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particular kind of banishment, undertakes certain rule, the Russian convicts go from a bad climate to a responsibilities with regard to the maintenance better, and are in such good company that the disof the convicts. Supplies of rye-meal are, in the grace of transportation gets much modified. Only summer season, forwarded to the farthest north- the third class-criminals of the deepest dye-work ern limits where the head men are appointed. in the mines. These mines are, however, not all These officials dispense the stores. during the underground; they may consist of gold-washeries, or winter, on a sort of credit system, to such exiles
the exile may be set to the almost pleasurable excite(or even families of the native tribes) as may need
ment of searching for gems. At one time the worst it, and in the succeeding summer the indebted
class of convicts-usually murderers and particularly
offensive politicians—were not only compelled to parties must liquidate the cost price of the food
I work underground, but they had to live there, and they have received in furs, skins, or dried fish.
horrible thought were buried there also. No wonCaptain Wiggins, unlike most writers on Rus- der that Siberia got a bad name. But not over one sian questions, has visited Siberia and seen the fourth of the Siberian miners are convicts, and a recountry with his own eyes. It was, therefore, cent explorer is even of opinion that the latter are in but natural that his evidence should be favorable. better circumstances physically, and lead quite as More surprising and unexpected is the testimony comfortable and more moral lives than the correas to the falsity of the prevailing prejudices which sponding class of free men in America, England, or appeared in November, 1879, in the Conservative Australia. Society in the large towns is pleasant “Standard,” entitled “The Future of Siberia." and polished. Banishment to Siberia has been overIt really is encouraging to find such truthful re- done, and thus the mischief is righting itself by the marks as the following in the columns of a Min- natural law of compensation. It has long ceased to isterial organ:
be a disgrace; it is rapidly ceasing to be a punish
ment. Siberia, to the mind of Europe, is associated with No country in the world, except, perhaps, the nothing but horror. One connects it with the crack valleys of the Amazon and the Mississippi, has such of Bashkir Cossack's whip, with the groans of a perfect system of water communication as Siberia. wretched exiles dying-or, worse still, living in the The rich meadows near the mouth of the Yenisei, mines of Nertchinsk, and with cold and misery. In even though far within the Arctic Circle, astonished reality these ideas, though firmly imbedded in the the Norwegian walrus-hunters who accompanied ProEnglish mind, are altogether erroneous if they are to fessor Nordenskjöld. “What a land God has given be accepted as true of Siberia at large or of the state the Russians !" was the half-admiring, half-envious of matters in that country at present. The truth is, exclamation of a peasant seaman who owned a little Siberia is a country of such extent that no general patch among the uplands in the Scandinavian Nord. description can apply to all of it, and even when the land. Yet these few pastures are uncropped and accounts which have reached Europe have been true, unscythed. The river has good coal-beds and fine which in the vast number of cases they were not, forests, and, south of the forest region, level, stonethey related only to the northern part of the terri- less plains, covered for hundreds of leagues with the tory. Siberia is an infinitely richer and finer coun- richest “ black earth” soil, only wanting the plow of try than Canada or the northern part of America the farmer to yield abundant harvests. Still farther generally. Though the Polish exiles and others of a south the river flows through a region where the vine literary turn have, not unnaturally, given it a bad grows in the open air. Altogether, it is believed name, they have allowed their own sufferings to that, by the expenditure of about one hundred thoucolor their narrative. In Siberia the Russian peasant sand pounds, the Yenisei could be made navigable, can get the "black earth” soil, and he escapes, under though its tributary, the Angora, on the Lake Baikal certain conditions, the military service. Doubtless the —an inland sea not much smaller than Lake Supe“unfortunates," who are sent on an average at the rate rior-and the Obi could be connected with the Yenof thirteen thousand per annum to the penal colonies isei, and the Yenisei with the Lena. of Siberia, are not pampered to any alarming extent. Leaving out of account the numerous other SibeBut that they are nowadays treated with the severity rian rivers, all more or less navigable, a country could they were in the times of Peter, Catharine, Paul, and be thus thrown open equal to the combined territoeven Nicholas, is entirely untrue. Indeed, since the ries of all the rivers which flow into the Black Sea, accession of the present Czar, who in early life vis- the Sea of Marmora, and the Mediterranean. Yet ited the penal settlements, the bureaucrats' com- from these rivers flowing into the Arctic Ocean, so plaint is, that so mild has the punishment of expatri- cheap