IT is a rare thing to find an author or authoress's second novel decidedly superior to the first. We thought John and 1 good—except its title, which is very embarrassing, for who would not scruple at the first moment to praise the author of John and I, and hesitate faintly whether or not to call her the author of John and Me ?—but there can be no question that Dr. Jacob is a great advance on it in every way. Its principal charac- ter is much more original, and is worked out with a thoughtful and delicate imagination ; while even the pleasant and graceful sketches of German social life are finished with a more skilful hand. And there is not only a real unity in the thought of the book, but there is an equal diffusion of skill over its greater and minor conceptions. In some novels of considerable ability you see one or two real characters walking, like Ulysses in Hades, among a host of impalpable shadows ; and in others, what annoys one yet more, the light side-pieces, the marginal sketches, so to say, are boldly and -skilfully outlined, while the principal characters are eithei wreaths of mist, or wooden puppets with rigid features and inflexible joints. Dr. Jacob is singularly equal in execution, though the school of drawing is by no means of the boldest and most striking. The principal figures are the best only because more is said about them than about any others. The minor sketches (except Miss Macartney) are quite as good as the principals, though they ere minor in the artist's mind, and therefore more acquaintances than -friends of the reader's. The school of fiction is rather_ bright and graceful than brilliant or intense, and conveys somehow , the sense of cool and . lucid water-colour, not of good painting in oils. Not that it is of the minute school of social portraiture at all, like. Miss Austen or Miss Yonge. It is clear and graphic as far as-it goes, but 'does not pretend to give IA that close view of the external details of manner which constitutes the main secret of the conversational drawing-room fiction. Indeed, the author, though not .neglecting -conversation, work§ more by description than by dialogue. In many respects it resembles, not only in subject but in treatment, the clever novels of the Baroness Taut- phceus, but has less humour and more beauty of style, less power and more intellectual range. The refined utilitarianism
which is the essential creed of the Baroness Tautphmua is re- placed by a much higher and wider moral discrimination. On the whole, we have seldom read a novel with more of that grate- fulness of colour which, without being either minute or powerful, gives the sense both of beauty and of truth.
The originality of the book lies in the conception of the Rev. Dr. Jacob. A hero above sixty years of age, conceived not
merely from outside but from within,—and finely .conceived,—is in himself a novelty ; but the mould of the character is even more original than the circumstance. He is a man of eloquent nature, of sensuous enjoying organization, of genial aristocratic manners, • Doctor Jacob. by the author of "John and I." 3 vols. London : Hurst and Blackest. 1804.
more picturesque than thoughtful in mind, both benevolent and self-indulgent to the last degree, perfectly self-possessed in society, but procrastinating every painful thought, and ignoring every restraint on the impulse of the moment, caring for power and influence more than for their results, kept from evil so far as he is kept from evil more by the delicacy of his tastes than
any resoluteness of will, yielding to pain instead of strug- gling with it and putting it behind him as soon as may be,— one, in short, who has drifted through life without any fulfilled
purpose, and not without many great errors bordering on crimes, yet winning the love of every one he encounters without deserving it, by the frankness, and sweetness, and self-possessed benevolence of his eloquent nature. To make such a character at grace fascinating and weak, almost more fascinating in pro- portion to its weakness,—to draw in the reader to the crowd of
this man's admirers, even while letting him into the secret of his systematic self-indulgence,---to hit the exact line between the degree of false appearance and even dishonesty which does not
tarnish the natural nobleness of the character, and that which would be mean, vulgar, and unpardonable, is an achievement of a somewhat subtle character. But the author (or authoress more likely) certainly does succeed, and succeed admirably, in painting that nobleness of nature which, though it has not the strength to win the victory over temptation, remains noble even in its fall, that degree of weakness which gets a man involved in what is really dishonourable, and yet stopping short of absolute false-
hood, leaves him the keenest sense of honour,—that amount of
self-indulgence which, instead of making a man seem despicable, excites even more strongly the love of others by stirring the foun- tains of compassion, without diminishing the admiration which a rich and gifted nature excites. It is not what is ordinarily called a striking picture, but it is a very subtle and co- herent one. The portraiture of a self-dissatisfaction just troub- ling the waters of a fine nature which is too little concentra- tive, too loosely knit, to keep any pain long in the focus of the mind, but which naturally unbends into some relieving enjoy- ment, has seldom been attempted before. And within the limits of the author's artistic powers it is not only attempted, but very successfully executed. The picture is thrown, too, into very artistic relief by the pendant to it in the figure of Dr. Paulus, the caustic, acute, closely-knit, upright, faithful German divine, who makes his invalid wife's puddings, rules his family, elaborates Hebraistic scholarship, and looks after the affairs of the English chaplain at Frankfort with so exact and efficient a hand, and who is yet more deeply and permanently fascinated by his more brilliant and lax-minded English friend than any one of the crowd of humble and feminine admirers.
