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tory mules and exorbitant demands on can critic proclaimed the fashion of the part of the men. One mule pan- local color to be the most modern phase nier could not be locked, and we no- of literature; and he did not speak enticed that the man in charge hurried tirely without book. The Indian stories on in a most unaccountable manner. of Mr. Kipling have been a striking feaThis aroused my suspicion, so I hur- ture of recent literature, and the exotic ried on and caught him up suddenly descriptions of Pierre Loti landed that in a hollow way, where he was in the singularly unacademic mariner safely act of unloading the mule with the evi- in the desired haven of the French dent object of helping himself. The Academy with unusual rapidity. men showed a strong inclination to stop There is now hardly any corner of the at Lakhos, which was overcome with earth which is not being explored by a some little trouble-after which every writer or group of writers for the purwine shop on the road claimed their at- poses of what is called local color in tention, and it was late before they got fiction. Malay tales we have, and Kaffir into Canea. We walked down in a tales, and tales of the South Sea Islands. leisurely way, stopping at a little vil- In America every state will soon have lage called Fourné for some excellent its sacer vates to bestow a moderate imcoffee and oranges. Here we hired mortality upon its particular character horses and jogged into town in the and charm. The Californian stories of evening.
Bret Harte have been followed (at a It is a mistake for any one travelling long distance) by stories of the Tennesin Crete to take a lot of supplies from see mountains, of the New England vilhome or from Athens. Å few tinned lage, of the Southern plantation and of provisions for an emergency are suffi- the great prairie farm; while we on our cient. Wine costs about three half- side have our tales of Thrums and Gallopence a bottle and is very drinkable way, of Irish bogland and Highland and wholesome, though light. Vegeta- glen, of Wessex, and Devon and Cornbles can always be got, also lamb, very wall. If mortal things now touch the cheap. Eggs are a drug in the market, mind of Théophile Gautier, the revival as the villages abound with fowls. of the phrase and its modern vogue Tea, coffee, and sugar (which will al- must give his spirit some moments of ways be stolen if left open) must be delightful reminiscence; for la couleur taken out. The rustic natives, both locale was a watchword, one might say Moslem and Orthodox Church, are not the watchword, of Gautier himself and so black as they are painted; it is the his young romantic legion just seventy town-dwellers, of whom our servants years ago. Local color, Prosper Mérimée afforded a fair type, who are the black told Taine in the after days, was the sheep and who have gained for this Holy Grail of the young Romantics; and fertile and beautiful little island the in 1827 when he too was a Romantic, reputation earned by it in the days of he held it for dogma with the rest that, St. Paul and sustained without inter
save in local color, there was no salvamission to the present day.
tion. When Eugène de Nully was in H. C. LOWTHER. Africa, his friend Gautier wrote to him,
"Just send me a few pots of local color, and I will make famous Turkish and Algerian stories." A few pots of local
color, and literature was easy then. From Macmillan's Magazine.
Victor Hugo had written poems of the ON
PRACTICE OF East, and Musset tales of Italy and LOCAL COLOR.
Spain, and these had been the predecesLocal color is a phrase with a history; sors of a motley progeny of exotic poetry it is a phrase familiar also in current and romance. Everything foreign was criticism and literary talk at the present in favor, everything French at a dismoment. Only the other day an Ameri- count. “The other peoples say Homer,
Dante, Shakespeare; we say Boileau;" ern politics were simply an offence to so wrote Hugo scornfully in the preface them. Pétrus Borel being the only to to "Les Orientales." Shakespeare's publican among them. The pourpoint name was much in the mouths of the rose, on the other hand was a badge of Romantics, Stendhal's pamphlet on Ra- mediævalism. Mediæval Gothic was cine and Shakespeare having saved for a while their only wear in religion them probably the shock of contact and politics as well as art. It was quite with the original.
