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have produced in Shenstone's time, it will have but an indifferent reception in the present condition of the agricultural population. Even the most credulous of rustics will smile at the notion of a young gentleman from college, the son of the clergyman, falling in love with the sister-in-law of a poacher who had been transported for fourteen years, discovering all the virtues under the sun in her, and marrying her amidst a triumphant jubilee of church-bells, with the squire's daughters for bridesmaids. Apart from the absurdity and faded simplicity of the story, is the extreme tediousness of its treatment. The action is hidden almost out of sight under a mass of country pictures and sketches, like a pebble buried in a drift of foliage. Nor are these monotonous views of the woods and the corn-fields, these golden visions of an extinct age of innocence, redeemed by any special novelty of aim or expression. At best, they are only dull reproductions of scenes which have been more freshly and naturally depicted over and over again by Mr. Miller's predecessors in this line.
Kindness and Cruelty, a slender tale with pretty illustrations, belongs to that class of story-books which vindicate moral truths by narratives constructed expressly for the purpose. The worst of these narratives is, that their object is transparent, and their logic false. Nothing is easier than to invent a circumstantial case leading to a particular conclusion; but in such instances the moral is enforced by so arbitrary a process, that it runs the risk of being rejected altogether, like any other piece of pure sophistication. Kindness and Cruelty is a translation from the German of Dr. Perner, the founder of a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and bears all the characteristics of a tract issued by such an institution. Here are two boys trained up together, one of them very kind, the other very cruel, to animals. We follow them to the sequel of their adventures, and find the usual distribution of rewards and punishments, meted out, however, with a severity which the premises hardly justify. The story, nevertheless, is interesting, and told in a plain and un
affected manner, that gives it, in spite of its extra-judicial spirit, an air of reality.
Much more in the genuine taste of unmistakeable child-books are two stories, or series of stories, called Home and its Pleasures and The Little Sister, written by Mrs. Harriet Myrtle, whose very name, coming out of the geraniums and the shrubs, gives a foretaste of English homesteads. These are juvenile histories that unfold the lives of children in language which children can understand, full of the sort of conversations and movements in which chil dren take an interest, and admirably adapted, by the general purity of their tone, to strengthen good resolutions and correct a thousand little errors of character. The illustrations of one of these books are by Brown, of the other by Schneider. There is a wide difference and contrast between them, and we are not quite satisfied with the gaudy colouring of either. The points chosen by the latter are not always selected with the best possible taste; for although new-born infants just deposited in their cots, and the process of the children's wash-tub, may suggest available hints to the storyteller, in the hands of the artist they become ridiculous or offensive. In some of his plates, M. Schneider exhibits a delicacy and ideality which make these errors of judgment only the more surprising.
The best part of a book entitled, Aunt Effie's Rhymes for Little Chil dren, is contributed by the artist, whose fanciful pencil strays up and down the pages, through all manner of gambols, with a most enlivening faculty of invention. It is Brown, or Phiz, again, happier in this book than in Mrs. Myrtle's, because it affords a wider scope to his humour and to the poetry that flowers up out of it. As for the rhymes which he so successfully eclipses by his brilliant outlines, they must be dismissed as a sorry substitute for the old nursery jingles, which we suppose they are intended to improve upon. The charm of the nursery jingle was partly in its rhythm, which was like a snatch of a wondrous melody that seized upon you at once, partly in the sly truth or slier comicality it conveyed, and partly in the spell of
association with which it came down to us, making it sacred by long usage and domestic familiarity. Bran-new rhymes must possess singular virtues that shall displace these wise and loveable old jingles. Aunt Effie's specimens are certainly not of this order. Not a line of them will ever be remembered after they are read. They are little more than nonsense verses, prattling about pigs and cats and ducks, with a touch of the picturesque in them that will make them pass off pleasantly enough in the moment of perusal, but without depositing in the mind a solitary grain of thought. Take a short specimen, as good in its way as any of the rest.
THE GREAT BROWN OWL.
