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at all, and to engage the attention of simple minds, must more or less task the imagination of the writer. Provided they are natural in their incidents, and practical in their tendency, let them be as beautiful, as full of fair and attractive images, as possible. This is one point on which all of the Clifton Tales are, in our opinion, somewhat deficient. They are all more or less prosy in their story: occasionally something good and interesting occurs in their dialogue; but the story itself hardly carries the reader on in any of them with sufficient interest. We are convinced that the thirst for what is poetic and beautiful as well as good is not confined to persons of external refinement and highly-educated taste; it exists in every mind, we believe, till it is vulgarised by familiarity with deformity, or brutalised by open sin. It is one of the many false positions of Protestantism, to have first dried up all the channels of softening and refining influence from the poor, and then to deny the capability of its victims to receive such influence. It was in a very different way that the builders and decorators of our old churches worked in their day for the poor. Pictures and glorious windows were then the only books within the poor man's reach; it is unnecessary to describe how lavish those old artists were of beauty and imagination in their noble works. Were it only a simple window in a parish church, on which no eye might rest more cultivated than that of its rustic worshippers,-form, expression, colour, were all made as beautiful, and in their measure as perfect, as a skilful hand and a loving heart and a glowing imagination could make them. In like manner with printed books: if we could command the services of a Scott or a Fouqué, we should not think their genius thrown away in dedicating it to the poor. Let books written for them show forth the beauty of religion, in its worship, its missionary achievements, its influence on character, its triumphs over misfortune, evil habits, mean and low ideas; in its victory over death. We are much mistaken if such themes as these will not give employment, to their full extent, to the most mature intellect and the brightest imagination. Let them have full scope in such a work, without stint or grudging, fully, freely lavished on so worthy an object.
The poor are, by their very necessities, shut out from much that is refining and consoling in external nature, in the world of art: green fields, sublime mountains, the silent eloquence of the great masters of painting and sculpture, are things unknown to the million workers in our factories and mines. But something of their refinement and solace may be reflected into the poor little chamber where the child of toil takes his meal or
his rest by the friendly hand of a genial writer. What though a rampart of dingy brick rises high and dark within twenty feet of his little window; or a sable curtain of smoke and fog excludes, for weeks at a time, the companionship of the blue sky and the glittering stars? What though he is surrounded with a moral atmosphere of coarseness and vice; with oaths instead of music; gin and tobacco for perfumes; the sight of the deformed victims of sin offending his sense day after day? The sacraments of grace defend him from the corrupting taint; and his story-book transports him away from this squalid den to a scene more congenial to his pure mind. He becomes familiar, through its medium, with the virtues of patience, hope, and courage, in daily operation; the bond that unites him to the good and the faithful every where is strengthened; the glories of the Church in history, and at the present time, grow familiar to him; he forgets his cross for a little, while his friendly author conducts him into Catholic lands, where men are not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; where Christ's vicar lives like a prince, as he is, with the earthly as well as the heavenly power of his Master abiding in him. The heart of the poor workman expands as he reads; he closes the book thanking God from his very heart that He has called him to be a Catholic.
Other qualifications also must concur to equip the popular writer for his mission. He must have a strong and deep sympathy for the persons for whom he is to work. He must study them as they are; must find out what interests them most,-where the key to their affections and motives lies. Their very habits and modes of speech must be, to a certain extent, familiar to him; he must be no stranger to their simple virtues; nor ignorant of their weak side, or their prevailing and commonest temptations. Otherwise he will work in the dark; he will write either above their understanding, or so immensely below it as to repel them quite as much. In a word, the successful writer for the poor must also be their frequent visitor; his study must not be the only place where they meet him; he must quit it often, to pursue his studies from the life among the living members of Christ's mystical body. This of itself involves some labour, and trouble, and patience, and charity. No one who grudges these will ever excel in this good work.
What is done for the poor, however, does not end with the poor. It is good work done for the rich also, if they but knew it. Their artificial mode of life separates them too much from their humble brother; but a portrait of his virtues will win them to take some little interest in him perhaps ;
the picture of his peculiar trials and temptations will induce them to do something to relieve him. Add to this, that it is always good for men artificially reared to be carried back now and then to simple principles, such principles as ought to be found in popular books for the poor. A simple diet is a cure for the diseases incident to a pampered appetite; abstract disquisitions on virtue and morality are hardly worth our simple illustration of either in the lives of the poor. To quote the language of a dear friend of ours, an enthusiast in the study of the poor, when lately writing to us on this subject," People want to be told that it is no condescension to lay their hearts side by side with the hearts of the poor; it does a rich man good for a time to read a story which causes him to lose sight of his purple and fine linen, and stand with the poor man before the heart-judging God."
There is one branch of this particular style of writing which we think, in its own proper limits, well calculated to be of service to the cause of truth; we mean, the use of comic humour in exposing absurdities which are arrayed against truth. The tale of Stumpingford is the best illustration of this kind of writing that has ever come in our way, surpassing, as we think, even the keen satires which used to issue from the pen of the Rev. Mr. Paget, so well known to Puseyite readers. We should be sorry for the health or spirits of the man who could hear the first twenty pages of Stumpingford well read without laughing as heartily as he ever did over Hudibras or Don Quixote. It is a faculty, however, this of humorous writing, which must be employed sparingly, and with due regard to the objects against which its shafts are directed. In this instance the eccentricities of the Protestant Alliance are a legitimate field for any amount of ridicule. The end of the tale, however, changes from comedy to tragedy.
