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estantism worries and disgusts me. The cut short and not pleased by the remark. false imputations, the false witnesses “Where?” said M. de Pontois. against neighbors, a national crime of Spain - at Waterloo." Ah, bah !" cried which England is guilty towards Catholics, M. Thiers. “It is true they beat us, but wears out my patience. It weakens that why?" “I don't know why," answered which I had hoped to draw yet closer. No M. de Pontois ;“ but the fact remains that doubt the liberty of Catholics is respected we never beat them." “Yes, we did," in outward matters, and politically they said M. Tiers, “at Fontenoy." have valuable rights which they freely use.
We do not think it would occur to But this is balanced by the atmosphere of calumny which surrounds them, and any two Englishmen, at whatsoever against which it is always necessary to point of savagery, to discuss the infestruggle, and that is wearisome, or to en- riority of the French army at a French dure, and that is intolerable. Besides dinner-table in Paris or elsewhere ; but which I can as little sympathize with the this is one of the most distinct national anti-national tone adopted by English differences in respect of manners. Catholics, and especially by converts, Mrs. Bishop is very sparing in dethough what I hear of the other side justi- tails of the wider life which Mrs. fies them to a certain degree.
Craven lived in the midst of her days. All this is very true, though we
This is about the only sketch we can doubt if the Catholic scorn of Protes- find of one of the eminent persons tants is not equal to the Protestants' among whom she passed her life. It calumny of Catholics. “No popery
seems a ridiculously long time since is a hideous and horrible superstition,
Lord Palmerston was one of the greatand we are perfectly willing to ac
est figures in Europe. Everything has knowledge as much ; but perhaps it is so changed that his personality, his as well for national good feeling not to attitude, the effect he produced on the inquire into the balance on that other Continent, and the most characteristic side. While we are on the subject of popularity which he possessed at home, French and Euglish, however, we must strike us with a sense of distance which
is absurd when we remark how many quote one delightful living scene, an amusing sharp interlude which took people are still living who can recall place at an English table, and in which
that gay and careless figure, so Enwe can almost hear the two French- glish, so unlike anything traditionally men snapping their brief sentences at
known as English, so embarrassing to each other over the heads of the En- the foreign spectator, so congenial in
Mrs. Craven's glish listeners with that frank and paradox to ourselves. complete indifference to the opinions portrait of the great statesman has,
with some natural mistakes, a great of the persons under discussion which
deal of truth in it. is so charmingly characteristic of their nation. The scene is a small dinner. He is not a great party leader as his party at Holland House, and the chief friends represent him to be, and as the talker no less a person than M. position he holds would indicate ; neither Thiers :
is he the evil genius which the greater part
of Europe will have him to be. In fact, he It was a very small dinner-party, and the is in no way a genius, and he is nothing little great man talked with brilliancy as great. His nearest approach to greatness he explained the reasons why the English is in his imperturbable good temper, which army was so inferior to the French. The remains unshadowed whether he is in or English, he repeated frequently, have no out of office, beaten or triumphant, viomerit but that of courage. The guests lently attacked or unduly praised. He is who were present did not contradict him, always the same, always ready to do jusuntil M. de Pontois exclaimed with stento- tice to his adversaries, never embittered rian energy, “You are right no doubt, they against them, never even impatient. In have not military qualities ; but they are 1852 I was in Broadlands at the time when the only soldiers who have beaten us. he resigned office under Lord John Rus“Oh! where?” cried M. Thiers, suddenly I sell's government. I saw no traces of
resentment in him; he did not say a word advantage of his own country, which of recrimination or bitterness, nor did he was certainly the foreign view of him. assume affected moderation. The only However, as this is, or was, the foreign perceptible difference appeared in a greater view of all English administration, elasticity of spirits in his conversation, sharpened in his case by a keen sense He was less reserved and more playful, and
as of diabolical cleverness, promptigave more time to society. His indifference to general opinion seems contempt for tude, and energy, it is perhaps the less it; his taste for liberty gains for him the important. reputation of being revolutionary. He does
The best time, according to ordinary not write exactly as he speaks, and it is sin- ideas, of Mrs. Craven's life was already gular that fewer rash words escape him in over when her literary career began. the heat of speech than in a despatch writ- The publication of the “Récit d'une ten at leisure. In short, he is in England Sour gave a new beginning to an generally master of his hearers, because he existence of which it might truly be knows them so well, while his ignorance said that it had comprised almost everyabout foreigners is extreme ; and his tol- thing that society could give and all erant spirit towards his fellow-countrymen the knowledge and experience that becomes colored by the strongest prejudices could be acquired among the highest when he has to do with other people. That explains some of his mistakes, and the dis
haunts of men. There was nobody like felt for him outside his own country; she did not know, nothing she had not and yet this dislike is unjust. Notwith-seen, few things indeed in which she standing his misconceptions, nothing is had not had her share, more or less, less true than that he has the wish attrib- though unfortunately without any of uted to him to revolutionize Europe for the those great results which, humanly benefit of England. He loves justice as speaking, the world seems to have had sincerely as he hates oppression.
