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the man who above all others is the very incarnation of all that is antipathetical to him. To the last and throughout, Isaura never belies her noble nature; although she is sorely tried and torn, when won to a good work by the prayers of his mother, she has rashly promised to be Rameau's bride. It is a happy and characteristic trait, that when she receives her release
from the fetters of that promise ; when she knows that she is free to receive the adoration that the repentant Vane is longing to lavish on her, her first impulse is to fall on her knees — not to thank Heaven that she would now escape a • union from which her soul so recoiled—not that she was • indeed free—but to pray, with tears rolling down her cheeks, * that God would yet save to himself and to good ends, the soul that she had failed to bring to him.'
In Graham Vane Lord Lytton shows his knowledge of character. We have not touched on the troubles and vexations he has to submit to, as a proud man in a false position, credited with a great fortune, while in reality he is poor. In Isaura he shows his knowledge of the heart and the most delicate fibres of woman's nature. In his Parisians proper, for Vane is English and Isaura Italian, he shows his wonderful knowledge of men and life. Not the least interesting amongst them is the literary group that gathers round Isaura, the rising young author, who dashes off her compositions in fluent inspiration, with all the faults and beauties of genius. There is Savarin, sparkling journalist and critic, brilliant conversationalist and raconteur, king and autocrat in his own literary circle. De Brézé, journalist and viscount, thorough man of the world, with a mocking wit that is a good deal manner, Parisian and dilettante to the tips of the finger nails. There is De Mauléon, in whom a universal genius has turned to journalism that he may prepare or precipitate the subversion of the dynasty; and above all, there is Gustave Rameau. Impossible not to imagine that these men have sat severally for their portraits, although, as with the characters in Rabelais, the figures and lineaments change in most tantalising fashion just as you are ready to swear to a likeness. About, Villemessant, Rochefort, Ernest Feydeau-you have impressions of these and of many more, and yet while you see a life-like resemblance, it is never possible to establish identity. The witty genial, sarcastic, superficially erudite, and large-hearted Savarin is the best type of the Parisian writer who concentrates no slight powers on literature comparatively ephemeral, and yet within his prescribed limits, ranges over every subject in many styles. He is one of the men of real brilliancy who take to journalism for better or worse, and do not make it the stepping stone to power or political celebrity. What it does help him to, is the social ascendancy so dear to every Parisian heart. He shines in the salons, and by the power of the tongue he exercises a certain Terror there. He has formed a school militant of his own, he drills and organises his followers to defend their works and each other at the point of the pen. For kindly as he is, he makes a battle of his life, and as matter of principle in the defence and attack, he neither asks nor expects quarter. Successful as he has been, he is only the more sensitive; and he resents the faint appreciation of friends almost as much as the envenomed criticism of enemies. We have the contrast between the French and English literary minds in a parallel drawn between Savarin and Vane :
' It was pleasant to hear the clash of these two minds encountering each other; they differed, perhaps, less in opinion than in the mode in which opinions are discussed. The Englishman's range of reading was wider than the Frenchman's, and his scholarship more accurate; but the Frenchman had a compact neatness of expression, a light and nimble grace, whether in the advancing or the retreat of his argument, which covered deficiencies and often made them appear like merits. Graham was compelled, indeed, to relinquish many of the forces of superior knowledge or graver eloquence, which, with less lively antagonists, he could have brought out into the field; for the witty sarcasm of Savarin would have turned them aside as pedantry or declamation. ... There was this distinction between his humour and Savarin's wit, that in the first there was always something earnest, in the last always something mocking. And in criticism Graham seemed ever anxious to bring out a latent beauty, even in writers comparatively neglected. Savarin was acutest when dragging forth a blemish never before discovered in writers universally read.'
In his time, he had been of the set of Young France,' and he claims for it the hearty consciousness of youth, abundant vitality, and convivial spirits, as well as the power of thews and sinews. Of · Young Paris,' represented by Rameau, he says, with pitying contempt and dislike, that it has very bad health and very indifferent spirits, although clever in its way, and able to bite and sting as keenly as if it were big and strong Rameau is decidedly disagreeable in himself-more disagreeable in representing a most pernicious class of writers that latterly has been largely on the increase. But such as he is, he is rendered with very remarkable truth; and although his faults as we see through him are especially repulsive, although we detest his opinions, and are inclined to congratulate ourselves on the miserable end we suspect he is hurrying to, yet we can understand Isaura feeling the pity for him
that betrays her into a rash engagement. For Lord Lytton has the sympathy of genius with genius in its infirmities, and he endows Rameau with some of the godlike gifts we might look for in an inferior angel fallen from the humblest of the heavenly spheres. When fascinated by Isaura—so far as it is in his nature to be, and in his happier moods-vanity, selfishness, and self-interest conspire to make him play the hypocrite, without altogether intending it, and she regards him as an engaging but wayward child, to be controlled or coaxed to his own salvation. On other women, as a satirical physician remarks, he exercises the serpent's fascination on the daughters of Eve, having the reputation of being very clever and wicked. The same gentleman goes on :
«« Mons. Gustave Rameau is a type of that somewhat numerous class among the youth of Paris, whom I call the lost tribe of absinthe.' There is a set of men who begin to live full gallop while they are still boys. . . . To this predilection for absinthe, young Rameau and the writers of his set add the imitation of Heine, after, indeed, the manner of caricaturists, who effect a likeness striking in proportion as it is ugly. It is not easy to imitate the pathos and wit of Heine, but it is easy to imitate his defiance of the Deity, his mockery of right and wrong, his relentless war on that heroic standard of thought and action which the writers who exalt their nation intuitively preserve. Rameau cannot be a Heine, but he can be to Heine what a misshapen, snarling dwarf is to a mangled, blaspheming Titan.
