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master hand from his first to his last step in the downward course of guilt and infamy. Nor is Romola less beautifully and minutely wrought out in the grand characteristics of her massive nature. In all these respects, and indeed in many more, the book's excellence is unquestionably of the very highest kind. Amongst other things we cannot avoid a mention of that very remarkable amount of reading, and that acquaintance with the classical and other studies, which has made so great an impression on the minds of many when the tale was being read in the pages of the “Cornhill.” This shows in a remarkable way the vast amount of conscientious labour which must have been given to the preparation for this work by the author, and renders us somewhat chary of expressing our opinion that the impression of the grotesque so forcibly conveyed to our mind by the descriptions of life in Florence is somewhat overdone. To us this seems so far to be the case, that were it not for the wonderfully living reality of some of the characters, we should feel as if the whole thing had an unreal nightmare sort' of effect upon our mind, which is curiously illustrated by the grotesque character of very miany of the pictures which have graced its pages while publishing in the " Cornhill Magazine." It is however, after all, as an historical novel that Romola ought to be tried and criticized if we are right in divining the views of its author. The peculiar requirements of this kind of novel remove it in some degree from the ordinary canons of criticisin for the every day novel. In art it ought, it is true, not to fall short of the other, but if truth demands it, it ought not to be less grotesque or outre in its form than the period it represents. Above all, however, an historical novel must throw some light upon some great historical character as a central figure for the picture. Here, we think, the author of " Romola ? has failed. Perhaps the tendency of mind which he always exhibits towards metaphysical speculation on men's motives and purposes may explain the failure. Savonarola, it must be admitted, was a man most difficult to pourtray, but we cannot but fancy he would have been much more fairly placed before us by a writer who could have been content with the most simple, instead of the most painfully elaborate dissection of motives and wishes. Here we think the author has overdrawn his character, and has rendered the popular idea of this wonderful man more indistinct, rather than less So. In spite however of this, which seems to us to mar the book as that which it was meant to be, we cannot withhold from it our most hearty admiration as a noble work of art. It has, too, much value of its own, independent of its just treatment of its great historical character. It gives many most valuable ideas as to the state of society in the republics of Italy in the middle ages pot easily met with elsewhere ; it affords some of the most perfect delineations of character in the language, and it certainly will in no way impair the very high reputation of its remarkable author.
With all these advantages-and they are neither few nor of trifling moment we think it will be found that “Romola” wants something or possesses something which must militate against its great success as a popular novel. One grand secret of this may, we think, be found in the fact that it is a book addressed rather to the learned few than to the unlearned many.
Even unlearned people do not object to a little erudition in a novel, as is evident from the vast popularity which has attended the novels of Bulwer Lytton amongst all classes ; but it is also true that they cannot stand too much of it. Now the whole of "Romola " has an atmosphere of learning, of antiquarian research, and of mediæval classicality about it which must, we think, prove too much for its popularity with the classes who can stand a flavouring of these things, bnt must have the substantial substratum of the feast of a different material.
It is undeniably true, also, that there is a great deal of human interest in the tale ; and yet we suspect that it will be popular with many on the ground that it wants this. The human interest is, in fact, almost too elaborately wrought out to be very generally appreciated by the masses of novel readers, who will pass over the subtle elaborations of metaphysical analysis of character and cling to the broad lines by which an infinitely inferior artist would give them an idea of the workings of his hero's mind, without troubling them to give it much careful thought. There is no mystery either in “ Romola;” and such seems to be the taste of the day, that without something mysterious, it is difficult to arouse fully the interest of novel readers, spoiled, in a manner, by the elaborate artistic plots of Wilkie Collins, or by the thrilling improbabilities of the “Strange Story." The mystery about old Baldassarre is the only one in the book, and that is not one worth mentioning, as it is at once removed. Some of the scenes too, are thrilling in the intensity of passion thrown into them, such as the last of the life of the hero, when a vengeance truly poetical in its justice overtakes him at the hands of the poor old dying madman, who, when he attempted it, could see no hope of that vengeance which is at last thrown absolutely in his way, so that he can scarcely avoid seizing the dong-desired and now despaired-of opportunity. There are other scenes, too, of a sufficiently sensational character in the novel, as the “ Trial by Fire,” the death of the conspirators, and the last scene in the life of Savonarola ; but despite all these, we are afraid that the public will demand something more, and something which it will not find, in the way of sensationalism to make “ Romola” a special favourite, as for very many reasons it deserves to be. On the whole we think that in some sense “Romola” will, as a book, fall a little flat—will in some sense prove a failure, but at all events the failure will have been a magnificent one in many respects. The object aimed at was of the very highest, and consequently, even if not altogether attained, so near an approach to its attainment may be regarded in the light of a triumph for the author.
