Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 133.djvu/254

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248

DERONDA'S MOTHER.

enviable kind, that exists in the world. He would have liked to be one.

Mr. Bagehot had a keen delight in following the methods of modern scientific investigation, and his remarkable book on "Physics and Politics" sufficiently shows how strong a hold Mr. Darwin's theories of the elimination of inefficient competitors in the struggle for life, and Sir Henry Maine's studies on the relation of ancient customs to law, had got of his mind. He held that the doctrine of evolution and natural selection gave a far higher conception of the Creator than the old doctrine of mechanical design, but, nevertheless, he never took the materialistic view of evolution. One of his early essays, written while at college, on some of the many points of the Kantian philosophy which he then loved to discuss, concluded with a remarkable sentence, which would probably have fairly expressed, even at the close of his life, his profound belief in God and his partial sympathy with the agnostic view that we are, in great measure, incapable of apprehending more than very dimly his mind or purposes: "Gazing after the infinite essence, we are like men watching through the drifting clouds for a glimpse of the true heavens on a drear November day; layer after layer passes from our view, but still the same immovable grey rack remains." Yet he held to the last that the religious instincts have their own significance and a significance with which scientific reasoning cannot and will not ultimately interfere; and the haunting sense which he often strongly expressed of the eternal continuity of personal life doubtless also remained with him to the end.

Not very many perhaps, outside Mr. Bagehot's own inner circle, will carry about with them that hidden pain, that burden of emptiness, inseparable from an image which has hitherto been one full of the suggestions of life and power when that life and power are no longer to be found, - for Mr. Bagehot was intimately known only to the few. But those who do, will hardly find again in this world a store of intellectual sympathy of so high a stamp, so wide in its range, and so full of original and fresh suggestion, a judgment to lean on so real and so sincere, or a friend so frank and constant, with so vivid and tenacious a memory for the happy associations of a common past, and so generous in recognizing the independent value of divergent convictions in the less pliant present.




From Temple Bar.

DERONDA'S MOTHER.

A LITERARY PARALLEL.

Critics have been busy of late detecting prototypes. A temperate and thoughtful writer has recently alluded to the probable identity of the cultured visionary Mordecai in "Daniel Deronda " with the German Kohn, or Cohen, president of a philosophical club in Red Lion Square, at one time attended by Mr. G. H. Lewes, and fully described in the same novel; and a brilliant essayist more recently still discovers Benjamin Disraeli not merely in Vivian Grey himself, but in the ponderous and obtuse Lord Beaconsfield[1] of the premier's early book. The resemblance between Mr. Disraeli and Vivian Grey has been often urged, and probably with as much truth and in the same sense as Pelham may be said to have been Bulwer, Pendennis Thackeray, and David Copperfield Charles Dickens, inasmuch as an imaginative writer is keenly sensible of his own personality, and naturally endows some favorite character with more or less of it - especially when fiction takes an autobiographical form.

The conjunction of the two names, Disraeli and Deronda, belonging to the same nationality, reminds me that none of these ingenious critics seem to have looked for the germ of Leonora, Princess of Halm-Eberstein, born Charisi, in the mother of the chronicler of "The Calamities of Authors." Yet the points of similarity between the real Jewess as described by her grandson and the ideal Jewess as painted by George Eliot are remarkable enough to fill an inedited page of the "Curiosities of Literature."

The personal charms, the strong will, the fascination, the excitable temperament of genius tyrannizing over and indeed usurping the place of natural affection are as clearly indicated in the sketch of Mrs. Disraeli as they are in the study of Leonora Charisi. Even the first step which Leonora takes towards altering the destiny of her son had its precedent in the annals of our premier's family. When Deronda, indignant at the disguise which has been thrown around him, exclaims, "Then it is not my real name!" The princess replies indifferently: —

Oh, as real as another. The Jews have always been changing their names. My father's family had kept the name of Charisi; my hus-
  1. "Powerful, but a dolt." — See "Vivian Grey."