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of Araxes"; they do not understand what is meant by the cultivation of electric soul-germs, nor can reduce faith and charity to magnetism; they lay stress on "church dogma," and hesitate to reject "Paul's version of Christianity." From of old the Gnostic and the orthodox were enemies, and the Catholic faith was deemed incompatible with secret lodges of Illuminati and the calling up of spirits to give lessons in star-gazing.

A distinct feature of these ancient heretics was their rejection of the Old Testament and its Creator, whom Marcion boldly styled "malorum factorem," the Author of Evil. Though it does not seem likely that Miss Corelli has come upon their writings, she has certainly grown tired of "monotonous sermons on the old Jewish doctrine of original sin and necessary sacrifice;" she considers it "both horrible and sacrilegious," and "it has nothing whatever to do with Christianity according to Christ." She even ventures to say, as in presence of Calvary, that "no savage 'Jehovah-Jireh,' craving for murder and thirsting for vengeance, was the supreme Creator, but a Father,"-by which who can doubt that she is condemning not merely the sacrifices of Judaism, but the author of them? And in this frame of mind she publishes "Barabbas."

"Barabbas," according to the Newcastle Daily Journal, is "appallingly well written." We have quoted an occasional sentence from Miss Corelli's other performances which will justify the word "appalling;" but only a succession of pages would exhibit all it implies. There is a secret known to some writers-they belong very frequently to schools of mysticismwhereby the most luscious, scintillating and exuberant terms in a language are heaped together, until a sober man runs, to be delivered from them, "ad Garamantas et Indos," to Bradshaw's

"Railway Guide" or Todhunter's "Algebra." It is the Turkey-carpet style in which "Satan" Montgomery abounded; and such is the style of Miss Corelli at her grandest. She is loth to employ one word where three will suffice. She gives us not only poetical prose, but line after line of blank verse, and breaks out into lyric measures at unexpected moments. "Deeper and deeper drooped the dull gray gloom" is a rhythm by no means rare in her dithyrambs. But she can also write in stanzas, as thus, "A puppet whose wires society pulls, and he dances or dies as society pleases." The man so manipulated is Prince Ivan Petroffsky, "who likes to live and love and laugh," but whom Zara scolds for liking it, in patchwork monody of which these words are a sample. More subdued and pensive is a measure employed by Lady Sibyl Elton, "Away in the provinces-among the middle classes." But in her tragic night-scene with Geoffrey and Rimânez in the picture-gallery, she quickens her beat, and sings, "Polygamous purity is the new creed"-which we take to be dactyls, and a reminiscence of the classical metres. Sibyl, though every one dreamt she had tender feelings-it would be hard to say why-was indeed "the soul of a harpy, a vulture of vice," and came to a bad end, in spite of her rhythmical protests against society as now constituted. It was her husband, Geoffrey Tempest, who consorted with "blueblooded blacklegs,"- -an association from which no man could reasonably hope to escape without harm to his character and reputation.

"Ardath" and "Barabbas" revel in this very false gallop of verses, often not quite so tolerable as the right butterwoman's trot to market. "Afraid to move they knew not why, and waiting for they knew not what," Miss Corelli's readers must often, like Theos Alwyn, have yielded to the "always

reluctant smile" which distinguished that ineffable person, but which they would fain not indulge while studying even a "dream" of sacred events. Yet who, without strong control of his muscles, could resist on meeting such Ancient Pistolese as the following?—

"I will confront the fiend in woman's shape, -the mocking, smiling, sweetvoicea, damnëd devil,-who lured us to treachery. Judith, sayest thou?" Or this again, "To her the sensual priest-confided all his plan;-he trained her in the part she had to play;-by his command, and in his very words,-she did persuade and tempt her credulous brother." Or

this, "Tear thy reverend hairs, unreverent Jew, thou, who as stiffnecked, righteous Pharisee didst practise cautious virtue and self-seeking sanctity, and now through unbelief art left most desolate." Or this, "The devil in this fisherman will move the world." Or this, "Take my advice and journey thou to Rome,-I'll fill thy pouch with coin,-settle thyself as usurer there, and lend out gold to Cæsar."

Enough, and too much. Surely it is one of the strangest portents of a strange time that this fustian verse should be counted an improvement on the Gospel, and cried up as "the Contemplation of the Ideal." Miss Corelli has chosen to write a miracle-play. We do not blame her for so choosing, had she observed the conditions. Her instinct did, in fact, warn her that to set any words of her own on the lips of the chief character would be thought sacrilege, and she wisely refrained. But she did not refrain from turning the "World's Tragedy" into a tale of human passion, with Caiaphas for its hero and a raving woman for its centre of interest. She did not refrain from assimilating Christ to a "mighty muscular" Hercules and a "crowned Apollo." She did not refrain from handling the Prince of the Apostles as a grotesque and ludicrous personage,

or from making him the accomplice of Judas in his treachery. As might have been expected in view of her Gnostic tendencies-and an American journal perceives it without understanding that motive-her volume was sure to be "striking in its fresh and sympathetic representations of Judas, Barabbas and others"-a result gained by violent distortion of the sacred narrative and in contradiction to its spirit. For, if anything is clear amid the reserves and silences of the inspired writers, it is that Barabbas had neither part nor lot in Christian grace, and that Judas was the "son of perdition," who in betraying his master had yielded to the avarice with which his hands were previously tainted. All this, forsooth, is now to be set aside and explained away in a glow of romance; and the redemption of mankind is to figure as an episode in a love-story on modern lines. Has so unspiritual a handling ever been dared by agnostic or infidel? Even M. Renan has kept this motive out of his too sentimental and Rousseau-like chapters. And no German has dreamt of employing it.

