James R. Osgood's 1882 Holiday Edition
of Lucile Reviewd
[a newsclipping pasted into another edition of Lucile; source has not been identified].
LUCILE. By Owen Meredith. Boston: James H. Osgood & Co., 1882.
This publication merits congratulations upon this handsomely bound and profusely illustrated edition of Robert Bulwer Lytton's unsurpassed delineation of the human panorama, so graphic and intense, so wild and irrational, and yet so like the realities of observation, displaying in a light clear and vivid the enigmas, contradictions, and antagonisms which make up the life of man and woman. The central idea of this poem is the irrepressible strife that goes on in the human heart between passion and reason. The sorrow and suffering involved are not more distinctively brought into view than the fact that conflict is essential to the preservation in life of the element of nobleness and heroism. A life swayed by passions alone would not be more brutal and violent than a life governed by cold reason alone would be flat and insipid. It is generally assumed by moral and religious teachers that passion is uniformly too strong, or at least strong enough, in the human constitution, and that reason alone needs to be developed and encouraged. But it is a question, and one of importance, whether in the case of individuals, especially under the influence of high civilization, passion is not sometimes too rigidly suppressed in behalf of the calmer faculty, whether the habit of consulting reason alone does not take too much of the zest and fire out of life, and whether the culture of legitimate passion would not tend to symmetry of character. Is it worse continually to aim alone at what is proper and prudent, conventional and expedient? May not such a course invest actual experience with something of the same dullness and stupidity which it would impart to the actors in a poem? The constancy of Bulwer's amiable heroine in her affection and her fidelity to lofty principle are set in artistic contrasts with the puerile vacillation of one of her suitors and the sensual impetuosity of the other. The inquiry is suggested, does the development of refined feeling and heroic virtue depend upon association with coarseness and vulgarity as a matter of fact or merely as a fiction of art? And why must ideal excellence be subjected to such severe probation? Why must it be torn on the rack of adverse circumstance and cruel deprivation in order to display the wealth of its charms? Why would Lucile, as the happy wife and mother, be less attractive to contemplate and less inspiring to imitate than in her disappointment and desolation? The poem, however, as here presented, furnishes not only a study for the speculative and philosophical, but also an ample opportunity for simple and quiet entertainment. While the writer has given due attention to the outward aspects of things in numerous captivating descriptions of scenes in nature and life, the publishers have secured the assistance of our ablest and most distinguished artists to embellish the pages with engravings that it is a positive pleasure to examine, aside from the impressiveness that they impart to the images called up by the verse.
Last revised: 25 August 2010