a schism, Gautier said, when he introPerhaps the most naif symptom of duced the antique. Gautier himself the fashion was the divine discontent was happy in a Merovingian head of of the young men with their own hair. If you could not look like Childe French names. Maxime du Camp has ric or Clovis, it was well to have the aptold us how after reading Hugo's "Ro- pearance of a mabarajah. A certain mance Mauresque,” he envied the Bouchardy owed his prestige among the happy mortal who not only carried a Romantics not so much to his ultrajewelled dagger as of course, but had a Gothic designs and his inexhaustible name like Don Rodrigue de Lara. Hav- memory for Hugo's verse, as to his ing to choose a title for a youthful book Asiatic complexion. In muslin and turof his own, he called it “Wistibrock ban he was an Indian prince to the life, l'Islandais.” Why Iceland, why Wisti- said Gautier; and when he rose to leare brock, he asked himself with stupefac- their company they felt as if his palantion in later years? Yet while indulg- quin was waiting at the door. He was ing his fancy in fiction, he endured his the mildest-mannered of men, but the own baptismal name. It was not so picturesque ferocity of his appearance with others. What imaginative geog- gave, in the opinion of his friends, a very raphy was responsible for the name of salutary shock to the prosperous citizen Pétrus Borel it is idle to conjecture; but of Paris. Failing the physique of a mawhen Théophile Dondey transformed harajah and the Merovingian head of himself into Philothée O'Neddy, and hair, the next best thing was to be of a Auguste Maquet became Augustus livid and cadaverous countenance, with MacKeat, the exotic intention is plainly, the gloom of fate on a Byronic brow. if inaccurately, indicated. MacKeat For this midsummer madness Gautier may not sound very Scotch on this side kept his zest to the end. After romanof the channel, nor Philothée O'Neddy ticism had gone out, and science and convincingly Irish; but both were near pseudo-science had come in, nay, after enough for the Latin quarter. It may the iron of calamitous reality had enbe remembered that Hugo introduced tered the soul of Paris and of her chilthe bagpipes into a romance for local dren,-first capitulation, then famine, color, and contentedly called them then bombardment, a disaster, as Gau"bugpipes” through chapter after chap- tier characteristically remarked to ter and edition after edition, without Goncourt, completely satisfying erery any protest from French readers. canon of art-even then, and till his Young romantic bloods, cursed with death, his delight was to talk local color the common name of Jean, revived the with congenial spirits and discuss the mediæval h, and called themselves, great days which the phrase recalled Jehan. For, as Gautier explained, the to him. yearning for the foreign embraced time Mérimée did not remain so faithful as well as space; their nostalgia, as he to the doctrine in which he was brought called it, was for other ages as well as up. He began bravely. Local color beother lands. His own red waistcoat at ing, as he said, their Holy Grail, he and "Hernani” for example, about which his young friend Ampère began by vowall the fuss was made, was not a red ing themselves to its quest through the waistcoat at all; it was a pourpoint countries of the earth. They had enrose. A red waistcoat would have thusiasm but alack! they had no money, smacked of modern politics; and mod- and in modern Europe not even knighterrantry can be managed without Childe Harold. Before Hugo and Musmoney. In this difficulty they decided set was the English Byron. When the to lay on the local color out of their young French Romantics were playing own heads at home, and afterwards to at sultans and bandits in the purlieus of travel upon the profits of the books to Paris, they acknowledged to themsee if their pictures were like. In prose- selves that they were vying on unequal cution of this hopeful plan, young terms with Milord Byron, with his real Mérimée took Dalmatia to be his prov- adventures and exotic loves and his ince, and in a fortnight, it is said, pro- draught of blood (or was it punch?) out duced a volume of what purported to be of a hollow skull in the authentic vaults translations from the Illyrian. This of Newstead Abbey. It was our own spirited essay in local color, if not re- Byron and Scott and Ossian Macphermunerative in money, was so success- son who spread the romantic fashion ful in accomplishment that the sup- for local color through Europe. And in posed product of Illyrian genius was France itself, before Hugo, there was gravely discussed by German savants, Chateaubriand; and before Chateauand was thought worthy of translation briand's descriptions of the virgin by the Russian poet Poushkine. The forests of America, Bernardin de Saintfacile success, he told Taine after. Pierre had introduced into French literwards, opened his eyes to the cheap- ature the blazing flowers and luxuriant ness of the trick and killed at a blow growths of the tropics. It is indeed to his belief in the virtue of local color. Saint-Pierre that French critics are inSo at least he used to say in the after clined to give the credit of the initiayears; yet perhaps it is not necessary tion of what they call exotism. to take him quite at his word. It was The exotism of the chief romantics Mérimée's little way to mask his emo- was, it has to be admitted, rather supertions and to make light of his convic- ficial. “Les Orientales” was one of the tions; nor will the judicious reader flags about which the fight for local forget that there are no sounder monu- color fastened; but Hugo's Oriental colments of the romantic use of local color oring was the merest theatrical decorathan Mérimée's own little master- tion. Hugo and Musset knew nothing pieces, "Tamango,” “Mateo Falcone,” whatever at first hand of the East or of "Carmen,” “Colomba."
