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both in a common shipwreck. We are unable to put Mr. Buchanan's meaning into any similar statement, and could make no summary of its general impression which some single passage would not confuse. He shows us that Ambrose Bradley's power to resist temptation was weakened by the loss of his faith; but we are left in some doubt whether this is Mr. Froude's lesson over againwhether he means to exhibit the slackening of all moral power that comes with the loss of any religious conviction, true or false, or whether he means merely to show the connection of true convictions with moral strength. From one passage, and from the whole drift of the book, we should take the last to be the true meaning, but it is surely inconsistent with the following extract from Ambrose Bradley's account of his own heresies, as contained in a letter to the Bishop of Dark and Dells, which leads to his giving up his living, and still more with the tone of the Bishop's answer, which appears intended as an exhibition of ignorant bigotry. Surely the quotation must be meant to represent the meeting point of a new Renaissance with that which is permanent in the faith of the past. “ The teachers of the new knowledge,” writes Bradley to his scandalized Bishop, “have unroofed our Temple to the beavens, but have not destroyed its foundations. The God who thundered upon Sinai has vanished into air and cloud, but the God of man's heavenly aspiration is wonderfully quickened and alive. The historic personality of the Founder of Christianity becomes fainter and fainter as the ages advance; but, on the other hand, brighter and fairer grows the Divine Ideal which rose from the ashes of that godlike man. Men reject the old miracles, but they at last accept a miracle of human idealism. This being so, how does it behove a Christian minister, eating the Church's bread, but fully alive to her mortal danger, to steer his course? Shall he, as so many do, continue to act in the nineteenth century as he would have acted in the fifteenth, or indeed in any century up to the Revolution? Shall he base his teaching on the certainty of miracles, on the existence of supernaturalism, on the evil of the human heart, the vanity of this world, and the certainty of rewards and punishments in another? I do not think so ! knowing in his heart that these things are merely the cast-off epidermis of a living and growing creed, he may, in perfect cousciousness of God's approval, put aside the miraculous as unproven if not irrelevant; warn the people against mere supernaturalism, proclaim with the apostles of the Renaissance the glory and loveliness of this world—its wondrous scenes, its marvellous story as written on the rocks and in the stars, its divine science, its literature, its poetry, and its arts; and treading all the fire of Hell beneath his feet, and denouncing the threat of eternal wrath as a chimera, base his hope of immortality on the moral aspirations that, irrespective of dogma, are common to all mankind.” Surely this is intended to be the eirenicon of a new creed, as unquestionably the protest of the Bishop is an expression of whatever is effete in the old one. If we are mistaken -if Mr. Buchanan means this for the language of heresy—his moral loses distinctness and does not gain truth. There would, by this time, be no such thing as cultivated unbelief, if Christianity shone forth with any external witness to its own renovating power. While we are obliged to confess that of two parents whose tears fall on the same coffin
you shall not be able to tell which believes in the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come," and which regards that hope as an idle dream, we cannot hope to track that conviction as a redeeming any more than a consoling power. However, after the numerous novels occupied exclusively with the petty complications which delay the marriage of this young lady to that young gentleman, some readers will feel it a relief to come upon one which deals with interests that are common to humanity, and “The New Abelard” undertakes that task with some important requisites for success, and discharges it not unworthily.
We may say the same of the story* we have set by its side as resembling it in its theme and point of view. It will not attract a single reader who is on the look out for an entertaining novel, and many who are prepared for the kind of interest which the story does possess will be repelled by a certain old-fashioned stiffness in the style and conception, reminding one of the days of Keepsakes and Annuals, and of the religious story popular fifty years ago. Nevertheless, there is in the book a high and pure moral and a distinct conception of character. The peculiarity of dialect makes the dramatis persona seem at first monotonous, but they are in reality strongly individual, and surprise one with their inconsistencies just as real human beings do. There are very few of them. An undergraduate, startled in a wild life by the sudden death of a friend, goes through that change which is generally described as conversion, gives up a worldly girl with whom he is passionately in love (the Valley of Sorek was the home of Dalilah, hence the name of the book), and for some years testifies, by an austere and self-denying life, to the reality of the new impulse which occupies him. An atheistic acquaintance, seeking to deliver him from what he honestly believes to be a baleful superstition, brings him and his Dalilah together, and has the satisfaction, which his natural goodness of heart embitters, of seeing the fall of this poor would-be Samson. There is something powerful in the way in which the reader is made to feel both the reality and the untrustworthiness of his religious fervour, and the character of the atheist, Graham, is not less strongly and definitely conceived. The writer seems to see clearly a truth which it requires much courage in a Christian to recognize—that from some points of view atheism has a certain moral advantage. Graham is represented as in many respects the best man in the book—a description surely implying no small tribute to the fearlessness of a religious writer. The end of the novel is more commonplace. The atheist is conducted to the threshold of Christianity, and the Christian bequeaths him as a sacred charge to his saintly ward. But the whole story is far from commonplace. We are not sure how far its sombre character, its sustained seriousness, and the peculiar old-fashioned dialect in which it is written, may prevent its attaining any general popularity, but we are certain that it is a work that shows imagination and moral insight, and we shall look with much anticipation for another from the same hand.