is produce in their valleys, one of which con ation become that Siberia is losing its terrors. It tains over two millions of people, that Captain Wig is, indeed, the locality into which the Russian jails gins ballasted his ship with black-lead of fine quality, are annually emptied, and an offender is sent to The valleys are full of the most magnificent timber, that country who would in any other be simply sen- larch, spruce, etc., which is so little in demand that tenced to a few years' imprisonment. In the vast at the town of Yeniseisk a ship's mast thirty-six number of cases exile to Siberia is a very different inches in diameter at the base, eighteen inches in matter from what banishment to Tasmania or New diameter at the top, and sixty feet long, can be South Wales used to be. In the first place, as a bought for a sovereign, and any number supplied in a
few days; beef costs two and a half pence per pound, the words of Mr. Seebohm, “a colossal fortune and game of all kinds may be got in such abundance awaits the adventurer who is backed by sufficient as to render mere living cheap enough. So abundant capital, and a properly organized staff, to carry on a are corn and hay on the great steppes between Tomsk trade between this country and Siberia, via the Kara and Tjumen that horses are hired for one halfpenny Sea." To-day a fresh market for the disposal of our per mile. A ton of salt, which costs in England fif. manufactures is as much required as it was three teen shillings, is sold on the Yenisei for fifteen centuries ago. Here in “frozen Siberia"-miscalled pounds; and wheat, which commands fifteen or six. -is a field richer than Central Africa, and about as teen pounds a ton in London, may be got in any little cultivated as Corea, waiting his energy and his quantity for twenty-five shillings per ton. To use knowledge.
A SWISS NOVELIST.
L OW many, we wonder, of the crowds of learning and much genuine enthusiasm for litera11 tourists who annually flock to the “play- ture, and settling, in great part, near the Univerground of Europe," know more of its people sity of Zurich, they exercised a marked influence than can be learned in the conventional tour and upon the younger Swiss generation. The result in the salons of monster hotels ? Does one per- was the production of much mediocre and inson in ten concern himself to inquire into the adequate literary work; but a few stars arose, Constitution and politics of this country? Has and among them one of the first magnitude, it ever occurred to one person in twenty to find namely, Gottfried Keller. Keller was born in out whether Switzerland boasts a contemporary Zurich, July 19, 1819. His father, a master carliterature? A few may recollect the fierce war penter, died while he was an infant, leaving his waged between Bodmer and Breitinger and the widow and child in straitened means. After pedantic German Gottsched concerning the re- passing through the prescribed school routine, spective merits of English and French literature Keller turned to landscape-painting, then his which called forth the critical powers of Lessing. foremost bent, and for this end went to Munich, The names of Zimmermann, Lavater, the Gess- where art Aourished under the eccentric patronners, Pestalozzi, Sulzer, Orelli, may linger in their age of King Ludwig. Not achieving anything memories, but who among them has read Jere- really good, with a wisdom as excellent as it is mias Gotthelf? Better still, who has read Gott- rare, he abandoned art, returned to Zurich (1842), fried Keller? We venture to say not one in a and occupied himself with literary studies. In hundred of those who have traversed the length 1846 he published a small volume of lyrics, and breadth of Keller's green Fatherland, have thoughtful and earnest in character, but rising to climbed its most inaccessible peaks, and “done" no heights of lyrical passion, and appealing more all its regulation sights. It is true that Switzer- to the phantasy than to the emotions. The volland is not rich in native literature; it has in- ume met with a fair success, and Keller continspired far more than it has produced. It pos- ued to study. After a while he perceived that sesses now, however, a writer of such undoubted under this autodidactic method he did not adoriginality that he deserves to be known beyond vance sufficiently. He therefore went, in 1848, the narrow limits of his native land. In Ger- to the University of Heidelberg, passing on to many Keller's fame has been steadily on the in- Berlin in 1850, where his first prose work was crease, and, indeed, she would gladly claim him published. In 1861 he was chosen Staatsschreifor her own. But, although Keller has been in- ber (secretary) to the Canton of Zurich, and a directly influenced by German writers, his most member of the Great Council-i. e., a member marked characteristic consists in his being a of that body to whom in the larger cantons the Switzer of the Swiss. It will be our endeavor in people delegates its sovereignty. From this post this paper to give some idea of this remarkable Keller only retired three years ago, to devote writer-no easy task, since Keller is peculiarly himself solely to literature, for which his official intangible, his excellences needing to be felt, be- duties had left little time. He does not himself ing often too subtile for words.
