« ForrigeFortsæt »
with feelings bordering on con- called upon to oppose some dread tempt. His lash might, indeed, have disease, but as a class kept them. been turned on bimself, as belong. selves as free from scandal as do ing to a class of sycophants who most of the members of the prodid much by their toadyism to en- fession at the present time. Taking, courage the very faults which he therefore, the various notices and bimself held up to scorn.
But works that have come down to us, severe as those writers are, the fact we can but look back with admirathat they scarcely ever hold up tion on those who devoted them. members of the medical profession selves to the bealing art, leaving to censure may be taken as a sign behind them names enrolled in that the physicians in Rome did not golden letters among the great spare their time or energies when workers of the world.
A Woman Scorned. By Owens Blackburne. 3 vols.
Tinsley Brothers, London, 1876. The clever writer who under the name of Owens Blackburne, bas recently appeared in the literary world, promises to take a leading position amongst the great band of female authors who have chosen it their mission to supply the incessant craving of society for light, fantastic fiction. It is sad to tbink that a race so gifted should be so ephemeral. They are eagerly read, but as rapidly forgotten; and their
.; books, when the season is over, are flung into the limbo of oblivion, from which there is no resurrection.
Writers like Disraeli and the late Lord Lytton will be studied as long as the English tongue exists for their deep thought, immense variety of character, profound knowledge of life and human nature, and magnificent perfection of form, style, and language; but
be safely affirmed that but a very small percentage of the novels written by women will be heard of or remembered a year after publication. _They glitter for a day and die. Yet, at least, the glory of the moment compensates for the speedy oblivion that covers them. They command great prices from publishers, become the idol of a clique, and have all that a woman's heart most desires-praise, homage, flattery, adoration.
But the evil day comes at last ; women write only from within, and when the experience or the
memory of passions, triumphs, sorrows, and trials from which they drew their materials has been exbausted, they have notbing more to say the vein of rich ore is worked out, and lead begins to replace the silver. It is hard, however, to abdicate a throne, and so the women novelists still work on, though no new element comes to their minds, and they can only repeat themselves, or give us the old lay figures in new attitudes, until at last the fire burns low on the altar, and the worshippers begin to forsake the temple for other shrines.'
For subtle analysis of character, varied and striking modes and moods of thought, and the strong contrasts of conflicting passions that stir the human soul, we must look to the writings of men. Their genius is heightened and stimulated by a wider experience, and the full liberty of living unfettered by the narrow prejudices and the mean and torturing conventionalisms that keep women's souls in an iron bondage. The minds of men are fed from without, and while the imaginative faculty in woman, never very strong, is soon exhausted and
out, the intellect in man grows day by day, progressing in power as new types of character unceasingly come before him, and the infinite varieties of experience gain definite forms through the strong and matured thought of advancing years. Thus, for instance, Disraeli's last novel, “Lothair," is unsurpassed even by
any of the productions of his own ton, she can paint love with tropical glorious youth, and stands un- fervour, but her beroines do not equalled in the literature of the think it necessary to express the day for power and purpose, for passion in slang diction, or to be brilliancy of wit and splendid bar
"nestling" their head monies of language.
upon the bosom of the lover. Then But a writer like Disraeli comes she is never weary or didactic, or but seldom in a nation's literature; discursive and diffusive ; she knows it is not fair to put the light, how to concentrate ber lights, and emotional, self-conscious, sensitive, does not interrupt a love scene or limited soul of a woman in com. disturb an intensely interesting parison with his. Their lesser in. situation by disquisitions-say on tellects come in shoals, bright and the return of the Jews, or the apsparkling as the multitudinous pearance of infusoria under the waves, but also as evanescent, and microscope. their myriad volumes, soon
read The aim of a novel is to interest and soon forgotten, strew the shores and amuse, to charm away care, of time like the layers of dead sea- and to make us forget for a while weed on the ocean beach. But it the dulness and weariness of real is precisely because they are so life in the bright colouring, the evanescent and so rapidly exhausted startling incidents, the beauty and that the race needs perpetually to the harmony of the world of imagibe renewed by new blood and fresh nation. imaginations. Already the energies Owens Blackburne has the gift of of many of the great sisterhood interesting in an eminent degree, of the pen are on the wane; we and she has also keen insight into know all their characters, we have character, though she does not tire fathomed all their plots and devices; the reader with commonplaces dewe have become hardened and stiff- livered in language of oracular obnecked, and will no longer be scurity, as if they were profound melted by their passion or pathos. truths brought to the surface for the A new rush of waves is wanting first time, and given to us covered over the arid sands of literature, with the hard, rough grit of primiand it is coming in the new gene- tive formations. On the contrary, ration of writers, who in the fresh her language is clear, vigorous, and vigour of youth seem resolved to simple, and the vivacity of her style “rush up the narrow path leading carries on the reader without effort to fame," while their once power
to the end. With the sense of ful predecessors are dozing on their innate power she is fearless, knowlaurels.
ing that whatever is said naturally Owens Blackburne is one of this is said well, and is content not to young band of Titans who already trust too much to study, or the threaten to subvert the thrones of dabbling with scientific manuals, the elder gods. She has many
but to leave something to impulse natural gifts calculated to ensure when writing, to the instincts of success, and we may expect still the artist, and the inner light we higher evidences of her ability as
call genius. a novelist when life and experience
With Ouida she has no affinity; develop wider horizons, and deepen none of her stormy grandeur, or and strengthen her intellectual lava fires of devastating feeling. nature. Like Miss Braddon, she is But then Ouida stands alone and rich in incident, but her colouring apart from most female writers; never is coarse ; like Miss Brough- alone by her passionate soul, her
glittering language, and the magic volition, has dreamed all his life of power by which she can elevate the the possibility of meeting another meanest lifeor redeem the lowest, soul that he could subjugate enand transfigure it to glory by giving tirely to his influence; strain away to it one divine grace. Nor will the life, as it were, and add it to his Ouida ever found a school, like own by strong volition so that he Miss Braddon and Miss Broughton, would live with the strength of two who number disciples, followers, and lives, two natures, but moved by only imitators by the score, for culture
Chance places him one such as Ouida possesses is as rare day at a dinner-party beside & amongst women as the deep ear- beautiful girl. She has hitherto had nestness which lies at the base of the usual commonplace life of a her artist soul, and of the varied woman, still seeking her conquests passion she pourtrays.