Mrs. Oliphant's striking talet embodies many of the qualities of *, The Valley of Sorek.” By Gertrude M. George. 2 vols. London: George Redway.
+ "The Wizard's Son.” By Mrs. Oliphant. 3 vols. London: Macmillan & Co.
both the contrasted pairs of novels which have just been noticed. She is a wonderful writer! Only last spring we had to notice a character study that had many of Miss Austen's merits, and some to which Miss Austen could make no pretension. Now we have an essay in dealing with the supernatural, which we can compare to nothing but what she has written herself. Mrs. Oliphant gave us, in " Lady Mary” a sketch that was unique in originality and power. It made one feel, as we have heard it said, as if the experience of what we call Death had to her been matter of recollection. She was doubtless aware of the effect she produced, and meant to work up the sketch into a picture; while in changing a ghost to a wizard, and giving him as his animating impulse the worldly ambition which he could only exercise vicariously, as the mystic despot of his race, she has provided quite enough variation on her original theme to secure eager readers for its repetition. But it is surely one of those cases where the very notion of turning a sketch into a picture is a mistake. The thought that we
. carry with us the low tempers that we have nourished here into regions where they lack their objects, contains the germ of a hell awful as Dante's (and practically the wizard, though apparently he has not died, is an inhabitant of another world), but a story weaving up this idea with sketches of light contemporary society is like a single frame including scraps of design from Punch and from Michael Angelo. A story dealing with the supernatural should either be short, or it should carry the reader to a time so remote and among dramatis persona so little familiar that there should be no room for the jar we feel in turning from every day associations to what is weird and strange. In the closing scene of the romance, where the lovers penetrate to the wizard's tower and find the mysterious visitor has a well-furnished room to himself, his awfulness seems to vanish into absurdity; the discovery seems to provide all that has been felt weird and supernatural with some vulgar explanation, and though it is not so, and the wizard vanishes in mystery, one still feels that the spell is broken which should have held us to the end. When all this is said, however,“A Wizard's Son” remains not only an interesting story, but a striking parable. It recalls, in some respects, one of the most powerful poems of our day, or of any day, where the poet imagines a vision of the judgment past, and the judged one condemned to an eternity of unchangeableness. filthy shall be filthy still.” It is impossible not to regret that Mrs. Oliphant has spoiled her parable with the introduction of so many pages that have no meaning, except to make it into a threevolumed novel ; but even so, she cannot spoil it. The vision of the weak youth, dragged into profligacy by a low companion, beckoned into a smooth worldliness by the spirit of his ancestor, and saved by a pure love, will remain, in spite of such interludes as his London season (some part of which seems to us even a little vulgar), as one of her most powerful creations; and from a moral as well as a literary point of view, it is the most courageous attempt she has made. She needs nothing to produce a really great work but more sparing use of her power of producing light social pictures; but we fear these, after all, are a part of what gives her her popularity; a great mistake, as it seems to one of her readers, but a mistake against which it would be presumptuous to say more.