think that this occupation with bureaucratic miIn the early part of this century literature re- nutiæ did him harm, and it is again characteristic vived in Switzerland from a prolonged lethargy, of his perfect mental salubrity that he should This revival is partly attributable to the influx of have preferred for many years to fill a small post Germans driven from home by political troubles. in his native city to living upon the produce of These Germans brought with them much solid his imaginative gifts. He says that it taught him
the discipline which is lacking in the “Grüne ideal flights, all imaginative subtilties, are lackHeinrich," and that when he was able to resume ing, whimsical, eccentric, angular characters literature he stepped out into it again with a fresh flourish in this confined soil. Of this community eye and brain; that it is good for an imaginative Keller has constituted himself the chronicler, writer to lean upon reality, in whatever shape. and, sharing most markedly many of its characWhat he hates in philosophy is materialism, in teristics, he has both consciously and unconpolitics the compromise known as Liberal-Con- sciously reproduced these in a series of inimitaservative, in religion all Jesuitry. What he wor- ble romances. ships is the true and guileless. His is a childlike Yet to Keller's first production, “ Der grüne nature, receptive to all beautiful influences, and Heinrich,” these remarks do not altogether apply. reproducing them without effort and without in- Nothing that Keller ever penned is imitative, even trospection. He loves the simple, grand land- his first-born is sui generis, and springs from a scape, the gold-green meadows and glittering fancy that has been unbiased and unrestrained. glaciers of his native land, and sings to Nature- It is a strange work, full of glaring faults of con“ Doch bin ich immer Kind geblieben
struction ; capricious, unequal, an incongruous Wenn ich zu Dir ins Freie kam.”
medley, which nevertheless contains so many
beauties that we can not lay it down unsatisfied, And, of this native land he is a faithful son, for it is full of that ineffable youthful fire of a owning its idiosyncrasies in fullest measure. He first effort which carries the reader over many is simple, strong, concrete, unsentimental, yet a rugged path. The book, published in 1854, not devoid of feeling. The granite of his Alps called forth much criticism and discussion, a sure brings forth men of granite, powerful and rug- sign that it had aroused interest; but it did not ged, yet sound to the core. Such a man is he, become popular, and can not be so any more and such live in his books. In confining his im- than “Wilhelm Meister," with which it is held agination to Switzerland, Keller has an advan- . to have some points in common. These are, tage over his German colleagues. In Switzer- however, very superficial. It is at least a comland social and political conditions are simpler, plete story, which the other is not. The resemand hence more tangible. A true democracy, blance begins and ends in the circumstance that consisting mainly of peasants and members of both relate the mental development of their hethe lower-middle class, there do not arise any of roes. Keller's romance is a medley of truth and those complicated social perplexities that vex fiction, the autobiographical part telling of his aristocratic nations. Men stand closer to each own struggles as an artist. The hero is called other, yet there is less jostling and crowding; “green” because of the color of his coats, but conventionalities such as ours do not exist; we also trace a symbolical meaning in this apwithin certain limits of distance everybody is pellation, namely, that we are dealing with an known to everybody; and, as the aims of life are unripe nature. It is the history of an irresponuniform and more elemental, everybody under- sibly contemplative character working itself out stands everybody. As herdsmen and tillers of to maturity. Having completed his school studthe earth the landfolk derive their subsistence. ies, Heinrich attempts landscape-painting, and They are thus kept in contact with nature, and goes astray in various false schools. He then do not lose sight of the realities of existence, are turns to science, where his ideality is rudely not blinded and smothered by the artificialities shaken by the materialistic views presented to of civilization. Nor as a rule are they restless. him. Unable to find a solid basis, he wastes his The son continues to cut hay from his grandsire's time with boon companions, gets into debt, eats acres. Among such a people traditions survive up his widowed mother's savings, and finally sets through all outward changes. At no time have off on foot to return to his native Switzerland, a these greatly affected Switzerland, which re- mental and moral failure. On his road he is mained singularly untouched by the passing entertained by a count whom he had known in away of the old order in Europe. Patriotism, better days. Here he meets with hospitality and deep-seated love for their mountainous home, is the graces of life, falls in love, and is raised again for them no new emotion dating from yesterday. mentally and physically. He then bethinks him Hence, the air not being so full of doctrines and of his mother, whom he has cruelly neglected, systems as in Germany, a Swiss novelist stands sets off for Zurich, and arrives in time to attend on firmer ground. He deals with a homely na- her funeral. This so shocks him, his errors rise tion of a certain slow persistency of character, so vividly before him, that he dies too. The end who form a sober commonwealth of practical is clumsy, and open to sharp censure. It offends persons, devoid of romanticism, whose aspira- against all artistic canons, and leaves an untions do not arise beyond the preservation and pleasant, harsh impression. Was it for this, we increase of their goods and chattels. But, if all ask ourselves, that Heinrich suffered and made
others suffer and sacrifice themselves for him, in Auerbach or Gotthelf on the same domain, steerorder that he should die just when his strangely ing between the sentimentalisms and unrealities commingled nature had come to an harmonious of the former and the bare prose of peasant-life issue, and has forced its way through the ham- as represented by the latter. While all the scenes pering inclosure ?
