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she represents it in its brightest hours and most lucky vein. In La dernière Aldini she has recounted the adventures of a typical artist, an opera-singer, who had the good fortune to win the affection of a countess, and also, fifteen years afterwards, to fascinate her daughter, the last scion of a noble race; but who had the courage and wisdom to resist the advances of both the ladies. On the other hand, the prosaic truth is sometimes told very plainly, and, we may perhaps say, coarsely. The artist is occasionally represented as neither very fortunate nor very virtuous. Lucrezia Floriani, a heroine of the noblest turn of mind, and as fine a modern Druidess as could be desired, has four children by three different fathers, who have all treated her badly. The accessories of the life are idealised more perhaps than the life itself; and much of the idealisation arises from art and artist-life being associated in George Sand's mind with recollections of Venice. She went there at a critical period of her life, after she had written Indiana, Valentine, and Lélia, and therefore after she had the consciousness of recognised power to stimulate her, but before her mind was fully set and formed. Her imagination was much excited by a manner of life wholly new to her, and by a class of associations with which she previously had no acquaintance. Two influences more especially appear to have worked on her mind. There were the great buildings, the historical monuments, the famous works of art, in which Venice abounds; and there was the life of the common people, with their vivacity, their Italian morals, and their vagabond gaiety. Consuelo shows how her observation of the Venetian populace coloured her theory of artistlife, and the poetical feeling which from so many sides attaches itself to Venice threw a halo over all that she considered to be artistic. In the portion of her writings relating to Venice there is the same combination of qualities that is observable throughout her works. There is the acuteness and common sense which guided her daily experience, and taught her to portray the early loves of Angoleto and Consuelo,—a picture of humble Venetian life at once so faithful to local truth and to the general truth of human nature; there is the vagueness of eloquent rhapsody, proceeding, however, from feelings which, if uncontrolled, are genuine; and lastly, there is a real creative and poetical power, of which perhaps the little tale of L'Orco is the most perfect expression.
But if George Sand's love of art is neither very great nor very real, her love of nature is profound and genuine. Not only does she invest scenery with a sentimental colouring which, when not in excess, has an undoubted beauty, but she shows an intimate familiarity with country pleasures, and more espe
cially a native sympathy with the animated life that makes the dead rocks and trees inhabited and alive. In the first chapter of her autobiography, she tells us how dearly she has cherished through life a series of feathered pets, and how strange is the dominion which, as we have already said, she finds herself able to exercise over them. One of the first anecdotes she records of her childhood is the gift of a live pigeon, which seemed to her an inestimable treasure. And in her latest novel, La Daniella, she describes at that extraordinary length, to which most of her descriptions are spun out, the solace which the hero derived, when shut up in a lonely castle, from watching the butterflies play, and feeding a goat that strayed about the building. She has also told us with what enthusiastic joy she used to roam on foot or on horseback over the wilds of Berry, when she first returned to Nohant after her return from the convent; and transferring her recollections to one of the best of her heroines, she has worked up in Edmée a charming picture of a young light-hearted girl revelling in the first unchecked communion with nature, stimulated by fresh air and exercise, and excited by the spectacle of a varied scenery into the first sallies of meditative romance.
How deeply she has been penetrated by what she has observed and known of human life in rural districts, is shown by her having made it the basis of a style of fiction perfectly new. She has written idyls true to life, masterly in art, and yet interesting. She began the series with Jeanne, a fanciful tale, of which the strange superstitions of the peasantry of the centre of France form the groundwork. The heroine is, however, an exceptional peasant, a Joan of Arc undeveloped; not to be tempted into marriage, and abiding with a simplicity, half sublime and half idiotic, by the terms of a strange vow, which, deceived by the trick of some idle travellers into thinking she has had an intimation from Heaven, she has made, to be chaste, poor, and humble. "Jeanne was," says the authoress, "one of those pure types such as are still found in the country, which are so admirable and so mysterious that they seem made for a golden age. Such types are not sufficiently known. In painting they have been represented; but poets have always disfigured them by wishing to idealise or change them, forgetting that their essence and their originality consist in its being impossible to do more than guess what they are." In Jeanne such a character is very skilfully worked out; but it would be difficult to believe that the heroine is not idealised, and, at any rate, she is avowedly exceptional. In the later novels of the series, La Mare au Diable, La petite Fadette, and François le Champi, her aim has been to leave the exceptional for the ordinary, to seek for idyllic beauties in the extreme of pastoral simplicity, and to make her bu
colic happiness keep within the limits of what would be possible in every hamlet. She depends for her effect upon analysing and exhibiting the play of the more innocent emotions. The love of a girl for a neighbour's little child in La Mare au Diable, the mutual love of twins in La petite Fadette, and maternal affection in François le Champi, supply materials sufficiently piquant for the quiet pathos of an idyl. George Sand seems to get strength by touching the soil. Her tales of country life, and especially La Mare au Diable, are the most perfect, though not perhaps the most interesting, that she has written. They are free from all that provokes censure in her other writings-from theories, from declamation, from indelicacy. They move as with a quiet flow that is irresistibly fascinating, and are full of beauties of language to which it is impossible to do justice.
