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woe, asks a vow that, redeemed by her love, he will return to a better life; and the demon promises, and she yields to his passion. When the night-watch goes his rounds, he hears strange terrible sounds proceed from Tamara's cell,—sounds of tenderness, passion, despair, and the agony of death. He flies in terror from the place while making the sign of the cross. More beautiful even than in life, Tamara is lying in her coffin, adorned with treasures and covered with flowers, as though the scent of all those on earth should be buried in her grave. Her grayhaired father in despair, with lamenting multitudes, accompany her to the place of rest, a church built by one of her ancestors on the summit of the rocks, where the Kasbek, the highest point of the Caucasus, mounts with icy peak into the skies. Hardly has the sound of the funeral-songs expired, when a tremendous storm arises and throws the church into ruins, devastating all around; but when it ceases, an angel descends from heaven, and as he carries Tamara's soul to the joys of eternity announces to her, who has not wilfully sinned, but loved and erred, the redeeming pardon; whilst the demon, cursing the hour when he had thought again of love and hope, returns to his old condition of unloving scepticism.
There are some weak points in this poem, and it is altogether less perfect in composition than the Circassian Boy; but, on the whole, it makes a powerful impression, and there is such a profusion of glowing imagery and artistic beauty in it, that it well deserves to rank among the first of its kind. The final moral, which the angel announces to Tamara's soul, is the one long known, that “ to those who have much loved shall much be forgiven.” We find the same conception of moral evil at the basis of the only work which Lermontoff has written in prose, the novel A Hero of our Days, which has been translated several times into German and also once into English. Petschorin, the “ hero of our days," is a sort of pendant to Pushkin's Onegin, and gives us a full insight into contemporaneous Russian society. But Petschorin's life is not only troubled by passion, by the incompleteness of love and faithlessness of friendship, but likewise by the deeper philosophical questions concerning the origin of life and all around. “ Why do I live?” “For what aim was I born ?” he asks; and this thoughtful inquiring spirit distinguishes him from Onegin. It is the
spirit of the young generation who, as we said before, grew up under the impressions of the 14th of December 1825, and its political consequences. There is therefore a wide difference between the form taken by the gloom of Onegin and that of Petschorin. The first, who deadens his sensibilities in the din of the world, sinks into the apathy and inactivity which were common to the men of that time; Petschorin, despising
life like the other, throws himself recklessly into it to find ani issue and a field for his energies. At last, unable to quench the thirst of his spirit even in the excitements of life, he despairs from the bitter conviction “that we are no longer capable either of great sacrifices, or of working for the good of humanity-no, nor even so much as of promoting our own happiness; for we now know that the latter is impossible." This conviction of the impossibility of an activity either for the good of mankind or for individual happiness forms the chief idea of the Hero of our Days.
It is now obvious that there are many similarities, not only between the two works Onegin and The Hero of our Days, but also between the works in general, as well as the personal fate, of the two Russian poets. There exists, however, a wide difference, which may be expressed shortly thus, that Pushkin was the more artistic, and Lermontoff the more philosophic poet. In this respect we may well compare them to the two great German poets, Goethe and Schiller. In writing on Pushkin, we dwelt upon the points of comparison between him and Goethe, and showed how both their natures, naturally plastic and content with literary freedom, enabled them to accommodate and reconcile themselves to the existing order of things : we may add, that this was an impossibility for Lermontoff as well as for Schiller. Schiller's poetry became the expression of his philosophical and progressive ideas; and Lermontoff gave vent in his to his political discontent, to his protest against wrong and injustice, to his grief that the high ideals which he nourished for his people and for mankind were so impossible of realisation. To the reproach that he did not love his fatherland, he answered in a poem beginning with the following words, the substance of which we render in prose : “Well do I love my fatherland, but it is love
I of a special kind, which the scrutinising intellect can no longer govern. I cannot delight in barbarism, whether of the present or of antiquity; I do not love glory bought with blood, nor the proud security reposing upon bayonets.'
Pushkin, on the contrary, as Herzen says of him, was carried away by a national pride which was not inconsistent with the exhibition of this despotic grandeur, and consecrated to it a part of his poetry. Lermontoff likewise has written finely of war; but he does not glorify it, and often expresses his deep sense of the hollowness of this sort of glory. With the same deep earnestness and idealistic tendency with which he looked upon life he also considered art. Many of his poems bear witness to this, as, for instance, a dramatic scene, The Poet, the Reader, and the Journalist, and the noble verses entitled The Prophet, where the elevated aspirations of the poet's mind
are contrasted with the vulgar demands of the public, with great power.
We must not forget to mention one peculiarly striking feature in Lermontoff's genius, one in which he reached an almost unparalleled perfection-his power of writing descriptions of nature in verse. He gives us the outline of a country with the exactness at once of a geographer and a scientific naturalist, without robbing it of that vague poetic atmosphere which it wears to the living eye. We see the landscape before our eyes; we feel the breeze laden with the fragrance of the bright Georgian valleys; we behold the snowy summits of the Caucasus above us, and at our feet the abyss through which the torrent rushes; we follow the steed galloping over the endless steppe, and feel the solitude of the woods and desolate mountain regions around us ;-in short, we live in the Caucasian scenery itself, and no traveller's book could give us so lively and correct an idea of it. Bodenstedt reminds us that two of the greatest naturalists of modern days, Humboldt and Oersted, have both of them forcibly urged that the results of natural sciences should take their part in aesthetical productions for the benefit of mankind. Humboldt says in the Kosmos : “If the so-called descriptive poetry, as an independent self-existing form, has deservedly been blamed, such a blame should by no means be directed against serious endeavours to make the results of the rich modern science comprehensible by the power of language, that is to say, by the descriptive word. Should means not be employed by which might be transferred to us the animated picture of distant zones seen by others.-yes, even part of the enjoyment afforded by actual sight?" The Arabs say figuratively, and with much reason, that “the best description is the one in which the ear is changed into the eye.”