and incidents are somewhat remote from real life, The best portion of this work is the hero's with its hot, busy strife, they are yet true to naautobiography, which occupies two out of the ture. Only the every-day vulgarities and commonfour volumes, and deals with his childhood. We place elements do not thrust themselves into nofollow the development of an observant, silent, tice. Keller mingles ideality with the inflexible introspective child, endowed with a poet's na- necessity of material things, the plummet of reality ture, lacking stability of purpose, full of phantasy may be sunk into his depths, but a moonlit atmosand intensity of emotion, with good and evil im- phere suffuses the surface. pulses struggling for mastery. And as back- Seldwyla is a fictitious town, a sort of Swiss ground to the whole, Zurich with its lovely lake, Abdera. It is supposed to be still surrounded by and the country around, with its snowy moun- its old fortifications, and remains the same quiet tains, its green swards, its purling streams, and spot it was three hundred years ago. Its founders its chalets. In none of his later writings has can never have meant it should come to much Keller so keenly reproduced the atmosphere of good, for they pitched it a full half-hour from Switzerland, or told us as much of its national any navigable river. But it is charmingly situlife and customs. The descriptions of landscape ated, in the midst of green hills open to the south, are full of intense sympathy with nature, of a a fair wine ripens around its walls, while higher semi-mystical and pantheistic kind, reminding of up the hills stretch boundless forests, the rich Wordsworth's treatment, but more simple and property of the commune. For this is one of unaffected, because more unconscious, than the the peculiarities of Seldwyla, that the commune poet's method. But these descriptions are not is rich and the citizens are poor, in such a manthe only exquisite thing in the work. The episode ner that no one in Seldwyla knows on what they of Heinrich's childish innocent love for a young have lived for centuries. And yet they live, and girl, Anna, recalls Longus's “ Daphnis and Chloe” right merrily too, and are very critical concerning in its delicacy of narrative and treatment. The the ways of others if they quit their native town. continuation of Heinrich's life-story is not so The glory and nucleus of this little town consists good; the author has lost sight of perspective, of their young men of twenty to thirty-six, who he grows too didactic, the narrative is too often give the tone in Seldwyla society and rule the interrupted by disquisitions. These are frequently roast. During these years they conduct their excellent in themselves, and sometimes necessi- business by letting others do their work while tated by the current of the story, but proportion they run into debt, an art the Seldwylers practice has not been observed. Our author allows his with a grace and good humor peculiar to thempen to meander, the maxims and reflections do selves. When they have passed this age, and not always apply to the particular case. At last have lost all credit, they find it needful to begin our conception of Heinrich grows confused amid life at the time when others are just taking firm this extraneous matter, and he disappears from root. Then they either enter foreign service and our grasp into a nebulous dreamland. There is fight for strange tyrants, or go forth in search of a casual air about the whole which destroys its adventures; and a Seldwyler is always to be recepic character. It is a grave novel, strong in ognized by the fact that he understands how to just those points to which the ordinary novel- make himself comfortable in any latitude. Those reader is, as a rule, indifferent. It is best char- who remain at home work at things they have acterized as a serious character-study, a psycho- never learned, and become the most industrious logical investigation of the most secret folds of people possible. Timber there is enough and to the human heart, the analysis of an artistic na- spare, so that the very poorest are maintained by ture that withdraws from customs and rules of the commune from the produce of its wood-sales. ordinary life, and finds the laws for its conduct And in this rotation the little people has gone on in its inner self. In every point the “Grüne for centuries, remaining always contented and Heinrich " is a first attempt, and at once stamped cheerful. If money is scarce or a shadow hangs its creator as a bizarre, or what Mr. Bagehot over their souls, they cheer themselves by getting would call “an irregular and unsymmetrical, up political agitations, a further characteristic of writer," endowed with idiosyncrasy and ability. the Seldwylers. For they are passionate parti
