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her cousin, but was divorced soon afterwards, on her own application, on the ground of alleged infidelity on the part of the husband. She has lived a good deal in most of the German capitals—mixing chiefly with the class to which she naturally belongs; and she has visited most of the principal countries of Europe, in company with the attached friend to whom Faustine is dedicated. She has one child, a girl of fifteen or sixteen. She herself is about five-and-thirty, or a little more. Two or three years ago she had the misfortune to lose an eye, through (as she asserts in her Reisebreife) the ignorance or inattention of the operator. The leading events of her life are mentioned, because her style of thought is palpably modified by them; and because her individuality, so to speak, is constantly presented to the mind of the reader, though without the ordinary repelling effect of egotism.
Madame Hahn-Hahn is already the author of six novels, three books of travels, and a little dramatic poem which she is pleased to call an Arabesque. It is our present purpose to consider her exclusively as a novelist; but we must begin by apologizing for the term.
Towards the end of her second work, she complains that the word, novelle, was added by the publisher without her leave to the title-page of her first. • As I write no novels, I do not • choose to usurp the title, and this book must try to make its way without it. I hope it will not be valued the less
on that account, for I do not make the disclaimer out of modesty:? If this be so, we are unable to guess why she disclaims at all; for the only peculiarity which distinguishes such a book as Aus der Gesellschaft, or Der Rechte, from the ordinary run of novels, (always excepting their intrinsic merit,) is the comparative carelessness of the writer regarding plot, which is hardly a subject of self-congratulation. But we will not quarrel with the lady about a word ; there strikes us to be as much action, (unity of action, too,) and as studied, careful, complete development of character in her best fictions, as in many whose title to be called novels no one ever dreamed of questioning; but undoubtedly it will be most favourable to her, and equally agreeable to us, to consider them as a series of studies on the feelings; or a succession of characters and situations illustrative of the great problems of domestic life —its pains, pleasures, mutability, discontent-the waywardness of the affections, the inconstancy of the imagination, the insufficiency of all things human to satisfy the eternal cravings of the heart. Considered in this point of view, it would be difficult to form an undue estimate of their merit; so well chosen, and at the same time so
varied, are both scenes and actors. In one of her single volume books, there are seldom less than four or five sets of people making each other happy or miserable, yet no two of them bring about the proposed result in the same manner. As for heroes and heroines, she can hardly be said to have any ; and she has so little turn for melodramatic display, that it is only when the story is drawing to a conclusion, and some show of unity is imperatively required, that she places her men and women in marked contrast, or attempts to throw them into groups. They talk more than they act, and feel more than they talk; for her strength consists in tracing the influence of time, place, and circumstance upon the heart. She delights to combat the notion that the affections can be subjected to the will, and is never more at home than when expounding the rationale of change, or suggesting excuses for inconstancy.
The scenes are laid in the higher orders of society, and almost all her characters, with the exception of a stray Artist or so, are taken from them. We have heard her blamed on this account, and accused of undue fastidiousness; but there strikes us to be no foundation for the charge. It was quite natural that she should take the materials immediately within her reach, especially when these were best adapted to her main purpose—the frank and full exposure of the moral maladies peculiar to persons of her own rank, with a view to the patient endurance of them; for she holds out small prospect of a cure. She moves too easily and habitually amongst her ' Hoch-Wohlgebornen' to produce even a momentary impression resembling that left by the authors of our silver-fork' school; and although she is evidently attached to aristocratical institutions, we have discovered no traces of what can fairly be designated as illiberality. The native nobility of mind is never refused a place alongside of the conventional nobility of birth; genius is mentioned as the universal leveller: knowledge, refinement, and self respect, as the best titles to consideration in society. In fact, her tone and manner, as well as her selection and treatment of subjects, are precisely those of a high-bred gentlewoman; and it is by no means an insignificant, though incidental, recommendation of her books, that we collect from them a sufficient knowledge of the habits, tastes, feelings, and opinions of the German noblesse, conveyed in the mode least open to suspicion—i. e. unconsciously. We have a theory, that no one who enters a country for the express purpose of describing it, sees things in their proper natural relation to each other; and as most of the authors of what are called ' fashionable novels' never get beyond the precincts, they are still more liable to fall into exaggerations and mistakes than travellers.
Another characteristic of this writer is, that she never wanders beyond the circle of private life into questions of government or legislation. This alone strikingly, and in our opinion not disadvantageously, distinguishes her from a writer who has not unfrequently been named with her. Madame Hahn-Hahn has been called the George Sand' of Germany; and that there are a few superficial points of analogy between her and Madame Dudevant, is undeniable. Both bave written novels and travels; both have been unlucky in marriage: but here the parallel must stop. When we open their books and look a little below the surface, we find ample materials for contrast and none whatever for comparison.
To bring the two within the same category, we must begin by laying entirely out of the account Madame Dudevant's later productions, those of the mystical religious character; in many of which, mixed up with much that is obscure, wild, or faulty, it is impossible to help recognising a wonderful grasp of thought, combined with poetic power of a very high order. The parallel, if there is to be one, must rest on such books as Indiana,' " Jacques,' and Lelia.' Now these are, for the most part, open or covert attacks on laws, rules, and ob- i servances of all sorts. When people are unhappy, it is rarely, according to her, that they have themselves to thank for it. is some unequal law which depresses the poor-some artificial code of manners and morals which embarrasses the rich. All our suffering proceeds from causes which a more enlightened public opinion would remove; and even when individual hearts, minds, and dispositions, are in fault, their aberrations are attributed to the corruptions or false notions of society.
