Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

descriptions which, although exceedingly not without a severe mental struggle, and clever, and of the highest interest to all who the shedding of many tears, accepted it and are acquainted with what is now going on in went away from Moscow, leaving the man Russia, will prove tedious to the general whom she really loved to recover as he best reader who wishes only to be excited or could from the effect of her desertion. After amused. Russian novels very seldom have some time, she married a General Ratmirof, anything like a complicated plot, and Smoke and became a leading member of fashionable is not an exception to the rule. The hero society. As for Litvinof, be imagined bis of the story is a young Russian of the pro- heart was broken, and, indeed, he suffered prietor class, Gregory Litvinof, who, in the greatly at first. For a considerable time he year 1850, was studying at the University could not think of her without intense sufof Moscow. At that time he unfortunately fering, but he was young, and of a vigorous fell iu love with a princess, Irina Oşinine, constitution, so he survived the shock; his one of those puzzling women whom M. Tur- wound gradually healed, and after he had guenief delights in describing, and whom no passed some years abroad, studying chemisone describes better. Underneath a cold try and farming, and all else that was like. exterior she conceals a passionate and fiery ly to be of use to him in turning bis estates nature, which drives her every now and then to the best account, he determined to return to perform the most unexpected actions. On home and settle down quietly as an agricul. the other hand, with all her tendency to be turist. It is on his way home that we find led by impulse and swayed by passion, she | bim when the story commences, at Baden, has not only sufficient strength of will to where he is awaiting the arrival of his young control her feelings, but she has also that cousin, Tatiana and her aunt, Capitolina. keen sense of her own interests which gen. He has long known his cousin intimately, erally accompanies a colder disposition, and and, as he thoroughly liked and esteemed the power of stopping short, even in what her, he has asked her to marry him, and sho seems to be her most impassioned career, has consented, and the two young people are whenever that sense conveys to her its sud looking forward to a quiet and loving coudden warning. A strange compound of ice try life. When we first see him, he is sitand fire, it is impossible to say at any giv ting by himself, regarding the gay scene been moment which of the two ingredients of fore him with a calm and contented look. her nature will next make its influence felt. Life seems to lie open before him, his destiHer whole life is a series of enigmas, the ny to unroll itself at his feet, and he feels only explanation of which seems to lie in her that he may well delight in and be proud of supreme selfishness. She may waver from that destiny, as being to a great extent the it at times, but in the end she returns to her work of his own hands. old allegiance. But however dubious may A few days pass by, but his betrothed be the cause of her straðge behaviour, there does not arrive. One evening when he reis no doubt about the evil results which turns to his hotel, wearied with the ceaseless spring from it, so withering is the effect she wrangling of some of his compatriots whose produces upon the hearts of those who be acquaintance he has lately made, he finds come fascinated by her. She was only sev- that an unknown lady has sent him a bouquet enteen when Litvinof fell in love with her, of heliotropes. He wonders a little, and then but even at that age she had already learnt thinks no more about it, but all night long how to make herself feared and obeyed. the peculiar scent of the flowers troubles him, For a long time she seemed to treat him he cannot tell why. At last he suddenly re. with a disdainful indifference that almost members his having given a similar bouquet drove him to despair. Then suddenly she to the Princess Trina on the night of that changed her whole manner towards him, as ball which proved so fatal to his first love. if a long-restrained love had carried away all a kind of instinct tells him that she to whom the barriers erected by prudence to stop it. he was once so passionately devoted is not She grew a model of kindness and amiabil- far away. ity, she accepted his offer of marriage, and The next day he happens to go up to the she seemed to be about to become the best Old Castle, and there, in the

of a of wives, when suddenly a second and equal number of extremely fashionable Russians, ly unexpected change came over her. One he finds the Princess Irina, and is gladly reevening she went to a court ball, and becognised by her. He is touched by her kind. came the centre of attraction. A rich and ness, and he finds her looking even more lovely influential relative thereupon offered to than before, but the conversation of her cont. adopt her, and bring her out in the society panions, a set of "young generals," cold. of St. Petersburg. Her parents bailed the bearted and empty-headed hangers-on at offer with delight, and she herself, though I Court; thoroughly disgusts him, and as be goes

