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Amory, an enemy, said of Curll that as to drink, he was too fond of money to spend any in making himself happy in that way; but at another's expense, he would drink every day till he was quite blind, and as incapable of self motion as a block." At that time "drunk as a Lord" was a popular and applicable phrase, and Curll, if he got as drunk as his enemies said of him, only imitated the manners of his betters. Constable's memoirs show us that publishers drank six fathoms deep, in later days, without losing their respectability. One of Hook's songs has chronicled the prowess of the head of a West End house, at the punch-bowl. As to profane language, Curll could not have been much more profane han the "religious publisher" of a generation go, who, to distinguish him from a namesake, n the same line, was called, by his familiars, Cursing....!" Undoubtedly, a frugal and prosperous bookseller of the Curll period ooks better in history, namely Thomas Guy. Probably, Guy's enemies ridiculed him for neanness, inasmuch as that he dined daily n his counter, with a poor little last week's
newspaper for a table-cloth. Guy, however,
In houses still existing, there is not only
Johnson grew from a hungry hireling to be a well-fed dignitary of literature. For his eight years' labour on his Dictionary he received 1,575. But this sum was paid in portions, while the work was in progress. When the Dictionary was published, a dinner was given in honour of the circumstance. At the dessert, the final business arrangements were gone into, Johnson's receipts were produced, and it was found that he had nothing more to receive. At the present day such dinners (without the business arrangements) are not uncommon. The one given a few years since, by the Messrs. A. & C. Black, at Greenwich, to the authors of articles in the Encyclopædia Britannica,' on the completion of the last edition of that great work, was among the most successful of these literary banquets. Occasionally the "author" was too crafty for the publisher. When Peter Pindar (Dr. In one case, at least, the maker of good Wolcot) was in treaty with Robinson and bargains was the sufferer. James Rivington Walker for the sale of the copyright of Peter's, and Fletcher cleared 10,0001. by Smollett's then immensely popular, Poems, the questionHistory of England,' "the largest profit that was whether he should have an annuity or be had yet been made on any single book." offered a lump sum. At the interview with This success led Rivington to betting on Walker, Wolcot had a killing asthma on him, horse-racing, by which, as a matter of course, and the junior partner eagerly proposed an he was ruined; and any man of business who annuity of 2501. Wolcot immediately accepted follows the same guilty course is sure to come the offer, and his asthma was at once com- to the same end, and is worthy of no better But is Mr. Curwen sure that James pletely cured. He outlived the other contract- fate. ing parties, and he had little right to say, as Rivington turned rascal. The man went to regarded his own case, that "publishers quaff America in 1760, and there he set up the champagne out of the skulls of authors." Of Royal Gazette, under Government patronage. this saying, Wolcot is said to have been the He continued it through the revolutionary original author. Moore polished and turned war, and when that was over, and the French it out anew, more suo, in his lines 'On the had saved the Republic for the Americans, Death of Sheridan':"as he had contrived somehow, it is said, by
In the woods of the North, there are insects that prey
Most authors steal their works or buy.
However this may be, Robinson, the senior
After the latter retired
forwarding early intelligence, to propitiate the enemy, he was allowed to continue his paper." Surely such a villainous story should not be allowed to rest on an "it is said." We may add here that the old Bible and Crown Rivingtons used always to put up their shutters on the 30th of January. There were Saints" who did not publish under the sign of the Bible and Crown, and who did not mourn on the anniversary of Charles's martyrdom; and those publishers were famous for their 66 spreads." Chief of those was James Nisbet. "The 'Saints' were freely welcomed to his hospitable house, which was used as a free hotel by travelling missionaries and preachers, who often said a grateful 'grace for all the rich mercies of his table.'
