« ForrigeFortsæt »
the dangers which seem to render the desired consummation unattainable, at last relieve the reader of all suspense by bringing matters to a happy conclusion in the shape of a marriage, and end with the comforting assurance that the bride and bridegroom long lived in peace and prosperity, and were blessed with a numerous and thriving family. Here, on the contrary, the story is continued far beyond the marriage, and a great part, if not the chief, of the interest and intended teaching of the work centres in this later portion.
Another peculiarity of this story is, that it commences with scenes which, in point of time, belong to the end. The first three chapters set before us the pilot, his wife, and two children-the eldest a boy of ten and represent their ordinary way of life at this time. The fourth chapter takes us abruptly back some fifteen years or more, to the time when the pilot, at the age of eighteen, first saw his wife, then fourteen years old.
From this point the story proceeds regularly on to its close without interruption or lingering on the way. It is only fair to observe that the interest is well sustained throughout. If there are few thrilling scenes, there are also few long-winded conversations, spunout descriptions of persons places, and no tedious or trite reflections. The narrative flows smoothly along, with sufficient life and variety to keep up the attention to the end without flagging.
Of course the pilot and his wife are the principal, we might even say the only characters, the rest being mere lay figures distinguished by no individuality. The pilot is represented as brave and skilful in his craft, but by no means amiable in his domestic relations. Silent, moody and violent in temper, par
ticularly when under the influence of drink, he treats his wife and children with cruel harshness, yet we are told "he really idolized both her and the children."
The root of this strange inconsistency is the jealous suspicion which secretly preys upon his mind from the commencement of his courtship till fifteen years after the marriage. He shows a morbid want of confidence in his wife's attachment to him from first to last, though not in her fidelity to him after marriage. Again and again he finds his suspicions groundless yet still they recur.
It is not till the close of the volume that they are at last effectually removed by the following conversation, which forms the denoúment of the plot and the moral of the tale.
"There was a somewhat Sunday calm over Elizabeth as she stood there by the hearth and awaited her husband's coming. She heard him out in the porch. When he came in, a quick flush overspread her firm, expressive countenance; but it banished at once, and she gazed at him with half-parted lips, forgetting to greet him. It did not escape him that there was a certain self-conscious security about her. As such was she just the Elizabeth he loved.
Elizabeth,' he said, with deep solemnity, and looked her in the face, I have a great reproach to make to you. You have not been true-you have been secretive toward me for many years-I am afraid during all the time we have lived together.'
"He looked at her mildly forbearing. as if he expected her straightforward acknowledgment to him, that he might be permitted to forgive her. But she stood pale, gazing down before her, while her heart beat violently.
"And how have I loved you!' he burst out, with a touch of reproach, 'always-above my own life!'
"She stood for a time silent, and was now obliged to summon all her courage
to speak out. At last she said, a little constrained, without raising her eyes,
"I hear you say it, Salve; but I have thought over various things, now.'
"What have you thought over, Elizabeth?' His glance at once became the dark, rough one she well knew. It meant that she had given offence by her reply; that he had now gone to meet her as far as he would, and that now they stood there by the wall he would yield no further.
"Am I right or not right?' he asked sharply.
"That I have blindly believed that you loved me?' she answered, so pale, and looked him straight in the face. 'Yes, it is true, and it is my honour. But have you let me see it, or was it only I who should give you everything? Was my happiness in lite, then, nothing, and have I no right? No, Salve!' said she with angry, trembling voice, and a glance that burned from all that she had suffered. Speak the truth! You have loved yourself, and when you married me you only took one to help you on with it; so there were two about it, and still that was not enough. No, no!' she concluded, and threw her hands out before her in her bitter feeling; had you loved me as I have loved you, we would not have come to this, where we stand to-day.'
"Elizabeth,' said he, in a low tone, for it was difficult for him to control himself-his voice sounded ironical, while his gaze fastened itself upon her,
-I thank you, because you have at last told me your meaning, although it comes rather late. You see, I was right when I said that you had never been true toward me.'
"I have deceived you, you say; yes, it is true!' she added with emphasis, while her eye quietly met his; but it was not because I was wanting in love to you, but from the fact that you could not believe me. I have contented myself with going about in my own house mistrusted-and by you, Salve; and I have borne it, and kept silence through it all, because I believed that you would not bear hearing the truth, and because I always hoped that you in that way would become persuaded. I thought that that was the right way,
and I pursued it for your sake, notwithstanding all it cost me, and that was much-much, Salve! See what I have daily borne through all these years because I loved you! But you who only imposed a heavier and still heavier burden upon me,-do you love me? I begin almost to doubt it, Salve !'