But “ Die Leute von Seldwyla" is the work sans, constitution-menders, and agitators, and that founded Keller's fame. It is a series of nov- when their delegate at the Great Council brings elettes that may be classified as peasant-stories, forward some specially insane motion, or when though they differ markedly from the labors of the cry goes forth from Seldwyla that the constitution needs mending, then all the country by Seldwyla, and each has offered to bestow knows that at that moment money is tight upon him its freedom if he will only pronounce among the Seldwylers. Besides this they like in its favor. To appease them, since he already to change their opinions and principles, and are has a home of his own which is as proud as always in opposition the very day after a new their ambitious communes, he tells them that in government has been chosen. If it be too radi- every town and valley in Switzerland stands a cal, to vex it, they range themselves round the tower of Seldwyla ; that this spot is a combinaconservative pious parson of the town, whom tion of many such towns, and must be regarded only yesterday they turned into ridicule, court as imaginary. Some have suggested that it is him, crowd his church, praise his sermons, and Rapperschwyl. The stories are obviously laid hawk about his tracts and Bâle Missionary So- near the Lake of Zurich. But Keller will be beciety reports, without, however, contributing a trayed into no geographical definitions. Howfarthing. If, on the other hand, a half-way con- ever, while these towns seek to secure their Homer servative government is in power, at once they during his lifetime, a greater change has come gather round their schoolmaster, and the parson over the real Seldwyla in the course of the last has to pay a heavy sum to the glazier. Should, ten years than has occurred for centuries. Or however, a government of liberal jurists and rich rather, to speak more correctly, the general life men be at the helm, at once they combine with of the land has so shaped itself that the peculiar the nearest socialists and elect them into the faculties of the Seldwylers have found a fruitful council, demanding a veto, and direct self-gov- field for due development, so that they have ernment with permanent assemblies. But very become more like other people. This is espesoon they are tired of this, speak as though they cially recognizable in the growth of speculation in are weary of public life, and let half a dozen stocks, a lazy business that just suits their temsleepy old bankrupts attend to the elections, while perament. But since that time they laugh less, they lounge in taverns, watching their labors, and are monosyllabic, have little time to spare for laughing in their sleeves. Yesterday they were jokes or playing tricks. Instead of bankruptcies enthusiastic for confederate life, and righteously with disgrace attached to them, they now arindignant that absolute national unity was not range with their creditors. Politics they have established in 1848 ; to-day they are as ardent almost abandoned, because they think these lead for cantonal sovereignty, and send no representa- to war. Already the Seldwylers are like every tives to the national council. Occasionally, when one else, nothing more of interest occurs among they carry things too far, and their agitations and them. Therefore the author in a second volume motions threaten the peace, the government sends has gathered in an aftermath from the past events a commission of inquiry to regulate the manage- of the little town. Each volume contains five ment of the Seldwyla communal property. This stories. “Romeo and Juliet of the Village" is always subdues them, they have to look after the gem of the series; indeed, it deserves the affairs at home, and danger is averted. All this palm above all else that Keller has ever penned. causes them great pleasure, which is only ex- The story opens with a carefully detailed picture ceeded by the annual festivity, when the young of two worthy Swiss peasants who, on a fine wine ferments and the whole place smells of September morning, are plowing their respective must, and there is a devil of a noise about, and fields. These fields lie touching each other on the Seldwylers are more good-for-nothing than a slope of the river that runs near the town. usual. Yet it is a curious fact that, the more Between their properties lies a like piece of good-for-nothing a Seldwyler is at home, the ground, but it was barren and only covered with better he becomes when he goes out into the stones and weeds. And the rubbish seems likely world, and quits the warm, sunny valley in which to accumulate, for each peasant throws on these he has not thriven.
unclaimed acres whatever encumbers his own That a strange merry town like this lends fields. Thus they plow on, until mid-day, when itself to all manner of strange careers is not as- a little hand-cart comes up from the village, drawn tonishing. Of these, as Keller says in his pref- by a boy of seven and a little girl of six. It conace, he proposes to narrate a few, which, though tains the dinner of the two men, and among the in some senses exceptional, yet could not have food thrones a naked one-legged doll. The men happened except at Seldwyla. Now, Seldwyla is halt from their labor, and sit down in a furrow not a real town, as we have said, but a typical to discuss their meal. Their conversation turns one; still it is characteristic of its truth to nature upon the middle field, and each tells the other that in the preface to his second volume, pub- how the commune has tried to induce him to lished fifteen years after the first, the author pay rent for it until its lawful owner should aptells us that seven towns in Switzerland have pear. No one has yet claimed it, but they feel been disputing as to which of them is intended pretty well convinced it must belong to a certain