We will not part from Mr. Curwen without giving one example of the stories he has woven into his narrative. The following refers to the James Rivington who was established in America in the last century :
"Even in those early and unsophisticated days, Yankee gentlemen had contracted the habit of 'cowhiding' obnoxious or impertinent editors, and the wit of the Royal Gazette was in its time sufficiently stinging and personal to involve its proprietor in many of these little difficulties. James Rivington relates rather an amusing story of an interview with Ethan Allen, one of the republican heroes, who came for the express purpose of administering chastisement. He says:I was sitting down, after a good dinner, with a bottle of Madeira before me, when I heard an unusual noise in the street, and a huzza from the boys. I was on the second story, and, stepping to the window, saw a tall figure in tarnished regimentals, with a large cocked hat and an enormously long sword, followed by a crowd of boys, who occasionally cheered him with huzzas, of which he seemed quite unaware. He came up to my door and stopped. I could see no more-my heart told me it was Ethan Allen. I shut my window, and retired behind my table and my bottle. I was certain the hour of reckoning had come-there was no retreat. Mr. Staples, my clerk, came in, paler than ever, clasping his hands-" Master, he has come!"-"I know it." I made up my mind, looked at the Madeira, possibly took a glass. "Show him up, and if such Madeira cannot mollify him, he must be harder than adamant." There was a fearful moment of suspense; I heard him on the stairs, his long sword clanking at every step. In he stalked. "Is your name James Rivington ?"-"It is, sir, and no man can be more delighted to see Colonel Ethan Allen."-"Sir I have come- 39 "Not another word, my dear Colonel, until you have taken a seat and a glass of old Madeira."—"But, sir, I don't think it proper" -"Not another word, Colonel, but taste this wine; I have had it in glass (sic) ten years." He took the glass, swallowed the wine, smacked his lips, and shook his head approvingly. "Sir, I come-"Not another word until you have taken another glass, and then, my dear Colonel, we will talk of old officers, and I have some queer events to detail." In short, we finished three bottles of Madeira, and parted as good friends as if we never had cause to be otherwise."
We have pointed out some of the shortcomings of this volume, but we willingly add that, notwithstanding these defects, the book is worth reading.
TWO VOLUMES OF ESSAYS.
Toilers and Spinsters. By Miss Thackeray. (Smith, Elder & Co.) Prose Idylls. By Rev. Charles Kingsley. (Macmillan & Co.) We do not know how far the title which Miss Thackeray has given to the first of her essays
is intended to apply to the whole of them. The greater number have reference to various charitable works, and those who conduct them, who may not inaptly be named the Toilers; while there are two or three about authoresses, who by a little stretch of courtesy may be regarded as the Spinsters. At any rate, this will apply to Miss Austen, who is constantly before Miss Thackeray's mind as the standard whereby to measure others, and, indeed, seems to be to her what Fielding was to her father. The essay called 'Heroines and their Grandmothers,' for example, is a comparison à propos of Mrs. Riddell's stories, of the novel of modern times with that of seventy or eighty years ago; of "the analysis of emotion and the history of feeling" as against "the analysis of character and the history of events." We cannot go at any length into what Miss Thackeray says of these matters, but one remark of hers is so pertinent to a subject on which we have often taken up our parable, that we cannot refrain from quoting it :
"Are such stories written to cheer one in dull hours, to soothe, to interest, and to distract from weary thoughts, from which it is at times a blessing to escape? or is it to make one sad with sorrows which never happened, but which told with so much truth and pathos, that they almost seem for a minute as if they were one's own? Is it to fill one's eyes with tears for griefs which might be, but which have not been, and for troubles that are not, except in a fancy? . . . . Where would past happiness be, if there was some one always standing by, as in this book (George Geith'), to point with a sigh to future troubles long before they come? My father used to say," she adds, "that a bad ending to a book was a great mistake; that he never would make one of his own finish badly. What was the use of it? Nobody ever cared to read a book a second time when it ended unhappily."
These essays are worth reading, as the criticisms of artists on other professors of their own art usually are; but for practical interest, we must give the preference to those which deal with the more practical subjects. Most of our readers will remember the walk which Mr. Thackeray took in company with the curate, Frank Whitestock: his daughter has pushed the same line of exploration further, and gives us accounts of her visits to the Newport Market Refuge, the Putney Hospital for Incurables (when will medical science refuse to recognize this word, except as applying to all who are afflicted with "the malady of life"?), Jewish Schools in the City, and so on, all told with a cheery sympathy, and touches of genuine Thackerayan humour; as when she mentions the pictures from which the little Hebrews learn, "Abraham with his beard, and Isaac and the ram, hanging up against the wall; Moses, and the Egyptians, and Joseph, and the sack and the brethren, somewhat out of drawing"; or the kindness of the State, which "does not refuse the little paupers a cup of cold water-a tin cup, so that they shall not break it." The most remarkable account of all is, perhaps, that of the institution in Burton Crescent, for the purpose of teaching the dumb (i. e., the congenitally deaf) to speak. The treatment would appear to be fairly successful. This place also is managed mainly, or entirely, by Jews, whose industry in educational matters is very remarkable. If it be true, as is reported, that they are gradually acquiring the fee-simple of Palestine, they evidently do not intend that
the Promised Land shall be re-occupied by an uneducated people. Miss Thackeray makes some general remarks about the management (or mismanagement) of charitable funds, which are much to the point at the present time, when there are signs that these things are to undergo a close scrutiny, and that those who have the charge of them will have to give an account of their management. Suffice it to say here, that her experience is strongly against the existing system. In calling attention to the charitable works which are going on among us, Miss Thackeray has, we think, done good service; and especially at such a time as this, when many persons, finding that faith is failing them, are being driven to take refuge in love and good works; for even if it be true that, as she says, "" as a rule, we who ask are not the people who work and achieve," these may yet claim to have done something for a good cause, if the result of their inquiries is to point out to those who wish to work a direction for their labour.