'He stood overwhelmed by this sudden attack. This interpretation of the situation was to him unexpected, and it struck him that she might have reason on her side in thinking so; but he replied notwithstanding, in a bitter tone,
"You are only too right in this, Elizabeth. I know, also, that a miserable, poor pilot was but little fitted for you-have always known it, even from the time we were engaged. You remember when you stood before Van Spyck's picture, down in Amsterdam? -then I understood that it was such a man you should have; or, that time on board the Apollo, when you broke out so grandly about the North Star?then I felt the same, and sailed the brig that night to its destruction!'
Salve!' she exclaimed, passionately, 'you know well that you would not be grander in my eyes if you were au admiral than now you are a pilot, and than you have always been to me. Did I not stand and think of you when I looked on Van Spyck,-that you were he who could have done the same? Or, when I saw the North Star, did I not think were but you the chief, Salve, then they should see how it would be with the right man on board? Did I care about the North Star except to get it for you? Did I not think that you, a poor skipper, outweighed the whole show?'
"Salve stood so unspeakably happy during this outburst, in which he saw everything before him cleared away; that he himself had been the hero of all her dreams. He believed every word, as he had always done when she said anything, and thought he had been one of the most stupid creatures the Lord had ever permitted to live on this earth. He involuntarily stretched out his arms to her, like Alcibiades, to end the quarrel by taking her about the waist and bear her from this court of
justice home to his house; but he stopped at the deep, warding off earnestness with which she continued,
"No, Salve, it is not this which stands between us, however cleverly you may have discovered it; it is not this it is something else. At heart you do not trust me, that is the truth,
and thus all this has come up in your mind afterwards. And do you see,' she continued, with a face expressive of pain, it never will turn out well with us so long as you cherish one particle of doubt in your thoughts? Don't you understand, yet, that it is the peace of our hearthstone that is at stake; that it is this I have fought for all these years, when I have borne it all as as you well know I have not the nature to endure, Salve?' said she, giving him an impressive look. 'If you do not understand it yet, then God help you and us!' she concluded, despairingly, and turned half about again to the fire, in which she lost herself gazing.
He stood before her averted form as if he had been paralyzed, and scarcely ventured to look at her; in that degree all that she had said now lay clear and striking before him as the truth. She had held a mirror of their united lives up before his eyes, and he saw himself therein so egotistical and small by the side of all this love. He stood with a deep pain, humbled in heart, and he was both too noble and too true not to be willing to acknowledge it. Abstracted, he went over to the window and stood there awhile.
"Elizabeth,' he said despondingly, 'you know certainly at heart that you have been everything to me in this world; I know, also, wherein my deepest wrong against you consists, and I shall now truly and freely acknowledge that to you, though it will make me stand an insignificant man before you. Yes, Elizabeth, I have never been able to feel myself really secure, that I alone wholly and fully possessed your mind since that timeit cost him an effort, apparently, to speak out, for he contented with this humiliation in the acknowledgment— 'since that affair of yours with the naval officer. It has been my sore spot, you perceive,' said he softly con
fidential,' which I could not control in spite of everything I still knew to the contrary. And perhaps I cannot bear it yet. This is my stumbling-block,
I acknowledge honestly and plainly; but still I cannot lose you, Elizabeth. I have always seen that you were fitted for something grand; that you really should have a man who was somebody in the world-such a one as he, and not a common man like me. You see I have never been able to endure thinking of this, and so I have become rancorous toward all the world, and suspicious and oppressive toward you. Notwithstanding you are my wife, Elizabeth, I have never been able to believe that I possessed you, and therefore never really had you, although what you have said to me to-day, God be praised, has given me another assurance. I have not been strong enough-not as you-though I dare say I have striven with it, Elizabeth!' he burst out, looking so pale, while he laid both hands on her shoulders and looked her in the face.
'She felt that his arms trembled, and her eyes filled with tears. It wounded her to the heart to see him thus. She suddenly released herself and went into the side chamber, whence she presently came out with an old note and handed it to him.
"It is the letter which I wrote to the naval officer that night I fled from the Becks.' (He looked at her a little amazed.) I got it from Mrs. Beck,' she said. 'Read it, Salve!'
answered slowly, and looked at her with moist eyes.
"No, not you-it was I who loved another, it stands; and who was that other?'
"God bless you-it was I!' and he drew her down on his lap.
The character of Elizabeth, the wife, is at once lovely and life-like. Pure, faithful, and ardent in her affection for her husband from first to last, she shows a noble heroism in the patient endurance of his jealous misconstruction of her conduct, his outburst of anger, and general ill-usage both of her and the children. She constitutes the redeeming feature of the work, which would otherwise be wanting in attraction, though worthy of all praise for its healthy tone and its faithful adherence to the simplicity of natnre.