Spain. Hugo ultimately got as far It was in “Colomba” that Mérimée afield as to the Channel Islands, but it published the recantation of his early was a decree of banishment that took faith. He drew a satirical portrait of a him there; and when Musset was ofyoung English lady returning from fered the chance of travel in that Spain Italy disgusted because she had failed which
the romantic's land of to find there the local color she was in promise, he refused to go. Théophile quest of, and being recommended to try Gautier, on the other hand, was no inher luck in Corsica. “Local color!” ex- considerable traveller, and a traveller claims Mérimée, commenting on the with an unusual eye for the picturesque. young lady's fancy; "explain who can And the unhappy Gérard de Nerval, anthe meaning of the phrase, which I un- other of the vanguard of 1830, not only derstood so well some years ago, but dwelt for some time in Constantinople which I understand no longer.” He and Cairo, but carried his cult of local understood the thing, however, so well color to the length of wedding an Abysstill, that no traveller's kit to Corsica sinian wife. His French friends were has since been complete without a copy full of curiosity concerning her; and Géof "Colomba."
rard assured them gently that she was The young English lady's craving for yellow all over. the local color of Italy reminds us that That the local color of Hugo and the the fashion was no new thing in the rest was not so thorough as that of Gé. days of Mérimée and Gautier. The rard's Abyssinian wife was apparent to Italy of her dreams was the Italy of many minds even in the hey-day of
romanticism. When Amédée Jaubert, boleth of revolution to be distinguished the Orientalist, was quoting Saadi one from the elementary maxims of art! day, and Maxime du Camp retaliated In this catholic sense Homer was as with "Les Orientales," the other much a master of local color as Théoshrugged his shoulders, and said that phile Gautier. This is probably what making Oriental poetry without know- Mérimée meant when he said he no ing the East was like making rabbit pie longer understood the meaning of the without the rabbit. It was no doubt term. What in fact did Maupassant's the superficial and unreal character of lessons in style from Flaubert come to this popular local color that dissatisfied but this,-that whether he described a Mérimée, in whom the impulse of Carthaginian battle or a carriage passscholarship was at least as strong as ing the club window, it should be imthe impulse of romance. He was in possible for readers to mistake his parfact not strictly of the Hugolatrous ticular battle or carriage for any other? generation, but a disciple of Stendhal, The secret of style, in other words, lay a man who knew Italy by heart; and in accurate local color; and thus the rohis sympathies were less with the en- mantic battle cry is found transformed thusiasms of 1830 than with the spirit into the school maxim of realism. of erudition and science of the genera- That the thing called realism was intion which followed. Nobody knew deed the natural sequel and complebetter than Mérimée that the phrase ment of romanticism has long been which was so much in the mouths of clear. It was so both by development militant romantics meant originally and reaction. For the Orientalism and something wider and deeper than a mediævalism of their predecessors the decorative use of Arab steeds and Span- French Realists substituted the local ish cloaks and mediæval mummery. color of the province and the gutter. The phrase had been coined to express It need not be supposed that this later opposition to the colorless uniformity of local color is always of unimpeachable the classical ideal. On the French accuracy. The realist, being for the stage in the grand siècle everybody most part but the romantic topsy-turvy, wore the same fine wigs and spoke the is quite as fond, after his own fashion, same fine Alexandrines in the same of forcing and falsifying his tones for academic vocabulary. The cry for local effect. Still the free license of the imcolor was the cry of revolt against this agination is undoubtedly more retyrannous uniformity; a cry for the con- strained in dealing with things which crete and the characteristic in place of lie under the writer's and reader's nose; the conventional type. It was by an and the more exacting standard of acintelligible transition enough that the curacy required on familiar ground sacred cause came to be identified with reacted in turn on the imaginative dramas of Spanish outlaws pictur- freedom of unfamiliar description. esquely defying the old-fashioned rules Moreover, the whole trend of the postof French prosody. The fight of classic romantic generation was in the direcand romantic was like other literary tion of science and observation. Inbattles, a battle with confused noise, deed, romanticism itself was both a and in the confusion the further