Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

follow them in direct connexion with one another. This is a success which Sir Herbert Maxwell has not attained. We are not disposed to be severely critical on the subject, because no one who has attempted any work of the kind can fail to know the difficulty from many causes that there is in securing this result. Probably most of the readers of military operations do not trouble themselves to follow them so closely as to be greatly affected by this inconvenience. The number is daily increasing in England who do care for such close accuracy. In their name we cannot help raising a protest, however ineffectual it may be, as to any work in which this essential condition for serious study has not been supplied.

There is no book which, at the present time, could be more valuable than one which should give us a complete record of Wellington's career.

Just when our military institutions are exposed to a severe trial the record of these experiences of the past are most important. Point by point, in reference to many of the questions which are before us at the present moment, illustrations may be taken from the career of the, Duke of Wellington of what we need, and of mistakes that are liable to be made. Even more useful, however, is it that we should have before us the presentation of a man who stood four-square, and did not bend to every wave of current opinion. Democracy, in so far as we are at the present moment under a democracy, is a form of government; and, just as in dealing with a monarch, a statesman may either seek his own ends by flattering him, or may be a loyal servant to his sovereign by putting the truth before him, whether it be palatable or not, so the same duties attend the service of a democracy. Happily for us there are many circumstances in our constitution as it exists which tend to bring before our statesmen the duty of not merely seeking their own ends by slavishly pandering to the humour of the hour. The fact that they are loyal servants of the Queen, and that the Queen represents the historical unity of the nation and of the empire at large, does in itself tend to bring before them a standard of duty which is something other than the mere vote-catching which may be to their own advantage. Too often the modern biographer is so entirely affected by the current opinion around him that, in bringing out the career of a great statesman, he fails to realise that there is any other possible standard by which it can be judged than by what be calls his reputation' that is to say, by the success with which he secured a majority of votes. This standard will never do to measure the man who stood four-square to every shifting gust of public fancy. The best service that could have been done for us at this time would have been to show how splendid a reward it is that time with its revenges brings to the man

"Who let the turbid streams of rumour flow

Thro' either babbling world of high and low;' and steadily through them all held on the way of duty as he saw it. We are mistaken if, despite all comment and omission, enough does not appear in the story of the life, with all its human errors and mistakes, to be a beacon of encouragement to statesmen among us who look to some other reward than those which seem to so many the only ones worth seeking. When one has said all that is to be said for and against any of the details of Wellington's career, military or political, the one conviction remains. There stood a man.

Art. VI.--1. Paris. By AUGUSTUS J. C. HARE. Two

volumes. London: Allen, 1900. 2. The Stones of Paris. By BENJAMIN and CHARLOTTE

MARTIN. Two volumes. London: Smith, Elder, & Co.,

1900. 3. Paris as it is. By KATHARINE DE FORREST. Paris :

Brentano, 1900. 4. The Paris of To-day. By RICHARD WHITEING. (The

Century Magazine.') New York: The Century Co. London: Macmillan, 1900. L IKE every other European capital the French metropolis

is an agglomeration of many towns, villages, and districts. Yet the first impression of Paris is that of an extraordinary, almost a spectacular, unity. White, spacious, full of long perspectives, throughout it has the same air of ordered splendour, offering in every quarter glorious and varied prospects designed to be embraced in one ample, satisfied glance. There is nothing in Europe finer in its way than that green descent of the Champs-Elysées, which rises in the thickets of the Bois de Boulogne, and flows, a great river of foliage, on either side the Arc de Triomphe to lose itself in the noble space of the Place de la Concorde. Visit the Champs-Elysées in spring when the horse-chestnuts, in flower, up a stretch of two miles, are diversified by the lilac paulownias and pink and white hawthorns of the Avenue Gabriel and the Avenue du Bois. A ceaseless stream of carriages flows under the trees, and the bright parasols of the ladies make circles of light and colour as brilliant as the blossoms overhead. The London parks are as beautiful and horticulturally more interesting. But theirs is a different beauty, whose charm is in being aristocratic, reserved, set apart. And they lack the wide stretch of view, the perspective, the variety in unity which are the signs of Paris.

