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Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 132.djvu/360

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WEARINESS: A TALE FROM FRANCE.

applies to his sanitary work. He recognized one great difficulty in the way of sanitary reform, in the political power of the class who own unhealthy houses in small lots; he did not recognize the greater difficulty which lies in the general belief that to act upon such sanitary knowledge as exists is worth some care and trouble, but not much. However, he inspired many pious souls with a conviction that popular apathy on the subject was sinful.

But those things in which Kingsley succeeded were not the things which made his reputation, though some of them served to extend it. He made his reputation as a militant man of letters, fighting for certain social and religious beliefs, and his success must be finally gauged by the worth of his literary work, and of the ideas by which it was inspired. It is certain that ideas were more to Kingsley than to most of us; they supplied the support which he needed in his generous efforts, as society supplies the support which is needed for ordinary industry. The pathetic part of the problem is that the ideas which were the root of Kingsley's life were as far from being clear and stable as the ideas which are the fading flowers of the lives of common men. Upon the social side he attained, if not to an adequate expression, at least to a coherent doctrine. He set out with a keen appreciation of simplicity of life, of the worth of its common permanent elements, of the instability of a society most of whose members have no conscious share in its highest interests — all which he symbolized under the name democracy. He supplemented this perception without confusing it, when he came to realize that inherited station intelligently accepted is one of the best titles to authority — which will always be indispensable. The course of his political thought made Kingsley more conservative and less eager; the course of his religious thought made him more conservative and less confident; his trinitarian speculations faded away, though his trinitarian creed remained. As he grew older he preached positivism in observation, and optimism in feeling, more and more in an arbitrary way, with less and less pretence that the combination supplied a reasonable explanation of facts. Yet his theology is not worthless. He was one of the first to note the fatal tendency of an old creed to become a terminus ad quem instead of a terminus a quo, and to urge the fruitful method of confronting religious classics directly with the broad permanent facts of human experience, and the working hypotheses of virtuous lives.

Of his literary work we can speak with less hesitation. With little subtlety of insight or feeling, with too much tendency to boisterous edification, he was still a most admirable descriptive writer. As a poet, it appears, he took himself too seriously; "Santa Maura" we see now was written with more emotion than it will be read with. "The Three Fishers" will probably live; it is too soon to guess whether "The Bad Squire" and the "Buccaneer" will follow the "Corn-Law Rhymes" to a premature grave. "Andromeda" has most of the merits of a Broad Church tract and an Alexandrian heroic idyll. His mantle as a novelist has fallen upon writers so unlike him as the author of "Guy Livingstone," Ouida, and Miss Broughton. G. A. Simcox.




From Blackwood's Magazine.

WEARINESS: A TALE FROM FRANCE.

BY RUDOLPH LINDAU.

Monsieur Casimir Vincent, the old and very wealthy Lunel banker, had been for more than thirty years the regular and honored frequenter of the Café de l'Esplanade. There he might be seen twice a day without fail: in the afternoon about one o'clock, after his breakfast, to take his cup of coffee, glance over the newspapers, and exchange a few words with his old acquaintances; and again towards eight in the evening, after his dinner, to play his game of piquet, which generally lasted till about eleven.

Every one at Lunel knew M. Vincent He was a small, thin man, with marked features, large dark eyes, short thick hair that was turning grey, and a calm, indifferent expression of countenance. M. Vincent was of a taciturn nature, and when he spoke, it was slowly and thoughtfully. Notwithstanding his unmixed southern blood, he was sober in gesture, and nothing in his movements betrayed the proverbial vivacity of his countrymen. He dressed simply and very carefully, and paid particular attention to his linen, which was always of dazzling whiteness.

M. Vincent's story was as well known to the inhabitants of the town as his appearance or his mode of living. His grandfather, during the first Revolution, had been the founder of the house of Casimir Vincent. There were old men living