company

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

away he feels sorry for Irina. He thinks of there is something amiss. (And here we may her as one condemned to live in uncongenial remark how refreshing it is to turn to her air, and then the image of his Tatiana rises from Irina,--for the character of the Prinbefore him, so good, so gentle, so pure-_"0 cess is one which is little in accordance with Tania, Tania !” he cries" you only are my good English tastes and feelings.) The scene in angel; it is you only that I love and shall which Litvinof comes to an explanation with love forever. And as to her I will not go Tatiana is admirably described, especially near her. Good fortune be with her! Let that part of it in which she, with an air of her amuse herself with her generals!” calm but sad dignity, frees him from his obli

The next day Irina sends for him, and gation to her. Just before she leaves Baden after some hesitation he goes to her. From she asks him to post a letter for her. that moment dates the loss of his hard

"Litvinof raised his eyes. Before him inearned peace of mind. Gradually Irina deed there stood his judge. Tatiana's form regains over him the influence she used to seemed taller than usual, more rigidly erect. exercise in the old Moscow days. It is in Her face was more than ordinarily beautiful, vain that he struggles against ber fascination, but in its stony majesty it resembled that of a in vain that he tries to shake off her spell. statue. Her breast did not heave; her dress, He feels that he is acting madly, dishonour to which its singleness of tint and the absence ably; he thinks of his past life, of the future the air of ancient drapery, fell to her feet,

of undulation in the outlines gave something of from which he had hoped so much, of the which it hid from sight, in long, straight folds, gentle and trusting girl to whom he is be like those of marble robes. Tatiana looked trothed; but it is of no use—he is in the straight before her, without taking any notice toils, and the hand of a pitiless woman is even of Litvinof, and her gaze too was calm drawing the cords daily tighter. Returning and cold as that of a statue. In it he read his home one evening from a party given by sentence; he bent his head, took the letter Irina, he sits for some time without moving him, and silently went away. ... Litvinof

from the motionless hand extended towards his face hidden by his hands. At last he dropped the letter into the box, and felt as if

, gets up and takes out of its case a photo- with that little piece of paper, he had dropped graph of Tatiana.

all his past, all his life, into the grave. Then

he went out of the town and wandered long "Litvinof's betrothed was a girl of the regular Russian type, fair-haired, of somewhat too among the vineyards, following the narrow full a figure, aná with features a shade too footpaths. He could not rid himself of a conheavy, but with a singularly good and frank stant sensation of contempt for himself

, imporespression in her intelligent hazel eyes, and tunate as the buzzing of a fly in summer. with a soft white forehead, on which

a ray of There could be no donbt that in this last intersunlight always seemed to rest. For a long view he had played a very unenviable part." time Litvinof did not raise his eyes from the Tatiana leaves Baden, and a few days laportrait, then he quietly put it away, and again ter Litvinof also hurries away thence, having hid his face in his hands. . ' All is over,' he been a second time thrown over by the inwhispered at last-Irina, Irina.'

"Then only, only at that moment, did he un comprehensible woman whose love has cost derstand that he loved her madly and irrevoca- ) him so dear. As he sits in the railway carbly,—that he had loved hor from the day of riage which is taking him away from her, his first interview with her at the old castle, -- he long gazes unconsciously at the clouds of that he had never ceased loving her. And yet, steam and smoke which come flying past the how he would have marvelled, how incredu- window from the engine, perpetually changlous he would have been how he would have ing their forms, trailing along the grass, few hours before. Bat Tania, Tania! oh my clinging to the bushes, melting away in the God! Tania, Tania!'he repeated with anguish. distance, but always keeping up the same And the image of Irina floated before him, in monotonous kind of play. At length the her black, as it were, funereal robe, the calm idea to which the story owes its name comes light of victory dwelling on the marble white-into his head. As he thinks of all he has ness of her face."

lately been witnessing, all his own hopes and A little longer and her victory is indeed efforts, all the ideas enunciated in his prescomplete. Litvinof lies in her power, mor- ence by the two sets of Russians at Baden, ally bound hand and foot.

