Hesperian student / (Lincoln [Neb.]) 1872-1885, April 15, 1889, Page 2, Image 2
THE HESPERIAN. comes too strong to be suppressed, and breaks forth in an impassioned eulogy of Russia and her greatness. In all the vivid picturing ol Russian provincial life; in the life-like, breathing descriptions ol scenery; in the glimpses of a suffer ing people; through the story of all this, there is but one thought in the author's mind, one image in his heart: " My Country." It is easy for a man to deny the existence of a sentiment in himself that may be called patriotism. It is easy to seem broad-minded by such a denial, but in all probability the supposed non-existence of that feeling is due to the fact of its never having been aroused. Either this, or the scoflcr lacks one of the noblest human traits. We may be justified in thinking that love of one's country is not such a scarce commodity as some would have us think. Nor is the bogus article (so plenty with the demagogue and hypocrite) all that there is of patriotism. Hut still there is much less than there should be. Love of country is not confined entirely to respect for the national colors or principles, but includes a spirit of satisfaction and contcntmcjH with national ways and customs. It is in this broader sense that there is too little patriotism, and it is to teach the importance and the duty of this more earnest, sincere sentiment that the author of "Dead Souls" has tried. This he accomplishes for Russians in two ways: First, by showing indirectly the condition of the government, its needs and its good points; the capabilities of the country and the power it would attain under just administration. Second, by direct appeal to the hearts of his readers. Unless an American can enter so fully into the spirit of the work as to feel the sentiment of it as Gogol felt it, he can derive no special good from the first method; but the second ismeant for and is good for rcadcisof any nationality whatsoever. Since then so much of sober fact and weighty precept may be drawn from the book, it is a pity the work is not complete. But is not. All through the second volume there arc breaks and blanks in the story, made too, in such a way as to show mat uiey arc accidental-and not consequent upon the author's mood in writing. For a break often occurs in the middle or a sentence or a word. A biographer of Gogol says that the manuscript was partially destroyed by its author while labor ing under a religious mania. It is a loss that the work is in complete, and were it not for one 1: ct, we miht almost call it a great loss. Hut, like Dickcps' " Edwin Drood," the story was too good to be allowed to go unfinished, so :n 1857, Vastchenko Zakhartchenko, a "daring" writer, published a 'Continuation and Conclusion of Dead Souls." This con. tinuation has been embodied in the English translation, and is valuable by contrast, as it shows more clearly the beauty of Gogol's style. Even did the translator omit an explanatory note on the break in the text, the reader would detect it be fore reading half a page. Without commenting on the char acter of the "conclusion," one may say that the contrast be tween Gogol and Zakhartchenko makes up in part for the disappointment caused by finding " Dead Souls" incomplete, ami noes not put Oogol at all into the background. V A little known, and therefore misjudged southern state owes to George W. Cable a great deal of gratitude, and to the same man should be given the thanks ol all seekers after knowledge combined with pleasure. At least any one who has read his "Grand I'ointe" or "Au Large" will admit ti.e truth of (he latter statement, whatever may be his opinions as to the first. For either of the two stories mentioned, in fact both, are of the kind that enables one to pass a pleasant afternoon and to have something real left him to show for his pleasure. They arc not of the class of stories that the reader wishes to remember only long enough to forget. But as to the statement that Louisiana is indebted to Cable, no one who after reading any one of his stories stops to think of it, will deny that he has a desire to visit and sec for himself the scenes, the people, the events described in "Au Large," "Grande Pointe," or "Strange True Stories of Louisiana." And it is just for this reason that I think Cable has done a great deal of good for the country he writes about. He docs not tell of Southern institutions and customs, and burden us with facts, but instead gives us a longing to visit New Or leans, and find out for ourselves some of the delightfully interesting and romantic stories which cluster around (or which Cable leads us to think cluster around) the old city. All the South needs to be favorably judged is a chance to be judged, and this is what Cable is in some degree giving her. by attracting attention to her Crescent City. There is one thing about "Au Large," and in fact about all Cable's stories, that is very convenient, to give it no more appreciative name. His stories are all connected, and yet not so much so as to make the reading of any one of them jerky and incomplete. But the same characters are in all or most of them, and in reading one of them we meet old friends and people with whom we have acquaintance. If you read one you want to read all, and when you have completed the list you wish there were more. But what is the story, "Au Large"? A tale ol Acadian life in Southern Louisiana, of Acadians strangely mixed with busy, bustling energetic Americans. It is a story that shows what life pure and simple may be for an honest soul; what the responsibilities arc that weigh upon an apparently irresponsible person; what the petty selfishness of human nature is, and also the glory of overcoming this selfishness. These principles exemplified in a story and the whole set in a frame of grand old cypress swamps, broad bayous and lakes, plantations, levees, the Mississippi, and finally the quaint old city, New Orleans; these make the story. And not the least interesting thing is the fact that most of whaf Cable writes is in all probability true. Aside from the stories which are avowedly "true stories," there is such an air of reality, and indeed such statements of reality as to lead one to believe that he is reading history. In "Au Large" Cable frequently brings in allusions to his personal affairs in such a way as to Iccvc no doubt but that he was an actor, or at least a spectator in the events he describes. CURRENT COMMENT. The Germans aro evidently hero worshippers. A Bismark nuseum has been established in Berlin. The chancellor has been requested to give such articles of historic interest as he may be able to spare and contributions are asked from all admirers of the statesman who have articles of interest. Metaphorically speaking, the mayor of New York is in the soup. On St. Patrick's day he allowed the Irish flag to be hoisted over the city hall. It was an adroit political move and undoubtedly will gain the Irish vote, biit it makes an embarrassing precedent. The English in New York city have asked to have their flag honored, and the mayor is in trouble. If he grants their request he will lose the coveted Irish vote, and if he makes rules that apply to only a part of the community it will damage his political prospects in more ways than one. The path of the American statesman is exceedingly rough. "tf .