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ness of manner and mind. Yrs. Brown. ing used to sit buried up in a large easy-chair, listening and talking very quietly and pleasantly, with nothing of that peculiarity which one would expect from reading her poems ... her eyes small, her mouth large, she wears & cap and long curls, very unaffected and pleasant and simple-hearted is she, and Browning says "her poems are the least good part of her."
Later on the families are together for long periods, at the Baths of Lucca, for instance, and at Siena and Rome. Browning, his wife writes, has taken to modelling under Story at his studio, and “is making extraordinary progress." That was in the autumn before her death, of which Story writes to C. E. Norton in language that shows how deeply he was affected. “Never did I see any one whose brow the world hurried and crowded so to crown, who had so little vanity and so much pure humility." Touching Mrs. Browning's passion in the cause of Italy, Mr. James asks how it is that it should not leave us in a less disturbed degree the benefit of all the moral beauty, and answers himself in this searching passage:
so greatly concerned her. It concerned her of course as it concerned all near witnesses and lovers of justice, but the effect of ber insistent voice and fixed eye is to make us somehow feel that justice is, after all, of human things, has something of the convenient loose ness of humanity about it-so that wo are uneasy, in short, till we have recognized the ground of our critical reaction. It would seem to be this ground, exactly, that makes the case an example. Monstrous as the observation may sound in its crudity, we ab solutely feel the beautiful mind and the high gift discredited by their engrossment. We say, roughly, that this is what becomes of distinguished spirits when they fail to keep above. The cause of Italy was, obviously, for Mrs. Browning, as high aloft as any object of interest could be; but that was only because she had let down, as it were, her inspiration and her poetic pitch. They suffered for it sadly-the permission of which, conscious or unconscious, is on the part of the poet, on the part of the beautiful mind, ever to be judged (by any critic with any sense of the real) as the unpardonable sin. That is our complaint: the clear stream runs thick; the real superiority pays; we are less edified than we ought to be. Which is, perhaps, after all, not a very graceful point to make (though it must stand). .
We wonder at the anomaly, wonder why we are even perhaps slightly irritated, and end by asking ourselves it it be not because her admirable mind, otherwise splendidly exhibited, has inclined us to look in her for that saving and sacred sense of proportion, of the free and blessed general, that great poets, that genius and the high range of genius, give us the impression of even in emotion and passion, even in pleading a cause and calling on the gods. Mrs. Browning's sense of the general had all run, where the loosening of the Italian knot, the character of Napoleon III., the magnanimity of France and the abjection of England were involved, to the strained and the strenuous—a possession, by the subject, riding her to death, that almost prompts us at times to ask wherein it
With Browning himself the Storys kept up a close friendship until his death, and their later correspondence echoes the “felicities and prosperities" which attended the rich and ample period of his life "that cast the comparatively idyllic Italian time into the background, and seemed superficially to build it out." One of his letters to them full of London news tells of Thackeray's resignation of the editorship of “The Cornhill" and that it has been offered to himself. Mr. James is nowhere else so felicitous as in his explanation of this transformation to "the wonderful Browning we were so largely afterwards to know-the ac
complished, Baturated, sane, sound man of the London world and the world of culture":
The poet and the “member of society" were, in & word, dissociated in him as they can rarely elsewhere have been; so that, for the observer im. pressed with this oddity, the image I began by using quite of necessity completed itself: the wall that built out the idyll (as we call it for convenience), of which memory and imagination were virtually composed for him, stood there behind him solidly enough, but subject to his privilege of living almost equally on both sides of it. It contained an Invisible door through which, working the lock at will, he could softly pass, und of which he kept the golden keycarrying the same about with him even In the pocket of his dinner-waistcoat, yet even in his most splendid expansions showing it, happy man, to none. Such at least was the appearance he could repeatedly conjure up to a deep and mystified admirer.
Yrs. Story's pen
as well her husband's is busy with great effect about their London experiences. There is a morning concert at the Opera, with Pasta, Castillan, ot, Tamburini, Marlo, Ronconi, and Grisi-surely an incomparable constellation. Story dines with John Forster, and meets Talfourd, a man "with the keenness of polish and education," but not elegant at all -he ate with his knife! Hardwick tells a story about Turner eating shrimps out of the lap of an old woman, with his back turned upon a glorious sunset, which his companions are watching with delight. Nature was creeping up, he, too, might have explained. An "evening at Mrs. Proctor's" is the signal for one of Mr. James's most successful evocations. "Perpetuator, for our age, of the tone of an age not ours," that lady is for him historic, not merely in the superficial sense of her associations and accretions, “but in the finer one of her being such a character, such a figure, as the generations appear pretty well to have ceased to produce. It was her tone that was her value and her identity, and that kept her from being feebly modern; her sharpness of outline was in that in the absence there of the little modern mercies, muddlements, confusions and compromises.” But the reader must go to Mr. James's pages themselves to see how this ghost walks again at his summons.
