Abbildungen der Seite

sufficiently distinct to be discriminated by separate names. But Mr. Darwin has admirably well explained, in his Origin of Species, how this settlement of northern forms at the extremity of South America may have come to pass. They are nearly all of them types which are widely spread in the northern parts of North America as well as of Europe, and in the age of ice, when the general temperature was colder than at present, they may have gradually spread southwards, along the mountain chains of the two American continents, even to the extreme south. When the world became warmer, they may have perished from all those regions in which anything like a tropical climate established itself; and being thus restricted to the cold southern latitudes, or to the highest mountain tracts, the greater number of them may have become so far modified by isolation and by change of circumstances as to be now considered as different species; while some few, of more robust constitutions, kept their characters unaltered. There are some anomalies which as yet remain unexplained; for instance the Primula Magellanica of Fuegia is, according to Dr. Hooker, the same species with the northern Primula farinosa, yet nothing like it has been seen on the Andes or in any intermediate locality. But, speaking generally, I believe we shall be justified in supposing that the specially northern or European forms of vegetation in Fuegia are colonists, dating from the glacial period. Care must be taken, in inquiries of this kind, not to assume too hastily that a particular form is specially European, because we happen to be familiar in Europe with some one example of it. The most abundant and conspicuous trees in Tierra del Fuego are two kinds of beech; and we are apt to look on beeches as trees characteristic of our part of the world. But, in point of fact, the majority of the known kinds of beech are peculiar to the southern temperate zone, and there are more of them in South America than in the whole of the northern hemisphere.

Setting aside, then, the plants of northern types, which may be considered as immigrants of ancient date, and some belonging to families which are almost universally diffused, the vegetation of

the Magellanic region may be said to be of a distinctly South American type; meaning by this, that its characteristic plants belong to well-marked groups which are either confined to that continent, or have a great majority of their species peculiar to it. I have already noticed two conspicuous instances in the Desfontainia and Drimys, which, either as single species or groups of closely allied species, range through the whole length of the continent. The Fuchsia, also, of Tierra del Fuego is very similar to those kinds which grow on the mountains of Brazil and New Granada. Calceolaria, again, a genus specially characteristic of the Andes, extends into Fuegia; and many other genera of plants which have their headquarters in Chili or Peru, or even on the table land of Brazil, have single representatives in that dreary southern region. Like the humming-birds and the parrots, which have been seen to visit their blos soms even in the midst of snow-storms,* the Fuchsia and the Winter's-bark tree of the Straits of Magellan forcibly recall the idea of those more genial climates, from which they might be imagined to be wanderers.

South America, then, including the West Indian islands, appears to be, in botany as well as in zoology, one of the best-defined and most distinct natural divisions of the earth's surface. It is at least as distinct from North America as Africa from Asia. If the native human inhabitants of the two American Continents belong, as has been usually affirmed, to one and the same race, no such unity of type can be traced, speaking gener ally, either in their lower animal popula tion or in their vegetable productions. Whether this was always the case, whether South America was always so distinct a natural history region as it is now, from what period of the earth's history its special peculiarities may date, whether the more recent geological changes have tended to increase or to diminish its distinctness from other regions, these and many similar questions we have, as yet, no sufficient data for answering. Future discoveries in the geology of that interesting continent may hereafter, possibly, afford materials for partly solving them;

*See Captain King's Voyages.

and they suggest wide and fruitful topics for inquiry to those who may have the means of following them out.


The Saturday Review.


EVER since Lord Macaulay wrote his eloquent panegyric on "that house once celebrated for its rare attractions to the furthest ends of the civilized world," the resort of wits and beauties, philosophers and scholars, where "the men who guided the politics of Europe, and moved great assemblies by reason and eloquence, were mixed with all that was loveliest and gayest in the society of the most splendid of capitals," it has been a pet ambition of the female bosom to preside over a similar institution. Holland House remains to this day the beacon and the despair of ladies who want to associate their names with what is called "an agreeable house." Yet very few of them seem to have made anything like a scientific study of their great model. It may be useful, there fore, to point out its principal characteristics. Three things combined to make Holland House what it was. The first was its prestige. From Addison to Fox, it had been the abode or resort of men famous in literature and politics. No spot in London was more thoroughly classical ground. Its traditions raised, as it were, a presumption of the social charm with which it was invested. Secondly, it was throughout regulated with exquisite taste. The ostentation of wealth was utterly eschewed. Nothing gaudy or garish found admission there, but much that was rich, elegant, and picturesque. No staring accessories threw wit and humor and conversational talent into the shade. The place was pervaded with a tone of subdued splendor, which made a suitable background for the brilliant men and women who assembled in it. Thirdly, there Thirdly, there was what Lord Macaulay calls the "peculiar character" of the circle, that in it every talent and accomplishment, every art and science, had its place. It was this well-assorted variety in the guests which made the gatherings