We have very inadequate space left for American novels, but must notice a charming little story*—a couple of hours' reading—which, though it is in one sense a mere love story, yet has made us ask ourselves if the new movement for education of women has not at last taught novel writers that there is something in women's lives besides the love that ends in marriage. The character of the New York belle, who inspires a passionate attachment in both the village friend and the young clergyman who was prepared to be the lover of the former, is more like life than the conventional representations of life, and the contrast between the importance to them of the visit which, "only an incident” in her life, gives each of theirs its whole colouring, strikes us as repeating some of the subtle unsuspected pathos of actual experience with a kind of power that is rare in fiction. There is always in any actual relation, something surprising, something that seems, from some point of view, unnatural, which it demands a faculty akin to genius to put into coherent words. “Only an Incident” presents this natural unnaturalness with a force that strikes us as very happy. The story leaves the reader with just that sense of a changed atmosphere, a dim sense of half-forgotten things revived, a touch as it were of music in the air, which belongs to the much abused word pathos, and which, amid all the excellences of the fiction of our day, is surely the one most entirely deficient. Our time is too unreserved, too imitative, too explanatory for one of the best influences of fiction, and we are inclined to overlook flaws in any production that possesses it. Two things will be likely to lead the reader to do “ Only an Incident” an injustice—the slender little story is prefaced by a rather pompous Dedication, and begins with a scene in which there is a good deal of bad taste and some vulgarity. But there is nothing else in the book like this; on the contrary, there is a great deal of real humour in the delineation of the little society of the American country town, though, perhaps, the writer, not having yet discovered her actual power, makes rather too much of it; but if she is careful to avoid the besetting sin of our day-if she will always remember that lesson of Schiller's “ by what he omits, show me the master in style"-we shall hope for the production from her of something that more serves the purposes of fiction, that more tends to bring it near its elder sister, Poetry, and estrange it from its vulgar pert acquaintances of the street and the club-room—than much that makes a good deal of noise in the world.
BIOGRAPHY.—Mr. Percy Fitzgerald, in the preface to his two bulky volumes on "The Life and Times of William IV,"+ explains one of his main aims and methods. Books of Memoirs and Recollections are constantly appearing which contain scraps of information about eminent personages. “ It is certainly a gain,” he says, " to have such * “Only an Incident." By Grace Denis Litchfield. G. Putnam's Sons.
† London : Tipsley Brothers.
little sketches rescued from oblivion, and it is with this view that the reader will find here most of what is amusing and interesting in the books of Lords Brougham, Campbell, Broughton, of Raikes, Greville," &c. It may not be right to blame a book for not being other than it aims at being, and there is certainly much readable matter in Mr. Fitzgerald's book; but it is too largely distended by miscellaneous quotations, and it is put together carelessly and with little idea of making any critical estimate of its materials.-Colonel Brackenbury's “Frederick the Great”* is the first of a series of short military biographies undertaken by Messrs. Chapman & Hall. The specialty of these biographies will be that they will give particular attention to the military qualities, tactics, and achievements of the great commanders selected for treatment, and that they will therefore be written, as was necessary, by men who are themselves distinguished in the profession of arms. The series begins very happily in the present well written account of Frederick. The author thinks Frederick's strategy inferior, but that “on the field of battle he was for the most part superb." ---Mrs. Pitman's Life of Mrs. Fryt appears very timeously at the moment when society is marking its deep debt to her by the erection of a memorial church in her old garden at Plashet. An excellent idea of her noble life and work can be got from Mrs. Pitman's simple but impressive narrative.
TRAVELS.- Mr. Hughes's nephews being, through the losses of their father, thrown upon their own resources at the very outset of life, resolved one after another to betake themselves to prairie farming in Texas, and their letters home are now published with a straightforward preface by their uncle, under the title, “Gone to Texas." They will be very useful to all who have any thought of emigrating; for they contain precisely the kind of information about the details of the pioneer's life which it is always so difficult to obtain; and, being written without any view to publication, their statements may be taken as absolutely trustworthy. But the book is one of much and indeed of touching interest for all readers. There is something exhilarating in the constant pluck and energy and resourcefulness with which these English boys wrestle with and overcome the tough conditions of their new lot. Altogether, it is one of the freshest and best accounts of ranche life we have got.-In “Round the World”S we have a successful emigrant, who is able to put off his harness, realizing one of the young dreams that helped to spur his mettle while his harness was on. Mr. Carnegie having “made his pile”—and a very tall one-treated himself, in 1878, to use his own expression, to "a tour round the Ball,” and he
" has worked up the notes he then took into the present goodly volume. He still observes, however, the diary form, which has advantages for his free and unconventional style of treatment, though it occasionally involves him in odd anachronisms. Among his reflections at Omaha, for example, on Sunday, October 20, 1878, is a sound rating to Lord Tennyson for “disguising himself as a British peer," and descending to sit“ next the last great vulgar brewer” in the House of Lords.
* London : Chapman & Hall. + " Elizabeth Fry." By Mrs. E. R. Pitman. London: W. H. Allen & Co. * "Gone to Texas: Letters from Our Boys." Edited by Thomas Hughes. London: Macmillan & Co.
$ " Round the World.” By Andrew Carnegie. London : Sampson Low & Co.