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mother of many children, the there is somewhat too much of smiling domestic martyr, whose the dry bones of archæological relittle tragedy has taken a place search, but where the character of among our most cherished recollec- the handsome, poetic, crafty and tions as completely as if we had self-seeking Greek is extraordinary been members of the little rural in its relentless power. parliament which discussed her Another woman who has been set simple story. The power and the up by some writers on a pedestal pathos of this most remarkable almost as high-Charlotte Brontë, beginning, and its heart-breaking the author of Jane Eyre'-lived catastrophe, does not prevent it and died before George Eliot was from being at the same time full heard of. Any comparison between of all the humours of a fresh and the two would be a mistake. The unexplored country, delightful in three books upon which Charlotte indications of rustic character, and Brontë's fame is founded were pasin those wise sayings of village sionate narratives of a woman's sages which afterwards rose in mind and heart, pent up without Mrs Poyser to the climax of pro- outlet or companionship-reflecverbial wisdom. The books which tions of an individual being, exfollowed this in succession—- Adam tremely vivid and forcible, but in Bede,' • The Mill on the Floss,' and no way, we think, to be compared •Silas Marner'-raised George with the far stronger, higher, and Eliot's name to the very highest broader work which we have just level of English writers. It is need- discussed. There is but one strain less to dwell upon books which of intense sentiment in these books everybody knows so well. They are the desire of a lonely creature full of power and insight, of un- longing for its mate, an all-engrossfailing humour, and at the same ing thought which does not prevent time of the deepest pathos, some- the heroine from seeing everything times rising to the height of tra- around with wonderfully vivid pergedy. In this vein, we know of ceptions, the eyes of genius, but nothing more powerful than the which intensifies the sensations of journey of Hetty Sorrel in quest of solitude, and the vagrancy of the her lover and betrayer, and the re- heart, into a force of passion with turn home of the miserable girl, which perhaps no woman, either dazed with suffering and shame before or since, has expressed that and weariness, and the dull despair yearning of the woman towards of absolute helplessness and ignor- the man which formed part of the ance. There is nothing more im- primeval curse, and which indeed pressive or more tragic in the has produced the greater part of language. The latter works of all distinctively feminine distresses. this great writer are, to our mind, The inevitable failure in dignity injured by too much philosophy involved in this impassioned reveand the consciousness of being lation has been forgiven to her on considered a public instructor ; but account of the force which it gives there are very fine and original to her very remarkable books— creations of character in them all. which, it is only just to say, made Rosamond in Middlemarch,' and an epoch among English works of Gwendoline in Daniel Deronda,' fiction, more than did the works are exceedingly powerful concep- of George Eliot, though the latter tions, as is, perhaps the greatest of were in every way greater. Emily all, the wonderful Tito of the great and Anne Brontë have to some Italian romance Romola,' where considerable extent shared their Thackeray's humour is far more in his women, perhaps because his pervasive, delicate, and human. imagination did not require so His mind was a much more highly much for the feminine ideal; but cultivated mind, and free from those his work throughout is so perfect, associations and deprivations which his characters so living, with such make Dickens always at his least distinctness of atmosphere about best (to use no stronger words) in them, crowded though every scene the society of ladies and gentlemen. is, that this point of weakness tells Thackeray was perfectly at home the less. It is only the ideal wothere, and required nothing extra- men who are weak. Becky the inordinary, no eccentricity nor ab- imitable, whom amid all her wrongsurdity of circumstance, to open doings we cannot succeed in disup to him all that was humorous liking, the wonderful old Lady and strange in human life. He Kew, Beatrix Esmond in her needed no more than a handful of splendid youth and in her frightthe most ordinary figures, going ful age, are amazing in their force about the most usual occupations, and vivid power. to find comedy and tragedy and These two great humorists, ficall those intricacies of motive and tionists, creators, to whom it is feeling which make human crea- scarcely just to give the commoner tures pitiful and laughable, and yet title of novelists, since their art sometimes sublime and great. He was something distinct from the preferred, perhaps, to show them in craft of the raconteur, were perthe former light, to turn them