With the exception of the reprint of "Romola" from the “Cornhill Magazine," the month has not been one of any marked activity in the literary world so far as new publications are concerned. There are perhaps three or four of the minor novels of the month worthy of notice for various reasons. Of these the first and best seems to be “Twice Lost," by the author of Nina, which some of our readers may recollect as a very charming little story which appeared some years ago. “ Twice Lost" is a considerable advance upon that book, not having lost any of its charm of simplicity and truthfulness of description, but having gained very much
in insight into human nature and in the power of tersely expressing the idea once conceived. The idea of the novel is not a very promising one it must be allowed, and its success is the more surprising when its disadvantages are considered. The plot is a clumsy one. The heroine is one of the grand untrained class of young ladies who are surely becoming very common in this conventional nineteenth century of ours, they are so frequently to be met with in our novels. Maude is the same character as that which Willie Collins has made such capital out of, under different circumstances in his “No Name,” as Magdalen Vanstone. The only difference is owing entirely to change of circumstances. Her step-father, Mr. Langley, the heavy villain of the piece, is a merchant at Montevideo, who treats his wife so badly that she leaves him, taking with her two children, Maude and Mr. Langley's own daughter Lilia. When the mother dies she leaves the children to the care of their uncle Rosetti, who is one of the Italian liberators, and a very fine character indeed. Maude is unfortunately heir to a large fortune, which induces her step-father to carry her off to England with a view to making her marry his own partner. She loves her cousin, uncle Rosetti's son, and the title of the book is doubtless derived from his twice losing sight of his promised bride, who is subjected to a persecution by her cruel step-father. Of course she does not marry the partner; and equally of course she does marry the cousin, but the working out of the characters is the charm of the book, which would be of little worth did it depend only upon its plot for interest.
The “Schoolmaster of Alton," by Kenner Deene, is a book by a new author, and although possessed of many faults it has virtues enough to make us very sanguine as to the writer's ultimate success as a novelist, Although not a remarkable book, it has some remarkable features about it, not the least of which is the ease of its conversational parts. Here, where most young writers fail signally, the author is singularly successful, and although sometimes there is too much attempt to shew off this power, on the whole it does much to render the book as readable as it is. In conception, if less complicated than “Twice Lost," it is more thoroughly grasped as a whole, and wrought into a more consistent work of art. The hero is the Schoolmaster of Alton, of course, and is a well managed, if not a usually-to-be-met-with character. He falls in love with a girl who is beautiful, rich, saucy, and fast; but really, perhaps, the least unpleasant and the most amusing of all the specimens of the fast young lady to which modern fiction has yet introduced us. What the end of the tale is it is unnecessary for us to inform the experienced novel reader of the day, but the management of the details is not commonplace and is often unusually clever. On the whole as a fast novel it is good, and promises if the author is careful to lead to something much better still.
Of “The Ring of Amasis” we should have been inclined to say nothing but for two reasons, the first, that it bears on its title page the now well-known and highly appreciated name of Owen Meredith ; and the second that it is written in language whose beauty almost makes us forget that it is expended on what is, at least, worthless nonsense very often. The work is professedly that of a German professor, translated by Owen Meredith, and for the credit of the great name which of right belongs to that author, and even for that lesser one which he has made
his own, we hope that his connexion with the book is limited to its translation. It might not be any disgrace to a mystical old German Professor to have indulged in such an amount of tiresome jargon as we here meet with : but we cannot say we at all relish the idea of one bearing the name of Lytton, and yet more of one who could write “Lucile" descending so far as to write anything of the sort. The language in which the book is written is very fine, or perhaps we should rather say is remarkable for its simple sweetness, aud we regret exceedingly that it should have been wasted on anything so unworthy of it as “The Ring of Amasis."
“ Denise," by the author of “Mademoiselle Mori,” is a work which had almost stepped out of our month's catalogue-an accident which would have deprived us of the pleasure of speaking in high praise of the new work of an old favourite. Those who have read the former novel, to which we refer, and by which the author seems willing meanwhile to be known, will hail with pleasure the appearance of another novel from the same peaceful and pleasing pen. In · Deníse” they will not, we venture to say, be disappointed. It has all the claims, and fewer faults, than its predecessor; and is, in fact, just such a well-toned healthy novel as we could wish to see in the hands of the young of either sex, but especially of young ladies.