at Holland House unlike any others. They were not mere fortuitous concurrences of atoms, like parties given on the unenlightened or Philistine principle. Still less did they resemble parties given on the monotonous principle, like the political receptions of the present day. It was left for Tory ladies to invent the theory which has weighed like an incubus on their social efforts for half a century, that, as are my lord's politics, so shall my lady's visiting list be. Nor are they to be confounded with parties given on what may be called the LeoHunter principle, which consists of driving a lot of notabilities together into one room. It was the aim of Holland House not merely to assemble remarkable people, but people remarkable in all sorts of different ways. Every talent and accomplishment was to be represented, every art and science was to contribute its quota. The poet should meet the painter, the soldier should exchange ideas with the statesman. It was this contact of minds trained in dif ferent careers, and exercised on various objects, which constituted its specialty. No doubt Holland House had its set, but it was a set in which great contrasts were included, and which was perpetually assimilating some fresh element of interest. These three "notes" of the great original must coëxist in any attempt to reproduce it with success. There must be some sort of prestige to start with. It need not, of course, be local. Houses in which Addison has lived are difficult to find. The traditions of Belgrave Square are not very inspiring. But the prestige may be personal. There must be something in the character of the host or hostess which will justify the presumption of an agreeable house under their auspices. If, for instance, some notorious bore in the House of Commons, with a notoriously insipid wife, announces "Wednesdays" or "Saturdays," their hospitable intentions are defeated by nobody's going to them. Secondly, the arrangements made for "receiving" must be tasteful, and on a scale of adequate, but not oppressive, splendor. Holland House in a barn, or even on the East side of Tottenham Court Road, would be an impossibility. Thirdly, there must be as much variety as possible among the guests. There

must be political people, and learned people, and distinguished people, and beautiful people, and fashionable people. These are the three conditions on which the success of any attempt to revive Holland House must depend.

Mock Holland House is celebrated for its furniture. It is a museum of treasures of upholstery. The sofas are delicious; when you sink back on one it is like bathing in eider-down. And there is such a variety of beautiful shapes for you to take your choice of if you are inclined to sit. You may subside into a rocking-chair, which will recall the hallowed associations of your infancy by its cradle-like undulations. Or you may throne yourself on a gorgeous ottoman, and enjoy the dignified ease of an Eastern sybarite. Or you may adapt the sinuosities of your frame to a well-cut and exquisitely stuffed settee, and admire. the skill of the artificer in both consulting the small of your back and placing your head at the exact conversational angle. Here are couches of satin on which Sir James Mackintosh might have flirted with Madame de Staël in perfect comfort; chairs which Talleyrand, in his most brilliant vein, would not have disdained to press; mirrors in which the lovely Duchess of Devonshire would have been glad to catch the reflection of her peerless figure; footstools over which the timid writer who found himself for the first time among Ambassadors and Earls would probably have tumbled. Then nothing can be in finer taste than the carpet and the curtains. Their color, pattern, and texture are exquisite, and blend harmoniously with the silk panels and gilt cornices of the side-walls. The ceilings are adorned with chandeliers, the pendulous lustres of which shed their trembling radiance over the scene. The mantel-piece groans with ormolu, the cabinets with china, the chiffoniers with bric-a-brac. There is nothing to recall the "antique gravity of a college library, no shelves loaded with the varied learning of many lands and many ages;" but on the table you will find Miss Braddon's last novel. Nothing is wanting that upholstery, as the handmaid of more intellectual arts, can secure. All that the carver and gilder can do, to give point to wit or charm to beauty, has been done with

