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race as the French can accept the term 'scientific novel.' We have heard the theories of science ironically called a fiction, but it is difficult to see how fiction can be erected into a science. The knowledge of a scientific student of medicine remains empirical until, by amassing a number of facts, and carrying out a large number of experiments, he makes it actual. This, the writer of fiction, by the nature of his art, which ties him to the treatment of one set of facts, is precluded from doing. Flaubert himself says:
In spite of all the genius brought to bear on the development of one fable taken as an example, another fable can be made use of to prove the contrary, for 'dénouements' are not conclusions. You cannot deduce general principles from one fact, and people who think they are making a step forward in that direction are at issue with modern science, which insists on the multiplication of facts before establishing a law.
The art of fiction is entirely governed by personality. It is a spontaneous effort of the creative faculty, and has nothing in common with the conclusions of natural phenomena, in which nothing can be created. We stop the new school, then, at the science of sociology, keystone of their edifice; for sociology is a study of humanity in the aggregate, while the novel must essentially be a study of humanity in the individual.
Flaubert had the misfortune to promulgate many theories, and unfortunately to be accepted literally by an inferior set of thinkers. We had a right to ask bread of such a genius as he, and he has given us a stone; but the pessimism, that like a canker has eaten into Flaubert's work, is farther to seek than in his own personality or that of his followers. Frenchmen are dreamers of dreams. Their genius ever endeavours to scale the heavens. The Revolution had awakened hopes and ambitions it had never been able to fulfil. Full of feverish restlessness they had fought and apparently conquered Europe under the leadership of Napoleon. When he disappeared the whole fabric tumbled to pieces like a pack of cards. They were cast back on themselves to feed on their disillusionment; hence a morbid cynicism and bitter atheism permeated all classes, finding expression in Alfred de Musset's Rolla, in Balzac's Comédie Humaine, and later in Gustave Flaubert's Mme. Bovary. The third Napoleon endeavoured to follow in the footsteps of his uncle; we know with what result. Deceived a second time, the gloom of pessimism seems to have descended on the young school of realists more impenetrably than ever. Their critics laugh at them; recommend douches,' iron,' 'devotion to domestic duties,' or repeat Voltaire's celebrated advice to the pessimists of his time, cultivez votre jardin.' The evil exists, and is undermining all vigorous thought and artistic endeavour in France. Le monde Latin s'en va,' Flaubert writes to George Sand; but at the same time he hardly recognises the superior robustness of those gentlemen (the VOL. XX.-No. 117.
Germans) who smash mirrors in white kid gloves, know Sanscrit, drink one's champagne, but who, he is obliged to confess naïvely, took nothing from La Croisset but a needle-case and a pipe.' George Sand had inherited some of the Koenigsmarck blood, and with it a healthier, robuster texture of mind, which, had she been a man, subjected to the same scientific and practical bringing up as Flaubert, would have made a greater artist.
The individual named George Sand is well [she writes towards the end]; he is enjoying the wonderfully mild winter that reigns in Berry, is gathering flowers, making botanical discoveries, sewing dresses and mantles for his daughter-in-law, costumes for marionnettes, arranging theatrical decorations, dressing dolls, reading music, and playing with little Aurore, the most wonderful child on the face of the globe. There is no one calmer or more happy in his domestic surroundings than this old troubador retired from business, who sings from time to time his little romance to the moon, without particularly caring whether he sings well or ill so long as he speaks what passes through his brain, and who the rest of the time idles delightfully. It has not been so well with him all his life; he was stupid enough to be young once; but as he did not do any ill, or know bad passions, or live for personal vanity, he is happy enough to be quiet and find amusement in everything.
Alexandre Dumas describes her in her old age wandering about her garden in a broad-brimmed hat. She was gathering impressions, he says, absorbing the universe, steeping herself in nature; and at night she would give this forth as a sort of emanation. George Eliot recognised her greatness in spite of the prejudice that existed in England against the author of Lelia. 'I don't care,' she says, whether I agree with her about marriage or not-whether I think the design of her plot correct, or that she had no precise design at all, but began to write as the spirit moved her, and trusted to Providence for the catastrophe--which I think the more probable case. It is sufficient for me, as a reason for bowing before her in eternal gratitude to that "great power of God manifested in her,” that I cannot read six pages of hers without feeling that it is given to her to delineate human passion and its results, and (I must say in spite of your judgment) some of the moral instincts and their tendencies, with such truthfulness, such nicety of discrimination, such tragic power, and, withal, such loving, gentle humour, that one might live a century with nothing but one's own dull faculties and not know so much as those six pages will suggest.'
We cannot resist giving two more extracts from her letters. writes to Gustave Flaubert from Nohant, January 15, 1870 :
Here I am at home, tolerably convalescent, except an hour or two every evening; but that will pass away in time. The suffering, or he who endures it,' as my old cure used to say, 'cannot endure for ever.'