" He was con

--the aristocratic retrogrades who declaimed quered, unexpectedly conquered, and what against the liberty of the press and the freehad become of his honour" That question dom of the peasants

, and the political and passes through his mind repeatedly as he social reformers who used to worry him by stands on the platform waiting for Tatiana's their incessant and fruitless declamation, arrival. She comes, and he tries in vain to he exclaims speak to her in a natural tone, to look at her without constraint.

"Smoke, smoke . . . steam and smoke. She soon feels that I And suddenly everything seemed to hiin to be

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

N-3

gody

VOL, L.

mere smoke his own life, Russian life-every- | fore her. That she had not expected, and she thing human, especially everything Russian. knew not wbat to do, what to say. Tears All is smoke and vapour, he thought; all seems started into her eyes. She was frightened, but to be constantly changing, everywhere new all her face grew bright with joy.

Gregory forms appear, one semblance follows close upon Mikhailovich! why do you do that, Gregory another, but in reality all is just the saine. Mikhailovich ?" she said, but he continued kiss. Everything falls headlong-hastens away some-ing the hem of her garment ... while he rewhere or other-and everything disappears, membered with emotion how he bad knelt behaving achieved nothing, leaving no trace be- fore her in a similar manner at Baden. But hind. Another wind blows, and everything then—and now ! ” flies over to the opposite side, and there once We had intended to enter into an investimore begins the same untiring, restless, and un- gation of those questions respecting the fuprofitable game."

ture of Russia, especially in its relations Soon after his return home his father dies, with Western Europe, to which so much and he finds himself engaged at once in the prominence is given in the pages of Smoke

. difficult task of managing the estate, which But our space is exhausted, and we can do has fallen into great disorder. The period no more than simply allude to them before at which he returns is thus described :

closing this sketch of M. Turguenief's writ“The new order of things met with a bad re- inga, of too many of which we have been unception; the old had lost all influence. Igno- able to take any notice. We have said no rance and dishonesty went hand in hand to- thing of his comedies, although they are nugether. Shaken to its very foundations, the merous enough to fill a large volume by them. whole social order of things quaked like a vast selves, nor have we even touched upon such peat-moss; only the one grand word 'Freedom' moved like the Spirit of God over the face of Don Quixote, having preferred to confine

of his works as the essay on Hamlet and the waters."

ourselves to his tales and novels. On the There is need, above all, of patience and novel which he has most recently written, that not a passive bat an active patience under the title of Neschastnaya (The Unand at first Litvinof finds it hard of acquisi- happy One), it is as yet impossible to pass tion. He cares but little for life now; he judgment, as its publication in the magazine feels still less inclined for exertion. But called the Russian Messenger bas not long two years pass by, and the difficulties he has been commenced; but we may fairly prophto contend with begin to diminish. The

esy that it will prove of no small interest. great idea of emancipation has begun to re- On the whole, we have utterly ignored much alize itself, and a change for the better has that is excellent, and we have not been able already made itself generally felt. Litvinof to do more than sketch a most hasty outline has succeeded in putting his affairs on a bet- of many of the stories to which we have reter footing, and his mind bas gradually re- ferred, but we hope that we have succeeded

vered somewhat of its former tone. He in at least giving some idea of the worth of is still very sad, and he secludes himself M. Turguenief's writings, and in calling at from all society; but the deadly indifference tention to the most characteristic merits of to all human interests from which he used his works which have gained him the first to suffer has left him, and he moves and acts place among the novelists of Russia. now like a living man among living people. All that occurred at Baden seems like a dream to him now; and as for Irina her image appears to him only as something vaguely suggestive of dread, closely shrouded in surrounding mist.

ART. III.-- REVOLUTIONS IN At length one day he receives a visit from ENGLISH, a relation who has been lately staying at Tatiana's country-house, and who talks to him The standard language of literature and a good deal about her. Soon after the visi- life is appropriately termed the Queen's tor's departure Litvinof writes to Tatiana, English, from having upon it the stamp of and a few days later he finds himself driving national currency and use. It is the me rapidly up to her house. He rushes up the dium of oral and written intercourse through steps, through the dining-room, and into the the length and breadth of the land, just as drawing.room.

