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is overcime, we must call ce, years, of what, foto have been
root. Vous voyez de la colère où il n'y a que de la tristesse,' and his harsh home-thrusts, his sharp reproofs, may have drawn their venom from the same cause. He was not, in truth, a facile lover, and at best his companionship must have been an alloyed happiness. His pleasures were so easily changed into discontents. It rains—the weather seems to have been very uncertain during those years, of what, for want of a better name, we must call courtship-and all his happiness is overclouded. It threatens to rain and doubtless for lovers whose rendezvous are mostly open-air trysts bad weather is a serious consideration and all his anticipations are poisoned by uncertainty. He, or it may be Mlle. Daquin, suffers from that most commonplace of ills-a cold, and the world grows insupportable to him. His references to such minor trials, and they come repeatedly, are at once so serious and so trivial, that by virtue of that very triviality they ring true to life.
Je regrette bien, je vous assure, d'avoir insisté tant pour vous procurer cette affreuse averse,' he writes after one such showery meeting, of which the delights had not been unchequered. “Il m'arrive rarement de sacrifier les autres à moi-même, et quand cela m'arrive j'en ai tous les remords possibles. Enfin vous n'êtes pas malade et vous n'êtes pas fâchée; c'est là le plus important. Il est bien qu'un petit malheur survienne de temps en temps pour en détourner de plus grands. Voilà la part du diable faite. Il me semble que nous étions tristes et sombres tous les deux; assez contents pourtant au fond du cæur. Il y a des gaietés intimes qu'on ne peut répandre au dehors. Je désire que vous ayez senti un peu de ce que j'ai senti moi-même. Je le croirai jusqu'à ce que vous me disiez le contraire. Vous me dîtes deux fois : “ Au revoir !” C'est pour de bon, n'est-ce pas ? ' * Assez content'- the letter—the term is characteristic. He accepts, perhaps as a necessity of temperament, a low level of content. Joy is a Messiah who only comes to men of good faith, and Mérimée is a very Thomas in his doubt of her : Il n'y a pas de bonheur, à ce qu'il paraît, que dans les folies et surtout dans les rêves.'
And for him even the dreams were broken by many estrangements. Quarrels, coldnesses, mistrusts are nearly as frequent as the rainy days, and last longer :
"Nous nous sommes quittés sur un mouvement de colère; mais, ce soir, en réfléchissant avec calme, je ne regrette rien de ce que j'ai dit,' he writes in one of these interludes of strife. Oui, nous sommes de grands fous. Nous aurions dû le sentir plus tôt. Nous aurions dû voir plus tôt combien nos idées, nos sentiments, étaient contraires en tout et sur tout. Les concessions que nous nous faisions l'un à l'autre n'avrieat d antre resultat de de nous penire plus malheureux. Plus ciairvoyant que vous jai su se psias de grindis reproches a me faire, Je vous ai fait beaucoup soufrir por prolonga mne illusion que je n'aurais pas di concevoir.
So quarrels, farewells, reconciliations succeed one another, and between partings and peacemakings come notes which could possibly have been written in no other language, and by no other lover, in their combination of grace and lightness with that tinge of sentiment he coald impart by the mere turn of a phrase :
Je vous envoie un bout de plame de chouette que j'ai trouvée dans un trou de l'église de La Madeleine de Vézelay. L'er-propriétaire de la plane et moi, nous nous sommes trouvés un instant nez à nez, presque aussi inquiets l'un que l'autre de notre rencontre imprévue. La chouette a été moins brave que moi, et s'est envolée. Elle avait un bec formidable et des yeax effroyables, outre deux plumes en maniere de cornes. Je vous envoie cette plume pour que vous en admiriez la douceur, et pais parce que j'ai lu dans un livre de magie, que lorsqu'on donne à une femme une plume de chouette et qu'elle la met sous son oreiller, elle rêve de son ami. Vouz me direz votre rêve. Adieu!'
