A Year of Consolation. By Mrs. Butler, late Fanny gamble. In two volumes.
BOCXESLAST/CAL POLITY. Moron. The Constitution of the Church of the Future. A Practical Explanation of the Cor- respondence with the Right Honourable William Gladstone, on the German Church, Episcopacy, and Jerusalem. With a Preface, Notes, and the complete Corte- epondence. By Christian Charles Joeias Bunsen, D.Ph.â D.C.L. Translated from the German, under the Superintendence of, and with Additions by, the Author.
Itionaarur, Longman and Co. Youthful Life, and Pictures of Travel : being the Autobiography of Madame Sabo- penhauer. Translated from the German. In two volumes Longman and Co. Fromm',
The Student of Salamanca Blackwood and Sam. Smiles and Tear,; or the Romance of Life. By Charles Whitehead, Author of
"Richard Savage," &c. In three volumes Bentley.
MRS. BUTLER'S YEAR OF CONSOLATION
Is an account of a journey through France in the depth of winter, and of a twelvemonth passed at Rome and Frascati, as a visiter to her sister, Mrs. Sartoria. The subjects of the book are the disagreeables of winter tra- velling, especially off the main road in France during and after a fall of snow; the carnival, the religious ceremonies, the collections of art, and the an- tiquities of Rome, with pictures of its climate, vegetation, and the land- scapes in its vicinity; sketches of the Italian people and the society at Rome ; anecdotes, such as a person in Mrs. Butler's position might readily hear ; and lastly, a variety of miscellaneous thoughts, feelings, and opinions, both in verse and prose, the more personal feelings finding vent in verse.
A journey through France and a visit to Rome must evidently owe everything to the writer's circumstances or character ; and these alone give attraction to A Year of Consolation. Even the advantages of leisure, a smart and vivacious if not a poetical mind, and the freedom of an unrestrained temperament, that speaks whatever comes uppermost, without much regard to usage or authority, cannot give interest to the eternal story of paintings, statues, buildings, and antiques. A man like John Bell, with profound knowledge and a critical acumen cultivated by taste, has a right to distribute praise and blame; and his judgments, learnedly sound, may be received as a welcome present : but there have been too many mere opinionative censures or general panegyrics on the Roman exhibitions of art, to render another needed.
One peculiarity of Mrs. Butlerâa sort of "fine lady," or "porce- lain" character, which exaggerates everything unusual or rugged that she encounters into an object of terrorâserves the book better. Her lamen- tations over passport formalities, the troubles of diligence travelling, and of bad accommodation, weather, and roadsâwith a supposition that every ugly common-looking person means her a mischiefâare things that give a sort of zest to her journey to Rome. The really valuable matter of her book, however, is due to residence. This afforded her the means of deliberate observation : for although her de--criptions were often struck off at once, there is a vast difference between a mind at rest and able to linger over and take in a scene, and the same mind pressed on by the thoughts of more to see and engagements yet to be fulfilled. This residence, coupled with her own and her family celebrity, also gave her more facilities for social observation; and her summer and autumn sojourn at Frascati carried her amongst the peasantry, and into parts of the country seldom if ever visited by tourists who only go to Rome for the city itself:
Matter, however, is of little avail unless its possessor can present it, especially when the first object is to amuse. A Year of Consolation, though rather forced, and very scenic, is animated and effective: the de- scriptions of external nature are often pictures of a very striking kind, bringing the characteristics of the things visibly before the reader: the ac- count of the carnival and some of the ceremonies or "religious shows" is very good ; that of the carnival is, indeed, the best we have met with,â as if its theatrically merry character suited the writer's mind. The re- ports of conversations sometimes merely repeat well-known anecdotes, sometimes they deal with actual life several stories connected with the late and the present Pope are good, and they are all well told. The opinions which Mrs. Butler forms of the people, as well as the social speculations she indulges in here and elsewhere, must be received with caution. The tone of the present book is greatly superior to that of the volumes she published a dozen years ago,âmore sober, and much less flippant ; but some of the old leaven still remains. Neither her mind nor her education renders her a trustworthy guide on large and complex sub- jects; and she has a morbid sensitiveness which sniffs a liberty or an at- tack when only attention is meant.
There is plenty of variety in the volumesâmore than we can conve- niently display by specimens ; our extracts are merely gleanings here and there. The following is striking as a picture in its force of de- scription and as much so for the manner in which art and nature are contrasted with the slovenly domestic habits of the South. It also gives a lively idea of a Roman winter on a fine day. Mrs. Butler had just arrived, and was fortunate in her first weather.