Excellent, too, is the sketch of the English chaplain in Frank- fort and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Brill, who, with individual char- acters of their own, are still perfect types of that inefficient, shiftless, and almost impudently good-natured class,—the Eng- lish chaplain in a German town. Dr. Jacob is anxious to preach in Mr. Brill's pulpit, and calls, with Dr. Paulus, to obtain leave
"Mrs. Brill was one of those women who are always handsome, often slovenly, and not easily trodden under foot by the world; she knew that her husband had less decision of character than most men, and she knew that Doctor Paulus had more. Therefore she aspired to the difficult policy of subserving the latter to the former where advantage accrued, and battling against both on all other occasions. Doctor Paulus had proved a true friend to Mrs. Brill many and many a time, and she felt sure that he would never prove an enemy, but he often acted the unpleasant role of monitor—this was the thorn in her side. Strive at it, lose her strength at it, as she might, Doctor Paulus's unassailability was as a rock against a broken sea, and had she been bad at heart she must have hated him. As it was, she respected, feared—and provoked him. Putting down her newspaper, and adjusting a few pins to her half fastened collar and ribbons, she said coolly, Wait for me, Tom, my dear. I shall have you doing and saying all sorts of indiscreet things by yourself. Flory, have you unpacked the grocery?'—' Yes, mamma, and my next business is to go and get out some clean things for the boys, and help Canine to boil down the bilberry jam.'—' Can't you find time for a little writing and piano practice?' urged Mr. Brill, a rather pleasant, but helpless gentleman, who looked as if he were always trying to see his way through impos- sibilities; do let her play on the pianoforte, my dear.'—' What's the good? I played enough at her age—would you care for me to do it now, Tom Come, let us see what the Doctor has to say.'" "Slowly and securely, with every sentence knocking down some possible or probable objection, Doctor Jacob advanced to his object, wheeled round it, touched it softly, then drew back, built plausibilities and pleasantness around it, threw a halo of benevolence and pity over it, finally let a little fragrance of personal advantage play within reach of it—then ceased and dashed the light of his fearless spirited eyes full on his hearers. Doctor Paulus mentally clapped his hands. Mr. Brill smiled inwardly, thinking that the affair would be very nice and popular indeed ; before assenting, however, he looked at his wife. Her eyes expressed a dozen objections at once ; they nudged him, made faces at him, spurred into him, whipped him up to the, hedge 9f oppo-
sition. 'Perhaps before accepting this gentleman's proposal you and I had better talk it over, my dear—eh ?' said her husband, perplexed.
Upon my word, Brill,' exclaimed Doctor Paulus, sharply, 'you consult Mrs. Brill's opinion about what the cleverest lady can possibly know nothing—why trouble her on the matter ? The question is—do you object, or do you believe in any .objection existing, to Doctor Jacob's preaching in your pulpit for the benefit of the Jews ?'—Mr. Brill was now fairly pushed in a corner. He knew that no objection did exist, least of all in his own mind ; but with Mrs. Brill's eyes fixed so defiantly on him he dared not say so. She came to the rescue. 'I do not like to contradict you, dear Doctor Paulus, but I do think that on this matter I am allowed to have an opinion.'—' And on any other matter whatever, Mrs. Brill,' answered the Doctor, with somewhat bitter suavity.—' Then listen, if you please. As Mr. Brill's wife, I am surely supposed to care for his interest, and also to know what is likely to prove well or ill for it.' Doctor Paulus smiled satirically. 'And,' continued the lady, hotly, ' not doubting that Doctor Jacob would preach admirably, and that his object is a most laudable one, I still say that there are objections.'—' What may they be?'—' You shall hear, Doctor Paulus. In the first place, the more eloquently a strange clergyman should. preach here, and the greater the impression made by him, so much the
worse would it be for Tom—Mr. How so?' asked DoctorPaulus, quietly.—` Why did it lessen my husband's influence when Mr. Laurence preached for several Sundays? Did not people begin to grumble and talk about complaining of the Chaplain's doctrines ? Excuse me, Doctor Jacob, for speaking plainly—Mr. Brill has a large family, and a great many enemies.'—' People who are indifferent to me, my dear,' said Mr. Brill, correctively.—' People who would see you turned out of your chaplaincy to-morrow, if it were possible,' added the wife, with impatience. 'Any enthusiasm for another clergyman, therefore, must be disadvantageous to us, Doctor Jacob. I am sorry to say an ill spirit exists among the English here—every one is jealous of every one, and no two families live together in harmony.'—' I know many families who live in harmony, Mrs. Brill,' put in Doctor Paulus.—' Yes —German families ; that is quite another thing.' "
One very skilful and amusing sketch is that of the Frankfort schoolmistress, Friiulein Fink, whose mild enthusiasm for gram- mar and Goethe, for the philosophy of the predicate, and for con- templative walks in the cemetery, are painted with a very delicate humour, and without the slightest shade of caricature. But all the secondary characters, except the English governess, are touched with almost equal skill. The most disagreeable character in the book, the Baroness Ladenburg, is exceedingly graphic and clearly defined,—one of those silkily passionate and faithless women who will sacrifice everything, except a ruling passion, to the world, and who, in the single mood in which they are ready to sacrifice the world to a ruling passion, inspire one with the sort of instinctive horror with which we hear of animals that devour their own offspring. The Baroness Ladenburg is, as it were, naturally incapable of a disinterested passion; that is, in her, a morbid symptom, a disease which brings out all the craft and cruelty of her nature, instead of that in her which is least re- pulsive. Her passion is a sort of claw sheathed in velvet. She is admirably drawn. Nor are the descriptive portions of the book less successful. They do not aim much at " word-paint- Mg," but they are natural, lucid, and full of a gentle sort of beauty,—the sunny recollections of a mind quick to observe and store up beauty. For a novel which cannot be said to be power- ful, Dr. Jacob is one of the most truthfully conceived and skil- fully executed we have read for many years.