The brown Owl sits in the ivy bush, And she looketh wondrous wise, With a horny beak beneath her cowl, And a pair of large round eyes.
She sat all day on the self-same spray,
For the owl to see in yet.
'Jenny-Owlet, Jenny Owlet,' said a merry little bird,
They say you're wondrous wise; But I don't think you see, though you're looking at ME
With your large, round, shining eyes.'
But night came soon, and the pale white
Rolled high up in the skies; And the great brown owl flew away in her cowl,
With her large, round, shining eyes. What does the little reader extract from this? Is he not likely, when he comes to the end, to wonder what it is all about, and in consequence to forget it incontinently?
We have spoken of the applications of high art to the purposes of children's books, and a specimen of singular beauty is before us in a volume called Child's Play. It consists of a collection of charming etchings, carrying out with wonderful effect the pictorial and moral suggestions shut up in old snatches of nursery doggrel; such fragments, for example, as the following:
Little boy blue,
The sheep's in the meadows,
And here we have a scene in which the landscape is full of the subject, illustrated in all its details with striking effect. Again:
Here we are on Tom Tickler's ground, Picking up gold and silver! The beauty of the group of children filling their laps in the foreground, and the sketch of open sward bounded by grand old trees beyond, exhibit an imagination rich in resources. The treatment of all these subjects is luxuriant and suggestive; and every page presents an evidence of genius drawing exquisite forms and thoughtful designs out of the simplest and, apparently, the most limited materials. Never were children's fancies so artistically elevated and idealized before; never were there such dreams of lady-birds and wild flowers; never were the legends of the play-ground expanded into such fascinating pictures. This is a book which children can never exhaust, which they will open again and again with renewed pleasure, and which, while it fills their eyes with delight, cannot fail to reach their hearts by disclosing to them a new world of emotions.
And this brings us to the pleasantest part of our gossip. We have not done with the fairies yet, wise and practical as we have grown. Not only have we a complete edition of the Fairy Legends and Tales of Hans Christian Andersen, now collected and translated for the first time from the original Danish, but an original English venture in the same region, entitled New Tales from Faëry Land. It is not out of any depreciation of our native skill in these matters that we must frankly say we prefer the former. Indeed, there is no reasonable excuse for making any comparison between them, only that they appear at the same time, and profess to deal with the same class of subjects. Andersen's tales are written with a poetical feeling and a profound humanity which are special to himself; while this new batch from Fairydom possesses no particular merits of any kind. The old machinery is reproduced; but it does not work as easily as it
used to do. We have the transformations of the pantomime without the surprise or the illusion. But the intention is good; and as there is enough of the wonderful to keep curiosity alive, and we are conscious everywhere of the presence of a pure and cheerful spirit, we become more reconciled as we proceed; and, being desirous of encouraging this sort of literature, we arrive at last at the amiable conclusion, that the book will furnish pleasant reading for the holidays.
Of a different order from of any those we have glanced at, and in all respects the most ambitious giftbook of the season, is Mrs. Hervey's Pathway of the Fawn. The story is elaborate, the characters are sketched in with considerable power, and a solemn interest and poetical grandeur reign over the development of the action. The scene is laid on the Rhine, amongst the old castles and haunted mountains, and the tone of the writing is inspired with the traditionary feeling of a strain of legendary music. The flavour of the dark German romance is communicated to the narrative at once, by the description with which it opens, of a carouse on the last night of the year in one of the feudal fastnesses which are now reduced to a mass of crumbling stones, standing up in broken outlines against the horizon. The guests have been discussing the superstitions of the season, and the master of the revel, affecting to throw off the influence of the hour, rises and flings open the casement to listen for the chimes
of the distant cathedral. The picture is bold and striking.
Not a breath stirred, not a star was visible. But down, far down the rocky steep, lay the ancient city at its foot, with all her innumerable lights reflected in the waters of the darkened Rhineso many witnesses of the anxious and breathless watchers that awaited the signal of another birth to time; a year for hope, for love-young voices, and old graves.