with the hope of a successful mar. Yet Owens Blackburne is not riage in the end; but when the without the power to turn the key deep eyes of the magnetizer rest on that unlocks the deeper mysteries hers, she feels that ber destiny is of life. Her first novel, “ The fixed, and he also, by his subtle clairModern Parrhasius," which excited voyance, kuows that he has at last great attention in literary circles, is met the buman soul that he is to founded on that strange mystery
draw and absorb into bis own. The of our nature, half physical half progress of this magnetic passion psychical, which no science has becomes tragic in the highest debeen able to solve, though none can gree-a result which is strictly true deny its existence—the magnetic to nature and fact, for these inpower which is exercised by some fluences wbich our forefathers called natures over others; a power that sorcery and witchcraft, are always cannot be resisted, and is often fatal. There is something demofatal in its effects. The toucb, the niacal in the power which can take voice, the very presence of the the volition, the intellect, the soul magnetizer in the room radiates an from a living human being, and electricity that paralyses the victim; then act on it as if it were but a volition is suspended, the intellect piece of cupping mechanism, an ceases to act, all efforts at resist. instrument to be touched to mirth ance are vain, the magnetic influence or sadness, to passion or apathy, at gathers force at every moment, and the caprice of the master. Sin and the subjugation is complete. It is crime have come of such influences, not love; reason and sense often and the weird tragedies of many try to war against the fatality, yet fated lives. nothing can break the bondage. It Owens Blackburne's next novel is inflexible as the laws of attrac. “A Woman
Woman Scorned," is laid tion and repulsion that govern the amidst Irish scenes, by the beauuniverse. This strange and mystic tiful banks of the Boyne. It is a force by which one human being story of love and hate, of passion sinks under the domination of and crime, worked out with conanother, helpless and passive, is siderable dramatic power.
Inexemplified with much power in deed, the author's genius is essen"The Modern Parrbasius," showing tially dramatic, and if she turns that the author had deeply her intellect to writing for the studied the effects on the female stage, there can be no doubt of mind of this fatal sorcery.
her success. This very novel could The bero, a doctor and spiritualist, be easily dramatized, for the situaa man of weird fancies and powerful tions are all scenic and striking.
Every chapter is a bold, well-defined picture, and the subordinate Irish
rare amongst female writers) and characters, with their blended a quick perception of the ludicrous humour and pathos, are wonder- in the author's nature; the defully true to life; especially the scription of the rich, good-natured, old Irish nurse, as important a but homely squire who falls in love member of the family household with the younger sister, and pines in Ireland as in ancient Greece- from unrequited passion, is full of the trusted confidante, che ad- amusing but not sharp or disagreeviser, the organiser, and arranger able caricature. We like the old of the family life, -and even by gentleman amazingly, and cannot this one admirable picture we can but feel sorry that he was so badly see how truly ard sympathetically treated by the little wildflower the author bas studied the soft and The interest of the plot is well tender lights of the composite and sustained throughout, and there is singular Irish nature.
a dash in the style, a vivacity of There are two heroines, the elder treatment, and rapid movement of sister, proud, imperious, a social the story which excites and carries queen by right of her beauty an on the reader easily to the end. her stately grace; the younger,
As novels have become a necesa step-sister, daughter of a gover- sary stimulant to the age, wearied ness, their father's second wife, with over-lecturing and dogmatic who is looked upon as a mere teaching, we cordially recommend weed in her path by the haughty the sparkling cup offered by Owens beauty who rules the household of Blackburne as a pleasant and/exbilathe O'Driscolls. The contrast is rating tonic. The mission of the dramatic between the two sisters ; novelist is simply to amuse, not the one who thinks the world to instruct, and there can be no should be at ber feet, and the brighter, better, or more interestother a simple wildflower, strug. ing narrator of tales of passion, gling upwards to the light through and incident, of life as it is, or the heavy and depressing atmo- of life in its exceptional phases, sphere of humiliation that surrounds than the gifted author of "The her. But her elastic Irish nature Modern Parrbasius," and “A cannot be crushed.
Woman Scorned.'. lant, quick replies " repels the scorn of her sister, and she springs up from beneath the trampling foot with a persistent courage that Journal of Commodore Goodenlists all our sympathies on her enough, R.N., C.B., C.M.G., Edited, side in the war of temperaments with a memoir, by bis widow. Lonand destinies.
don: Henry S. King and Co., 1876. There is but one hero, and both -Twelve months ago the subject of sisters are in love with him-hence this memoir met a sad and tragic comes the drama of three lives, death when senior officer on the carried with unfailing in- Australian station. In command of terest through a series of highly the Pearl he visited the island of sensational
The elder Santa Cruz in the South Pacific, sister manifests her love through the inhabitants of which were recrime; the younger through suf- ported unfriendly. Anxious to fering; but which sister conquers establish amicable relations with in the end we leave the reader them, he incautiously landed withto discover.
out adopting sufficient precaution, There is some humour (a quality and was treacherously attacked.