lavish profusion. If bright thoughts and sparkling sayings are inspired by sumptuous surroundings, here there should be no lack of either. Mock Holland House appeals to the palate as well as to the eye. Its cuisine is exquisite. Monsieur Adolphe boasts that he is among the three first chefs in Europe. He is properly jealous of his reputation. It is whispered that when he took office he made it a condition that the attention of the guests should never be distracted, by talk or any other accessory, from his dishes. He would resign his place if a cream on which he piqued himself should, in the amusement caused by some anecdote or sprightly sally, be passed untasted. He will brook no counter attractions to his own. Lions and professed conversationalists he views as dangerous rivals. Silent or murmurous appreciation is what he expects from those for whom he condescends to cater. If he does not monopolize all the honors of the banquet, the greater share of them falls to him.. He is the real hero of the occasion. People say, when they are asked to dinner, not whom shall we meet, but what shall we eat. Their first thought is not of the company, but of the bill of fare. Entrées, not epigrams, are what they come to enjoy; not bons mots, but bonnes bouches. Beautiful young ladies, fed on air and five o'clock tea, cannot repress a culinary thrill when they receive an invitation. Calm young Guardsmen flash into momentary enthusiasm at the prospect of dining at Mock Holland House. And the literary diner-out, who has toddled to his club library to look up his evening's conversation, is heard to chuckle audibly on the hearthrug. The wines are worthy of the meats. The choicest cellars of the Continent have been ransacked for clarets and champagnes. Then it is impossible not to admire the consummate taste with which the table is arranged. Pyramids of flowers load the air with their fragrance. The display of plate and Dresden is magnificent. And, lastly, the waiting is perfect. It is like being attended by winged but noiseless genii. The very flunkeys of Mock Holland House are superior to any other flunkeys in town, while their state livery is a thing of beauty which a Lord Mayor might envy.


The mistress of Mock Holland House is not a clever woman, but, the next best thing to it, she has pretensions to cleverHer husband is clever, or she is sprung of a clever family. No one ever heard her say anything worth repeating, but her uncle in his time said many good things. She has written nothing that will live, but no library is complete withher husband's great work on Chimeras Buzzing in Vacuo. She is a reflector, if not a radiator, of mind. Her intellectual claims to the queendom of society will probably pass unchallenged until the day when some bookmaker of the future may perhaps insert her name among the Silly Wives of Celebrated Men, or the Dull Descendants of Witty Ancestors. Cleverness of a certain kind she exhibits the cleverness of concealing her real emptiness. It would take an acute observer a long summer day to discover how shallow and commonplace she is. She cannot talk like Madame de Staël, or listen like Madame Récamier, but she talks glibly and at her ease, and listens without a face of foolish wonder. And her favorite theme is Art. Art, she will give you to understand, is the great charm and solace of her life. It is only in an atmosphere of art that she can breathe freely. She must be surrounded by artistic persons and artistic things. And so affluent are these art sympathies that they expend themselves on the merest trifles. The mantel-piece for the boudoir must be designed by one virtuoso, the fender by another, and the fire irons by a third. If it is a question of coloring her walls pink or blue, she implores the advice of an art-critic, and the matter is settled by a reference to eternal principles. When she engages a groom of the chambers, she puts him through a catechism on the Beautiful and the True. And yet all this delicate fabric of transcendentalism rests on nothing more solid than a recent visit to Rome, a peep at the studios, and a smattering of Ruskinese. In her heart she cares for two things alone-gossip and dress. While she prattles about Form and Color, she is secretly thinking about bonnets; while you read Dante aloud at her request, she is inwardly fretting to hear the details of the last scandal. Her toilettes are ravishing, and kaleidoscopic in their changes. On an average they

vary three times a day. No sooner are your eyes dazzled by one lustrous silk, than it passes like a comet from your view into the limbo of lady's-maid's perquisites, and another yet more lustrous rivets your gaze. Her lace would supply the wardrobe of the College of Cardinals. On great occasions she is a blaze of diamonds. What she spends on the adornment of her person will probably never be accurately known. But, on the most moderate computation, her milliner's bill for the year must amount to the salary of a Secretary of State. This is serious for no one but her husband, who properly views it as a part of the necessary outlay for mounting an agreeable house, of which fine clothes, according to the modern notion, are a principal feature.