the royal currency or coin of the realm is " Before him Tatiana stood blushing. She the medium of commercial exchange. The looked at him with her honest, loving eyes (she words of the standard vocabulary, like the had grown a little thinner, but that became her issues of the royal mint, have on them the well), and held out her hand to him. But he image and superscription of national authodid not take her hand; he fell on his knees be- / rity, of which the Sovereign is the natural

THE QUEEN'S

[ocr errors]

head and representative, and hence the apt , irregular growth of the nation's corporate designation, “Queen's English.” But, tak life. In almost every department of national ing a wider view of the matter, there is activity the working of the same critical imreally more significance in the epithet pulse may be clearly traced. There is van. Queen's, as applied to the language, than ifestly, on all hands, a strong desire and that arising from the accidental circum- persistent effort to measure in some way the stance of the reigning monarch being a prin- achievements of the prolific past: to take cess rather than a prince. A second reason stock, as it were, of the intellectual wealth the of its special appropriateness is to be found nation had so rapidly accumulated, and estiin the fact that the most important changes mate according to some rule or principle the in the language, or rather in the vocabulary resultsof its enormouslyreproductive energies. of the language, have taken place under the Very naturally, however, the working of three great English queens, Elizabeth, Anne, this critical movement is especially seen in and Victoria. If we throw out of account the literature of the time, and the contrast Queen Mary, who was hardly English either between the two periods in this respect is in character or policy, the reigos of the three well illustrated in the early productions English queens are identified with the most of their typical poets. This kind of index influential revolutions in the history of the is peculiarly significant, because men of English language. The Elizabethan age genius instinctively reflect, if they do not was the era of its fullest spontaneous devel- even anticipate, the foremost intellectual opment; the so-called Augustan age of tendencies of their own time. In his early Anne that of its critical restriction and re- youth, Shakespeare, the representative of the finement; while the Victorian age is the era first period, was exercising his fervid poetof its reflective expansion, its conscious ical imagination, his tender and passionate growth and reinvigoration. Each of these sensibilities, in the glowing imagery and marked periods is heralded by half a centu- musical verse of Venus and Adonis. Pope, ry of preparation, in which the influences, the typical poet of the second period, wbile literary and political, that helped to produce still in his teens, was reading Boileau, and the change, were gradually acquiring direc-condensing into the smooth couplets of his tion, unity, and power.

Essay on Criticism the sagest maxims of acThe first of these periods, that of the Re- cumulated literary wisdom, mingled with the formation, commencing with the earlier half shrewd observations of his own keenly preof the sixteenth century, culminating in the cocious mind. Great original works of ima. Elizabethan age, and lasting in its charac- ginative genius were no longer produced. teristic influences till the middle of the In place of these, critical editions of the seventeenth century, is justly regarded as great poets were for the first time undertakthe great creative period of English litera- en, and critical dissertations on their special ture. It is the period in which the latent merits, as well as critical theories of poetry genius of the nation was manifested for the and literature in general, attempted. No first time in all its freshness, strength, doubt these theories were superficial and and exuberant vitality. But the next con- one-sided, the critical judgments often shalsiderable epoch, that of the Revolution, low, and the rule employed for the measurewhich reached some of its most expressive ment of the intellectual giants of the previous forms during the reign of Queen Anne, has age sometimes ludicrously inadequate for a character of its own, equally marked, the purpose. But the important fact rethough perhaps not so fully recognised. If mains, that in every sphere of intellectual the era of the Reformation was the creative, activity rules and principles of judgment the productive epoch of our literature, that were honestly sought for. “Amidst the hard of the Revolution, extending over the great things that are often said against the eigher part of the eighteenth century, is charac teenth century, it must be remembered that terized by the predominant activity of the its leading minds, if comparatively cold and regulative, co-ordinating, or legislative facul- unimaginative, were consciously animated by ty. It is pre-eminently a critical age-the the desire of finding in every department of age in which criticism appeared for the first inquiry a critical or rational basis, and that time as a modifying power in our national in some departments, such as those of history, life and literature. The Revolution Settle- philosophy, and political science, this effort ment itself was a criticism of the Constitu- produced results of permanent value. tion, a resolute and successful effort to reduce What is true of the literature during to precise terms, fix in definite propositions, these two periods is equally true of the lanand establish on a legal basis the political guage. The epoch of the Reformation was rights and liberties which had gradually the great period of the language as well as asserted themselves amidst the vigorous but of the literature--the age in which its latent stores of phrase and diction were for the first reign of Henry vi., the growing elements time brought out, and rendered available for of national unity and power consolidated the higher purposes of literature by current themselves; and under favourable condiuse. Then, too, the various tributary streains, tions of peace and public security the counCeltic and Scandinavian, Romance and try steadily advanced in social comfort, Classical, that at different times have enrich- political strength, and material prosperity ed our native tongue, may be said to bave When Henry VIII. ascended the throne, he flowed together, and poured their currents had to lead a high-spirited and self-reliant into the broad and deepening river of our people, proud of a European position gained recognised and central English speech. But by past achievement in arms, confident of these secondary elements of copious and its future progress, and resolved, if need expressive diction, left as a heritage by races were, to secure the conditions of that

