for vampires, can they decently return to flesh and blood ? Mr. McCarthy's depiction is unsparing. He does not restrict himself to poets. There is a composer, called Mellifont, who is producing an opera which will sound the death-knell of all the existing schools of music. They are all wrong, sir, from first to last, from Mozart. to Wagner-all wrong, except Mellifont.” This great composition is called “The Seven Deadly Sins.” “It is to be in seven acts,” explains the musician's friend and admirer, “and each act is to give an entirely new illustration of a deadly sin, which Mellifont will show to be the only true virtues of mankind. It will make a revolution, I can tell you." These pictures of an amusing modern form of life make “Miss Misanthrope" one of Mr. McCarthy's most amusing novels. As a novelist, speaking generally, his style is rather narrative than dramatic. He has a touch of sheer romance, which leads him to bring the persons of his plot together in the most unexpected manner—in London, in San Francisco, on the wild prairies. But his power lies in careful study of emotion and motive; and this very gift, of a quieter and less startling order than the dramatic, makes him valuable and interesting as an historian. A man who has accustomed himself to the thoughtful and quiet study of human nature, as well as having a wide experience in politics, is certainly the man who should write a history of our own time. It is perhaps a new view of novel writing to regard it as a preparation for something else; but in such a case as this it is an admirable preparation. For what can be more full of almost romantic—and certainly of dramatic–interest than the history of our own immediate past? Mr. McCarthy is, at all events, finding a reward for an arduous labour ; his history is much liked and admired, and has met with considerable success. The two volumes yet to come should be even more full of interest than those already given to the public; they must be more vivid, for they deal with the period which Mr. McCarthy himself has lived through. The satirical gift, the humorous insight, which Mr. McCarthy certainly possesses and hardly seems to have realised, or at all events has not used to any large extent, will be of great service in making clear the lights and shadows of modern political life. When Mr. McCarthy does put on his satirical spectacles, his gaze is so cool and his depiction so literal that it is almost disconcerting. See this keen touch at the unhappy servility of authors :
.... “Having neither genius nor fortune he was driven to make a way for himself; and he hoped to make his way through society. He
one of the first to see that Bohemianism in literature was played out;' that a reaction was setting in; that Belgravianism was to be the next phase through which the literary man was to reach ad astra ; and he was one of the very first to assume boldly the new part of Writer in Society. We all know that some years ago many worthy honest fellows, personally averse to all irregularity and excess, model husbands and fathers, who paid their bills steadily, did nevertheless affect to be wild Bohemians and reckless men of genius just because that was the whim of the hour, and it seemed difficult to obtain a recognition in the guild of literature without conforming to its rules. So in later days many a modest and quiet youth, who hardly knows
Clicquot from old gooseberry, or ever handed his card to a Belgravian lacquey, nevertheless tries to be thought an authority on little dinners, and professes to scorn anybody who is not in society, because such is now the humour of the thing; and light literature, weary of putting on the ways of the ruffian, has taken to imitating the manner and jargon of the footman.” “ Modern Leaders ” is one of Mr. McCarthy's most interesting volumes, but it is almost unknown in England, having been written for Americans, and published only in New York. It is a collection of sketches written for the Galaxy during the period in which Mr. McCarthy worked upon that magazine. As magazine articles they are bright, clever, interesting ; as a volume of essays they form pleasant reading. They are principally biographical, and sometimes there is a touch of that kind of sparkling personality which is more amusing to other people than to the subject of the article ; that close delineation of individuals, which Americans so dearly love, is not altogether absent from these pages. Yet they bear the impress of being simply truthful rather than scandalous, and some of the notices of living authors are well worth reading. They reveal to us more of the author's mind than can be found in his novels. In these biographical sketches we appreciate the novelist's descriptive power. His description of George Eliot, written to bring her individuality before American readers, is a very charming tribute from one novelist to another.
