21 JUNE 1873, Page 14



HERE is a case for Mr. Galton. That Mr. Julian Hawthorne has inherited something of his father's peculiar genius, no one who reads. Bressant can feel much doubt. Bressant is a romance of the same school as Transformation, but in some respects superior to it in power ; for Transformation, fine as was its conception, was in- deed by no means the best executed of Mr. Hawthorne's works. Yet there is nothing of mere imitation in Bressant. It is a book which could not have been written out of any mood of mere sympathy, even the deepest. There are scenes- in it which ought to live, scenes which seem to us to imply genius. Yet it cannot be denied that the genius is of the old. Hawthorne type. It shows itself in the study and delineation of a certain kind of morbid moral pathology, more than in the vivid presentation of complete characters. There is not in this romance ' a single character so effectively delineated as to remind us of any of our greater novelists, —nor was this often so, even in Hawthorne's own tales. There were conceptions of wonderful originality in the Scarlet Letter and the Blythedale Romance, but even ' little Pearl,' the child of sin, in the former tale, was rather the kind of picture to strike one by its turbid mixture of uncanny elements, than to impress the reader with any necessity of believing that the- picture was a copy of a real and living original. So it is with Bressant. Neither the old Professor, nor either of his daughters, nor the hero with his half-developed nature,—who is meant to show' us how a nature educated almost up to years of maturity, with a, view to selfish intellectual efficiency alone, would pass through the- moral crisis in which it is subjected for the first time to a ferment composed of the almost simultaneous influence of an earthly and a spiritual love,—is as we lay the work down, a very living image- before our eyes. And the boarding-house keeper who believes, herself to be the hero's mother is still less so. The book is meant to be thoroughly realistic, but the figures in it are not, on the whole, real. They are ideas rather than persons. And the realism consists, as in Mr. Hawthorne's own case, more in the unflinching steadiness with which the author mixes the most repulsive with the most fascinating elements of emotion,—in the courage with which he introduces the deadly morbid touches where he needs them, than in any power so to grasp the thole of human life as to make us feel that we have before us a deeper and more real insight into it than any we could obtain through our own perceptions. Yet it would be a mistake to suppose that the power- of this book is psychological, as distinct from pictorial. On the con- trary, it is the vividness of the pictorial element which gives it its definite tone of genius. But then the pictures are not pictures that fill us with impressions of real counterparts, but like the pictures of our dreams, something much more onesided, and yet perhaps

much more vivid, than anything we usually see with our waking eyes. They are pictures which project an ideal conception on.

the canvass,—pictures in which everything is carefully selected. which tends to lead up to that conception, and nothing which diverts- us from it,—pictures far too artistic in fact, in presenting the

• Bressant: a Romance. 2 vols. By Julian Hawthorne. London: Henry S. King and Co. meeting-plce of incongruous emotions, to suggest to us that they are taken fron the world as we know it. On the contrary, that world hasteen decomposed, and the fitting elements found then -carefully ;composed, before these pictures could have been drawn. We do no say they often contain much that is unreal ; but they leave ou4 so much that is real in order to attain their peculiar -end, tha the whole romance resembles much more the fantasy of thatkind of dreamer who can dream to a purpose, than a series G studies from life.

Mr.Julian Hawthorne has very much indeed of his father's subtley. He has the same pleasure in half mystifying us about _a naural event to which he wants to give a half-preternatural color, and manages it by studied vagueness as to the facts, hiring what he will not say ; he has also the same somewhat grtesque fancy. The following, for instance, might easily have ben taken from his father's works :—" Moreover, there was a fill moon just pushing its deep orange circumference above the iorizon. It bad chanced to come up just where a black skele- ton forest stood out against the sky, encouraging the fancy that it had somehow got entangled in the branches, and had grown red in the face from struggling to get out." Again, the contrast between the two heroines in this book, between the sensuous 'Cornelia and the spiritual Sophie, reminds us very strongly of the -similar contrast in the Blythedale Romance, between the grand figure -of Zenobia, and the delicate one of the little sempstress Priscilla, who eventually marries Hollingsworth. But on the whole, we -should say that Mr. Julian Hawthorne's contrast between Cornelia and Sophie is even more powerfully painted, —partly because he does not hesitate to make the sensuous in Cornelia develop, under the joint influence of bad society and wounded love, into the sensual, and to attribute to her even licence of thought and stratagem in her unscrupulous attempt to win back the lover whom her sister had all unconsciously appropriated ; partly because he paints the spiritual beauty of Sophie with a more 'incisive belief than his father ever betrayed. We do not think that the main conception of the story, Bressant himself, the man with the -efficient intellect and, at first, no affections, who has a soul put into him by his love for Sophie, and by the anguish which his unfaithful- ness, as well to Cornelia as to Sophie, brings upon him, is painted with anything like the power of the parallel portrait of Donatello in Transformation. Perhaps the two conceptions are too different to be fairly compared. But there is undoubtedly too much of the mar- vellous in Mr. Julian Hawthorne's machinery to work out his idea. His hero, like his father's, is made human through sin ; but unlike 'his father's hero, Bressant is converted by the magnetic influence of Sophie's spirit on his own, while be is travelling away from her in the bitterest, cruellest, and selfishest of his moods. That seems to us a clumsy kind of deus ex machinti with which to bring about the -consummation of the story. We are aware that the greater American authors study phenomena which in England at least are quite abnor- mal, with an interest and zeal that we can hardly appreciate, so com- pletely do these things seem to us to belong to a department of morbid anatomy. But even conceding to the American writer lie specific view on these questions, it cannot be anything but the -mistake of a young author to refer a great and critical change in -character to an influence directly exerted by the spirit of an absent and dying woman,—which influence the present and living woman had failed to assert. Mr. Julian Hawthorne's denouement is achieved -by a process not simply preternatural, but unnatural.

The real genius of the book consists, as we have intimated, in the extraordinary pictorial power with which the incidents and accessories of evil and unholy passions are made to reflect and enhance -them. The scene in which Cornelia, after hearing of her sister's ,engagement to the object of her own love, dresses herself, with the view of drawing back to herself his old admiration, is painted with great power, and it is a touch of real genius to make her fasten the now petalless rose-stalk,—from which all the leaves had fallen away,—remembring that Bressant had given her a rose-bud of the -same rose on the day of their first meeting, when first their passion for each other commenced ,—into her dress, partly as a reminder and -reproach, partly in order to set off still further by the contrast the -fullness and richness of her own beauty. But the scene in which -Cornelia, after plotting to bring her lover to her feet, is brought in- stead to his feet, when he comes back in a bitter and cruel mood from leering the confession of his mother's guilty life, and full of the guilty purpose in which he proposed to participate, is still more powerful, and contains, if we are not mistaken, the promise of very high -qualities indeed in the young author. There is a force and richness of colour in this scene, which must strike the most -careless reader as indicating power of no ordinary kind. The whole of the picture, which is in two panels, is much better than

the half, for the power culminates in the close, yet we can only give here what we may call the first panel :—

"Cornelia did not wait for his return, but walked quickly and unobserved to the door, which stood a few inches ajar, opened it, passed through, and stood in the unconfined air. The keen intensity of the tonic made her nostrils ache, and her uncovered bosom heave. She unbuttoned one of hor gloves, and taking some snow in her hand, pressed it to her warm temples, and then let it drop shivering into her breast. It must feel like that to die, I suppose,' thought she. If I were Sophie, now, that snow would bo the death of me in two days : as it is, I shall only have a cold in the head to-morrow. There seems to bo no reason in these things.' A dark figure turned the further corner of the house, and came ploughing through the snow immediately under the eaves, dragging one hand along the clap-boards as it came. The crunching of the snow caught Cornelia's oars, and she turned and re- cognised the figure in half a breath. The great height, the massive breath, the easy, springing tread—it was Bressant from head to foot. He was buttoned up in a short pea-jacket, and there was a round fur cap on his head. As Cornelia turned upon him he stopped a moment, standing quite motionless, with the fingers of one hand resting on the side of the house. Then ho came close up to her and grasped her wrist with his gloved hand. 'Where is Sophie ? ' demanded ho, in his rapid, muffled voice.—' She's ill : she caught cold : she's at home,' answered Cornelia, who, at the first recognition, had felt a kind of twang through all her nerves, and was now trying to control the effects of the shock. There was something queer in Bressaut's manner,— in the way he looked at her.—' But you came,' rejoined he, stooping down and peering into her beautiful, troubled face. Ho broke into a laugh, which terrified Cornelia greatly, because ho laughed so seldom. One might know you'd come. You thought I'd be here : you came to see me, and hero I am. Will Sophie get well? Oh, yes! she was much better. When I left she had on her—wedding dress.'—Bressant drew in his breath hissingly between his tooth, and his fingers tightened a moment round Cornelia's wrist. The pain forced a sob from her, and turned hor lips pale. He paid no attention to her, presently dropped her wrist, and Olt his hands behind him, grinding the snow beneath hia heel, and looking down. 'Whom is she going to marry?' was his next question, asked without raising his head.' You! ' exclaimed Cornelia, in astonishment and fear. The answer sprang to her lips without foiethought or reflection, so much had the strange question startled her.—But he again stooped down and peered into her oyes, watching the effect of his words on her as he spoke them.—' No no ! I am not he who promised to marry her. She wouldn't have me, if I asked her she don't know me. I'm going to marry some one olso.

love me, no matter who I am. Shall I tell you her name ? ' Cornelia could only shiver—shiver—with dry mouth and dilated eyes. Bressant put his hand on her shoulder, and drew her forward a stop or two, so that the white moonlight fell upon her. Cornelia Valeyon is her name,' said ho ; and then, as she remained rigid, ho bent forward with a whispered laugh, and kissed her on the face.—' There now we belong to each other : a good match aren't we ?—Quick ! now ; run into the house and got your things on. You must walk home with me, and we'll arrange everything. Go ! I shall wait for you here.' She re-entered the house. cold and dizzy, just as her partner arrived with the coffee. She explained—what scarcely needed to be told—that she felt faint ; she must go up-stairs. In three minutes she had put her satin-slippored feet into a pair of waterproof overshoes, pinned up her trailing skirts, thrown on her long wadded mantle, with sleeves and hood, and had got down stairs again before 'assistance' could arrive. All the time there was a burning and tingling where his lips had been, but she would not put up her hand to touch the spot and relieve the sensation. It was in a manner sacred to her ; albeit the sanctity was largely mingled with bewilderment, remorse, and fear. When she came out Bressant was standing where she had left him, tossing a couple of snowballs from one hand to another. Ho dropped them as she approached and brushed the snow from his gloves. She took the arm he offered her—timidly, and yet feeling that it was all in the world she had to cling to. It was true—by that kiss she belonged to him, for it had made her a traitor to all else on whom she had hitherto had a claim. Yet upon how different a footing did they stand with one another from that which she had prefigured to herself! This was he whom she was to have brought, vanquished, to her feet ! With one motion of his strong, masculine hand he bad swept away all her fine-spun cobwebs of opportunity and method, and had laid his clutch upon the very marrow of her soul. But though she had lost the com- mand, she was party, if not principal, to the guilt. It was he who had taken fire from her."

The snow outside and the apathy inside at the opening of the scene,—the little remark which Cornelia makes to herself, that what would have killed her sister, will only give her a cold, and that there "seems to be no reason in these things,"—the bitter question Bressant puts as to his betrothed when he hears of her having tried on her wedding dress, " Whom is she going to marry ?" the snowballs he tosses from one hand to the other while the sister whom he has chosen for the companion of his guilt is preparing to elope with him from the sister whom he chose for her spiritual purity and loveliness, are all touches which show the hand of one who may one day be an acknowledged master of his own peculiar style ; and if we could give the close of the picture, the effect would be even more powerful. Mr. Julian Hawthorne has written a romance in which much is shadowy, and not a little is unnatural ; but we shall be much disappointed if he does not produce works which will at least place his name as near to the level of his father's as that of Hartley Coleridge to the author of the Ancient Mariner and Christabel, and, it may be, nearer yet. Of one thing we are sure, his power has a root of its own, and is not the mere reflexion of his father's.