« ZurückWeiter »
hasty and unintelligible explanation, he hastens home, where his search is again unsuccessful. So far Arden is his own biographer.
After a time, Morvale, by means of a miniature worn by Lucy, discovers that she is the daughter of Arden and Mary. He is about to send for Arden to inform him of this fact, when he makes the additional discovery, that Calantha is the nameless lady to whom his friend had been betrothed in Italy, and that his desertion of her was the occasion of that profound melancholy which was gradually killing her. He sends for Arden, and receives him by the death-bed of Calantha. His Indian nature thirsts for revenge, and, after making known his last discovery to the man whom he now considers his deadliest foe, draws a dagger, but is arrested in the act of striking by the entrance of Lucy, who throws herself between them. The relationship between Lucy and Arden is revealed, and she goes home with her father. Morvale, still struggling with his savage thirst for vengeance, wanders over the country on foot, and at last meets with an old man who converts him to Christianity. A chance occurring, he saves Arden from drowning, but leaves him before he has recovered his consciousness, though not before he has been seen and recognized by Lucy. Arden at length dies. By an informality in his will, Lucy is disinherited, and at this juncture Morvale returns in season to have the story end canonically with a wedding.
Our brief sketch does no kind of justice, of course, to the narrative skill of the author, which is, we are inclined to think, his strong point. But the comparative anatomist will see at a glance, that the skeleton is in many parts inconsistent with itself. Even granting (a large concession), that the hereditary savage in Morvale should have withstood all the refining influences of a high artificial culture, and the Mephistophelic polish acquired by attrition with the world, there is still a geographical blunder in the character. It is far less in accordance with what we know of the mild nature of the Hindoo, than with the less tractable idiosyncrasy of our American Indian, which takes the color of the white man's civilization only as a paint through which the Maker's original red shows itself at the first opportunity. But after making this allowance, we feel that the author has not used the character to the best advantage. This fresh, unfettered nature might have been brought into fine contrast with Arden, the artificial
product of the club and the saloon. Indeed, this seems to have been the author's original design, but in point of fact there is little substantial difference between the two characters as they are exhibited to us in the narrative, and they might change places without any great shock to the reader's sense of fitness.* Our author makes up his characters. His mind is not of that creative quality which holds the elements of different characters, as it were, in solution, allowing each to absorb only that which is congenial to itself, by a kind of elective affinity. The only savage propensity of Morvale's nature which is brought to bear upon the story is the sentiment of revenge, and for this the motive is not sufficient. Why should Morvale wish, or how could he expect, that Arden should have committed what would have been at least moral bigamy by marrying Calantha? If not, what injury was there to avenge? The story, in fact, ends with Arden's discovery of his daughter; the whole of Morvale's conduct after this event seems to be an unnatural excrescence. The author may plead that he intended to convey a moral; but the moral of a story should always be infused into it, or rather should exhale out of every part of it, like the odor of a flower. It is but an incumbrance, when wafered on. Besides, the means by which he manages the conversion of his hero are ludicrously insufficient to the end. If Horace's rule be true, that a god must not be brought in unless the knot refuses to be unloosed by simpler means, then it follows, a fortiori, that, when brought, the god should be competent to the task in hand. It is absurd that Morvale, after holding out so long against more natural inducements, should be converted at last by a very prosy sermon from an old man whom he meets under a hedge, and whom he would have been much more likely to consider a bore than an apostle. The author should have remembered his master Pope's criticism upon Milton. It would have been much more to the purpose, had Morvale been regenerated by his love for Lucy. As the dénouement is managed, we feel very much as when we first discovered that the red man of our boyish
In his tragedy of "Luria," Mr. Browning has finely worked out an idea similar in kind, though with tragic, and not satirical, contrast. We are glad to recognize in the last work of this very promising dramatist a more assured touch, and a chastened, though by no means diminished, vigor and originality.
imagination, the one hero of Cooper under a dozen aliases, "The stoic of the woods, the man without a tear,"
was powerless to resist the persuasion of a string of glass beads.
We will now proceed to extract some of the passages which have struck us most favorably in reading the book, and which give a fair idea of the author's manner and spirit. In the first part of the poem there are a few sketches of well-known public characters, which, as they are complete in themselves, and have no connection with the story, we will quote first. They do not assume to be complete full-lengths, but must be understood as hit off with a pencil on the crown of a hat. We omit that of Sir Robert Peel, who seems to have puzzled our author, and come to the Duke of Wellington.
"Next, with loose rein and careless canter view
a drill! - pp. 34, 35.
O'Connell next passes across our magic-lantern.
"But who, scarce less by every gazer eyed,
So sturdy Cromwell push'd broad-shoulder'd on;
So brawny Cleon bawl'd his Agora down;
And large-limb'd Mahmoud clutch'd a Prophet's crown! "Ay, mark him well! the schemer's subtle eye, The stage-mime's plastic lip your search defyHe, like Lysander, never deems it sin
To eke the lion's with the fox's skin;
Vain every mesh this Proteus to enthrall,
Elude all danger, but defy all laws,'
- pp. 36, 37. The drawing of the present premier is still more happily touched.
"Next cool, and all unconscious of reproach,
Comes the calm 'Johnny who upset the coach.'
It is impossible to do justice to the poem by means of detached passages.
pp. 38, 39. narrative parts of the We shall glean a de
scriptive passage here and there, as a fairer course toward the
author, these being at least complete in themselves. The following verses, conveying the feelings suggested by night in London, are striking.
"The Hours steal on- and o'er the unquiet might
But Night, discrown'd and sever'd from her twin,
The first is con
tained in a very few lines, but it is natural and touching. Arden has returned to England, and is seeking Mary at her old home.
"Behold her home once more!
Her home! a desert!
still, though rank and wild,
On the rank grass the heedless floweret smiled;
Still by the porch you heard the ungrateful bee,
Still brawled the brooklet's unremembering glee." - p. 92.
The other is an autumnal landscape. But it must be observed that the author never paints directly from nature, but from the reflection of her in his own mind.
"Now Autumn closes on the fading year,
The chill wind moaneth through the woodlands sere;
The hum of summer's populace is still!
Hush'd the rife herbage, mute the choral tree,