"Her literary career began as a translator and an essayist. Her tastes seemed then to lead her wholly into the somewhat barren field where German metaphysics endeavour to come to the relief or confusion of German theology. . . . She is an accomplished linguist, a brilliant talker, a musician of extraordinary skill. She has a musical sense so delicate and exquisite that there are tender, simple, true ballad melodies which fill her with a pathetic pain almost too keen to bear; and yet she has the firm, strong command of tone and touch, without which a really scientific musician cannot be made. I do not think this exceeding sensibility of nature is often to be found in combination with a genuine mastery of the practical science of music. But Mrs. Lewes has mastered many sciences as well as literatures. Probably no novel writer, since novel writing became a business, ever possessed one tithe of her scientific knowledge. Indeed, hardly anything is rarer than the union of the scientific and the literary or artistic temperaments. So rare is it that the exceptional, the almost solitary, instance of Goethe comes up at once, distinct and striking, to the mind. English novelists are even less likely to have anything of a scientific taste than French or German. Dickens knows nothing of science, and has, indeed, as little knowledge of any kind, save that which is derived from observation, as any respectable Englishman could well have. Thackeray was a man of varied reading, versed in the lighter literature of several languages, and strongly imbued with artistic tastes'; but he had no care for science, and knew nothing of it but just what everyone has to learn at school. Lord Lytton's science is a mere sham. Charlotte Bronté was all genius and ignorance. Mrs. Lewes is all genius and culture. Had she never written page of fiction, nay, had she never written a line of poetry or prose, she must have been regarded with wonder and admiration by all who knew her as a woman of vast and varied knowledge; a woman who could think deeply and talk brilliantly, who could play high and severe classical music like a professional performer, and could bring forth the most delicate and tender aroma of nature and poetry lying deep in the heart of some simple, old-fashioned Scotch or English ballad.” This is but one instance of Mr. McCarthy's capacity for depicting a contemporary portrait with grace, tenderness, almost enthusiasm, and yet truthfulness. Moreover, his biographic sketches merge perpetually into criticism and critical comparison, where the subjects are literary; where they are of political importance, into interesting and vigorous political essays. Here is a piece of literary criticism from an article on George Sand, which appeared in the Galaxy after the article on George Eliot:
“I expressed my conviction that on the whole she (the authoress of “Romola ') is entitled to higher rank as a novelist, than even the authoress of Consuelo.' Many, very many men and women, for whose judgment I have the highest respect, differed from me in this opinion. I still hold it, nevertheless; but I freely admit that George Eliot has nothing like the dramatic insight which enables George Sand to enter into the feelings and experiences of a man. I go so far as to say that, having some knowledge of the literature of fiction in most countries, I am not aware of the existence of any woman but this one who could draw a real, living, struggling, passion-tortured man."
Mr. McCarthy's newest work, the “History of our own Times," commences with the death of William IV., with whom “ended the reign of personal government in England." The volumes are full of interest, being written with a very pleasant brightness. There is no reason why history should not be infinitely more charming than any novel of such writers as Wilkie Collins or Charles Reade, being full at every turn of plot, situation, excitement, and mystery. It does but need a clear and brilliant mind to touch it, and the marvellous medley of human passion, emotion and intrigue, which make up the history of any epoch, must inevitably be full of a fascination all its own. As we have before said, Mr. McCarthy brings to this task just the education and the gifts which it demands. He has also the invaluable quality of impartiality; he is well known to have definite views of his own, yet it would be hard by only reading these volumes to guess to what party he belongs. Thus he may touch the confused images of past events, and bring them into order
before our minds, without adding a new blur of prejudice. Mr. McCarthy's personal pictures are peculiarly vivid and effective, as, for instance, of Lord Brougham, of Mr. Cobden. He makes the men stand out upon
Indeed, they are more remarkable descriptions than those which he produces in his novels; there is all the enthusiasm and fire—there is twice the reality. The figure of Mr. Disraeli is introduced with admirable dramatic judgment. He appears at the end of a chapter, and at the apparent close of a debate in the House : “ The explanation was over. The House of Commons were left rather to infer than to understand what the Government proposed to do. Lord John Russell entered into some personal explanations relating to his endeavour to form a Ministry, and the causes of its failure. These have not much interest for a later time. It might have seemed that the work of the night was done. It was evident that the ministerial policy could not be discussed then; for in fact it had not been announced. The House knew that the Prime Minister was a convert to the principles of Free Trade; but that was all that anyone could be said to know except those who were in the secrets of the Cabinet. There appeared, therefore, nothing for it but to wait until the time should come for the formal announcement and the full discussion of the Government measures. Suddenly, however, a new and striking figure intervened in the languishing debate, and filled the House of Commons with a fresh life. There is not often to be found in our Parliamentary history an example like this of a sudden turn given to a whole career by a timely speech. The member who rose to comment on the explanation of Sir Robert Peel had been for many years in the House of Commons. This was his tenth session. He had spoken often in each session. He had made many bold attempts to win a name in Parliament, and hitherto his political career had been simply a failure. From the hour when he spoke this speech, it was one long, unbroken, brilliant success." In this picture-in this clearing out the point of a life—is visible the novelist's art. The eye of a man who understands effect is turned upon the actions of that politician who has himself so dearly loved effect, and who has so persistently attitudinised through his long career. Lord Beaconsfield is a brilliant and perplexing character in this true story; but the pages are full of vivid figures. They are bright, too, with illustrative comparisons drawn from literature. We find we have an historian who is not only an historian. He studies the political arena and the events of the day with a mind which is not saturated with blue-books alone, but which is also scholarly and liberal.
The History is not only a record of political or national events; the eminent literary figures of the day are also here enshrined. Posterity will certainly have little need to be ignorant of the life and manners of the great man of this generation, so widespread has been the biographic