Saturday, 10th January.âI had seen my sister's children asleep in their cribs last night; their cooing and chirping woke me in the morning. While I was still In ray dressing-gown â called use out to see the view. We are on the eery top of the Pincio: Rome lay like a map at our feet, bathed fax and near with glorious sunlight, against which on the opposite horizon the stone piles of the DP oria Pamtili spread out their dark roofs. Our apartment reminds me extremely of An the houses I ever was in in the Southern Staten of America: large lofty rooms, with not a window or door that can shutâand those that do, giving one one's death by the imperfect manner in which they dose, a great deal more than if they stood for ever wide open; coarse common carpets laid over a layer of straw; an short, the whole untidy discomfort which characterizes the dwellings of all Southern people, as far as my observation goes. "Now for the chapter of compensations. My bedroom-door and window open upon a terraced garden at least forty feet above the street, full of orange and lemon trees, magnolias, myrtles. oleanders and timeline, roses and violets, in bloom; a fountain of the acquit felice trickles under the superintendence of a statue into a marble shell, and thence escapes under the garden. The view from thence of the Eternal City and its beauteous girdle of hills surpasses all description; and the twin towers of the Trinita rise close to it up into the blue sky, which looks through the belfry arches as through windows down into my sleeping- room. The coloured tiles of all oar anterooms and passages enchant me; so do the gay painted ceilings. The little room where I bathe is a perfect delight to me, with its Latin inscription on the lintel, its marble bath, its walls coveted with fresco Cupids and dolphins, and altars with flames, and baskets with flowers, all strung together by waving patterns of wreaths and garlands. This afternoon we drove through the streets of Rome, out to a place that was once one of the innumerable Cenci possessions, but which is now a farm-house of the Bnrghese. In one corner of the littered stable-yard, where heaps of manure occupied most of the ground, stood a stone sarcophagus, with spirited and grace- ful relievi, into which fresh water was pouring itself in a glassy stream. As we went round the house, we came upon another stone basin, of beautiful form and proportions, into which another gush of living water was falling in the bright sunshine: further on, again, beneath a sombre avenue of ilex, another of these precious reservoirs sparkled and gleamed."
Mrs. Butler was much in the Campa,,ana, in the only way in which it can be thoroughly seen, on horseback; and she has given a very graphic account of it, though perhaps too long : we pass it for more living subjects.
English people are the only honest tradespeople that I am acquainted with: and I say it advisedly; for Americans are unpunctual, and an appointment is a con- tract with time for its object, and they are as regardless, for the most part, of that species of contract as of some others of a different kind.. I have now been six months in Rome, and have had leisure and opportunity to see something of the morals of retail trade; at any rate in matters of female traffic, among the shop- keepers here. In the first place, the most flagrant dishonesty exists with regard to the value of the merchandise, and the prices they ask for it of all strangers, hot more particularly of the English, whose wealth, ignorance, and insolence are taxed by these worthy industrieLs without conscience or compassion. Every arti- cle purchased in a Roman shop by an English person is rated at very nearly double its value; and the universal custom here, even among the people them. selves, is to carry on a haggling market of aggression on the part of the purchaser and defence on that ef the vendor, which is often as comical as it is disgusting. In Nataletti's shop in Rome, the other day, I saw a scene between the salesman and a lady purchaser, an Italian, that would have amazed as well as amused the parties behind and before the counters of Howell and James, Harding's, &c. The lady, after choosing her stuff and the quantity she required, began a regular attack upon the shopman: it was mama soon, indeed, but continuous, eager, vehement, pressing, overpowering, to a degree indescribable; and the luckless man LIAViRg come for a moment from behind the shelter of his long table, the lady eagerly seized him by the arm, and holding him fast, argued her point with in- creasing warmth. She next caught hold of the breast of his coat, her face within a few inches of his, her husband meanwhile standing by and smiling ap- provingly at the thrift and eloquence of his wife: I think, however, she did not sueoeed. The amp-tan looked disgusted; which, I am afraid, is &consequence of their having adopted the English mode a dealing in that house, as they them- selves informed me, to signify that they did not cheat, lie, or steal, but dealt like honest people. I felt proud of his manner of speech: " Madame, nons avons adopte la maniere Anglaise; nous vendors an prix jaste, nous no surfaisons pas, et nous ne changeons pas nos prix"; so that to deal in the English fashion is synonymons to dealing justly.
Almost immediately upon the death of the Pope, innumerable political jibes and pasquinachas were afloat, both with regard to his past government and the proceedings of the Conclave. A curious anecdote was told of Cardinal Micala, who, going intothe Conclave with Lambruschini, [the Austrian Cardinal,] said to him, "Now, we shall see whether the Holy Spirit or the Devil presides at our deliberations: if the former, Mai or Mastai will be elected; if the hitter, it will be you or me." A ridiculous caricature was circulated during the sitting of the Conclave, representing the Holy Dove hovering above the assembled Cardinals, who were all zealously employed in driving it of with their pocket-handker-
chiefs. â˘ â˘
The youngest of the Cardinals in the Conclave, [the present Pope] it became his duty to collect the votes and proclaim who had obtained the suffrages of the majority: having reached the numberat which hisown election became the evident Jesuit, he paused, and reminding the Conclave that it WAS yet time to alter their proceedings, solemnly adjured them to take heed to what they were about to do. This conscientious appeal probably only affected more favourably an assembly bent principally, at all hazards, upon defeating the election of a most unpopular member, the Cardinal Lambruschini, to achieve whose election no effort of intrigue and intimidation hail been spared; and Cardinal ilastai, proceeding in his office, proclaimed himself the object of the prep mderating votes.