a right to expect. But now a fresh thinks it is for the interest of all nations
range of new sensations and successes that they should be governed as well as possible. He has the right to think that be that ideal ambassadress of which
opened before her. She was never to the political experiences of his country have been fortunate ; but he is wrong not perhaps in the deepest secrets of her to see that elsewhere the risks of English wind she had once dreamt. But there methods might be greater than their ad-was a new world to be conquered all vantages, and that, though it is easy to the same. Even during the most bril. mimic English institutions, it is not easy liant period of her career it had been to imitate them.
her greatest happiness to retire into
the passionate and joyous and sad We remember the amusement and world of her youth, living it over again surprise with which we heard many in the letters of the past, and carrying years ago the Count Montalembert on from year to year a delicate work express himself on the same subject. of arrangement, of selection, with the The cheerful “ Pam ” of that wide and hope some time of revealing to a circle familiar English popularity, which is of sympathizers, wider even than those apt, let us allow, to become too famil- who already knew of it by personal iar, if not vulgar, in its widest exten- connection or friendship, the delightful sion, was to that acutest of French tender story of her brother and sister critics something like a new incarna- the romance of Christian and Catholic tion of the devil. A certain awe was life which was in her hands in the in the dislike and repugnance with “ Histoire” of Alexandrine. It was which he was regarded, an emblem of her luxury to turn to this when there ruthless national selfishness, arrogance, was an interval of special quiet, or and uuscrupulousness. Perhaps there when the interest of external life was a certain truth in this outside temporarily failed. But it was not judgment, and Lord Palmerston did till 1863, when her life was on the really think no claims in the world of verge of many and great changes, that auy importance in competition with the it was completed. She took it to Paris
LIVING AGE. VOL. VI. 307
to submit it to her friends and take | sition. The same effect was produced their advice as to its publication. Al- in several others to whom the manu. most the only survivor of that period script was submitted. The Count de of romance and happiness was Count Mun objected to the publication of the de Montalembert, the gentle Montal letters of his wife, which formed so of Alexandrine's story, the Catholic great a part of the collection ; but he, democrat of the Avenir, the champion too, was overcome by the charm of of freedom and education, the his- that revelation of youth and uncontorian of monks and saints, whose scious natural feeling. These critics period of public life was long over, and consented first that the book should be who was now hard bound by failing printed for private circulation only; health to — the hardest of punishments but a privacy of five huudred copies is for so active and brilliant a mind a easily broken, and soon all France was sick-room in the midst of the intellec- talking and weeping over Alex and tual commotion of Paris. It is difficult Eugénie and the love tale, almost for in a few words to indicate such a the first time told in all its purity and character as that of Count de Mon-grace half infantile, half angelic. talembert — all goodness and geniality Much has that country always kuown without, all keen observation, keen about love impure and forbidden; wit, and swift sarcastic perception there is no such authority in all the within ; an enthusiast, yet the acutest intricate ways of so-called passion. man of the world, with an eagle eye But this was altogether new, and so for every pretence, yet in sympathy true that the most prudent nation in with anything that was genuine and the world was partially frightened, partrue, even when quite out of his tially overawed, and altogether consphere. But for the much more emo- quered by the fascination of the fairy tional tone natural in France which his tale – terrified to let its girls know that English blood and training occasionally such a thing could be in a world where made a little shamefaced in him, we the dot and the eligible parti were the might have considered it a doubtful things alone to be considered, yet caradvantage to submit the wonderful ried away by a tide of feeling which ethereal romance of Albert and Alex- flesh and blood could not resist. andrine to a critic so clear and so It is not very often given, even to a trenchant. But he had taken his share writer of genius, to produce such an in that romance in his youth, and was effect as this; and Mrs. Craven, still, and until the end of his days, not-though one of the cleverest of women, withstanding his keen sarcastic humor, was not in any way a person of genius. the same chivalrous and romantic son She wrote a number of books afterof the Crusaders who had once wards, which were not of very great dreamed of conjoining all the powers account, and which, indeed, we should of Church and State in the service of have been as well pleased she had not freedom. So paradoxical a character written. The " Récit d'une Sæur' is always of the highest interest to the had very little to do with any literary spectator. Montalembert played the gift of hers, or of any one's. The part of a critic as he might have been letters and simple story of which it is expected to do.
