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order that the poor slave should participate of ridicule, in inducing them to devote more in the blessings of freedom and instruction. time and thought to literary composition, in. And her glory is none the less in that, cold-stead of coming hurriedly before the public hearted as her neighbours call her, she has as authors so soon as they have put together not yielded a corner for planting that cold enough to pass muster as a book. Be his and chilling philosophy which has amongst intention what it may, he certainly does greatthem found so many disciples. If the eman- ly exaggerate when he would impress us with cipation of slaves is a measure requiring to the notion that Russian novels do not average be proceeded in with caution, this necessity above fifty pages per volume; or else we does not arise out of the inequality of races have been singularly fortunate, perhaps the and intelligences established by “ the original contrary, in never having encountered any law of creation ;" but out of the well-known of such slender dimensions. The one we are fact of the slow progress of society, by which about to notice extends to 1183 goodly pages, progress both the intellectual and physical while Bulgarin's “ Dimitrii” (reviewed in our characters of men are modified and chang- 8th volume), consists of upwards of 1400.ed. If to our forefathers of the thirteenth But then a great deduction, we are assured, century had been suddenly given the politi- must be made on account of the awful length cal rights and privileges enjoyed by their de. of the words, owing to which “150 Russian scendants in the nineteenth, the result must printed pages would not make more than 60 have been confusion : to reduce the people to 80 French or English.” Were such re. of the nineteenth century to the political po- ally the case, books translated from other sition of those of the thirteenth would be im- languages would be greatly swelled in bulk, possible. To place the slave, who has been and many a scanty, widely-printed English subject to the whip, suddenly in a position of volume would be improved by the process equality with his master, would, doubtless, be into a very portly tome. We would, there. a dangerous experiment, until he had gradu- fore, recommend some writers nearer home ally and duly learnt to estimate the situation by all means to make interest at St. Peters. he was now called upon to fill.
burg, and get themselves, or, what they may conceive to be the better part of themselvestheir books, into good condition by being translated and decked in the costume of Rus. sian typography. Some of the writings of
Miss Edgeworth, Washington Irving, and Art. IV.-1. Niklas Medviezhia Lapa, Ala- Bulwer, besides those of Sir Walter Scott,
man Kontrabandistov, fc. R. Zotova. have already undergone such metamorphosis, (Nicholas Bearspaw, the Smuggler Chief. with what result we cannot undertake to say, tain; or, Traits of the Life of Frederick never having met with them so disguised; the Great. An Historical Romance by but we are rather obstinately sceptical as to
R. Zotov.) 3 vols. St. Petersburgh, 1837. the asserted dimensions, for it so happens, 2. Poviesti Alexandra Veltmana. (Tales that there is now lying on our table a work
by Alex. Veltman.) Moscow, 1837. in Russian and French, printed in opposite 3. Sovremennik, Literaturniż Zhurnal.
where the latter occupies more space (The Contemporary.) St. Petersburgh, ihan the former ; frequently almost double 1837.
the number of words to express in the one
idiom the meaning of the other. In fact, we Some time has elapsed since we noticed any are almost tempted to call the “Russian cri. productions of Russian literature,- for the tic," a mere impostor, and no Russian at all, paper in our last Number on the “Gazette but an egregious ignoramus, if merely for of the Fine Arts” can hardly claim to be re- talking of ten-syllable words. Undoubtedly garded as doing so,—and even now we must to English newspaper readers Russian names speak of what little better than chance has do appear of most stariling length, barbarous, thrown in our way. We can, however, and almost unpronounceable, especially when speak most decidedly as to the incorrectness dressed out according to German orthogra. of the statement given at page 450 of the phy, which renders one character, at least, a same number, reported to have been made complete phalanx of consonants, such as the by a "Russian critic, and copied from a schischt. Greek itself would be thought ex. Russian periodical. With nothing more than ceedingly uncouth and barbarous in Roman that brief extract for our information, we do characters. But the Russian is so far from not pretend to judge what may be the writer's being a harsh language, that in his comparianimus in drawing so very unfavourable a pic. son and estimate of the various European ture of his countrymen's labours ; possibly, tongues, Jenisch places it next to the Italian he was actuated by a desire to try the effect for softness and musical qualities.