From Miss Thackeray (who, however, has also her sympathies with the country, as witness 'A Country Sunday,' and 'An Easter Holiday') and her "Toilers and Spinsters,' we turn to Canon Kingsley's 'Prose Idylls' of holiday-makers and ramblers; leaving the courts of Soho and the lanes of the City for the moors and streams, where, as we all know, the Canon finds scope for that "energy of the soul according to virtue," in which Aristotle tells us that happiness consists. Of the six essays in the book, three are old friends, having been published, not only in Fraser's Magazine, from 1849 to 1858, but also in Canon Kingsley's 'Miscellanies,' beloved, and deservedly, of undergraduates, to wit, 'Chalk-Stream Studies,' My Winter Garden,' and 'North Devon.' One of the remaining three, ‘A Charm of Birds,' has also appeared in Fraser, while 'The Fens,' and 'From Ocean to Sea' (an account of a journey from Biarritz to Cette), are printed, as far as we know, now for the first time. Whatever may be the Canon's shortcomings in Early English History, whatever his heterodoxy about Romans and Teutons, and the orthography of Dietrich and Smid, no one can deny that by a Berkshire trout-stream, or on board a Clovelly trawler in Bideford Bay, he is an instructive and amusing companion. It may be that even here specialists may, now and again, detect him in an inaccuracy; possibly, we cannot speak with confidence, he may give us the wrong Latin name for some strange fly, or the wrong date for the incursion of some Northern tribe; but these easily discovered slips are not likely to spoil our pleasure on a fine day, and, after all, he might plead that he has forgotten, for the moment, more than most of us ever knew. Only, instead of writing and republishing short essays, why does he not, in these days of analytical and emotional novels (to Miss Thackeray's just remarks whereon we have already referred), give us another stirring "history of events," the more imaginary the better? Are we never to hear the long-promised story of how Tom Thurnall came across Claude Mellot in the South Seas, before that enchanted region has become wholly the property of airy young sceptics or energetic missionaries? We feel sure that the Canon has the whole story in his head, and, being a man of his word, needs only
a reminder to make him remember his promise has lately been officially stationed at Bhamo, and give it to his expectant readers.
and doubtless is inquiring into the condition of the Shan tribes, and of Yunnan, and as to the channels which the now reviving commerce of those districts seems inclined to
THE MISHMEE HILLS.
The Mishmee Hills: an Account of a Journey made in an Attempt to penetrate Thibet from Assam to open New Routes for Commerce. By T. T. Cooper. Illustrated. (H. S. King & Co.)