He was at first composed are charmingly written, but strongly opposed to the publication of without any pretension to style, or rea book so intimately opening up the flecting any special intellectual power. most private recesses of the heart to They are a simple revelation of life, in the public eye, with a very natural which there was nothing unusual, no feeling which scarcely required to be fantastic effort, but only a spirit, pure intensified by the prejudices of a and noble, which transformed the conFrenchman against publicity. But as monest action ; vague lights of almost the beauty of the book gained upon miracle, too, were on the horizon, like him, Montalembert withdrew his oppo-Ithat story of the Jew who, straying by
chance into the church where M. de la wholesome interest in the world and Ferropays, the most modest, the most all its ways, such as was characteristic humble of all, without any pretensions of Mrs. Craveu, with the prevailing of saintliness, lay awaiting his burial, religious habit of her mind — two was suddenly convulsed by the pangs things which she managed to combine of compunction and conversion, and, so much better than most people to the crying, “ Ce monsieur doit avoir beau- great advantage of both phases — and coup prié pour moi,” became a Chris- which was so admirably remarked upon tian on the spot, and afterwards a by Carlyle, in words which Mrs. Cradevoted priest and monk. We do not ven herself quotes : “ There's about ye mean the faintest satire, yet we almost a mixture of worldliness and earnestthiuk that the devotion of a well- ness which pleases me very much.” known figure among ourselves to this It is not, perhaps, to be expected that book and its writers is as remarkable this combination should find equal as the conversion of Father Ratis- favor with one most anxious to point bonne.
out the unworldliness of the character This great success was followed by which she wishes to portray. There as great a crash of calamity and dis- was never anything ungenerous, any aster in Mrs. Craven's life. We are failure of sympathy with all noble asnot told how Mr. Craven lost his pirations, in the worldliness of Mrs. money. It would seem to have been Craven. Here are some of her reflecchiefly from the eager share he took tions at a trying moment, when the in schemes for the improvement of woman, who has had so many of the Naples, when that long-troubled coun- successes of society, and prized then, try finally became part of the kingdom awakens suddenly to the consciousness of Italy, and everybody believed that that a term has come to her natural its new and unaccustomed freedom course of triumph : would bring sudden enlightenment,
The time that has elapsed has been a public spirit, and universal ameliora
memorable time for me. During three tion, results which are never to be had weeks I was ill. My illness was aggravated all at once. However that may be, the
by solitude, and during that solitude I was money was lost, and had to be followed attacked with a violence I never felt before, by the palace at Chiatomone, the villa by every impression, real or imaginary, at Castagneto, and all that was most which could most disturb me, and threw beautiful and precious in the acces- me into a state of depression as miserable sories of life. Eventually Mr. and as it was humiliating. Mrs. Craven settled in an apartment in
During my illness and solitude I had all Paris, in the old Faubourg, which she of a sudden a clear vision of the final deby no means loved, but where a dwel- parture of that reflected youth which I ling-place was found, with the freedom do. It was a sharp pain, for an instant, as
had retained, perhaps, longer than others of a view over the garden of a convent, if I had suddenly passed from youth to age. which reconciled Mrs. Craven for many I thought of my charming and happy printhings. The Montalemberts lived in cess, and all her lively and happy feelings, the same quarter, with many other old and that atmosphere of kindliness that she friends. It was a perfectly appropriate carries with her, her confident aspirations, retirement for the fallen fortunes of a her courage, whether to enjoy or to wish, pair whom no reverse of fate could to suffer or to hope. And besides all that make uninteresting to the world, or she has been, and the many interests which separate from their own caste and kind. have filled her life, she has the sense of As the course of life goes on, how- youth-the sense of triumph, which is
doubtless what the Bible calls the pride of ever, Mrs. Bishop confines herself
life. I remember how vividly I felt it ; and more and more to the graver side of her
my self-love, always, alas ! so great, whisfriend's life. She misses, or perhaps pered besides that not only was I young, does not care to acknowledge, the great but that I was dowered with some of the charm which there is in the union of a gifts which give radiance to youth.