If we place side by side Lélia and La Mare au Diable, the novels most typical of her earlier and her later stages, and compare the audacity, the pruriency, the strong personal feeling manifested in the former with the sweet purity and artistic tranquillity of the latter, we may see that during the period which elapsed between the two the authoress must herself have greatly changed. The spring of impetuous passion passes away, and the autumn of matured power and chastened wishes arrives. But although the change may be great and indisputable, yet it would be quite untrue to speak of George Sand as appearing under two phases wholly distinct. There was always a mixture of purity with impurity, of sense with nonsense, of honest desire to be right with the most distorted conceptions of right and wrong, which was traceable throughout her earlier works; and the old fire of a mind struggling, suffering, doubting, hoping, loving, and hating, burns and shines through the quietude of her later tales. View her from whatever side we may, and judge of her by whatever of her novels we may chance to light on, we shall always leave her with mingled feelings of admiration and regret. But if we look at her works as a whole, and read several of them in succession, her character, we think, will rise in our estimation, although the works themselves lose interest by their prolixity, their want of plot, and their surfeiting fullness of vague theorising being thus forced on our notice. We catch through them glimpses of a woman with many faults,—haste, rashness, morbid sentimentalism, and a proneness to indulge in a secondhand philosophy often caught up from men inferior to herself, but still in the main truthful; loving in a blind and capricious way what is good; touched to the heart by the misfortunes of others; indignant at the sophistries and the success of polished vice and conventional virtue. If in the midst of the display of her great intellectual gifts she sometimes startles us by moral errors, she
never shocks us by moral depravity. The more we try her by a foreign standard, and the better we appreciate the circumstances under which she wrote, and the influences to which she was exposed, the more gently and sparingly we shall censure her.
ART. III.-COLONEL MURE AND THE ATTIC HISTORIANS. A Critical History of the Language and Literature of Ancient Greece. By William Mure of Caldwell. Vol. V. London, 1857.
COLONEL MURE's History of the Language and Literature of Ancient Greece may well be accepted as a companion piece to Mr. Grote's history of its political and military progress. There is a wide difference, amounting, indeed, to contrast, in the mode of treatment pursued by the two writers. The starting-point of each is widely different; what is primary with the one is secondary with the other; and the wide difference of opinions, tastes, and general turn of mind between the two authors leads to an infinite number of collisions on individual points. Yet, by the student of Hellenic antiquity, the two works must be considered as making up one whole. Each fills up a void left by the other in the general picture of the most wonderful nation which has ever appeared on earth. While each author continually treads upon the ground of the other, each has a ground which is indisputably his own. Within the limits of his own territory each is preeminently master; each has his own proper department in which his strength lies; whenever either displays weakness, it is commonly in the act of trespassing upon the dominions of the other. Mr. Grote and Colonel Mure are alike conspicuous for independence of thought and decision of expression; qualities which in both cases are pushed to the verge of a love of controversy and paradox. But the one is a political historian, the other is a literary critic. The great qualities of the one are depth and vigour; those of the other, elegance and acuteness. It is no wonder, then, that two such writers, each admirable in his own way, commonly meet only to differ when they get on the debatable ground which lies between them. Nor is it wonderful that either of them should occasionally stumble when he wanders too far into the territories of his neighbour. And as we may fairly regard Mr. Grote's scheme and purpose as, on the whole, a higher one than Colonel Mure's, it is not surprising if, on this debatable ground, Mr. Grote has, to our mind at least, commonly the advantage. In research, in conscientiousness, in love of their subject, the two writers are fairly on a par;
each has his own distinguishing excellences, appropriate to his own special subject. But if we are, like Zeus, to weigh in the balance two writers, to each of whom Hellenic learning is so deeply indebted, we can feel no surprise at finding the more massive and capacious intellect of Mr. Grote occupying the weightier scale.
Colonel Mure's great strength lies in the poets. The old Homeric controversy, over and over again as it has been debated, acquires a new life and interest in his hands. This part of his work is a triumph, not only of British learning, but of British common sense, over the vagaries which are too commonly in vogue among continental scholars. It is not too much to say, that both in Colonel Mure and in Mr. Grote birth and residence in a free country, familiarity with the public life of a free state, the possession of a seat in the British Parliament, have done much to foster the manly and practical turn of mind which, under different shapes, distinguishes them both. Colonel Mure is well versed in the literature of Germany, and, we believe, passed his own academic years in a German University. But it would be difficult to find any thing more thoroughly English, in the best sense, than his whole commentary on the Homeric poems. Mr. Grote did much to overthrow the extreme form of the Wolfian theory; Colonel Mure has, we think, pretty effectually destroyed it in all its parts. Points of controversy, fairly open to dispute, still remain between them. Do the Iliad and the Odyssey proceed from the same hand? Is the Iliad, as we have it, an expansion, whether by the original author or by some one else, of an earlier Achilleid? How early were the poems committed to writing? These, and various others, are important questions, on which Mr. Grote and Colonel Mure decide different ways. But they really become mere points of detail when contrasted with a theory which can see no epic unity of design in either of those immortal poems. The points on which they differ may well be discussed for some time to come; but we really trust that their combined judgment has for ever scattered to the winds the notion that the Iliad and Odyssey are mere baskets of fragments gathered up in comparatively recent times by the hands of Solon or Peisistratos.
It is, we think, in his treatment of the Homeric poems that Colonel Mure displays his greatest strength. But for freshness and originality, the portion of his work which stands out most conspicuous is that in which he deals with the poets, most of them unfortunately only fragmentary, who fill up the space between Homer and Pindar. Here he has the ground almost wholly to himself. No other scholar, certainly no other English scholar, has ever produced so full and vivid a picture of Archilochos, Alkaios, and Sappho. Colonel Mure's dealings with their precious fragments remind one of those of Professor Owen or Professor