There are, of course, a host of minor novels, some of which are weak, some injurious, and not a few twaddle, with these it is unnecessary for us to load our pages, although the publishers have ventured upon loading their shelves with them.
The third part of Bishop Colenzo's Critical Examination of the “Pentateuch and Book of Joshua” is now before the public. With the preface, which has been widely reprinted, many of our readers are most likely already familiar, and the impression left upon their minds will probably have been in a greater or less degree favourable to the Bishop's cause. Virulence and heat in controversy is of all ways the most effect, ual in removing sympathy from ours and carrying it to the other side, and this Bishop Colenzo fully appreciates, while it is to be regretted that the same has not been done by his opponents. In this way we think it more than probable that the third part of the “Critical Examination” will receive a degree of popularity which it does not intrinsically merit. It relates wholly to the book of Deuteronomy, which the Bishop endeavours to prove not only to be historically inaccurate, but to be in fact neither more nor less than a pious fraud palmed off upon King Josiah by Jeremiah the prophet, who he supposes to have written it, and Hilkiah the high priest who introduced it to the young king as one of the books of the great Jewish lawgiver. The Bishop's arguments are clearly stated, and therefore easily understood, but we cannot say that they seem by any means sufficiently strong for his purpose. We do not agree with those who would pooh, pooh, all arguments that appear small, as it is in small matters that criticism of the most erudite character has generally shewn itself; but we do think some of Dr. Colenzo's arguments not only to rest on small matters, but to be in themselves absolutely puerile. As for instance bis objection to the text (chap. i. verse 1) where the words occur-" These be the words which Moses spake unto all Israel,” that the voice of Moses could not possibly have been heard by all Israel at the same time. Or again, to the 6th verse of the same
chapter-" Jehovah, our God, spake unto us in Horeb," when, as Dr. Colenzo objects, the whole generation was dead to whom the law was actually delivered. Such objections as these, are we think greatly calculated to injure the authority of any book professing to be a calm and fair critical enquiry, and we do not think it says much for the Bishop's judginent that he should have put such forward. All of criticism that is of any real value in the part now published is what writers such as DeWette and Ewald have written, put into a popular form ; for really all that Colenzo himself has added would, it seems to us, have borne leaving out without any injury to the book in any sense whatever.
“Lives of the Archbishops of York," by the Rev. W. H. Dixon, will form a good companion to Dr. Hook's “Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury.” There is no great similarity of treatment observable in the books, but as both the reverend authors undertake their task with somewhat similar ideas as to its demands and uses, there is marked similarity in the general scope of their plan. “The Archbishops of Canterbury” is, as many of our readers may be aware, a very delightful book, and the record of the sister Province's Archbishops seems to be scarcely less interesting. When these two are completed, a very valuable assistance will have been supplied to the student of English history, and one whose want must have been much felt.
“The first year of the American War," by E. A. Pollard, is by no means a pleasant book. Its author is the Editor of the “Richmond : Examiner," and has, therefore, the advantage of knowing a great deal that is worth telling ; but unfortunately he seems to be a very unpleasant man, and to have imbibed more than an ordinary amount of that virulent hatred, which it is not perhaps wonderful that the Confederates have conceived for their late brethren of the Glorious Union. The book, too, is written for Americans rather than for Englishmen, hence it contains much both in language and in matter which is either uninteresting or positively provoking to Englishmen. To the student of the great convulsion not yet at an end in America, the book will undoubtedly be of deep interest and of great use, and we cannot help hoping that some Englishman may be led to take up the subject, as we shall then probably get a history which it may not be so unpleasant for us to read as this of Mr. Pollard's.
“War Pictures from the South,” by Colonel Estvan, who has served in the Southern Armies for some time, and taken part in much that he relates, might naturally be expected to furnish something much pleasanter than the work of the Richmond journalist, of whose work we have just spoken. In some few respects, too, this is the case. Some of the “ War Pictures” are real pictures of actual fighting, and have, as it were, the stirring feeling of the battle-field still hanging about them as you read. These form, however, only one part of the book; and so it is by far the best and pleasantest part. We could heartily wish he had extended it, so as to fill up the space he has devoted to such questions as the origin of the war, the inauguration of President Lincoln-for whom, by the way, he seems to have an unusually great respect and other like topics, on which he is not at home, and which can only, by a stretch of courtesy, come under the denomination of “War Pictures from the South.” On these matters, too, it is evident that he writes for a purpose ; and what that purpose is may be easily discovered by a reference to the work of