One other shade among the many called up from these earlier years must not slip by unobserved. When Browning, as has been often told, found Walter Savage Landor in a Florence inn, a broken-down, poor, houseless old man, it was to Siena, beside the Storys, that he brought him. Mrs. Story jotted down her recollections of their neighbor and of his table-talk, from which, with a regret that we may not extract more, we take these two plums, not the juiciest by any means:
In these earlier years came excursions into Austria and Germany, visits to Paris and London, and to the old Bostonian circle, all fruitful in entertaining records. Story's
pen illustrates his roving interests and the keenness of his romantic sense. It can turn off a comical portrait, too, with a few strokes in the grotesque. One of Neander, in a letter to Lowell from Berlin, has a story attached of how the German great man arrived home one day complaining of being lame and of having had to hobble along the streets. He had no pain, but he was lame, for he had hobbled all the way home. His sister and next a physician examined him, finding nothing wrong. Still, he insisted that lame he was, for he had hobbled. All were in perplexity, till some one who had seen bim returning solved the mystery by stating that he had walked home with one foot in the gutter and one on the sidewalk!
“I once sat next Lady Stowell at din- til he was nearing middle life, he sufner (Landor is speaking), and I asked fered in never baving served an apher to take wine, after trying to en- prenticeship. A plain power of hard gage her in talk. 'For the love of God
work, among other things, assisted him let me alone and don't bother me so, Mr. Landor,' says she; 'I don't know
to make up to some extent for the what I'm eating.' 'Well, my lady,' said
rigor of technical education which he I, 'you're a long time making the ac
had missed; but, again, his energy was quaintance': for she ate like a tiger dissipated over a too varied field of and in great quantity. ... I met Tom interests. It drove him into every Paine once at dinner-his face blotched
kind of literary experiment and specuand his hands unsteady with the wine
lation. He used to say: "Sculptors he took. The host gave him a glass of brandy, and he talked very well; an profess much admiration of my writacute reasoner, in fact a monstrous
ings, and poets amiably admit that my clever man. I went at that time into great talent lies in sculpture.” Such, very grand company, but as I was a ever, is the fate of the Admirable young man some of my relations who Crichton, and that Story was likely wanted to put me down said, 'Well, we
to play that rôle, without pose, indeed, hear you know Tom Paine-Citizen
and unconsciously, except in the inPaine we suppose you call him, with
tense consciousness of his interest in your ideas.'
“To persons with your ideas I call him Mister Paine,' says I.”
everything, Lowell appears to have de
tected in their college days together. We are left little space in which to "Full of all sorts of various talent" is follow Story through the second stage Mrs. Browning's description of him of his career;
but that matters in one of her letters to Mrs. Martin. less, because it was one of general "Not with the last intensity a sculptor," serenity, and general serenity, says his present biographer, and conas Mr. James says, gives small advan- tinues; "he was as addicted to poetry tage to the biographer. "Happiness as if he had never dreamed of a statue, eludes us, and Story was as happy as and as addicted to statues as if he a man could be who was doing on the were unable to turn a verse. It whole what he liked, what he loved, was, aesthetically speaking, a wonder. and to whom the gods had shown jeal- ful sociability." ousy but in the one cruel occasion of We are getting nearer the "rather the death of his eldest boy." The Eng- odd case," Story's particular exhibition lish public, (with its objection to the of the "famous 'artistic temperament,'" nude, on which Mr. James descants which, as we have remarked earlier, divertingly) had surrendered to his in- Mr. James sifts so shrewdly, and with teresting gift in sculpture, and had such an interest as one of his own crereadily proclaimed it genius; and he ations might inspire in him.
The rewas, in time, to overcome the American sults, taken together, are an admirable view of himself as “only a poetaster, contribution to criticism, at which we dilettante, and amateur," which he can do no more than hint. Insistence, complains of in his earlier letters. That he says,-meaning by that the act of view was entirely erroneous, no doubt, throwing the whole weight of the mind, yet there were in Story's case elements and of gathering it at a particular that make the error at least under- point (when the particular point is standable. It was, after all, by an ac- worth it) in order to do so—is on the cident that sculpture became his par. part of artists who are single in spirit ticular work, and not engaging in it, an instinct and a necessity, and the seriously at least, as we have seen, un- principal sign we know them by. “They
feel unsafe, uncertain, exposed, unless A loyal but wonderfully intimate and the spirit, such as it is, is, at the point searching critic is at our ear as we in question, ‘all there."" And Story, watch him at work. The evoked group restlessly and sincerely æsthetic, was is placed against the background of the yet constitutionally lacking in this in- Italy of a departed golden age; "the sistence. It is the biographer's point vanished society," in its pride and patoo, that, in regard at least to the thos, and the air in all the goldenness want of it in his literary work, it was of its appeal to Mr. James himself, are of all places least likely to be supplied recovered by him with all his art of in "the golden air" of Italy. "Subjects suggestion. The whole
is float by, in Italy, as the fish in the sea brushed with extraordinary delicacy may be supposed to float by a merman, and finesse. We cannot resist anticiwho doubtless puts out a hand from pating the pleasure of the reader with time to time to grasp, for curiosity, one more passage; especially as it some particularly irridescent specimen. touches on a subject to which the But he has conceivably not the proper writer constantly returns,—the fluctuadetachment for full appreciation." In tion of taste. Story in his German an air less golden, so little golden even diary records having seen a ballet at as Story found that of Boston to be the Berlin opera, "in which Marie Tagwhen he revisited it, the picturesque lioni, a woman whose ankles were as subject might more readily have yield- great as her name, flung herself about ed all its inspiration. This latter stage clumsily enough." of the career we have been following
“But for this untoward stroke [Mr. was one of entire felicity; but there
James comments) we might have inexists regarding it the question
vited Marie Taglioni to flit across our whether the felicity had not to be paid
stage, on the points of those toes that for. "It is for all the world as if there
we expected never to see compromised, were always, for however earnest a as one of our supernumerary ghosts: man, some seed of danger in conscious- in the light, that is, of our own belated ly planning for happiness, and a seed
remembrance, a remembrance deferred quite capable of sprouting even when
to the years in which, as a very ugly
and crooked little old woman, of the the plan has succeeded. Such at any
type of the superanuated 'companrate is the moral, not too solemnly ex
ion,' or of the retired and pensioned pounded, which the biographer finds German
governess, she sometimes suggested by the artistic "case" which dined out, in humane houses in he so intimately displays to us.