I received your letter this morning, dear friend. Why do I care for you more than many others, even more than old and tried friends? I am trying to find out, for the attitude of my mind at this moment is that of him
qui va cherchant,
Au soleil couchant,
Yes, intellectual fortune, light! There is no doubt, when we grow old and reach the sunset of life (the finest hour for tones and harmonies of colour), we form new ideas of everything, and above all of affection.
When, in the age of vigour and strong personality, we advance towards friendship timorously and tentatively, feeling the ground of reciprocity, one feels solid oneself, and would wish to feel the solidity of that which bears you. But when the intensity of personality has gone, we love people and things for those qualities which they themselves possess, for that which they represent to the eyes of your mind, and not for the possible influence they may exert on your life. They become like a picture or a statue that we wish to possess, when we imagine at the same time a beautiful dwelling in which to place it.
I have traversed the green plains of Bohemia without amassing anything. I have remained foolish, sentimental, a troubadour.' I know it will ever be the same, and that I shall die without hearth or home. Then I think of the statue, the picture and say to myself, What would I do with them if I possessed them? I have no place of honour to put them in, and I am content to know that they are in some temple unprofaned by cold analysis, too far off to be looked at too closely. One loves them all the better, perhaps, and says to oneself, 'I will pass again through the country where they are. I will see and love all that has made me love and appreciate them, but the contact of my personality will not have changed them. It will not be myself I will love in them.'
Thus it is that the ideal that one has given up endeavouring to incorporate, incorporates itself in us, because it remains itself. That is the whole secret of beauty, truth, and love, of friendship, enthusiasm, and faith. Think it over,
To the last she is to do battle for her opinions. Two months before her death, she writes:
Because Zola's Rougon is a valuable work I do not change my opinion. Art ought to be the search for truth, and truth is not the mere portrayal of evil and good. A painter who only sees the one is as wrong as he who only sees the other. Life is not made up of villains and brutes. Honest people cannot even be in a minority, since a certain order reigns in society, and there are no unpunished
Stupidity abounds, it is true, but there is a public conscience that influences stupid people and obliges them to respect right. Let rascals be shown up and punished-that is just and moral; but let us see the other side also. Otherwise the unthinking reader is shocked, frightened, and, to save himself from a disagreeable impression, refuses to listen.
His letter in reply to the last of the series ends, 'You have always done me good, intellectually and morally. I love you tenderly.'
And so ends this delightful artistic dialogue, from which indeed we would gladly have given other extracts had space allowed of our doing so.
In an interesting essay of Hazlitt's he discusses what characters. he would rather have met, and under what circumstances. He suggests a gossip at their club with Addison and Steele, a dinner
with Johnson and Burke, a supper with Charles Lamb. I would add a morning spent with George Sand in her garden at Nohant, when age had modified her views and matured her judgment. While the world scolded and fought' she remained an enthusiast, a believer in good, a troubadour singing ideal art and love. Through all her correspondence there is no trace of vanity, selfishness, or jealousy of others' fame; but, on the contrary, a generous carelessness, a courage and independence which are rare in the greatest of her sex. She touches every subject, often superficially and inaccurately; but her brain is ever active, ever bright, full of hope, aspiration, and the impetuous desire for good.
N. H. KENNARD.
NOTWITHSTANDING the vast improvements that have taken place in the department of legal relief to the poor during the last twenty-five years, those who are best acquainted with the subject can hardly rest satisfied with the amount of reform to which we have attained, and we therefore desire briefly to call attention to some points which we consider still demand investigation and redress.
It need hardly be said that the subject is not a popular one, and that it meets with little sympathy from the public-scarcely even from philanthropists whose study may be the poor and their requirements. Had the vast interests involved in the expenditure and control of eight millions annually been considered as it deserves to be in the past, the grievances and abuses which have now been exposed during the last thirty years could never have taken place. Had even a due interest been felt in the election of our representatives for this great work we might have left the matter safely in their hands; but to the apathy and neglect of this primary duty may be traced the mismanagement to which we have alluded. Even if the large institutions scattered through the land were closed and inaccessible to the outside public, who contributed the rates for their support, still it was open to all, and an obvious duty, to use every exertion to secure the election of the best men (and we may now add women) to ensure the right management of these vast concerns.'
We can now thankfully acknowledge that an improvement has begun in this respect, which may, we believe, be partly traced to the interest excited in the fact that women have come forward to fill these posts of usefulness; fifty are now scattered through the 647 Boards of Guardians in the land, and, small as the number is by comparison, yet we can truly say they have made their mark and done good service to the cause of the poor and helpless, of whom women and children form so large a proportion.
Yet this is one of the points still urgently requiring attention and interest, as is proved by the fact that in one important West-end
One means of creating an interest in Poor Law management would be the publication in each union of an annual report or statement of the workhouse and infirmary, with details of expenditure. It will scarcely be believed that only two Metropolitan Boards print and circulate any such statement at present.