Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 133.djvu/256

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.



his grandmother used frequently to "elicit all the irritability of the poetic idiosyncrasy." The Princess Leonora, however cold in her affections, is passionate enough in her disclosures and her unavailing wrath against destiny.

The tender yearning after a being whose life might have been the worse for not having his care and love, the image of a mother who had not had her dues whether of reverence or compassion, had long been secretly present with him in his observation of all the women he had come near. . . . When Deronda presented himself at the door of his mother's apartment in the Italia he felt some revival of his boyhood, with its premature agitations. . . . He had lived through so many ideal meetings with his mother, and they had seemed more real than this!

The princess gives her hand to her son, looking at him "examiningly." "Then she kissed him on each cheek, and he returned her kisses. But it was something like a greeting between royalties."

When the period of Isaac Disraeli's educational exile was at an end he prepared to rejoin his mother with feelings of sensitive tenderness, and was received by her with chilling scrutiny, the very foreshadowing of George Eliot's creations. But into the real interview that ludicrous element entered which so often blends with our strongest emotions. Instead of being shaken in her impassive dignity by involuntary admiration, and ejaculating, like the Princess Leonora of Halm-Eberstein, "You are a beautiful creature!" the first Mrs. Benjamin Disraeli was revolted by her son's appearance. Nor had the mental discipline imposed upon him cured his objectionable bent to poetry and sentiment. Isaac Disraeli, says his illustrious son, returned to England a disciple of Rousseau.

He had exercised his imagination during the voyage in idealizing the interview with his mother, which was to be conducted on both sides with sublime pathos. . . . He was prepared to throw himself on his mother's bosom, to bedew her hands with his tears, and to stop her own with his lips; but, when he entered, his strange appearance, his gaunt figure, his excited manner, his long hair, and his unfashionable costume only filled her with a sentiment of tender (?) aversion; she broke into derisive laughter, and noticing his intolerable garments, she reluctantly lent him her cheek.

With these words Mrs. Benjamin Disraeli disappears from her grandson's pages. But we have seen enough of her to be justified in concluding either that his vigorous outline, enlarged and filled up, shaded here and heightened in color there, to the uses of the story by the transcendent genius of George Eliot, supplied the original of Leonora Charisi, Princess Halm-Eberstein; or that such striking coincidences of feeling and situation suppose in the novelist a marvellous intuition of the possibilities of Jewish character.

From Nature.


Last Thursday night will be always regarded as a memorable one in the history of the Society of Antiquaries, when Dr. Schliemann described to an unusually distinguished audience his own and his wife's explorations on the site of the Acropolis of ancient Mycenæ. Taking as his clue the well-known passage in which Pausanias (A.D. 176) speaks of the ruins and traditions of the famous Greek city, Dr. Schliemann was led to the belief that his scholarly predecessors had mistaken its drift. The passage in Pausanias runs thus: —

"Among other remains of the wall is the gate, on which stand lions. They (the wall and the gate) are said to be the work of the Cyclopes, who built the wall for Pætus in Tiryns. In the ruins of Mycenæ is the fountain called Perseia, and the subterranean buildings of Atreus and his children, in which they stored their treasures. There is a sepulchre of Atreus, with the tombs of Agamemnon's companions, who on their return from Ilium were killed at dinner by Ægisthus. The identity of the sepulchre of Cassandra is called in question by the Lacedæmonians of Amyklæ. There is the tomb of Agamemnon and that of his charioteer Eurymedon. Teledamos and Pelops were deposited in the same sepulchre, for it is said that Cassandra bore these twins, and that, when still little babies, they were slaughtered by Ægisthus, together with their parent. Hellanikos (B.C. 495-411) writes that Pylades, who was married to Electra by the consent of Orestes, had by her two sons, Medon and Strophios. Clytemnestra and Ægisthus were buried at a little distance from the wall, because they were thought unworthy to have their tombs inside of it, where Agamemnon reposed, and those who were slain with him."

Previous explorers had searched in vain for any of the relics here referred to, because they searched in the wrong place, mistaking the wall spoken of for that of