London, and there indeed, it must be Our intention, we hope not entirely
confessed, ministered not a little to
wonderment as to what could have unrealized, has been to indicate the
been the secret of her renown, the mysvariety of these fascinating volumes,
tery of her grace, the truth, in fine, of which we believe will take a high
her case. Her case was in fact really place among Mr. James's works.
interesting, for the sensitive spectator, Story, with his relish of life, his good as a contribution to the eternal haunttalk, on the topic of the day or on any ing question of the validity, the veother, his powers of mimicry, his nota- racity from one generation to another, ble prejudices, his stores of knowledge
of social and other legend, and it could and especially of impressions of Rome,
easily, in the good lady's presence,
start a train of speculations-almost an altogether charming and sprightly
one indeed of direct inquiry. The pospersonality, appears in the circle of his
numerous-how were friends, themselves in many
they to be sifted? Were our fathers among the finest spirits of their time. benighted, were ravage and deformity
only triumphant, or, most possibly of to the impressed stranger, in Venice. all, was history in general simply a The Ught of testimony in the London fraud? For the Sylphide had been, it winter fogs was, at the best, indirect, appeared, if not the idol of the nations, and still left the legend, at the worst, Uke certain great singers, at least the one of the celebrated legs, so often in delight of many publics, and had repre- the past precisely serving as a solitary sented physical grace to the world of support, to stand on. But to read, after her time. She had beguiled Austrian all, that she flung herself about, with magnates even to the matrimonial thick ankles, 'clumsily enough,' is to altar, and had acquired, as a climax of rub one's eyes and sigh-'Oh history, prosperity, an old palace, pointed out oh mystery!'-and give it up."
A "Woman's Paper" of a few weeks English girls; and persons who look ago contained a complaint that the back so regretfully upon the ways of modern girl, on leaving school, is not "older generations” may perhaps be re“accomplished as were women of the stored to cheerfulness by a little study upper classes in older generations," of The Girl's Own Book, as that work and more than hints that hockey and appeared in early editions. The volother games are responsible for this ume was originally compiled in Amerunaccomplished condition. Perhaps it ica by Mrs. Child, the Abolitionist, and may be worth while to inquire a little contains internal evidence of having into the real nature of the accomplish- been, for its time, "advanced.” The ments thus regretted. The word at edition before me is the eighth, pubonce recalls a conversation that occurs fished in London by Thomas Tegg-a in Pride and Prejudice.
piratical person, it is to be feared, who “ 'It is amazing to me,' said Bingley, probably paid Mrs. Child nothing-in 'how young ladies can have patience the year 1835. It contains, by way of to be so very accomplished as they all frontispiece, a portrait of the Princess are. ... They all paint tables, cover Victoria, wearing a very large hat and screens and net purses. I scarcely very small sandal shoes, and is "emknow anyone who cannot do all this.' bellished with 144 woodcuts." The ... 'Your list of the common extent British Museum has nothing earlier of accomplishments,' said Darcy, 'has than the thirteenth edition, with a new too much truth. The word is applied editress and many alterations. to many a woman who deserves it no This little square volume, the corotherwise than by netting a purse or ners of whose pages are worn to roundcovering a screen.'”
ness by the fingers of two generations, The accomplishment of netting purses is divided into several sections, and, has unquestionably died out; and the sad to say, the first of these is–Games ! home-covered screen has been for the But let the lover of the past take courmost part superseded-not unhappily- age; the games of 1835 are not the by the painted or embroidered one.
games of 1903. The leading feature These, however, are not the only obso- of these pastimes is the “paying of forlete accomplishments once practised by feits," and on page 95 directions for