« AnteriorContinuar »
the prisoners a talking." " Very possibly it was so," said the Marquis.
As Prosper's quarrel with Moréal merely arose out of his friendship for Dornier, he now lavishes his favor on the accepted lover, and so pleases the uncle that he offers him his favorite horse, Leporello, which Prosper insists on calling® Tribonien on legal grounds. He also offers a cabriolet, wbich is refused as looking too like a bribe, but he condescends to accept a present of a tilbury.
Cherassu Pere having recovered his useful instrument, is now in a good way to repair the little breaches made between himself and colleagues. The principals are assembled with him at a political tea ; and grave discussions as to the best means of arranging and directing their tactics are going on, when Prosper takes the assembly by storm. He had not shaved since his incarceration, and his uncle's Johannisberg had made his cheeks a lively red: his sparkling eyes in addition would have recommended the ensemble to the painter of a Bacchanal, but the whole thing was unsuited to tlie gravity of the present conclave.
“ In recognising his son the Deputy of the North contracted his heasy brows, while his colleagues curiously scanned the unparliamentary appearance of the new comer. Messieurs, I beg to present my son,” said at last M. Chevassu. • Fresh from the cachots of the present order of things,” added Prosper. "Ah, this is the roysterer who was arrested in the émeute of Wednesday," said a deputy to his neighbour,“ he has the air of a genuine sacripant."
Without letting himself be disturbed by the angry looks of his father, he advanced to the table, secured a cup of tea aud a muffin, and took bis place the middleof the astonished members who were conversiog near the fire-place.“ Messeurs," said he, “I am honored by finding myself in your company, especially as I have a petition to confide to your care for presentation.' Prosper,” said his father, " think to whom you are speaking." "As we are in your house, father, they can be nothing but honorable citizens, enemies of arbitrary rule, and defenders of the rights of all.” “You wish to present a petition," said a man with a truculent expression, “and for what purpose ?” “ To draw attention to illegal detentions : victim in my own person to that abuse, I desire to fasten the bell on the neck of ministerial despotism.” “What have you to complain of? You made a disturbance on the Boulevard, and you were arrested ; no. thing juster ; you might have reinained at home.” “ Nothing juster!" cried Prosper, his cheeks assuming a redder tinge, “then I suppose it is forbidden to take a walk on the Boulevards after dinner for health's sake. I must also suppose that a band of assassins have leave
to knock on the head, an honest citizen to whom walking is prescribed by his physician.” “ He is mad," said one of the deputies to another in a low tone. “And Brutus was treated like a madman," said the student with an air of contempt. “Be silent, Prosper. Messieurs, I request your indulgence ; a little vivacity is excusable in a young man who feels himself a victim of an arbitrary act."
« No excuses, father : after all, the chamber of deputies is only a small fraction of the country; and if its members slumber in a culpable apathy, there are patriotic hearts outside its walls who watch." Now arose mur.
“This is becoming scandalous.” “ An insult to the chamber." " Such a diatribe is intolerable." “ Prosper, Prosper," said his father, feeling himself on burning coals. All this time Prosper was composedly sipping his tea, and looking with pity on the men of straitened intelligence round him. “ Messieurs," then said he with a tone of persiflage, “ I demand to be heard in opposition to the call to order ; agreeably to the usages of the house it cannot be refused."
This parody redoubled the discontent of the members of the chamber. “ I thought we were invited here to discuss grave interests, and not to listen to the pasquinades of a scholar." “ I am no more a scholar than you a master.
I am conscious of the fault of being young ; it is unpardonable ; but the day will come, when the new generation will be let free from leading strings. Yes, that day will come,” said he enthusiastically : “ I attest the memory of the men of ` '93' and the glorious souvenirs of the republic."
A covey of partridges surprised by the report of a gun could not be more terrified than our grave councillors when they heard that dreadful projectile the republic, whistle at their ears. Those who were standing, looked for their hats, the sitters arose, and all were making for the door in a moment. “ Catch me taking tea here again. “ To make us assist at the Apotheosis of Robespierre!" “A regular snare.” While the poor father was striving to undo the mischief, he was thus addressed by the rough member. “Monsieur Chevassu, when a man aspires to be a political leader, he should let it be seen that he is master in his own family. I make no pretension to direct my colleagues; but let me see one of my four sons dare to open his mouth before me without leave! My receipt is at your service ; I will not say as much for my credit at the chamber.”