We have, perhaps, bestowed much more literary fashions of other countries, they seem notice on the flippant “ Russian critic” than solicitous to adopt express patterns from he is entitled to on his own account, though these ; as if authorship and tailorship were not more than necessary to undeceive those pretty nearly alike. The very closeness of who may have taken his sneering hyperboles the imitation evinces carelessness and want for sober truth. Such extravagant assertions of study; for study of their models would can be boldly denied : would that we could lead them to reject much, and adopt only with equal confidence, declare the works al. what they can make their own, or improve luded to generally as good in point of quality upon. Owing to this fatal mechanical sys. as of quantity. In itself the charge of defi. tem of imitation, we meet with German marciency in the latter respect, would, if correct, vellousness and horrors, with scenes drawn be reproachful chiefly as leaving it to be in- from Parisian salons and boudoirs, with so ferred that in prose works of fiction nothing much that is obviously exotic, with common. has yet been attempted, beyond sketches place hackneyed characters and events, with which do not afford space for much combi. stale, worn-out satire,-in short, with all the nation of incidents, or development of man. usual assortment of the literary stock in trade ners and character; and which, therefore, and properties of their neighbours, furbished unless they happen to display unusual inge. up afresh, but evidently the worse for the nuity or power,--strong vivid delineation, wear, and looking no better than cast off either comic or pathetic, make but a very frippery. Even where the scene and perslight and transitory impression on the read- sonages are entirely Russian, and belong to er. It would further seem to say, there are the present day, we are forced to look upon no writers capable of inventing a varied and them with mistrust, because very rarely inwell.connected narrative of any extent, or of deed do they possess the air of genuine re. achieving more than either a bare outline, presentations or actual life. For the romandivested of all accessories and details, or else, tic we obtain only the fantastical; for the what is in its very nature episodical, and con- natural we have the childish; for the simple fined to detached scenes and - incidents : the trivial; and the maudlin for the pathetic. these, unless drawn with ability, are apt to be Almost all is more or less strained, in false, provokingly feeble and vapid. Are we to if not uniforınly bad taste, and without any understand from the “critic's” remarks, that of that freshness of mind which bestows the this department of Russian literature is now attraction of novelty on what is itself far from in the pbase formerly marked by the Arabi- new. There is generally such an absence an tale and Italian novella? or that, while of verisimilitude, that even when we happen more ambitious in its aim, it betrays great to be interested or amused, we cannot help want of skill and power, coupled with no lit- being offended at the want of truth and pro. de indolence on the part of those who attempt bability ; the characters are little more than it ? Are we to understand that the produc- mere masks, tragic or comic, as may be, tions in question are as clumsy and crude in but in either case exhibiting one set expres. execution, as they are brief in substance-as sion, whose very consistency is inconsistent tame and lifeless in regard both to drawing with nature. The personages are, for the and colouring as they are scanty and limited most part, rather representatives of particu. in respect to subject ? Unluckily we are not lar classes, than creatures of flesh and blood; informed whether, confining his splenetic and this absence of individuality betrays equal censure to their insignificance as regards want of poetic power, and ignorance of namaterial bulk, the “critic” is better satisfied ture: giving us not the ideal, but the indefi. with their intrinsic and literary worth. We nite. It has, indeed, been advanced as strongly suspect he is not; unless he makes sound critical doctrine, that it behoves the up for his severity one way by his indulgence dramatist-and, if so, the puvelist also—to in another.
substitute general for personal character; the Speaking from the generality of the speci. species for the individual ; as if individuality mens, we should say that in their tales and and personality were precisely the same, and novellettes, and productions of that descrip- it were impossible for a writer to invest the tion, Russian writers have shown very litle creature of his own invention with those traits talent, and just as little originalily. Instead of character and feeling that shall at once of pursuing the simple and rational course of stamp him as an individual ; and, as such, describing what really exists in the world dissguished from a thousand others who around them, so as to convey a faithful por may resemble him generally, and in very traiture of native society and manner, of many points. Yet what is this but omitting actual feelings and passions in their varied all those finer and ever-varying tints which, phases and degrees, not caring whether what let the ground and predominating hue of cha. was so produced accorded or not with the Iracter be the same, enable us to recognize its
positive modifications as they respectively in the interim. Here he enters into all the
It may be the approved system of the dissipations of that watering-place, including old French school, but it is not that of nature, the gaming.table, at which he pillages a young nor of Shakspeare. It may give us Lelios stranger of several sums of money ; but this and Leanders, Erastes and Marquisses, but does not prevent their being on a friendly neither the one Falstaff nor the one Hamlet, footing together, and the colonel makes his any more than a Parson Adams, or a Sancho new acquaintance the confidant of his former Panza, Characters so delineated are, even attachment 10 Erotida, whom he describes as at the best, no better than paintings in mono. a badly educated country girl, brought up chrome, without either the verity of local co. entirely by her father. At this juncture a louring or the variety arising from its diver- Polish lady of rank and fortune makes her sity of hues and tints.