And here and always we see before us the figure of the woman as Mérimée represents her--rain, flattered, an egoist, with sentiment, if she possessed it, well under control, and that of Mérimée as Taine draws it. In her company, sous ' le charme.' Away, ' l'observateur reprenait son office ... 'il se détachait de son sentiment pour juger un caractère; 'il écrivait des vérités et des épigrammes que le lendemain
on lui rendait'-more happily, one hopes, than the author who, under the title of ‘Lettres d'une Inconnue,' attempted the fictitious responses. Mérimée knew far too well how to laugh at himself to prove an easy subject for ridicule, and it was little short of an act of literary foolhardiness to jest at so accomplished a self-mocker. Is he ever, indeed, wholly serious? One is inclined to answer in the negative:
* Vous me demandez s'il y a des romans grecs,' he writes on one occasion. "Sans doute il y en a, mais bien ennuyeux, selon moi. n'est pas que vous ne puissiez vous procurer une traduction de Théagène et Chariclée. Essayez si vous pouvez y mordre; il y a encore Daphnis et Chloé, traduit par Courier. On ne se vante pas de l'avoir lu, mais c'est son chef d'euvre ! Décidez-vous après cela, je m'en lave les mains. Si vous avez le courage de lire l'histoire, vous serez charmée d'Hérodote, de Polybe et de Xénophon . . . enfin Thucydide . . . Procurez-vous encore Théocrite et lisez les Syracusaines. Je vous recommanderai bien aussi Lucien, qui est le Grec quia le plus d'esprit, ou plutôt de notre esprit; mais il est bien mauvais
sujet et je n'ose. Voilà trois pages de grec. . . . P.S.--En ouvrant un livre, je trouve ces deux petites fleurs cueillies aux Thermopyles, sur la colline où Léonidas est mort. C'est une relique comme vous voyez.' It is a love-letter after Mérimée's own heart. The little dry flowers of Thermopylæ! The gift is as characteristic as was Balzac's of'une violette de mon jardin.'
The taste for love-letters at the present time is no longer modelled upon the discreet pattern set by Prosper Mérimée. It would seem to have made a retrograde march in the direction of that standard of taste represented in the seventeenth century by the popularity of the · Lettres
portugaises.' In England the posthumous publication of the Browning letters, written, as were Mérimée's, in the forties, gave, without doubt, the imprimatur of genius to what might otherwise have been held for a breach of editorial discretion; and how heavy a share of responsibility lies upon them for having contributed to the blunting of the public judgement in such matters is a question upon which men must agree to differ. It will, however, be generally allowed that the penalty of all things genuine is to be shadowed by the imitation of things counterfeit; that wherever and whensoever the true original, deservedly or undeservedly, has won the applause of the multitude, invention is quick to supply the copy. The Browning correspondence disclosed to the eyes of all the world the gentlest, tenderest, deepest, and most private feelings of a man and woman who, in their love, transformed the ideal into the actual. Throughout the two volumes thus delivered over to us we come at almost every page upon sentences and paragraphs which fall as uncomfortably upon the ear of conscience as overheard confidences. There is scarcely a letter, even opening the book at random, that does not contain expressions to whose use asterisks would have done more reverence than print. Yet we can never forget, as we read, that it was the hand that wrote 'James Lee's Wife,' the hand that wrote the Cry of the Children,' by which these pages were likewise written. And, remembering this, they assume a new aspect. They are no longer merely documents rifled from the silence where deep loves repose in peace, but relics, vestiges of the lives lived, not by man and by woman, but by poet and poetess.