The satire of the last sentence is as true as it is bitter. It brands Rameau and his class as at once noxious and contemptible. Yet such as he is made, we retain an interest in him to the last; we feel that if he were penitent we might be persuaded to forgive and admire him, and are almost tempted to fancy that a miracle may be wrought in his favour. For two women concern themselves in his fate, of neither of whom is he worthy to tie the shoestring. Yet the rival of Isaura in these precious affections of his, is only Julie Caumartin, one of the feux-follets of the Mabille and a thoughtless votary of our Lady of Lorette. For Rameau, Julie is content to renounce Russian princes, and cachemires, and morning suppers at the Maison Dorée, and when she is honestly enriched, towards the end of the story, she hastens to bestow the treasures that have come to her, on her faithless admirer, who is suffering and starving. The story is unfinished, and we know nothing of their end, although we leave them married. But we are sure that the reformed Magdalene is much too good for the sacrilegious journalist of the Commune, who has shown no signs of repentance; and we can only hope that the present Lord Lytton may be right in suggesting that some accident of the siege must have brought a tragic dénouement to their united lives.
Leaving De Brézé, who was always writing down dynasties and then regretting them, until he did penance and made confession during the sufferings of the siege, even before he foresaw the calamities of the Commune, we must hurry on. De Mauléon is not a figure to be passed by in haste, figuring conspicuously as he does, in society and politics, love and literature, and dominating more or less the destinies of every person in the story, from the Emperor down to poor Julie Caumartin. Yet De Mauléon seems to us- -shall we say it?—somewhat commonplace. In one sense, the assertion must sound absurd, for his talk alone, in its vigorous terseness and shrewd originality of penetration, ought to make the fortune of a clever political novel.
But what we mean is, that in the very completeness and perfection of the powers attributed to him, he is rather a creature of art than a life-like reproduction of nature. In intellect, courage, and actual physical strength, in his highbred beauty and unfailing presence of mind, the old viveur is as unrivalled as the slight Rudolph of The Mysteries of Paris' was in his physical qualities alone. Whether he retorts with a repartee, gives the word for retreat in a popular rising, extricates himself from the fury of a Parisian mob, or parries the dagger-thrusts of a secret conclave, his quick resolution never fails him for an instant, and it seems as easy for an author to conceive such admirable Crichtons as it is difficult for a reader to believe in them. Saying so much, we feel we are hypercritical, and we are only comparing De Mauléon with others of the Parisians who really live and breathe for us. And after all there is this to be said, further, that artistically he is an absolute necessity to the story, nor do we see how somebody made in his image could have been dispensed with." Let him drop out of the book and the whole harmony of its thought and teachings is destroyed, while the plot tumbles to pieces. The half-dozen or so of De Mauléons who might have played his different parts in real life, are merely combined in his single person to avoid clumsiness of construction and heighten the dramatic effects. With ready access to the more inaccessible circles, he is setting in motion the springs of secret conspiracy. He has the ear of the discontented working classes, and keeps foreign refugees in his pay. He is the eloquent writer deeply versed in the frailties of mankind in general, and of the French in particular, who dexterously originates, under the mask of the anonymous, those subversive
ideas that are to stir Paris to its centre. He is the Cassandra or the Stoffel who predicts the inevitable issues of the fatal war with the voice of one crying in the wilderness. He shows equal courage when war has been brought to the gates, and when, like the unhappy generals murdered on Montmartre, he disbands regiments of mutineers and shoots cowardly officers. In fine, with all his dark schemings and relentlessness of political purpose, he is full of generous impulses, and, in his own way, the very soul of honour. He is always chivalrously tender to women, in action as in manner, and the romance of his antecedents and the mystery he carries about with him make him a great success in such a world as that of Paris. There is a breath of winter and an odour of fallen leaves in his style, as that witty American, Mrs. Morley, says of it; but in his talk are to be found some of the shrewdest of those shrewd observations that are scattered so profusely through Lord Lytton's volumes; and it is in his person that Lord Lytton, as we fancy, expressed his personal opinions on French politics from the French point of view.
Of the men of all ranks with whom De Mauléon comes in contact in the course of his plotting, we must single out Armand Monnier for a brief notice. Monnier is the representative Parisian ouvrier—as De Mauléon told him once to his face, he is the type of a class the most insubordinate, the
most self-conceited, that crawls on the face of the earth. He is a Christian, with a Christianity partly Arian, partly St.
Simonian, with a little of Rousseau and a great deal of Armand • Monnier. He believes in the right of the poor to appro'priate the property of the rich ; in the right of love to
dispense with marriage, and the duty of the state to provide ' for any children that might result from such unions, the ' parents being incapacitated to do so, as whatever they might • leave was due to the treasury in common.' He lives with a woman he loves dearly, regarding the illicit connexion as a protest against prejudices he disapproves. He earns high wages from a master, who treats him well, and in the interests of his class, he organises a strike that empties the workshop. De Mauléon plays on his weaknesses, flatters his vanity, uses him as a tool, and half repents it when he sees the misery he has wrought in the Monniers' happy household, indifferent as he commonly is to the abuse of means. There is a deep moral in the progress of Monnier's ruin, as there is much that is touching in the scenes we witness during its successive stages. At first the enthusiast will listen to nothing but the wild promptings of a nature that is as noble as it is impracticable;