Omitting the little amenities of conversation that occurred between M. Chevassu and his marplot son, we pass to the agreeable information given to the elder gentleman by Dornier concerning Moréal's ready access to the Hotel Pontailly. He hurries to his sister, and despite his awe of that learned lady, he modestly insists on withdrawing his daughter from her charge. Contrary to his expectations she yields with the best grace, and Henriette is conveyed at once to a boarding school on the border of the city. The good-natured uncle is in a fury, when on his return he finds that his niece has
been carried off, and reads a lecture to his scientific and sentimental lady which Balzac himself might have studied with profit. She is aghast at finding her secret turnings, and doublings, and weaknesses, all nearly as evident to her husband as to her own self consciousness; but nothing is gained. He will not ask her directly for the address of the Pension, and returns to Prosper and Moréal to make them uneasy:
He then starts Moréal on the trail, hinting that if his lover's instinct does not direct him, he is not worthy of success. Our hero enters a jeweller's shop, gets a small commission executed, and presents himself to the tender but obdurate aunt of his lady love. A sentimental dialogue ensues, and Madame is enraptured to see the change for the better in the fickle lover. He is striving with seeming remorse to reconcile past and present appearances, and looks with a sigh on a double ring on his finger, having unconsciously removed his glove a few seconds before. The lady's attention being drawn to the same white hand, she lays hold on the fingers to tell his fortune, and slides off the ring as her fee. He feebly resists, but she succeeds in opening it, and finding Toujours on the inside of one-half, and an F. and a H. interlaced meeting that word on the same portion of the other. She makes some very moral remarks on the impropriety of his having obliged her niece to give him a keepsake of the kind; he depends himself and his forsaken lady in a very ineffective fashion; Minerva will not restore the ring, and brings the conference to a close,
The faithless swain hires a cabriolet, and waits perdue till he sees Madame's chariot coming out through the porte cochère, and then tells Automedon to keep it in sight, as he values his head or the expected bribe.
The virtuous aunt enters the gates of the pension in due time and place, and the lover bires at once a little house which fortunately overlooks the recreation ground. He soon sees aunt and niece coming towards a seat in the shade, far to catch any part of the conversation.
The elderly lady enacts the pitying relative, reproaches the inconstancy of mankind, recommends the younger to forget her fickle admirer, and finally presenting the ring, asks if she recognises it. Henriette looks at the ornament with simple wonder, and denies all knowledge of it; her justly offended aunt requests her to open it, which she does, and then breaks out into raptures on seeing the interlaced initials and motto.
The surprised aunt is thunderstruck and asks her if that ring had not been given by her to Moréal : she very naïvely answers that she had never given him anything but her heart, which she hoped he was no way desirous of returning to her; and thanks her earnestly for the kind part she had acted in bringing her that proof of her lover's constancy. Mme. de Pontailly bursts into a fury on finding herself made a tool and laughing-stock, and insists on the ring being returned : she even seizes on Henriette's hand to dispoil it of its newly acquired treasure, but for neither wile nor force will she return it. Further, she is strengthened in her joy and resolution by a momentary apparition of Moréal at the window of the hired house.
Flenriette is then removed to the neighbourhood of St. Denis, and Dornier having bribed the coachman, is carrying her off to a convenient house in the forest to submit her to a forced marriage ; but the honest whip has previously turned traitor, and given a clue to Prosper and the uncle. Master Dornier gets a cut of a lash across his cheek, and is obliged to decamp, and comfort himself with the £5000 got from the Serious Man and the susceptible Madame de Pontailly to establish the newspaper. Henriette goes for refuge to another Pension, where she is looked after by her uncle, till her father, first properly terrified by the notion of her being carried off by Dornier or having eloped with Moréal, is well pleased to give her hand to that obnoxious nobleman. So, contrary to the general plan of French stories, we end with a marriage likely to prove happy.
On looking through the work, we find many other passages replete with pungent wit, and distinguished by vigorous handling, which we would gladly present to our readers if space allowed. Novel readers too lazy to keep up their knowledge of French, may consult three series of stories translated under the eye of Mrs. Gore, several years since, the greater number being from the pen of our author. Some of them are of a disagreeable character ; but it is probable that in these he was influenced more by the prevalent taste than by his own inclination. He is thoroughly master of the expression of deep passion, without falling into the ferocity of Soulié or Sue. He draws the female portrait with truth, as well as a male critic can judge, but he never, like Balzac or Gulliver, delights to look on false locks taken off the bald scalp, or inspect soiled
stockings. The plots of his tales are carefully constructed, and he never lets a suspicion of the improbable come near his reader. There are no extravagances a la Monte Cristo, nor protracted surgical operations, mental or physical, nor diabolical tortures, as with Sue. Taking the general character of the fictions of his day into account, we are more disposed to feel grateful for the healthy, vigorously told tales he has left, than to find fault with the few that offend good taste and Christian morality.
Arr. III.-CHARLES MACKAY AND THOMAS IRWIN.
1. The Lump of Gold, and other Poems. By Charles Mackay.
London : G. Routledge and Co., Farringdon-st. 1956. 2. Versicles. By Thomas Irwin. "Celtic Union.” Dublin :
W. M. Hennessy, Crow-st. 1856.
Good Taste and SOUND JUDGMENT are such qualities of the “rara avis” order among British Poets of the present generation, that, like everything else difficult to be found, we hail their appearance with no ordinary satisfaction; and, while we treasure them as they deserve, we feel bound to make no secret of their discovery, but to render it as widely known as possible. This is made an imperative obligation upon us for more reasons than one; but our principal object in endeavouring to extend the knowledge of the beauties of those Poets we have selected for review should be, and is, that readers of poetry may have an opportunity given them of distinguishing what is really beautiful and true, from what is diametrically the reverse, and that those who are about writing poetry may be afforded examples which they would do well to study with a view to imitation. Having partially recovered from the horror experienced on receiving theinformation that Bailey's "Mystic" has actually appeared in a second edition, we feel, if possible, a stronger determination to continue in raising our humble voice in solemn warning to, we fear, that considerable class who are induced to read with seeming pleasure such works as those of Bailey, and to assure them that they will, sooner or