M. Michel Chevalier et Le Bimétallisme. Par Henri Cernuschi. Paris De Guillaumin, Rue Richelieu. 1876.-The heavy fall in the value of silver-which, it is estimated, will cause a loss
£2,800,000 to the Indian Government during the current year-not unnaturally led to the appointment of a Committee of the House of Commons to investigate the subject. Though furnished with abundant evidence as to the facts of the case, and presided over by so able a chairman as Mr. Goschen, the Committee were unable in their report to speak with any confidence as to the future, and refrained from suggesting what steps it would be advisable to take with a view to remedy or alleviate the evil.
M. Cernuschi, the author of the present brochure on an article of M. Chevalier's in the Revue des
deux Mondes, is troubled with no doubts as to the course which ought to be pursued. He has faith enough in his own opinions to remove mountains; and if self-confidence were the only thing needed to ensure success, all uneasiness on this perplexing subject might be safely dismissed. He knows a sovereign remedy, not only for the serious loss and inconvenience occasioned by the fall of silver at the present time, but for all disorders connected with the currency at any time in any part of the world. The only thing necessary to ensure exemption from such financial disasters is to declare by law that a certain weight of gold of specified fineness shall be held to be equiva lent in value to 15 times the same weight of silver of the same fine
"We ask for nothing more than permission for all to have three silver coins struck :
"1. In Germany the four-mark piece, weighing a thaler and a third;
"2. In England the four-shilling piece, containing as much fine metal as 62 gold shillings;
"3. In the United States the silver dollar, weighing 15 gold dollars, or 399.90 grains nine-tenths fine.
"The general rehabilitation of silver would allow France to resume the manufacture of her silver crowns, the whole loss in the value of silver in Europe and India would immediately be recovered, equilibrium between the debit and credit of nations and individuals would be re-established, business would be revived, justice would be done, and benefit conferred."
What can be simpler, and what more desirable? If one could but share in M. Cernuschi's firm faith and glowing enthusiasm, how delightful human life would be. Unfortunately, the stern stepmother,
experience, tells a very different tale, and makes one look with suspicion on a proposal which has been carefully considered and emphatically condemned by the highest autho rities both in France and in this country.
M. Cernuschi has extraordinary views as to the power of Government, which he seems to think capable of giving any value it pleases to gold, silver, and even paper. It has only to declare by law that gold shall be worth 15 times as much as silver, and the two metals will preserve this ratio to each other, no matter how much the supply of each may vary.
If Government can for ever determine how much silver shall be given for a certain quantity of gold, it can with equal certainty determine how much corn, cloth, or any other article shall be given for it, which M. Cernuschi will not find it easy to make many people believe.
The idea of regulating prices by legislative enactment has surely been completely exploded long ago. It is marvellous that any one professing to know anything of political economy or history should at this time of day appear to favour so palpable an absurdity.
It is a strange fallacy to suppose that, because Government can determine weights and measures, it can also determine prices. The value of a thing is simply what buyers are willing to give for it, and this depends upon the strength of their desire to possess it, and the difficulty of obtaining it, which are circumstances beyond the control of any government.
An equally fallacious argument of M. Cernuschi's is founded upon the fact that the Greek word for money is derived from a word meaning law, whence he infers that money is the arbitrary creation of law, on
which alone its value depends; in other words, because law can decide what coins shall be struck, of what metals, weight, and fineness they shall be, it can fix the relative values of the metals for ever in spite of all disturbing causes.
M. Cernuschi refers to other publications of his for the full development and establishment of his views. Unless they contain more convincing arguments than are to be found in this work, his confident expectation that his doctrines will ere long be universally adopted is not likely to be fulfilled.
The whole tendency of recent events and modern legislation is towards the establishment of only one metal as the legal tender, and that gold, not to the recognition of both gold and silver, as M. Cernuschi desires. His attempt to counteract this tendency with such feeble efforts reminds one of Mrs. Partington pushing back the Atlan tic with her
Logical Praxis: comprising a Summary of the Principles of Logical Science and Copious Exercises for Practical Application. By H. N. Day. Simpson, Low, and Co. London, 1876. The volume before us is intended to serve as a first book for students of logic. As the title implies, it combines theory and practice, containing an exposition of principles, with rules and examples for exercise in the applica tion of them. According to the preface, it is constructed on the exactest principles of logical method, being itself designed to exemplify these principles in the definitions and the scientific evolution of all the generic laws and forms of thought from its own nature."
This is taking higher ground than is quite safe. The author challenges