At last the finger approached the point of twelve-neared, all but touched it.
Every glass had been filled to the brim, and every man stood ready, his eye fixed on the numeral figure, to hail with one prolonged cheer the crowning of the hour.
At this moment of intense silence,
when the hand of the dial had all but marked the appointed stroke; while the heart itself seemed to pause, so still were its beatings; and when, had a feather dropped, it would have startled the listeners;-suddenly-whence or from what quarter of the globe it came no man knew-suddenly, a wild rush of air, perfectly indescribable save by the term a gasp, a shudder of wind, swept past the casement!
It scarcely sounded before it was gone, dying as suddenly as it rose.
Every man started, looked on his neighbour, and turned pale.
Ernest Engelhertz and Wilhelm von Fern, the believer and the sceptic, gazed into each other's eyes. The face of Ernest was pale, but calm; the aspect of his entertainer was that of one suddenly arrested for some crime.
Out of this incident springs the dramatic business of the story, and out of this ominous prelude the final moral. It cannot be compressed without injustice; but the reader may learn, and still keep his zest for the book, that the youth who thus passes out into the bleak midnight from his father's roof, adopts this terrible resolve in the hope of touching his father's conscience, and redeeming him, by that last appeal to the only vulnerable point in his affections, from a crime of long years, and of deep domestic wrong. The scenes in the artist's studio in the mountain, the placing in the old castle the statues that are to awaken the guilty man to remorse, the melting down of his heart at last, the ultimate restitution of the rights he had withheld from his kindred, and the passages of love that grow up through these events, are not only
full of interest in their progress, but related with unusual grace and feeling. The conception is replete with moral beauty, possessing the fascination of a genuine Teutonic legend, liberated from the gloom and mysticism which too often darken the fables that are native to that soil.
Although this is not a fairy story, but a human allegory, nor a German story, except in the skill with which the poetical atmosphere of the scene is preserved, it shows to some extent the influence which the German spirit has exercised over this department of English fiction. The Germans understand this kind of lore better than we do, especially in all that concerns the fairies. But there is a line of demarcation to be drawn between the fairyland of North and South Germany. In the North, all the old traditions are kept in their original purity, and rarely trespassed upon or meddled with; it is in the Black Forest, and in the German valleys of Switzerland, and round by Alsace, that new fairy stories are invented and cultivated with ardour. many is essentially the land of children's books, and in the character of these books we have abbreviated, as in a microcosm, the character of the people. The moment a German sees a child, his first thought is to teach him something, and he sets about it at once; and being of a good-natured and genial turn of mind, he tries to make it as pleasant as he can, and so it inevitably takes the shape of a parable, or an allegory, or a wonderful quaint exaggeration of some sort. It will therefore be invariably found, that in anything
pleasant which a German writes for the use of children, there will be something conveyed in the way of instruction, while everything intended for instruction is, in like manner, thrown into a disguise of amuse
Now, in England, on the other hand, the story-book is the reflection of that mixture of affectionate pampering and moral training which prevail everywhere amongst us, contradistinguished from the philosophizing spirit of the Germans. A German story-book creams over, in the midst of its weird and fantastic imagery, with dogmatism-the fancy and the philosophy bubble up together. An English story-book, on the contrary, is nothing but a storybook, with a plain-sailing moral occasionally tacked to it; and is all the better when there is none, except that which is inseparable from the web and woof of the plot. In France, different from both, there are no such things as story-books, so to speak, because the French do not cultivate children. They dress them up, and twist their hair, and teach them to dance and roll their eyes, but it never enters into their wisdom to cultivate their moral faculties or their imaginations through the help of storybooks. The dearth of such things seems, however, to be felt by the children themselves, for Victor Hugo tells us, that, when he was going to Germany, his children begged of him to bring them home some stories from the Rhine; but he assures us that, not being able to find any there, he was forced to invent one to amuse them!
THE LICENCE OF THE STREETS.