We may conclude our remarks on Lermontoff by again quoting the words of Herzen: “A gloomy fate was awaiting every one of us who dared to lift his head above the barrier raised by the imperial will; an unmerciful destiny precipitated him into the tomb, whoever he might be, poet, philosopher, or citizen. The history of our literature is a list of martyrdoms and a register of convicts. Those who have been spared by government die in the very flower of their age, as if eager to quit such a life.”
ART. V.- THE MIDDLE AGES IN ENGLAND. Monumenta Gildhalle Londoniensis. Liber Albus. Edited for the
Record Commission by H. T. Riley, M.A. Monumenta Franciscana. R. Baconi Opera Minora. Edited for
the Record Commission by the Rev. Professor Brewer. Memoirs of Libraries. By Edward Edwards. London: Trübner
and Co. We know of no more curious fact in the annals of literature than the contrast between our knowledge of classical antiquity and our ignorance of the ages that lie between the ruins of the Roman Empire and the Reformation. Most educated men have a clear and vivid, if not an accurate, conception of the great epochs in Greek and Roman history. The epical struggle which ended at Salamis, the party-questions of the Athenian agora, the drama and the schools of thought, the architecture and the art of Greece, seem rather a part of our own experience than traditions of past time. It has been so through all centuries in which the sword of the barbarian left leisure to think and feel. To the mediæval poet and philosopher, to Dante and Roger Bacon, Plato, Trajan, and Seneca are fellow-citizens in the great commonwealth of time: the prejudice of a different faith is overpowered by the greater points of union. Precisely this common interest appears to be wanting hitherto to the students of English history. Beyond some four or five hundred years they are content to see nothing but a few battle-pieces, and a world in which soldier and priest are the only actors. Between reaction and revival it has fared ill with our forefathers; they were neither centaurs nor monks: coarse violence and maudlin devotion were often found among them it is true, but were only side-scenes in the drama of actual life. The subtle structure of feudal law, the great metaphysical poem of realism, and the artistic ideal of action, chivalry, are all evidences of intense and earnest thought. Carent vate sacro, or rather the men of those times were careless of artistic excellence except when they wrought in stone. We are tempted to overrate their greatness when we judge them by the castles and churches which they sowed broadcast over the land; we fall below its fair measure when we judge them by the chronicles which second-rate men in a cloister have compiled. A single Herodotus or Tacitus would have shown that the Middle Ages were no chasm in history, but a splendid passage from the old world to the new.
The points of difference between the civilisation of Athens or ancient Rome and of England under the Plantagenets must be clearly borne in mind by all who would wish to understand mediæval history. Alcibiades and Cæsar may serve to point a contrast with St. Louis or Edward I. The Greek aimed at making life richer by extending the sphere of action and thought: he founded colonies, made conquests, spread his fleets over the Ægean, or studied under the Sophists of his day, with the irrepressible energies of manhood struggling for growth. His religion was only a part of the system he had built up about himself. His splendid self-culture was pursued pitilessly, without a thought for its victims, and it left him hard and polished and supple as steel. Again, both Greece and Italy were centres of commerce; as traders no less than as conquerors the two nations traversed every highway and every sea. Very different were the influences of thought and geographical position under which the peoples of the Middle Ages were trained. Their great need was order, not intercourse; their great ideal concentration, not development. The seas swarmed with pirates, and the old Roman roads were broken up or ran through hostile states. The best thought of the age was inferior to that contained in Greek or Roman manuscripts; and travel, therefore, might seem to subserve fewer purposes than studious seclusion. But, , above all, the Christian theory had borrowed the language of Eastern mysticism, or caught the tone of the effeminate subject peoples who first accepted it; and the body had come to be regarded, not as part of man's better nature, and the nursing-mother of the mind, but as the fomes peccati to be macerated and subdued. The intellectual cravings of the times tended therefore towards a sedentary contemplative form; the postulates of all truth had already been taken on trust from the Church and the old masters; the only question was to apply them, and to fill up the map of knowledge that had been already sketched. All this was in harmony with and reacted upon the political system of the time. The true meaning of the feudal system is the struggle after perpetuity and law. Perhaps the grand tragedy of the Roman Empire, the remembrance of which lasted even longer than its greatness, and the belief that the world itself was breaking up, induced men to draw the bonds of society closer, and invest civil relations with a sacramental character, that they might bind the world as it were to the feet of God. The mere political convenience of dealing with corporations or heads of families, instead of with individuals, in matters affecting the State was a further and a powerful motive. The result is beyond doubt. Not even the Roman father, with his power of life or death over his children, his right to dispose of their property, and his right to take up strangers