The persons are all conceived in that mood of hysterical excitement-we might use a stronger term-which is familiar to Miss Corelli. But many of them we know at once from her other writings. A thin disguise conceals Hellobas in Melchior, the inevitable Chaldean. Judith is the wicked soul of Ziska, who has exchanged the Pyramids for Jerusalem; and Barabbas answers to what Péladan calls the "inadequate man of fate, bewildered by social facts," whom we have seen in Geoffrey Tempest. As for the historlcal realities, from Pilate to St. Peter and the Magdalene, they are subdued to the tone of melodramatic fiction in which they have been set. It is the Gospel as an extremely ill-instructed Apocryphal writer, bent on sensation,


might have given it to us, if almost unacquainted with Eastern usages. memorable instance is afforded by the scene in which Pilate washes his hands before the multitude. Miss Corelli has never observed how ablutions are performed in the Roman ritual, which perpetuates the custom of Orientals. She describes the Roman Governor as dipping his hands "deep in the shining bowl" and "rinsing them over and over again in the clear cold element, which sparkled in its polished receptacle like an opal against fire." That mere outward show is all she can think of at a moment so solemn; but she has falsified the symbols. Had Pilate dipped his fingers repeatedly in the liquid he would have conveyed to the spectators, not that he was innocent of blood, but that he was bathing in it. She might have learnt from the Old Testament that water is poured upon the hands by a minister to cleanse them; but in her bold romancing she cares as little for the Books of Kings as she does for the Acts of the Apostles, which latter give in detail an account of the death of Judas simply fatal to her whole story.

So much for the "realism and reasonableness with which," according to one hasty critic, "the author has invested the narrative," and the "new set of motives for the betrayal." Her realism may be judged from the deliriums of Pilate, the erotic mania of Caiaphas, Judith, and Barabbas, the mention of "angels" in the mouth of a Roman centurion, the bells that rang out at morn and eve in an Eastern city, the "sepulchre between the hills" in which Christ was laid, the copying of field lilies in wood by St. Joseph, against the express commandment of the law, and other details, great and small, which give to this apparently passionate description of an eye-witness all the unreality of convention. As regards the traitor and his action,

those who will read De Quincey's celebrated essay on Iscariot may satisfy themselves that "the life of Judas, under a German construction of it," was long ago exhibited "as a spasmodic effort of vindictive patriotism and of rebellious ambition, noble by possibility in its grand central motive, though erring and worldly-minded.” “All this, I believe, was originally due to the Germans," adds De Quincey; it cannot, therefore, be claimed by the author of "Barabbas," though she has rendered herself liable for whatever degree of heterodoxy it may involve, and is thus a plagiarist of Rationalism, as in her doctrine of "soul-germs" and electric protoplasm she has unwittingly drawn nigh to the camp of Darwin. But beyond the Germans we can perceive the Marcionites; and the vindication, entire or partial, of "Judas the devil” goes back as far as the second century. That which Miss Corelli shares with no other mortal past or present is the "tale of love," at once modern and highly flavored, in which she has mingled the incidents of the death of Christ as if they were the proper subject-matter of a one-volume novel.

There are those who imagine that such writing implies a lively Christian faith in the story-teller and a certain devoutness in the thousands of her readers. But sentiment is not religion; nor is religion quite the same as "religiosity;" and fictions founded on Biblical narratives appeal to multitudes simply as new sensations, or as stage-plays, without serious meaning. They are not dogma, but legend and mythology. At the best they belong to the art of literature; at the worst they lead to the degradation of sacred themes for the purpose of "thrill." The effect of "Barabbas"-which is not so chaotic as various other of Miss Corelli's inventions-is much rather to excite than to edify. It is certainly an attack on the Old Testament; and

we have seen what it makes of the New. Chief objects of its scornful invective are "Jehovah" and Peter the Apostle. And, in spite of St. Paul, we are required to maintain that "for ever and for ever, from this day, shall Israel be cast out from the promises of life eternal." It is not exactly pleasant to be quoting this convulsive blank verse, which begins anywhere, to end as the author chooses. But how is reverence for the Bible promoted by denying the Pauline theology, or free-thinking discouraged by language like the following, which Miss Corelli, out of her teeming fancy, assigns to the high priest Caiaphas?— "There shall be no new creeds to conquer time; the one Jehovah shall suffice the one revengeful, blood-demanding, jealous God-whose very name doth terrify the world." If we turn to the extreme left wing of heterodoxylet us say to Flaubert, who was an -ostentatious anti-Christian-we shall not hear language more violent or more Voltairean. The "Temptation of St. Antony" has its portrait of the God of Israel; it is hardly so forbidding as this, and not so intolerable a caricature of what the ancient Scripture teaches.