THIS is really a charming book of travels, accurate in its details, so far as we can judge; not too long; and, with the exception, perhaps, of Chapter II., which can be omitted without breaking the narrative, calculated to arouse a reader's interest at once, and retain it to the close. Mr. Cooper, as is pretty well known, has for some years been searching for a trade route between India and China via Thibet. Starting from Shanghai, he traversed the Flowery Land, and crossed the snowy and rugged mountain ranges on its western frontier, to be finally turned back at Bathang, owing to Chinese jealousy, and the intolerance of the Lamas of Thibet. Foiled in these designs, and convinced that his trade route as originally suggested was impracticable, he next attacked Thibet on the side of Assam. He failed again; and in the story now before us he describes his expedition, and tells us why it miscarried. Some may, perhaps, regard the question of an overland trade-route with western China as never likely to be settled, of no general interest or importance, and nothing at all, indeed, except a visionary scheme, the pet crotchet of a few daring travellers. An erroneous conclusion. The chambers of commerce at the seats of our cotton and cloth trades are quite alive to the importance of the subject, and believe that there exists a most extensive and
lucrative field for British piece-goods if a road can once be opened up to the densely-peopled provinces of Kwei Chow and Tze-Chuen. France has been doing more than we have to possess herself of this tempting commercial prize. This was the real object which took her to Saigon; and no sooner did she discover the Mekong River to be hopelessly unnavigable than she concluded a treaty with the Burmese Court, and organized the expedition which is now exploring the Song-Koi. As to the English, the Mohammedan outbreak in Yunnan laid that province desolate, and closed all its trade-routes for several years; but this rebellion has recently been crushed, and, by our latest advices, "the through-route between Birma and China has already been re-opened." There is, however, another obstacle in the way. Calcutta is jealous of Birma and would like to draw the traffic through Assam, and down the Brahmapootra to her own port, a project much less promising than either of the two others which have been proposed, and which would terminate respectively at Moulmein and Rangoon. Of these, the earliest is known as "Sprye's route." Captain Sprye proposes to run a railway from the Takaw ferry, on the Salween, to Kiang hung, the first frontier town in China. By direction of the India Office, the survey of this line was partially carried out, and suspended a year or two back. The second of the two schemes re ferred to is that explored by Major Sladen. He would go by steam up the Irrawaddy, as far as Bhamo, and thence make a good road to Talyfoo, the capital of Yunnan. Mr. Cooper
The enterprising author had other difficulties to face besides the thirsty knives of unfriendly tribes and the political fears of the Thibetans ground-leeches made his ancle fester, and compelled him to hobble on crutches along the rocky mountain tracks. No one would lance his sores, so he performed the operation himself, and fainted as he did it. Jungle fever, too, made him several times insensible and once delirious, while his spleen grew so enlarged that he kept a tight bandage round his waist," fearing to rupture it in some of the falls caused by weakness. Add to this that the whole expedition were frequently on the verge of starvation, and we have reason to wonder, not that the traveller failed, but that he achieved so much.
The conclusion forced upon us by a perusal of this book is, that if we are in earnest in developing our commerce with western China, we shall achieve much by bringing population, trade, and civilization as near as possible to the Chinese borders. This may be done by reviving Assam, formerly populous, but now decayed and run to jungle, under circumstances which in this book are well described, and which must excite the wonder of all. As to independent Birma, we unsettled that country by seizing her sea-coast; her population is probably decreasing; and where there is no strong government the roads fall out of repair, custom-house officials drive trade away by their exactions, and robbers cannot be kept down.
But besides all this, as we follow Mr. Cooper in his journey we pick up suggestive information on many incidental points, which we commend to the notice of our readers. Thus let geographers tell us whether the Tsan-po, the great central river of Thibet, joins the Brahmapootra by the Dehong passage, as is hinted on p. 253.
The country which divides our Assam frontier from Thibet is the mountainous and forest-clad valley through which the upper waters of the Brahmapootra flow, and is inhabited by two dominant tribes,-the Khamtees, who acknowledge the supremacy of the English Government, and whose chiefs for the most part are under our protection, and have certain privileges conceded to them during good behaviour; and the Mishmees, who are almost wholly under the influence of the We learn (on p. 146) that the Khamtees are Thibetan officials. Some years back, two divided into innumerable tribes, and each French priests, Crick and Bourie, were tribe is recognized by the pattern of their murdered by a Mishmee tribe on the very waist cloth, as the Scottish clans are by their confines of Thibet, a deed avenged by the plaids. If body tattooing was originally a British, who entrapped Kysa, the head of the device to distinguish tribe from tribe, the fact offending tribe, and then hanged him. Hence here noticed can be easily explained. Another there is to this day a blood-feud between that passage in the book (p. 132) describes the tribe and the English, a circumstance which policy of China in dealing with the barbarous made Mr. Cooper's life peculiarly unsafe all frontier tribes, and bears significantly upon the while he was on Mishmee ground. So the so-called "Audience question" at the perilous, indeed, did the whole enterprise Court of Peking. The Mishmee tribes execute appear in the eyes of the British authorities their prisoners as they slaughter their cattle, that at the outset they informed him that they hewing off the lumps of flesh with their long would not be responsible if he should come to knives amid a crowd of spectators, and it is a violent end. The explorer was not to be with a strange and melancholy horror that we thus easily daunted; with much tact and thus discover at last by what mode the unfortrouble he secured the friendship of a Kham-tunate missionaries, Crick and Bourie, really tee chieftain, who knew the road, and pene- perished. trating under his guidance into the heart of the Mishmee hills, got to within twenty miles of Roemah, the border town of Thibet. Here the whole party, whose steps had been secretly dogged from camp to camp by the avengers of blood, the men of Kysa's tribe, were finally stopped, and led back to the frontier of the the Khamtee soil. There was, however, one result, besides our gain in geographical information, which followed Mr. Cooper's journey; he induced some leading and hitherto hostile Mishmee chiefs, the very ones who barred his road, to return with him to British territory, where he put them into communication with our resident officials.
