BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT.
[Our readers will understand that we do not hold ourselves responsible for
our able Corresondent's opinions.]
This has not been a sensational year, but it has been marked by some very
remarkable conclusions of events which commenced in the previous two years.
THE GERMANS have retired from conquered France, after obtaining the last
instalment of a ransom of two hundred millions, leaving the French to settle
their own form of Government, which they have not yet done. At one moment
it seemed that, after more than forty years of exile, the head of the old
Bourbon stock, KING HENRY V., according to Legitimist traditions, was "to
have his own again." The COMTE de CHAMBORD had only to accept the
tricolored flag and a Constitution that French statesmen know how to
manipulate, to exchange his dreary castle in Bohemia for a throne as King of
the French. But honestly stupid, or stupidly honest, he stuck to the white
flag and principles of divine right, and left France to drift into a
Republic with a Dictator without one of the guarantees for personal liberty
which English-speaking races consider the very salt of life.
IN SPAIN the Alfonsists and Carlists continued so cleverly to insult the
Constitutional KING AMADEUS and his QUEEN, and to so embarrass his
Parliamentary Government, that he retired in time to save his life and part
of his fortune; but, instead of the union between the Alfonsists and
Montpansier party transferring the Government to a Regency for the benefit
of QUEEN ISABELLS's son and the DUC de MONPENSIER's daughter, the vigorous
Republicans slipt in and took possession of the vacant throne, and presented
the picture of a Republic without Republicans governed by a Dictator - a
great city in possession of Anarchists more Republican than Castelar, and
thirty thousand Carlists in arms.
A most encouraging sight for the English philosophers who aspire to
establish universal happiness by shaving down all our institutions to a dead
level. Altogether, the events of the year tend to reconcile Englishmen to
their slow and unscientific ways of effecting reforms.
AMONGST THE remakable men who have died this year, one of the most
remarkable has been LORD LYTTON, so famous as LYTTON BULWER, who, in a long
literary life, showed what extraordinary industry could do, and produced a
whole library of books - novels, plays poems, histories - very few of which
will survive the generation that knew him. His first works were his best
novels, that came out and superseded the dulness of WARD, and the vapid
stupidity of LADY CHARLOTTE BURY; but it was only the loyalty of the public
and the puffing of his eminent publishers that have floated such a failure
as "Kenelm Cillingley", where a lot of puppets are described at full length
by the showman, the author, make speeches by the yard, and never utter a
sentence that gives the least idea of their character.
There is no dialogue; it is all surmising. Of course, here and there
are clever epigrammatic bits. As for the plot, it is simply absurd. The
Parisians has just the same faults, newer ground, and something of a plot;
but to read it a great many orations must be skipped, and the merit of all
the heroes and heroines must be taken on the author's word.
The same subjects have been infinitely more cleverly treated by
GRENVILLE MURRAY, in the "Cornhill Magazine", signing with three stars.
ANTHONY TROLLOPE writes so much that he is often dull; but there is nothing
so good in LORD LYTTON's last as the dialogues between the "Duchess of
Omnium" and "Madame Marie Goesler" - such true women's nonsense. LORD
LYTTON will be remembered by his early novels and his play "The Lady of
Lyons", where the hero is a horrid snob - indeed most of his heroes are
snobs and bores in spite of their supernatural beauty and strength.
Far below GEORGE ELIOT, below DICKENS, below THACKERAY, LORD LYTTON's
novels will take their place when the blaze of puffery has died out. In all
he has not immortalised one character, heroic or comic.
THERE HAS BEEN no political event less likely, if it be a political event,
than the marriage of the DUKE OF EDINBURGH to the CZAR's daughter, as a
sequel to the Crimean war. The visit of the SHAH, and the way we all
behaved, realised once more that ------
"We are but children of a larger growth."
There was no reason for the enthusiasm, except that London having been dull,
wished to be amused, and was.
THE ROMAN CATHOLICS of London are much disappointed that ARCHBISHOP MANNING
has not come in for a Cardinal's hat - the title of Roman Prince would have
given him a precedence very agreeable to his co-religionists, while his
eminently gentlemanly and ascetic figure would have well become the costume.
The archbishop's able manifesto in the "Times" has been translated or
condensed by a wicked opponent into, "We claim the liberty to do exactly
what we like, and that implies that you, our opponents, are only to have
liberty to do what we approve."
WE ARE QUITE TIRED of the Hayman and Rugby business; those who were
inclined to sympathise with the doctor have been convinced by his own
letters that, however learned, honest, and conscientious, he is too
pertinaciously obstinate to manage a great school.
To obstinate conscientious belief in his own infallibility, he has
sacrificed his prospects and ten thousand a year. Now, as a Pope, he would
have been the admiration of this world.
THE NONCONFORMIST LIBERALS had a great loss in the death of MR.
WINTERBOTHAM, M.P., Under Secretary of State for the Home Department. He
was an educated and able lawyer, and promised to rise to higher office. The
party represented by MR. WINTERBOTHAM are not satisfied with MR. STANSFELD,
who represents rationalistic rather than evangelical opinions. MR. FORSTER
is considered a lost sheep. MR. MIALL is no more and never was a success in
Parliament. MR. RYLANDS is, unlike MR. WINTERBOTHAM, not an educated man,
and more violent than eloquent.
The elevation of LORD CHIEF JUSTICE COLERIDGE to the House of Lords is
the only debating addition in the batch of new peers. LORD MONCRIEFF going
to represent Scotch law, LORD EMLY, late MONSELL, the loyal Roman Catholic.
It is supposed that the close of the TICHBORNE case will be followed by
the retirement of LORD CHIEF JUSTICE COCKBURN. Will he accept the often
refused peerage, and enable the idle and industrious apprentice to sit side
by side in the House of Lords ? Will LORD COLERIDGE be a law reformer in
his new position, and will he be a match for the "Belfast Lawyer", LORD
These are good holiday questions.