the ro- symptom and a stimulus of awakening mantics got from Racine the safer they interest in things remote in place and felt, and the flags of Hugo and Musset time, which was bound to lead and did were no bad banners to follow. But lead, to exploration and research. The originally the cry for local color was not effect of the change on the old romantic a cry merely for foreign color; it was a cult of local color was naturally concry for characteristic and appropriate siderable, and the immediate effect may color. Only, and here perhaps was be observed in Flaubert, who in this Mérimée's later difficulty, if local color as in other matters, has the interest for signified no more than appropriate and criticism of occupying a transitional characteristic color, how was the shib- position. Flaubert grew up a romantic
of the romantics, and his literary ambi- with perfume as his own “Salammbo." tion was to produce a masterpiece of As is always the case in controversy belocal color. This aspiration of his early tween competent antagonists, there years took form, in the fulness of time was truth on both sides. But it is perand after protracted labor, in the tinent to observe that Flaubert's citaCarthaginian romance of “Salammbo.” tion of Esther and Judith tells against “Salammbo" is a book of local color all himself; if he had written their stories compact; but it is local color not at all there would have been no need of the of the earlier romantic pattern. The admonition to
noses. The formula was the same, but the spirit is Oriental writers, on the other hand, not altered. The yearning for a climate being set upon executing a tour de force more flamboyant than the native grey of local color, make, in spite of all the of his Norman skies, the itch to startle Oriental coloring, the human story the the conventional Frenchman, are quite predominant interest. in the romantic tradition; but the spirit And this brings us to the question of the later generation asserts itself in which is of something more than hisFlaubert's extraordinary anxiety to torical interest, the practical question, make his exotic color true. The Car- what is the true method and manner of thage of "Salammbo" is, I dare say, not local color under our modern condia little unlike the real Carthage; but tions? Some incompatibility there does that Flaubert took all possible pains to seem to be between the new knowledge make it as like as he could was abun- and the old romance. When a certain dantly proved in his controversies with critic objected to “The Story of an his critics. Not only had he travelled in African Farm" that there were no lions Africa and explored the site, though so in it, the author replied that that kind much locomotion as was needed for a of African romance was best written walk round his garden was irksome to in Piccadilly. Well, there are not a few him, but he furthermore made himself who still prefer the old-fashioned stoacquainted with every document which ries, with lions in them, written in Piccould throw light on Carthaginian his- cadilly to such a sample of the new tory or character. And what was the fashion as "The Story of an African effect of this elaborately studied color? Farm.” They argue that Defoe never Sainte Beuve expressed what, I think, got much further from home than to the must be the general verdict, when he pillory, and that Crusoe's island is good complained that this tour de force of local enough for them. They protest that color lacked all human interest. Flau- Charles Kingsley depicted the West bert retorted that his critic's distaste Indies very nicely out of the windows was the measure of his own success, of his English parsonage. They rethat it was precisely because the local member that when Tom Moore complacolor was genuine and not a mere ro- cently recorded the compliments he remantic decoration, that his critic missed ceived on his description of Cashmere the kind of human interest he looked in "Lalla Rookh," the very point he for.' What he would have liked, said was proud of was that he had never set Flaubert, was a set of sentimental foot in the country. And such too was Frenchmen masquerading in Cartha- the boast of Harriet Martineau for her ginian fancy dress; the real barbaric “Feats on the Fjords," which till lately Moloch-worshipping Carthaginian was was an ordinary English guide to Nornot nice to a Parisian taste. And when way. And yet even those who rate roagain Sainte Beuve protested that he mance above barren knowledge must was unable to feel the fascination of a confess that the day for this easy-going beauty daubed with vermilion and poi- kind is over. Geographical science it soned with perfume. Flaubert begged might have survived, but scarcely an him to take his Bible and to use his era of steam, and Cook's tours, and spenose; Judith and Esther, he assured cial correspondents. A
will him, were every bit as much poisoned hardly venture to lay on his local color