DON'T like that word civilization. And yet I must use it for want of a better. I dislike it partly because France is said to be civilized, and I have no patience with France. France civilized, indeed! Could a truly civilized people have elected the monster who has just crushed all their liberties out of them? Impossible. I say that I must use that word civilization, much as I dislike
it, for want of a better. But I will at least follow the example of M. Guizot and the rest of the world, and give it a meaning of my own. I say, then, that civilization ought to mean, The enjoyment of liberty under difficulties, the greatest of all conceivable difficulties being a dense population. Now let us ask ourselves, whose privilege it is to inhabit the metropolis of England, or, as
the great men of the City of London will have it, of the world, whether we have arrived at such a point of civilization as to enjoy a fair share of liberty? In this, which ought to be the model city of England and the world, an example to all other civic communities, our cherished pride and boast, have we attained to true liberty?
First as to freedom from disease, have we achieved that? No, we have not. We are barbarians still; and, at our present rate of progress, shall continue such for a century to come. We still groan under the dirt-tyranny under foot, the filthtyranny under ground, and the smoke-tyranny in the air. The only people that have any real freedom are the people who should abate these nuisances. The parochial authorities are free to leave the thoroughfares pavements, and crossings unswept; the sewers commission to keep the drainage in statu quo; the manufacturers to fill the atmosphere with clouds of smoke; the pavingcommissioners to destroy and remake our thoroughfares at pleasure; the water companies to stint us in our supply of water; the Board of Health to fold their hands in resignation over the Interment Bill. The era of true civilization, when Art shall bring Nature back into the cities from which she has been so rudely expelled, and we shall revel again in the full enjoyment of light, air, and water, to the contentment of our rearts and the preservation of our health, is, alas! but too far distant.
Difficult! Yes, it is difficult. It always was, and it always will be, difficult to get anything well done. There are competent officials to beappointed, and fractious ratepayers to be kept in good humour. As to officials, who can be brought to be lieve in the competency of parochial boards? No one in his senses has a very exalted opinion of their talent. A Londoner must be simply demented to expect good serviceable work in the matter of paving, lighting, and cleansing from the fourscore paving-boards of the metropolis, or the nineteen paving-boards of barbarous and benighted St. Pancras. Four-score staffs to be paid for tyrannizing in inefficient ignorance over the roadways of the
metropolis are enough to dishearten any one. And when quarter-day comes round, with taxes for doing such work so badly, amounting, for a man of moderate means, to five pounds or more per annum, with perhaps twice that amount of poorrate, raised, among other things, for the purpose of perpetuating the race of paupers, the most tolerant and squeezable of mortals looks very blank at the thought of an augmented sewer's-rate or a new interment-rate, or any other impost, calculated though it be to save a future shilling by the sacrifice of a present penny. Το go back for a moment to our fourscore paving-boards. Is it not monstrous that the crossings of our streets, which, be it recollected, are part and parcel of the pavement properly so called, instead of being swept clean by honest workmen honestly paid fair wages, must be left to the tender mercies of mendicant street-sweepers, to the disgust and mortification of every man who has a becoming sense of the evils of mendicancy, and the tyranny of being followed close at the heels by an unrelenting persecutor in rags. If these careless functionaries have no pity upon men who can fight their own battles, surely they ought to have some consideration for the unprotected female,' who has no alternative but to submit to a fine or endure persecution. Then, what are the police about? or, if the police have no power to interfere, what is our national Palaver doing, that the most crowded thoroughfares and most perilous crossings in the world are to be obstructed by every quack who takes it into his head to tyrannize over his neighbours by building a huge box on wheels, covering it with sheets of printed paper, and moving it through the streets at the rate of a mile an hour? Is it not enough that our omnibuses are allowed to cover themselves inside and out with advertisements, till they look for all the world like tattered beggars changed by enchantment into lifeless vehicles, wearing torn paper instead of rags?
Then, again, to return to the pavements, as if it were not enough to have every crossing in the hands of the beggars, we must needs have the streets themselves disfigured in the