We bear willing testimony to the comprehensive views, the warm sympathies, the hatred of wrong, the thirst for truth, which distinguish all Madame Dudevant's books : nor are we prepared to say that she is altogether an immoral writer. Her ends are noble, though the means may be ill chosen ; she raises and elevates, if she occasionally misleads; and she never loses sight of the best foundation of all morals—the importance of self-sacrifice, the necessity of mutual forbearance, the healing, soothing, peace promoting virtue of charity. Still it is a dangerous doctrine to propound, that much of what the world calls crime may be nothing more than mistake or misfortune; and though prolonged and patient suffering exercises a strengthening, purifying effect upon the soul, it requires more of the esoteric philosophy than falls to the lot of many, to appreciate Lelia's meaning, when she silences her young admirer's scruples regarding her friend Trenmor by the remark-Ecoutez, jeune homme, il a subi cinq ans de travaux forcés.
There is nothing at all resembling this in Madame Ilahn-Hahn. Her motto rather seems to be:
• How small, of all that human hearts endure,
That part which laws or kings can cause or cure.' She feels as keenly as any man or woman of genius that ever lived, the frequent injustice of opinion; and af rare intervals, something like a despairing cry breaks from her, at the wearing, wasting monotony of life. But her settled conviction is, that the world is a place of trial, an arena on which the best and wisest are playing at cross-purposes; man never is, but always to be, blest. In youth we are unhappy, because we cannot anticipate the future ; in more advanced age, because we cannot renovate the past; and it is a part of the inscrutable design of Provi. dence, that reality should fall short of hope, and enjoyment end in satiety. She does not say that our hearts are desperately wicked, but she says that they are desperately fickle; instead of telling us to obey their capricious impulses, she expressly tells us to bridle them; and she inculcates the due discharge of the domestic duties as the best sedative for restlessness. Even the weak wavering Ulrich, the slave of passion, is not allowed the ordinary indulgence of attributing his loss of peace to the laws of marriage or the regulations of society.
«« You have told me (says Ulrich, in a letter to a friend) that you have heen acquainted with passion, but tell me, have you pursued it-or rather, has it pursued you—to the complete disorganization or paralysis of your being ? Tell me, is it my unlucky peculiarity, or that of all men of sensibility, to be encircled and crushed by that boa ? There are moments when I rise against myself, when I would sain shake off, at any cost, a yoke which my weakness has imposed upon me; for others shake it off. I am now in such a moment. My whole course of conduct appears to me unworthy and unmanly. I ask myself: Are there, then, no honours and duties, no merits and distinctions, no friends, male or female, in the world, with whom life may be passed suitably, reasonably and, so to speak, right pleasantly? Have I not my beautiful Malans* on the beautiful Rhine, sufficient for all the wants of domestic, as well as all the refinements of social life, full of recollections of my father, who loved and adorned it, because he had there spent many a happy year with my mother. Am I not myself married to a pretty, amiable woman, who requires nothing but a little attention on my part, to become the best of wives and the tenderest of mothers ? Is it not inconceivable perversity, or criminal blindness, to possess so many elements of happiness, and not to be able so to order and govern them, as
* The name of a country-house. VOL, LXXIX. NO. CLIX.
to mould them into a frm, sure, complete happiness ? Ought I not to collect myself once for all ? take my heart to task, call in my wishes from their restless aimless wanderings, change my unattainable dreams of bliss for the attainable peaceful enjoyments of reality, and instantly return from the plains of the Don to the Rheingau and my
home? Home, my friend is not that a sweet name for a sweeter thing? Does not the foundation and keystone of all human exertion lie within the narrow limits of domesticity—in its kindly, cordial, contented, and yet widely-branching influence ? Every other loosens the bonds between us and our fellows, because it isolates us in our egotism: let the love of glory, the thirst of knowledge, the pursuit of art, or even the loftiest ambition, boast as they may of their philanthropy, of their brotherhood with the human race, and their exertions in its cause. As for all those theoretical systems of_philanthropy, which profess to establish amity with Hottentots and Esquimaux, and bring about cordiality between nations, while the founder hates and despises the individual men in his
mmediate neighbourhood, and harbours envy and jealousy within his own breast, I make no great account of them. The practical one of St Vincent de Paul, who took off the chains of the galley slaves, and bore them in their stead—that I can conceive, and the Saint was lucky in having hit upon it. I possess no such capability of self-sacrifice, and very few do. Since, however, no thorough improvement of character is possible, unless our charity and contpassion, our patience and readiness for self-sacrifice, are tried,--for this very reason a circle has been marked out for us, in which we may practise them for our own happiness, and, therefore, willingly and easily; namely, the family circle. Yes, God has ordered man's destiny easily and pleasingly! he places each of us before the entrance of a magic circle, full of such power and such beauty that egotism itself loses its ugly form within it, since it is there changed into a feeling which belongs to the mine, and no longer to the I. There is full contentment; reward in the sacrifice; blessing for the exertion; consolation hand-in-hand with care, and refresliment alongside of labour. Instead, now, of taking possession of this happiness without more ado, we look round, and consider whom we shall introduce into our paradise, and there may be one amongst ten thousand who does not demand from God an Eve after his own special ordering. See now, this demand thrusts us far away from the portal. Every thing assumes a different form; the kindly circle is changed into a prison, where intolerable burdens and miseries await us-into a rowing bench, on which two wretches are chained down, whose sufferings are turned into downright martyrdom by their compelled proximity. And all this because we never, or too late, meet with the indivi. dual woman whom we should wish to make our wife! Had God given us nothing but sound sense and understanding, this would never come to pass ; and every sensible, pretty woman, would answer our expectations, and satisfy us. But, to our sorrow, we have also a heart; and that is not so easily satisfied. It is too tender, or too wilful-enough, it despises the simple domestic fare, and hungers for ambrosia. In this everlasting hunger it grows faint, Faintness of heart paralyses the whole