appearance at Carlsbad, and attracts univerWe must not look to Russian novels for sal admiration by her beauty. The colonel forcible delineations of character; yet we is determined to win her, nor is it long before could in some measure overlook their feeble- he contrives to introduce himself; at length ness on that score, did they but furnish us she proposes an exchange of rings, and after with accurate and clever pictures of every. some slight hesitation he gives her bis, which
Either their writers, however, con- bas Erotida's name engraven upon it. The sider such things as by far too unpretending same day he meets with his stranger acand homely, or else they feel themselves quaintance at the gaming-table, wins all his wholly unequal to the task of rescuing them cash, and afterwards his ring, the other ha. from common-place, and investing them with ving set it at stake. Op examining he finds a real interest. They trust for effect to in- it to be the same he had given to the fair cidents fantastic and improbable, and, for the Po'e, and insists upon being informed how most part also stale and hacknied, without a his companion obtained it. A refusal on the claim 10 invention or ingenuity. Worse loser's pari to give any explanation produces than all, there is a want of healthy moral angry words, and a challenge to immediate feeling likewise : we do not assert that they duel without seconds. Accordingly, they are decidedly immoral; but can seldom dis- meet at a spot outside the town; the colonel cover aught like a moral aim of any kind. fires and shoots his antagonist, who expires We would not have morality dished up in after revealing that he is no other than Ero. works of fiction, so as to form their chief in. tida, and also her successful rival, the Polish gredient, and all the rest serve only to gar. lady! This extravagant tissue of improba. nish it; yet, without being converted either bilities is not rendered the less startling by the into sermons or ethic discourses, novels may writer's assurance that it was related to him be made to convey very instructive lessons by the colonel himself; the indifference and of morality and prudence, knowledge of the levity with which the story is told, mingles world and human nature ; especially when, something like disgust with our incredulity. instead of formal preaching, the reader un. Whatever may be the case in other counconsciously gleans them from the narrative; tries, surely in Russia, where novel writing for this impresses them more strongly upon is as yet quite in its infancy, the materials his conviction.
cannot be so exhausted, that authors have If ethic instruction be not their forte, few no alternative between repeating subjects Russian novelists or tale writers atone for already worn threadbare, or recurring to thia deficiency by any great knowledge of the exaggerated and chimerical. After all, the world or of life. Certainly not Alexan. it arises, perchance, from being still in inder Veltman, at present an author of some fancy, that this species of literature there popularity, and not destitute of cleverness to exhibits so much false and perverted taste; a certain degree, but strangely extravagant refinement, kept within the bounds of good and absurd, occasionally to downright silli- sense, will be found in accordance with the
In his tale of Eroiida, a young officer natural and the simple; by the latter we falls in love with the daughter of a retired mean manly simplicity, the very reverse of military man,---or at least so manages that what is frequenily mistaken for it. The the young lady falls in lovo with him, while time perhaps may arrive when, abandoning he ingratiates himself with her father by be their present track, Russian writers will take ing a patient listener to the old gentleman's their subjects from ordinary life, and reprenarratives of his campaigns in the reign of sent it without any of the caricature, over. Catharine II. Matters seem in a fan erain strained and forced, yet originating in feeblefor coming to an éclaircissement, when the ness, which now more or less pervades all scene is suddenly shifted, and we meet with their attempts in that class of fiction. We the hero, now a Colonel, at Carlsbad; four would gladly give up all their historical roor five years being supposed to have elapsed mances ana Aashy melodramatic tales for
one such narrative as the Vicar of Wake of romance. There is some truth in this: field, or one clear and vivid picture of do- but the same objections apply equally to the mestic life, as exhibited in Miss Austen's historical drama, to which class nearly all novels—full of vigour and force, yet quiet tragedies belong. Nevertheless, it has ne. and perfectly unpretending. Nay, we should ver been objected to such productions that be happy, we will not say to meet with one they are, on that account, censurable, as falsuch brilliant and finely-touched representa- sifying history, distorting its forms, and tions of society, as those from the pen of changing its hues, till all semblance to the Miss Edgeworth ; but to obtain even a few original is utterly destroyed. correct sketchings of every day scenes, eve. Admitting, however, that there is some ry-day incidents, and every day bodies, like justice in the remark, as it applies to the Miss Mitford's.