No such apologia can be offered for the love-letters recently presented to a public which is asked, as an act of imaginative credulity, to accept them as genuine. The volume ascribed to an Englishwoman,' of which the
intrinsic merit does not exceed that of the ordinary meteor in fashions of fiction, represents an attempt in spurious autobiography to exhibit the most intimate feelings of a woman to whom no other interest attaches than the interest belonging to the unrestrained manifestations of her affection in a one-sided correspondence. But, entirely apart from its own merits, and apart from the attempt made to place it on the footing of a veracious reprint of private papers, as a criterion of public taste the volume, at first accepted in many quarters as genuine, saggests some curious consideration to the onlooker. The enthusiastic admiration with which it has been received by some of its readers, the prominence given to its publication, comes to us as an unwelcome intimation that the extreme demonstration of sentiment, usually relegated to the 'poets' page’ of current litersture, may still find its partisans when translated into prose, and that in this twentieth century of ours passion has still use for the town crier. It is no doubt a question of taste, and for taste there is neither canon, nor rubric, por aby final court of appeal. Every age has its own, every country and every art their varying conventions, every individcal reader his own instinct-an instinct of whose infallibility he is by a primary law of human nature inwardly convinced. «J'ai le goût bon. Quand j'approuve quelque
chose, il faut qu'elle soit excellente. J'approuve Chatte • Blanche; done Chatte Blanche est excellente et je veux
le soutenir contre tout le genre humain,' said the Gentilhomme Bourgeois' in Mme. d'Aulnoy's Parisian Decameron, and to the end of time the reading public, not unfitly represented by the nouveau gentilhomme' of the fiction, will base its arguments upon the same incontrovertible premisses. The popularity of the letters of an English woman appear to us to rest upon a like foundation. They lack the reserve of the artificiality of form which enables the poet to do all, and more than all, which is here attempted, without outraging what Charles Lamb would have designated as 'decorum.' They lack the lightness of hand-la légèreté est sa décence,' a critic says somethere in connection with another art, which might have stensed the want of emotional drapery. They lack most of i vise elementary perception of the force of reticence as se vois possible suggestion of passion at its supreme Of the uses of silence
Silence, thou that art le pl
Toodgate of the deeper heart'
base its the ' nouveau ce reading public, not
ART. X.-1. The Art of Wood-engraving in Italy in the
Fifteenth Century. By FRIEDRICH LIPPMANN. London:
Bernard Quaritch. 1888. 2. English Illustration: The Sixties. By GLEESON WHITE.
Archibald Constable & Co. 1897. 3. Western Flanders : a Medley of Things Seen, Considered,
and Imagined. By LAURENCE BINYON. With ten etchings by WILLIAM STRANG. London: At the Sign of the Unicorn. 1899.
To viewing the fitful progress of art, constantly alternating 1 between times of stagnation or suspense and the awakened realisation of a new summons to work, we are astonished at the suddenness and brief duration of its energetic moods, hardly outlasting a single generation. At the beginning of the half-century immediately behind us there arose one of those periods of awakened activity. The passionate outburst of Gothicism, slowly waning, had become insincere from a gradual loss of conviction, and its vitality was distracted by the newer ideas germinating from within. Complex from its birth, the new movement was both an attempt to infuse a more serious and deeper spirit into the mediævalism of the older school, and an effort to quicken it with the warmth of real life, as well as an aggressive revolt from tradition to nature. The Greek, followed by the Gothic revivals, had filled the minds of the previous generation with an imaginative love for the past which dominated the young men of fifty years ago. This scholarly learning tended to a more exact and literal rendering of the mediæval atmosphere in the imagery and even technique of pictorial art, although qualified by a somewhat unexpected assertion of modernity ; it extended also to a fuller appreciation of the need for ornamental and decorative fitness, which quickly affected the illustration of books.
The influence of this new seriousness is brought before us in the exhibition lately opened at the South Kensington Museum. The authorities, as a sequel to their former exbibition of lithographs, now show progressive examples of reproduction applied to books and magazines, beginning with the woodcuts executed after the year 1850, and passing to the latest photographic processes used by modern printers, thus exhibiting side by side, for critical analysis, notable specimens of the most time-honoured and newest methods of reproductive art.