Not religion, but degenerate emotion, is therefore the element in which these miracle plays move, and their tone is that of erotic mysticism. Leaving out of controversy the Redeemer's figure-concerning which silence is the only fit answer to Miss Corelli, with her "Apollos" and her "statuesque forms" and her "marble gods of song" -let us consider Rimânez, the fallen spirit whose "sorrows" she has emblazoned. She looks up to him as a hero, writes his epic, defends him against the accusations of mankind, and appears to forget in what book he has been described as a liar and murderer from the beginning. To such lengths will Byronic sentiment betray

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the susceptible, whose leading principle it is that "Really, I cannot picture an ugly fiend," and "Nature is bound to give a beautiful face to a beautiful spirit." Hence "Ahrimanes"-who has got rid of his first syllable, and takes instead of it the operatic name Lucio -is incomparably the handsomest creature wherever he goes-a Don Juan who might, if he cared, become "l'epouseur du genre humain." But he does not care. He hates women, and they adore him. Even Mavis Clare thought Satan must be "a dangerously fascinating personage”—she never pictured him as "the possessor of hoofs and a tail"; and we must certainly agree when she adds: "Common sense assures me that no creature presenting himself under such an aspect would have the slightest power to attract." Lucio, therefore, had a "finelyshaped head,” which was "nobly poised on such shoulders as might have befitted a Hercules;" in "Barabbas" another, not Lucio, was compared to Hercules. And the rest of him matched his fine head, but all in the melancholy and magnificent style of Lara. The demon "carried the visible evidence of wealth upon him," and a coronet on his visiting-cards; he called the Prince of Wales his friend, and he lived at the Grand Hotel. What a descent from the supernatural fiend of Marlowe and Milton!

But all the while, he was engaged upon a task as bewildering as it was contradictory. Whence derived? He must have borrowed it, we think, from Kundry, the mad-woman in "Parsifal." Judge, rather, as the French say. Mr. Max Nordau has given a rude but not inaccurate description of Kundry's business, which will fit that of Rimânez to a hair:

"Not only," he says, "is Kundry not allowed to labor for her own salvation; she is compelled to employ all her strength to prevent it. For her

redemption depends on her being despised by a man; and the task assigned her is to turn to account all her seductive power and win the man. She must by all possible means thwart him, by whom her redemption is to be wrought, from becoming her redeemer. If the man yields, she is lost, by her action, though not by her fault; if he resists, she is saved without deserving it, because she has done her utmost to seduce him."

In other words, the moral disposition, the good will and ethical choice of Kundry or Rimânez is to count for nothing, while an external agency, the caprice or malevolence of somebody else, is to determine their fate. Where Richard Wagner found this extraordinary idea we cannot pretend to say; but certain it is that Miss Corelli did not light upon it in the pages of the New Testament. Yet her creed, of which it is a conspicuous article, often repeated, "has its foundation in Christ alone."

Rimânez is a music-hall devil, vulgar, flashy and given to slang, who can descend to speak of his guests as "grinning, guzzling, sensual fools," and who says of modern women, "they are merely the unnatural and strutting embryos of a new sex which will be neither male nor female." Lucifer and Miss Corelli are both apt, in their search after vigorous expressions, to fall into a style which leaves us afraid, with some amazement, lest our sense of what is Miltonic on the one hand or lady-like on the other, should be deserting us. There is the story of "Ziska"-we might term it a "pyramidal" romance, were we writing in her style-which will furnish abundant examples of what its author deems refined in the way of epithets; and we read in it of Sir Chetwynd Lyle, "the stout parvenu with his pendant paunch," as also of his wife, who is sometimes Lady Lyle, tout court, and occasionally Lady Chet

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delicate satire when Rimânez alludes to Sir Henry Irving as "one of my friends;" and the candor of science when Heliobas tells his lady patient, "There are many of your sex who are nothing but lumps of lymph and fatty matter;" and Chalclean politeness which laughs at "poor mechanical Arabella Goddard;" and only Mr. Villiers, the critic, who remarks in private conversation that "Swinburne has certainly not much

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beauty." We may pardon of these things, as "blunt almost brutal honesty," indeed; but how can a fallen angel have so forgotten the splendor of Milton's verse that he comes down to rant and pantomime and the stereotype of the "London Reader?"

Sometimes he abounds in analytic propositions à priori, as when he informs us that women "are the mothers of the human race," which is, at present, indisputable, although one wishes he would not say it in verse. But he can also fling out a startling paradox. "Everything in the Universe is perfect," he says, "except Man," showing, we imagine, that he never has walked round a museum of anatomy or studied the lower creation in detail. He has a rhythm of his own, not always equal to the music in "Paradise Lost." "Remember," he cries, "the very devil was an angel once." He looks out on the world, and he cannot forbear exclaiming, "What a trumpery clod of kickable matter!" Miss Corelli despises Browning; but this loud line might be a quotation from "Mr. Sludge the Medium;"

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