It appears that one of the causes which has led to constantly unfriendly relations between the hill tribes of India and our own Government, is that slaves owned by the chieftains will, for the sake of gaining their freedom, run away into British territory. To a chief his slaves are a principal source of wealth; and besides, therefore, feeling aggrieved when his demands for their restoration are refused, which is unavoidable, he resents as a deep insult the circumstance that these runaways often get themselves introduced to the English authorities under the title of chiefs by our native political officers, who are perfectly aware of their real condition. The actual heads of the
Such, in brief, are the position and prospects of the field in which Mr. Cooper has been labouring, but the particular purpose for which he undertook the journey he has described was to introduce Assam tea into Thibet. He tells us that
"For many centuries China has supplied Thibet with six or eight million pounds of brick tea annually. This article being a necessary of life to the Thibetans, the Chinese Government, who hold the wholesale monopoly of the export tea trade, have granted the retail monopoly to the population of Thibet at their mercy. Lama priests, who by this means hold the lay Thus the Chinese protect their tea trade, and the Lama priests their religious and political influence over the Thibetans." Again, "the whole aim in life of the Thibetans seems to be to procure a sufficiency of tea," a commodity which might be supplied much more cheaply from Assam, were the road open and trade unrestricted, than from Tze-Chuen, whence it has first to be carried on men's backs nearly 200 miles, and after that a distance of sixty days' travel on Yaks to Bathang, where it is finally sold for about 38. a pound.
tribe can bear the loss of their slaves, but not their elevation to the rank of chiefs. And thus in their offended pride they stand aloof from all friendly communications. We commend this remark to the attention of those whom it may concern.
DRUMMOND OF HAWTHORNDEN.
Drummond of Hawthornden: the Story of his
'Life of John Milton.' In that method Mr.
Here Damon lies, whose songs did sometime grace
he did the surest thing to entitle him to
Drummond was born in 1585, just when
Along with the 'Flowers of Sion,' from which that sonnet is taken, was printed 'A Cypress Grove,' Drummond's first important essay in prose, which Mr. Masson describes as
one of the nearest approaches in our language to that definition of philosophy which Plato has given when he calls philosophy in its simplest form a meditation on death." We cannot share all Mr. Masson's admiration for this treatise, but it is written musically, quaintly, and with graceful rhetoric, that often reminds us of Sir Thomas Browne and Jeremy Taylor, and it certainly, with the poems that preceded it, justifies Mr. Masson in saying that, "at all events there was no other such soft, cultured, contemplative, and musical soul in rugged, dogged, and kirkvexed Scotland in the last year of King James the Sixth." It was not an unfit prelude, too, to the more important and very different, yet harmonious, prose works that followed. Drummond had exhausted nearly all his vein of poetry when he had sung all he had to sing about the living virtues and the deathless merits of his first love. That theme exhausted, and he having at length found a wife and begun to have a troop of children, he abandoned poetry and took to prose. His longest and least important work was a 'History of the Five Jameses,' in which he displayed his superabundant loyalty to the House of Stuart. His most notable prose work was, 'Irene ; or, a Remonstrance for Concord, Amity and Love, amongst His Majesty's Subjects,' pubBut these were small offences, and Drum-lished in 1638, shortly after the Jenny Geddes mond by them did little injury to his powers Riot and the promulgation of the Scottish as a writer of honest and refreshing verse. Covenant. That and the 'Skiamachia,' which He was surely by no so great a appeared in 1643, are two remarkable treatises poet as Mr. Masson considers; yet his poems well worth studying in connexion with the are worth reading. He was, perhaps, most at history of the time, and explaining very home in the sonnet, which he had evidently clearly the apparently illogical position that carefully studied in its Italian original, and in Drummond considered himself forced to take such exemplifications of it as came from up when he found Presbyterianism rampant Sidney, Spenser, Shakspeare, and others of and the Stuart monarchy every day becoming that famous school. We leave Mr. Masson to more and more imperilled. Of course, their decide how much autobiographical expression arguments are shallow, and their conclusions
Religion, orphaned, waileth o'er thine urn;
Fame, but to blaze thy glories, lives behind.
of real feeling and how much imitation of
What done is is undone; and, when undone, Into some other figure doth it range.