class generally, we can assure our readers, It must be consessed, mere paintings of that Zotov's Niklas has as little to answer manners belong to a subordinate walk of for, on the score of disguising history, and fiction, demanding little more than close ob- putting it into masquerade, as any producservation, coupled with the power of description of the kind we ever met with; it being
this is apt, moreover, to degenerate not so much an historical romance, as a frag. into the trifling and tedious. Still it has va- ment of history and a fiction linked to each lue precisely upon the account on which it other, but not united or mingled together. has been objected to, namely, that manners We have, indeed, both Frederick William are fluctuating and changing; because, in of Prussia, and his son Frederick the Great proportion as these become obsolete, the pic- brought very prominently before us; yet, iure acquires an historical interest, which it though allowed to see much of them, we could not possess for those already conver- find them say or do little more than had sant with its subject. A few such tableaux previously been told by biographers and de genre, preserving to us all the still life anecdote writers. In fact, the author does and costume, and the very look of Athenian not even attempt to conceal this, for he con. or Roman society, would convey fuller and stantly refers to Thiebault and the Memoires more exact information of the kind than can de la Margravine de Bareith; which latter, now be gleaned from all the ancient writers in particular, he has put under contribution, by diligent investigators like Barthelemi and translating numerous passages of considerBöttiger. Who would not give an entire able length, so that, at intervals, we almost shelf of such romances as the Arcadia, for a forget his story, and fancy we are reading tale exhibiting vivid and accurately deline. the history of the Fredericks. The mode ated manners of the same date ?—for their he has adopted cannot, therefore, so much minor details our early dramatists afford us be termed interweaving fictions with recordlittle more than incidental hints and allu. ed events, as patching up one with the other. sions. What we have just remarked holds In the title which he has thought fit to begood, too, in regard to distance of place as stow upon his romance, M. Zotov is not of time; works of that class reflecting their quite so ingenuous as when treating us with originals alike to other nations and to other extracts from the Margravines Memoires; generations.
for Niklas is but a subordinate personage For these matters either the readers in in the tale, nor does so much interest attach Russia have no taste, or the writers no ta. to him, as a character and agent, as to Harlent; and this being the case, it is, perhaps, vey Birch in The Spy. The real hero, or rather fortunate than otherwise, that there protagonist, he whose fortunes constitute the is both a demand for and a supply of histo- ground-work of the whole narrative, and, rical romances. In these an author is, in by bringing him in contact with the royal some degree, tied down to sober sense and personages above-mentioned, serve to intromatter of fact, at least as far as he follows duce the historical portions, is Paul Werner, the events and personages of the period se- son of the pastor of Blankenthal. He appears lected; and however indifferently executed, first upon the stage, retires from it the very we are almost sure to derive some slight in- last, and this in the strangest position in formation : either what has been forgotten which hero of romance ever yet found himis revived in memory; or, if entirely novel, self at the end of three volumes. It cerit leads to inquiries after more avthentic se- tainly took us quite by surprise; for, at only cords. This species of composition has been five pages from the conclusion, we could objected to, as falsifying history by fancy, not see how the author would contrive to and producing erroneous impressions not get rid of him, except by letting us find him easily removeable afterwards; also as tend- un beau matin dead in his bed; when lo! a ing to render sober history flat and insipid, perfect deus ex machina—but let us not an. in comparison with the more attractive form ticipate,
At the age of seventeen, Paul Werner is encounter, in the way of repulse, at Vienna, a daily visiter at the chateau of the Baron- except at first, from the superintendent geneess Neuperg, near Breslau, as instructor to ral's porter; for the interview with his pa. her daughter Adelaide, younger than him. tron once obia ned, he is forth withi domiciled self only by a year. Though exceedingly as secretary beneath Reichhoid's roof, and well qualified by study and attainments, taken into his savour and confidence. For Paul would by most be considered exeeed a while all goes on smoothly; occupation ingly unfitted for the task, when described in the discharge of his new duties, and inas singularly precocious, with a form rival. tercourse with the intelligent society who ling that of Adonis, and already conspicu- frequent his patron's, so fully engage him, ous for the quality which afterwards recom- that he has no time to throw himself in the mends him to Frederick William. Accord- way of adventures abroad, nor is there any ingly, it is no more than we expect, when chance of their coming to intrude upon him we find a mutual attachment between pre- at home. Yet such halcyon days are of ceptor and pupil. A discovery takes place, shorter duration in fiction than in reality; and Paul is banished from the chateau; a because a novelist cannot afford to let his circumstance not at all disagreeable in itself hero sleep like a top, unless he would send to his cousin Henrietta, who, cherishing a his readers to sleep also, because he fairly more than sisterly affection for Paul, has bids them good night. Finding ourselves long been jealous of his holding such con- thus becalmed midway in the first volume, stant and unrestrained intercourse with Ade- we, of course, took it to be only the precurlaide: and that this is now broken off, appa- sor of a storm. In the Austrian cabinet, rently for ever, in some degree reconciles Baron Seckendorff employs all his influence her to the idea of being herself separated against the Lutherans, and against the sufrom him. Paul, by his father's advice, seis perintendant general more especially, on out for Vienna, where the pastor has reason account of his firmness and independent to expect he will meet with a protector and spirit, as well as his abilities. Meeting patron, in his old friend and university com- only with contumelious opposition, Reichpanion, Reichhold, superintendent general hold resigns his office, and withdraws from of the Lutheran clergy. The account of the the capital. Paul, in the meanwhile, is preparations for Paul's departure, his own summoned before Seckendorff
, who informs grief at taking leave of his friends and native him that government thinks proper to keep village, mingled with curiosity and pleasur. their eye upon him, and therefore proposes able anticipation in regard to his journey; to employ him in his own department.-Henrietta's passionate sorrow; the worthy However reluctant, Paul finds he has no ale pastor's parental feeling and impressive ex: ternative but to comply, and is accordingly hortation to his son--all this is simply and transferred to Schelmenhof, the baron's chief naturally told, and with a degree of touch. secretary, with whom he is placed someing, homely pathos, that convinces us the what on the footing of a state prisoner. The writer would succeed far better in domestic captivity to which he is thus subjected, so subjects and scenes, ihan in the more ambi- far from being of extreme rigour, would by tious walk of romance. Paul's journey to many be considered very tolerable; for the the capital of Austria is not deficient in in- whole family are complaisant enough toterest, the impressions made upon him by wards him, and Madame disposed to be very the objects along his route, and those he far more so than mere good manners deviews, for the first time, in a city where all mand. There is no risk of his moping himis perfectly new and striking, being well self into melancholy, since the obliging sedescribed. Long before he reaches it he cretary, whose forced guest he now is, alhas shaken off all the melancholy attending lows his house to be a place of rendezvous a separation from those he loves; and not for the baron and his intimates, female as only is his heart much lighter, but bis bun- well as male. Among these is the Countess dle is become much heavier than when he R., an Hungarian, of extraordinary beauty, first set out; for, on starting afresh the se. who is willing to let herself pass among cond morning, after passing the night on a scandal-mongers for Seckendorff's favourite bench in the tap-room of a village inn, he sultana, in order thereby to escape molestadiscovers that, instead of having been robbed tion from the Austrian government. Not while sleeping, he is all the richer, by the only does the Countess invite Paul to her addition of a purse well filled with gold.-entertainments, and undertake to introduce Little wonder if, with such earnest of for-him into the “best company," as it is term. tune's propitiousness, far more substantial ed, of Vienna, having received the ministhan omens in general
, our hero views every ter's permission to do so; but she finds thing couleur de rose. He has nothing to that her library wants to be catalogued and