One word to the buyers as well as to the writers of books seems not out of place here. Unless people will buy, authors cannot write, booksellers cannot publish what is written, except at a ruinous sacrifice of time and capital. We would urge it as a duty on all who have the means of doing so to assist in this good work, at least by buying and distributing as many copies of these Tales as they can afford. If they cannot write stories for the poor, they can assist those who are able and willing in this effectual way, and may thus lay claim to a share in their merit.
God speed the work, then, we say, so auspiciously begun, by putting it into the hearts of our ablest writers to do something for His glory in this important field. Their work will
last beyond their own short day; it will stand and fructify long after the brain that thought and the hand that wrote have mouldered into dust.
NOLTE'S REMINISCENCES OF A MERCHANT'S LIFE.
Fifty Years in both Hemispheres; or, Reminiscences of a Merchant's Life. By Vincent Nolte, late of New Orleans. Translated from the German. Trübner and Co.
WHERE have we been living all our lives, that we have never heard of Mr. Vincent Nolte, late of New Orleans? Pottering over five-pound notes, and thinking a few hundreds a year a respectable income, we have been all the while imagining that with newspapers and penny-a-liners and "own correspondents" innumerable, we must surely have heard something of every moneyed potentate, or hero of romance, in these days when every body knows every thing about every body else. If any person has remained utterly unknown to the rest of the world, surely, we think to ourselves, he must belong to the simply respectable and unadventurous multitude. And least of all have we looked for romance, vicissitude, and the other materials for a surprising history, in the dingy chambers of the Rothschilds and the Barings. Nothing less than the unhesitating pen of a Disraeli could invest the inhabitants of those unknown recesses with the interest of a novel, or presume to pass a Sidonia upon the world as a living, tangible, and visible reality.
Nevertheless, though he has nothing of the "Sidonia," here has this Mr. Vincent Nolte-of whom we will wager any reasonable sum, that not one man in ten thousand in this newsmongering country has ever heard-been tumbling to and fro for the last half-century between the new and old worlds; consorting with ministers, millionaires, monks, soldiers, naturalists, cotton-dealers, Indians, royalists, and revolutionists; throwing about his millions as unconcernedly as we treat our "coppers;" and experiencing every vicissitude of human life: duelling, starving, scandal-carrying, intriguing, money-lending,-even to the Pope, and carrying out commercial and monetary transactions of a gigantic magnitude, appearing to us ordinary beings almost as impossible as the transmutations of a fairy tale.
Born at Leghorn, in 1779, of German parents of the com
mercial class, Mr. Nolte was kicking about the world all his long life. At twenty-four years old, he was questioned by Napoleon. He fought under General Jackson against the English at New Orleans, and became a naturalised American citizen. In Florida he was wrecked; in London he had private audiences of Queen Victoria, and was clapped into the Queen's Bench prison; at New Orleans he had the yellow fever; at Malta he was suspected of having the plague; at Venice he translated some English title-deeds for the monks of San Lorenzo, and starved on bread and cheese with the payment thus earned; in Sicily he peeped into the crater of Mount Etna; in Austria he was the confidential adviser of the prime-minister Von Küebec. At least he says all this, and much more; and whether or not he tells his story truly, at least we must acknowledge of it, speaking politely in Italian, that se non vero, e ben trovato; or, in the more homely vernacular, that if he tells lies, he tells them uncommonly well.
Not that Mr. Nolte's book, like most others, does not contain a great deal that is uninteresting; not in the way of wordspinning, but because much that he relates is dull to those who are not specially interested in financial speculations. The very names of Hope, Baring, Labouchere, and Ouvrard, are, it is true, enough to fill the ears of the imagination with the jingle of sovereigns or the rustle of bank-notes; but after all, the rises and falls in the cotton and money-markets are not very exciting reading to those who have neither speculated in the one, nor can possibly turn a penny by the other.
As for the autobiographer himself, his character is not difficult to gather. He must have been an active, shrewd, ready, clever, good-humoured, and unprincipled fellow, so far as Christian morals are concerned; though we dare say he passed muster most respectably upon 'Change, and was accounted rather a jolly dog at a dinner-table. He seems to have taken the ups and downs of life with the philosophic coolness of a man with an easy temperament, a good digestion, and an india-rubber conscience. Altogether, he may fairly rank among the singularities of the human species.
He began mercantile life at Leghorn; but from the first enlivened its drudgery with gaiety and foppery. In those days the English mode was all the rage with the young Italian beaux of that part of Italy. He thus describes his tailoring tastes, and the paternal example which made his propensities almost hereditary:
"Neglect of my office-duties was a natural consequence. went after all sorts of amusements, drew caricatures on my letterstand in the counting-room, frolicked for hours together with my