prothat had helped to give dignity and grace gress at the point of the sword. The very to the robust English character, were by no subserviency the early Parliaments showed means the most important contributions on home affairs arose indeed, in part, from made during this era to the standard national the strong feeling in favour of an energetic vocabulary. The scattered wealth of neglect- foreign policy, and the resolve of the nation ed words belonging to the root-elements of to maintain at all bazards its position in the language, the forcible and idiomatic Europe. The Reformation was just the Angle and Saxon terms, hitherto almost movement to stimulate that resolve, as it restricted to local use, were now, under the appealed directly on its political side to the working of an irresistible influence, collected independent spirit of the people. In its from their provincial sources, and poured early stages, indeed, as far as the people at into the national exchequer of words through large, or rather the town populations-the a multitude of obscure and unnoticed chan. mercantile, trading and professional classes

, nels. The powerful influence which thus who alone took an active interest in public developed for the first time the resources of affairs,-were concerned, the English Re the mother tongue was that of awakened formation was a national and political, much nationality, of which the Reformation itself, more than a religious or ecclesiastical movein its early stages, may be regarded as the ment. It was a national revolt against concentrated and energetic expression. The the authority of a foreign potentate, whose working of this national spirit, and its effect arrogant pretensions, haughty bearing, and both on the language, and the literature, is arbitrary exactions of tribute had come to indeed clearly traceable as early as the be regarded as alike insulting and oppressive , fourteenth century. By the middle of that As the area of the conflict enlarged and its century the brillant foreign wars and suc- issues expanded, the great interest at stake cessful reign of Edward 111. had very much stirred the heart of the nation to its very effaced the bitter antipathies of rank and depths, and roused all its nobler elements of race produced by the Conquest, impressed character to a pitch of intense and sustained on the national mind an exulting sense of enthusiasm. This enthusiasm reached its unity and power, and diffused amongst all highest point in the tremendous struggle classes the proud glow of genuine patriotism. with Spain as the armed champion of RoThe effect of this awakened spirit on the man domination in Europe, the ruthless milanguage is seen in its immediate recall to litary representative of the despotic principle the courts of justice, and other positions of both in Church and State. dignity and honour, from which for three On the eve of that gallant struggle against centuries it had been banished, while its such overwhelming odds, Queen Elizabeth, intellectual reflex may be traced in the noble with the sure instinct of political genius, early literature of which Chaucer, Gower, struck the key-note of the excited national and Wycliffe are the foremost representa- mind in ber stirring address to the

army tives. In the fifteenth century the gallant “ Let tyrants fear! I have always so behaved but disastrous wars of Henry v. dissipated myself that, under God, I have placed my the vain dream of extended foreign empire chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal which had so long dazzled the imagination hearts and goodwill of my subjects; and of the nation, and helped to fix its attention therefore I am come amongst you, as you on domestic interests, while the Wars of the see, at this time, not for my own recreation Roses indirectly advanced the cause of the and disport, but having resolved, in the people by destroying the most offensive midst and heat of the battle, to live or die incidents of the feudal system and relieving amongst you all-to lay down, for God and the nation.at large from the incubus of a for my kingdom, and for my people, my

honturbulent and ambitious feudal aristocracy. our and my blood even in the dust. I During the long, prudent, and successful | know I have the body but of a weak and

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

:

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »