22 FEBRUARY 1873, Page 16


IT is very easy to praise and very difficult to criticise Mr. Hayward's Essay; and we will therefore begin by praising them. They are, to begin with, most entertaining reading. Mr. Hay- ward has a sort of incapacity for being dull, and even when he is. giving us, as in his "Pearls and Mock-Pearls of History," the result of varied and extensive reading, or is talking, as in his "Whist and Whist-Players," as an accepted expert to men who want to be experts, he is never tedious, or technical, or over-discursive, but says what he has to say in a light touch-and-go style, without flippancy as without heaviness, which, to us at least, is infinitely attractive, all the more so because, unlike many essayists of his type, he is so liberal with his stores. He does not dole out his gems, but-

scatters them broad-cast, as if he had plenty more, sometimes even. raining them, as if, like the Shah of Persia, he kept them in his Trea- sury in buckets. A man who could get the only copy of this book and remember it all wouldle set up as a conversation-man for life; could talk to almost all sections of the cultivated class, and yet be appreciated by all. And this profusion of amusement is con- sistent with a great deal of information, for Mr. Hayward, though. not always quite successful in making his characters real—take, for example, the Countess of Albany—always conveys to you the thing you want to know ; why, for example, the tradition of Saxe has lived so long in military annals, why Marie Antoinette's virtue has been doubted, what Gentz really did to acquire his unique position in Europe, what is the point at issue between• old whist-players and the followers of Deschapelles, and so on, the lucidity of his own view, whether accurate or otherwise, being- always reflected in the lucidity of his arrangement of his matter.. For the cultivated ignorant—the men who do not know facts, but do know much else—we scarcely know such writing, doubt, for- instance, if we could find anywhere an essay as agreeable which would enable a man ignorant of the subject to know as much about anybody as Mr. Hayward teaches him about Gentz, or which would help a bad whist-player to correct himself so thoroughly as the paper upon whist. That is, we think, with a reservation for the article on Maria Edgeworth, the gem of the collection, and if not the best certainly the most interesting paper ever written• about whist. It is as full of anecdote as if it were written only to attract, and as full of knowledge as if it were written only, to instruct. It would be difficult, we think, to describe the diffi-

culty which besets young whist-players who want to learn, but distrust books, more completely or more concisely than in this.

sentence :—

" But real whist-players will rarely take sufficient interest in begin- ners, however anxious to improve, to be willing to cut in with them before a certain amount of progress has been made; and a request for information, betraying a want of elementary knowledge, might pro- voke an answer like Dr. Johnson's to the young gentleman who asked him whether the cat was oviparous or viviparous:.' Sir, you should read the common books of natural history, and not come to a man of a car- • Biographical and Critical Essays. By A. Hayward, Q.C. 2 vols. London: Longman. 1873.

tarn age and some attainments to ask whether the cat lays eggs.' With reference, also, to your own immediate interest, you had better hold your tongue, or reserve your comments till the party has broken up ; for the offender will probably play worse."

Mr. Hayward decides for the book as the best instructor, and if any one doubts his judgment, let him read this article, and he will, we think, find reason to alter his opinion. He will not only learn what he probably expects, the history of the half-forgotten point in the annals of the game, the introduction of short whist ; but he will find when he has read from page 394 to 400, only six pages, that he knows more of the policy of whist, the true theory of the best way to win, than, if an old-fashioned player, he ever knew in his life. That policy is to make your long hand, and the main rule is the following

Cavendish says that, with the original lead and five trumps, you should almost always lead one ; with six, invariably. Colonel Blyth, after giving the same qualified opinion in his text, adds in a note :— 'I once heard a first-rate whist-player say that, with four trumps in your hand, it was mostly right to lead them; but that he who held five and did not lead them, was fit only for a lunatic asylum.' This first- rate whist-player had probably recently been playing with one of the eleven thousand, or with strong-minded females who are most pro- vokingly reticent of trumps. We should recommend every incipient whist-player, who has not experience enough to mark the rare excep- tional eases, to lead one when he holds more "than four, but to pause and reflect with four. With less than five, or strength enough to ensure command, trumps should not be led, unless it is obviously advantageous to get them out. It is obviously advantageous when you or your partner have good cards to make, and obviously disadvantage- ous when you have not. If there are two or more honours amongst your four, or the ace, you may lead one with comparatively little risk."

We cannot venture to criticise Mr. Hayward on whist, but we may observe that his advice, if it errs at all, errs as far as a first lead is concerned on the side of caution, the presumption being, if you have four trumps and a weak hand, that your partner has a good hand in ordinary cards. We say so much of this article, because it seems to us the most characteristic ; but it is no better reading even to a whist-player than half-a-dozen others, e.g., those on Marshal Saxe, Gentz, Marie Antoinette, and Maria Edge- worth, all marked bythe same characteristics,—extreme clearness in stating what the writer intends to state, great polish of a style which, however, never ceases to be conversational, a deep insight into evidence, and an endless flow of anecdote, always illustrative, sometimes a thought too pointed, there being exaggeration in the suggestion of the facts, if not as to the facts themselves, and every now and then a trifle hasarde. Mr. Hayward is no Wraxall or Lady M. W. Montagu, but he has the man-of-the-world feeling that a good story should not be lost because it will not quite do for a mixed dinner-table.

The two drawbacks to his Essays seem to us a certain exagge- rativeness in some of his anecdotes, and a decided tendency towards over-lenity in his judgments. As an example of the first, we may take his account of Frederic's terrible severity in maintaining discipline:— "Who has not laughed at the story of the letter-writer who con- cludes—'I would say more but for an impudent Irishman who is look- ing over my shoulder, and reading everything I write '—with the self- betraying denial of the Irishman, • that's a d—d lie '? A similar story may be read in Galland's 'Paroles Remarquables des Orientaux.' It is not impossible that this comic incident or fiction gave Frederic the Great the hint for the terrible coup de the'titre in the tent of the officer who, when all lights had been forbidden under pain of death,

was found finishing a letter to his wife by the light of a taper Add a postscript. Before this reaches you I shall be shot for disobedience of orders ; and shot he was. Mrs. Norton has based a beautiful song upon this event, which is only too well attested."

Is that story anything but a popular exaggeration of the one Carlyle relates of Frederic sending a valet to Spandau for an im- pudent criticism on his master sent in a letter to his wife ?

We have not the time, or indeed the ability, to follow Mr. Hayward step by step ; but he certainly leaves with us some- times an impression of a willingness to accept the most pointed version of an incident which, if the impression is unfounded, indi- cates some alight defect in art. His over-lenity is much more cer- tain. He could not avoid it of course in mortuary notices, like that on Lord Lansdowne, published instantly after his sub- ject's death, but it is very apparent in his purely historical papers. For example, in his excellent sketch of that remarkable man, Edward Livingstone, the Codemaker of Louisiana, whose work Bentham wanted Parliament to print for the use of the nation, he never so much as notices the charges brought against him by Vincent Nolte in his book Fifty Years in Both Hemispheres. Vincent Nolte may have been merely prejudiced, but he was a foreigner, be was on the spot, and his account was corrected in proof by Lord Ashburton, who had an exhaustive knowledge of American men and manners. His charges should have been mentioned at least, if only to be dismissed. In his sketch of Gentz, admirable as it

is, he passes far too lightly over the most doubtful feature in his character and his position, namely, the consistency with which her received money for his support as a pamphleteer. He half hints that he was mercenary, but defends him by saying that, " Not caring for money for-its own sake, he lay under little temptation to procure it by unworthy compliances, whilst his uncon- sciousness of degradation saved him from one of the worst. effects of pecuniary obligation, the forfeiture of self-respect.''. He also compares him with men like Savage, Coleridge, and Leigh- Hunt, suggesting that he was a sort of a child in money matters,_ but he himself gives ample evidence of the inaccuracy of this~ view. Gentz was a patriot and a statesman, but he loved his pleasures, which were not of a good kind, he was always asking for money—else why was it given him ?—and it was no Savage or Leigh Hunt who kept such exact accounts, mourned so over his pecuniary circumstances, or wrote this at the end of a' prosperous year :- " In the summary of the year he states that his extraordinary receipts in the course of it had amounted to at least 17,000 ducats,. besides his regular official income of about 9,000 florins, and the profits of his agency for Wallachia, obtained for him by Metternich in 1813. The result is that all branches of my domestic economy are flourish- ing: I have paid many debts: I have completed and embellished my establishment ; and I have been enabled to do a great deal of good for my people. The aspect of public affairs is mournful; but not, as at other times, by the imposing and crushing weight suspended over our heads, but by the mediocrity and folly of almost all the actors; and as- I have nothing to reproach myself with, the intimate knowledge of this pitiable course and of all those paltry creatures who govern the world,. far from afflicting me, is a source of amusement, and I enjoy the spectacle as if it was given express for ray idle moments.' " It was money which made these great people tolerable to him, and we are by no means sure that he would have hesitated to support any paying cause, provided it was not hostile to the interests of his country. In the account of Marshal Saxe, again, though Mr. Hayward does not conceal any of his hero's bad qualities, even his brutal behaviour to his wife, the Duchess Anna of Courland, of whose cheeks, while she was slaving to get him a throne, he said " he did not like Westphalia hams in that fashion,' he passes too lightly over the incident Favart. He may be right in his view of the transaction, but other accounts make his intrigue with Madame Favart very little better than a rape, he having obtained, or rather extorted from the French Court, an order' imprisoning her husband, and ordering him to entrust his wife to. Marshal. Saxe. He was, in fact, as great a brute as his father, "Augustus the Physically Strong," though with more ability but the brutality of his character somehow evaporates in Mr. Hayward's pages, though he speaks plainly enough too. And' finally, in the case of the Countess of Albany, he entirely omits- to put the main point of the case against her. He suggests: that in her liaison with Alfieri she was merely claiming a privilege common in Italy at the time, the right of the wife married without her own consent to a lover of her choice, and" actually reproaches Charles Edward for his brutal and quite well-founded jealousy. But he quite forgets that even on the laxest view, whether of moralities or manners, the Countess was hope- lessly in the wrong, entertaining her lover while still maintaining,, as she maintained all her life, that she was Queen of England,. and exacting in private all the honours due to that position. Charles Edward may have been brutal, probably was, for he was always drunk; but he at least acknowledged, what his wife rejected,. the claim involved in station, the absolute impossibility of a. woman being at once an Italian femme galante and the possible. mother of the heir to the British Throne. Neither of them was a moral being, but he at least felt the obligation of his rank in his own eyes. Mr. Hayward is too light on transgressions of all aorta- -unless they be Madame de Steel's—and though a raconteur is not. bound to write like a moralist, he is bound if he sketches a face to put in the warts. That is the only serious criticism we have to make on the two best volumes of light reading that have appeared this year.