Thus moves the restless world beneath the moon, Wherefore, my mind, above time, motion, place, Thee raise, and steps not reached by nature trace.
are faulty. Drummond, while gently reproving the King and the Royalists for their intolerance, condemns in unmeasured terms the same vice in the Presbyterians. While feebly recommending liberty, he boldly advocates passive obedience. But his attitude is intelligible, and to some extent excusable. Mr. Masson, who exaggerates his merits as a literary man, hardly does justice to him as a politician. Mr. Másson's great hero found, to his grief, that new presbyter is but old priest writ large." Drummond made the same discovery, yet earlier, and, all his predilections being for quiet, he thought that there was more chance of quietude in allowing Priests and Cavaliers to have their way than in adopting the bigoted tenets of Presbyterians and Roundheads. Therefore, he entered into an alliance with Montrose and the "Malig nants," wrote eloquent tracts against Presbyterianism, penned squibs and lampoons without number, and so committed himself to the Royalist cause that, though there is no ground at all for the tradition that he died of a broken heart in consequence of Charles the First's execution, he found very little to live for after that event and its issue in the triumph of Republicanism, and died in the same year, 1649, at the age of sixty-four.
So little is generally known of Drummond's life and works that we have thought it well to recapitulate some of the most notable facts therein from Prof. Masson's comprehensive memoir. Not much need be added to what we have already said in criticism of the book. Mr. Masson's merits as a biographer and an historian far exceed his faults, and those faults are pretty well known. He is apt to be too enthusiastic both in praise and in blame, and, perhaps, his rhetorical flourishes exaggerate the meaning that he intends to convey. With all his learned accuracy on most points, moreover, he occasionally makes queer slips. For instance, Drummond's couplet on the failure of the Duke of Buckingham's expedition to the Isle of Rhé in 1627,—
Charles! would ye quail your foes, have better luck, Send forth some Drakes, and keep at home the Duck. is provided with what Mr. Masson himself calls an 66 elaborate explanation," to the effect that by Scotsmen duke was pronounced like duck, and that drake was the name of a small cannon; but he quite ignores what was surely the main point of the joke, a reference to Sir Francis Drake, who, as a fighting seaman, had proved himself so superior to the Duke of Buckingham.
We have said nothing about Drummond's record of Ben Jonson's famous tittle-tattle during his stay at Hawthornden in 1618. From this Mr. Masson makes copious extracts, but he hardly excuses his hero as well as he might have done for preserving the recollection of so much ill-natured gossip from an old and disappointed courtier, poet, and playwright, and he fails to point out, as he should have done, how faulty and mischievous some of that gossip was. Mr. Masson over-estimates the importance of the notes; and, seeing how unjustly Spenser, Sidney, and Raleigh were treated by Ben Jonson, we certainly do not echo Mr. Masson's wish, that Drummond, instead of contenting himself with the scanty mention he has made concerning Shakspeare, had "tapped this particular fountain of gossip in his guest, and kept it flowing for several
hours." "What a world of trouble Shakspeare's future biographers," he adds, "might have been saved by one such hour!" We think it very possible that Drummond did tap the fountain, and drew from it gossip too muddy to be worth preserving, and, if so, we may be grateful to him for his good taste. it is, Shakspeare has suffered enough from the unkind statements of his rivals and detractors.
THE VAUDOIS AND THE HUGUENOTS.
The Huguenots in France after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes; with a Visit to the Country of the Vaudois. By Samuel Smiles. (Strahan & Co.)