No London street can compare with that magnificent array of the Rue de Rivoli—that enormous regiment of stone * stretching for five miles, and presenting arms before the

Tuileries, as Thackeray has it—though, as Mr. Hare would sigh, the Tnileries know their place no more. A view more dear to the painter is that celebrated vista across the Luxembourg Gardens to the domed Pantheon on its northern hill. Close at hand the Avenue de l'Observatoire rears its solid masses of dark foliage, carved and clipped as if by a sculptor's hand. Nor let us forget, across the river, that sudden hill of Montmartre, rising misty at the end of some long gay plane-bordered boulevard, and bearing on its invisible summit, apparently in mid air, the dazzling white marble radiance of the Sacré-Coeur. None of these views compare with the banks and bridges of the Seine, especially beautiful east of Notre-Dame, where she sits splendid on her island with her buttresses outstretched like mighty wings, the river rippling round her grey green as cloven jade, while on the southern bank the spire of the Sainte-Chapelle springs up light as an angel's lance. To these historic prospects Paris adjoins this summer the perspective of the new Avenue Nicolas II., whose double colonnades lead from the ChampsElysées to the beautiful Pont Alexandre, and, across it, to the planted quincunxes of the Esplanade des Invalides, where, rising through the trees, the long grey palace lifts up its gilt and laurelled dome above the terrace full of flowers and cannon. Paris abounds in such views. They grasp the sight; they impose themselves upon our admiration with an obviousness that allows us no sense of our own shy complicity in our surrender. So public and spacious a beauty is scarcely_taking to an English eye. We dream of the bridge at Westminster and the towers half lost in the mist

- Dear God, the very houses seem asleep')- we recall the black zigzag streets and the primrose dapple that the gaslight casts on the grey of the rainy London pavements. But as we raise our eyes on the vast sunny spacious scene before us, bathed in that silvery Parisian atmosphere, so peculiar that a bird must surely know when he flies into the department of the Seine, suddenly we feel that in this very publicity lies the real secret of the charm of Paris.

Everything here is for everybody, and everybody is apparently at once the master of the house and the guest invited to a revel. The workmen in their blouses stand and gaze at the carriages driving past, with the sense that the pageant is for them, since the business of the rich is to provide a spectacle for the many. The very funerals are arranged to furnish forth the melancholy charm of a pious festival. No one in Paris lives or dies to himself alone. Here the individual is less and the aggregate more than in other places. Each man is proud to sink his own person in the sense of being part of a whole so charming, magnificent, and cheerful. One of the writers on our list writes, with that darting acuteness that redeems her slipshod negligence, not devoid of grace: ‘In Paris, life appears as some sort of 'immense outside thing, for ever going on, for which you are ' in no way personally responsible, but can dip down into

and take out your share, which, nevertheless, must in* variably be paid for.' Mr. Whiteing strikes the same note when he observes that the French have had a century's 'familiarity with the conception that the first duty of a community is to itself as a whole.' In fact, while every other great European capital is in reality organised for the benefit of a chosen few, the rival conception of society prevails in Paris ; in its distribution of art, comfort, pleasure, the chief care of the Government is the greatest good of the greatest number. The commonest workman in a blouse feels in place on the Boulevards, in the ChampsElysées, in the galleries of the Louvre; he knows that these are his possession; he moves in his larger home; he has a right there and cannot possibly be regarded as an intruder. The French have really achieved the nationalisation of pleasure, and the charm of Paris is the general enjoyment of life.

The result is obtained, no doubt, at the cost of a certain perfection of refinement. The question is, which do we prefer? The faultless pageant of carriages driving in Hyde Park between those miraculous azaleas which appear more artificial than any artificial flowers ? Or the great popular spectacle of the Avenue du Bois de Boulogne, where some of the handsomest equipages in Europe are jostled by millionaires in automobiles, shopboys on bicycles, country gigs driving out from Neuilly or Boulogne, and fifteen-penny fiacres—these last conveying, perhaps, a washerwoman with her basket of clothes, or perhaps (as we saw last week) an ex-royalty seated by a royal duke in front of two girlish future queens?

Mr. Hare prefers the aristocratic ideal. Not without dire foreboding can he contemplate the triumph of a democracy subversive of that old order which he loved. His books abound in faithful reminiscences of Louis Napoléon and the Empress Eugénie. He is not less eloquent in mourning Louis Seize. Sometimes we would pluck him by the sleeve and exclaim with Thackeray: ‘Let them pity him who will ; call him saint and martyr if you please; but a martyr to what principle was he? Did he frankly support either party in his kingdom, or cheat and tamper with botb?! Mr. Hare is a hero-worshipper. His two charming little volumes are a hagiography; in their sober black and red they have all the air of books of devotion! And, in fact, they commemorate the martyrdom

« НазадПродовжити »