And now all that is over and past and tions thereupon should be instru. already far distant, and instead of having mental in purifying French fiction. gradually become aware of my decline, it The incident is effective and melodrasuddenly breaks on me that but yesterday matic, but it is not even new, having I was young and to-morrow I shall be old.
been employed before in works of the Her literary career is perhaps not
old school. It is contrary to all the much to be reckoned with, but it was
cavons of a more refined art, and is an important feature of her later life, extremely unlikely to modify the ideas as it is in the lives of many people
of M. Paul Bourget, or even of M. whose productions are much less
Georges Ohnet. This is a mistake knowu to this world than even hers.
which many good people make, but it Mrs. Craveu knew better than to insist is scarcely what we should have ex. upon her literary achievements, but pected from Mrs. Craven, who ought still she was not without her ambition,
to have known so much better. How.
of the and the aim she set before herself, ever, the immense success
« Récit d'une Sour" though modestly expressed, was
no doubt insmall aim — if she or any one else creased her sense of the power of .could have carried it out.
religious feeling even
over a world
lying in wickedness. But, after all, a As to my writing (she says) as you wish, religious-minded woman ought to have on general social topics, you are mistaken been able to recover her balance, one in thinking I have the natural talent to do would think, without reference to a it or power to do it to any purpose. I priest in a matter so clear as her con. must go on my way attempting to purify jugal duties. His introduction vulgarFrench fiction, to redeem that word Love izes and reduces the victory to a lower from the profanation which has made it level. The lesson is taken from the almost unpronounceable in French, and to secular romancist rather than given to revive or produce some little sentiment of
him. poetry in my dear but most prosaïque Faubourg St. Germain, where (next to the
This was not at all the inspiration of other one) poetry is the most forbidden of the “Récit d'une Sæur.” There is words, and is in itself looked upon as a
no introduction of any conventional most dangerous ingredient in life, whereas confessional or priestly influence in it seems to me so obvious that the present that true and simple tale. Alexandanger of even the best French society lies drine comes to the fold of the Church in exactly the opposite direction. If, on by slow action of her own thoughts, the other hand, I could also induce some of her own love, the profound piety which the writers of modern French fiction to be breathes about her, and which was lieve that strong feelings and even passion evidently quite new to her fervid can exist in that region of purity and good young spirit. All is nature and sponness outside of which they live and write, the whole of the little good of which I am
taneous simple action, the noiseless capable would be accomplished.
influences of heaven, no doubt, the
equally noiseless progress of inclination We think Mrs. Craven was mistaken and sympathy. Here the actual is inin speaking of this as a little good - as tinitely more poetical than the fictimuch mistaken as we believe she was tious, and far more real and convincing. in supposing that she would ever ac- Her books, however, remained of sufficomplish it. It exceeds the power of cient importance in France to secure the imagination to conceive how a her an annuity from her publisher for series of stories founded on the first the end of her life, even after their principle of giving a religious turn 10 first popularity was over ; which shows every incident
of founding a wom- there is always an audience for good – an's power, for instance, to resist the should they even occasionally prove temptations of a forbidden love solely goodly – works of fiction, and was an upon the fact of a sudden confession to excellent and laudable result in its way, an unknown priest, and his admoni. I though not so great as that purification