Nor is it only the arts of dressmaking and upholstery that have a prominent place in the gatherings of Mock Holland House. The art of gossip contributes some of its most brilliant representatives. There the Scandalous College musters in full force, under the leadership of those old-young men who act as its coryphæi. There, ball-goers of forty, who seem by a natural law of development to become the arteries of scandal to the fashionable world, circulate the stories which no dowager or old maid would willingly let die. There, the veteran leader of a hundred cotillons may be heard repeating to a crony the last personality which two rival dowagers have exchanged, or the last ill-bred speech by which a duchess has illustrated the manners of a great lady. There may be heard the details of the last Turf disclosure, the last fracas at the Opera, the last indiscretion of a brainless beauty, and the last snub which bas befallen a pushing woman. There, characters are whispered away by ingenious innuendoes, and you learn, to your surprise, that Una is not virtuous nor Ġalahad pure. There, the art of embroidering the bare fact is carried to its highest perfection. There, the reports are manufactured which nip promising flirtations in the bud, and confound the schemes of manoeuvring mothers. But scandal and tittle-tattle are not the only intellectual features of Mock Holland House. Its pretensions demand a more direct representation of literature and science. But here a difficulty occurs, for curiously

enough some of the classes who contributed largely to the lustre of the First Holland House refuse altogether to swell the triumph of the Second. Philosophers, for instance, have entirely dropped out of good society. It is said that they are afraid nowadays to venture into the streets; it is thought a wonderful thing that one has ventured into Parliament.

Possibly, to the philosophic mind, Mock Holland House is as much more formid able than the House of Commons as the House of Commons is more formidable than the streets. Anyhow, from some unexplained cause, they are now never seen at an evening party. Poets, too, are increasingly shy of candle-light. They persist in preferring the downs and the sea, and leave the field of fashion to poetasters. No one is held in more honor by Mock Holland House than the cool rhymester of the drawing-room. Not quite a Horace, nor quite a Trissotin, he is modestly content with his modicum of bays, and devotes his maturer powers to the flattery of princes, and the encouragement of genius in the person of some petulant little screamer of naughty lyrics. Statesmen were another element in the circle which Lord Macaulay has immortalized. Mock Holland House can boast no Talleyrand, though now and then an orator of the first rank may find balm for his political chagrins in the smiles of its fair mistress. But there is a swarm of political small-fry. Dandy politicians of the rosewater school throng the rooms. They may not have "moved great assemblies by eloquence or reason,' " but they have seconded the Address, or they have aired a crotchet to almost empty benches, thereby achieving a complete success of self-esteem. Then literature is represented, not indeed by men who have written great works, but by those who intend to write them. Nowhere will you find more inchoate authors, embryo novelists, and unfledged essayists. It is the literature of the future that Mock Holland House re

presents. The number of clever youths who are writing, or mean to write, a little book is one of its most creditable features. Some of them have already rushed into print. Noble Whiglets have a way of liberating their minds at a very early period. They are of two kinds those who stay at home, and

those who travel. The first gush in the magazines on such transparent topics as Church Reform and the Currency. The last travel to Timbuctoo or Pekin for no other purpose, apparently, than to show on their return

How much a dunce that has been sent to roam
Exceeds a dunce that has been kept at home

Their books may not add to the literary reputation of the peerage, but at least their publication serves to maintain its character for courage.

There still survives a remnant of old

fogies whom all this luxury and display of wealth, and even these pigmy literati, fail to satisfy. They miss the peculiar character of the true archetypal Holland House. They cannot abide this flaunting counterfeit, which the milliner and the house-decorator and the French cook have between them concocted. In their eyes it is not the Holland House of Whig traditions, but a puffy, dropsical imitation of it. It is not Holland House instinct with grace and wit and sprightli ness, but Holland House in an advanced stage of fatty degeneration. Perhaps this is only their spite at not being invited. They might alter their tone if they now and then received a card.

[blocks in formation]
« ZurückWeiter »