SELF-HELP' is the most widely known of Mr. Smiles's writings. It is the book which has made his reputation, and in which he has given us the best of his thoughts and feelings. Indeed, his other volumes are but further illustrations of the same text. The idea which inspires them is the same. Whether he is describing the fortunes of the Huguenots, flying from the despotism of Louis the Fourteenth, spreading over Europe and founding colonies in England and Ireland, full of energy and faith, or, as in the work before us, is tracing their history in France itself, in the midst of persecutions and sufferings, triumphing by the power of endurance over the fury of their foes, Mr. Smiles is ever celebrating the victories of "Self-Help," of an inflexible conscience, and indefatigable perseverance. His books then are in reality the instruments of a propaganda, and the vehicles of moral teaching; and it would be unjust to ask, in the case of the work before us, for the minute accuracy and the wealth of documents and proofs which we expect to find in learned works. Mr. Smiles makes no attempt to demonstrate and prove: he seeks to carry us with him by the contagion of his enthusiasm and his own strong convictions, of the generous sympathy which animates his whole narrative, and imparts to it life and colour. We may demur to this or that statement, point out some mistakes; we may see that the book lacks depth, that it shows an insufficient acquaintance with original sources, and that it is almost wholly compiled from second-hand authorities: still the volume is an excellent one for popular perusal. Nobody can read it without interest, without loving and admiring those whose struggles and hardships the author paints so well, or without feeling a wish to resemble them. The general public will derive from it clear, sound, and agreeable instruction; and if those who are already familiar with the subject find little that is new, they will derive from the narrative a moral stimulus that may be not without advantage. These are no ordinary merits.
Mr. Smiles's volume is in reality composed of two works different in subject and form, but animated by the same inspiration, and both tending to teach the same lessons. The first portion is a continuous history of the French Protestants from 1685 to 1789. The second is an account of a tour in the upper valleys of Dauphiné and Piedmont, where the Vaudois preserved intact, from the beginning of the Middle Ages to the present day, and in defiance of the incessant persecutions of the Kings of France and the Dukes of Savoy, a simple and pure faith. In this
second part of his work, Mr. Smiles does not relate historical events in their chronological order, but travels in a given route; and at each valley he visits, each village he passes through, he recalls the most important events of which it has been the scene. This portion of the volume appears to us the less successful. The scenery of Dauphiné is sublime, but gloomy and monotonous. Mr. Smiles, who, to his credit be it said, endeavours always to be simple, does not aim at sublimity, and his descriptions recall only too faithfully the monotonous impression which the mountains he has traversed produce. Besides the historical details are, with the exception of the touching story of the "glorious return" of the Vaudois exiles to their valleys in 1689-90, too fragmentary and incomplete to be very interesting. The author gives an exact account of the laudable efforts of Dr. Gilly, General Beckwith, and Mr. Milsom to improve the lot of the Vaudois; but what he tells of their history is insufficient. Confining himself to the valleys he has himself visited, he omits to mention that, by their industry, the Vaudois had between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries spread themselves in Provence along the basin of the Durance as far as Vaucluse, and he does not even allude to the most tragic episode in their history, the great massacre of 1545, when, by order of Francis the First, President d'Oppède exterminated four thousand of them. Nor does he tell us enough about the character of the population. He celebrates their courage and faith; but we wish that, instead of dilating on the uncomfortable character of the inns in Dauphiné, and on the means of making them fit for English tourists, he had, since he has seen them close at hand, described in a more vivid fashion the qualities of this brave and simple, yet, as their songs and legends show, poetical race, who resemble those mountain plants which the eye at first hardly distinguishes from a common herb, but which are found to exhale the sweetest and most powerful perfume.
Were we to descend to details, we should have more than one cause of quarrel with Mr. Smiles. We do not believe, as he does, that the Vaudois have preserved, without interruption, since the first days of Christianity, the tradition of an evangelical faith. Their doctrines are in all probability derived from that current of ideas which, coming from the Slavo-Greek countries, pervaded between the ninth and twelfth centuries the whole of the south of France, and threatened to withdraw it from Catholicism.
These ideas were a mixture of very different elements, and Mr. Smiles is quite mistaken when he sees in the Albigenses "simple and sincere believers in the Divine Providence." Their doctrines were far from being so simple. In them Oriental Manichæism was mingled with a mysticism sometimes austere, sometimes voluptuous. The sole trait common to all the sects was hatred of the hierarchy and of ecclesiastical authority. This trait is found in the Vaudois, whose doctrines are much more evangelical than those of the Albigenses properly so called. Pierre Valdo, so named because he was a Vaudois (Waldensis), as Mr. Smiles rightly remarks, contributed, no doubt, much to fixing the principal characteristics of their belief. Isolation and