out- haps the most perfect artists of side in, and reveal what they were any who have arisen in this age. thinking at the moment of their The great female writer of the first appearance, and to open out Victorian period is equally rewith the grin of a delighted dis- markable, perhaps even more so, coverer those pretences in which as being the only woman who has . they had wrapped themselves yet attained the highest place in about. But when he encountered literature. The position of George among the creations of his genius Eliot is unique. Her books have (for it was Thackeray, we think, been the object of a kind of worwho was the first to say that the ship, as she herself was while she men and women in a book had a lived; but that of its very nature will of their own, and developed is evanescent, and they have now themselves, instead of allowing to stand before a more difficult themselves to be manipulated, as tribunal—a tribunal which has not the world believes, by the hand of yet given forth its last word on their maker) one who was of no- the subject. We, however, who bler mettle, what a perfect tender- are of her generation, have little hearted gentleman, what an ideal doubt that the verdict will reman it was who rose under this main unchanged, at least in recynic's touch! Henry Esmond spect to her earlier works. The and Colonel Newcome are men to very first of these, produced without ennoble a generation. He who any previous indication of power professed to write a novel without in the maturity of her years, a hero because the being was im- affected the world at once to enpracticable, produced these two at thusiasm, and she never struck least, to prove how completely and a stronger or a deeper note than with what supreme naturalness in the simple story of Amos, or and truth the thing was to be rather of Milly Barton, the poor done. He has not been so happy curate's mild and lovely wife, the mother of many children, the there is somewhat too much of smiling domestic martyr, whose the dry bones of archæological relittle tragedy has taken a place search, but where the character of among our most cherished recollec- the handsome, poetic, crafty and tions as completely as if we had self-seeking Greek is extraordinary been members of the little rural in its relentless power. parliament which discussed her Another woman who has been set simple story. The power and the up by some writers on a pedestal pathos of this most remarkable almost as high-Charlotte Brontë, beginning, and its heart-breaking the author of · Jane Eyre'-lived catastrophe, does not prevent it and died before George Eliot was from being at the same time full heard of. Any comparison between of all the humours of a fresh and the two would be a mistake. The unexplored country, delightful in three books upon which Charlotte indications of rustic character, and Brontë's fame is founded were pasin those wise sayings of village sionate narratives of a woman's sages which afterwards rose in mind and heart, pent up without Mrs Poyser to the climax of pro- outlet or companionship-reflecverbial wisdom. The books which tions of an individual being, exfollowed this in succession—'Adam tremely vivid and forcible, but in Bede,' «The Mill on the Floss,' and no way, we think, to be

compared •Silas Marner'-raised George with the far stronger, higher, and Eliot's name to the very highest broader work which we have just level of English writers. It is need- discussed. There is but one strain less to dwell upon books which of intense sentiment in these books everybody knows so well. They are the desire of a lonely creature full of power and insight, of un- longing for its mate, an all-engrossfailing humour, and at the same ing thought which does not prevent time of the deepest pathos, some- the heroine from seeing everything times rising to the height of tra- around with wonderfully vivid pergedy. In this vein, we know of ceptions, the eyes of genius, but nothing more powerful than the which intensifies the sensations of journey of Hetty Sorrel in quest of solitude, and the vagrancy of the her lover and betrayer, and the re- heart, into a force of passion with turn home of the miserable girl, which perhaps no woman, either dazed with suffering and shame before or since, has expressed that and weariness, and the dull despair yearning of the woman towards of absolute helplessness and ignor- the man which formed part of the ance. There is nothing more im- primeval curse, and which indeed pressive or more tragic in the has produced the greater part of language. The latter works of all distinctively feminine distresses. this great writer are, to our mind, The inevitable failure in dignity injured by too much philosophy involved in this impassioned reveand the consciousness of being lation has been forgiven to her on considered a public instructor ; but account of the force which it gives there are very fine and original to her very remarkable bookscreations of character in them all. which, it is only just to say, made Rosamond in Middlemarch,' and an epoch among English works of Gwendoline in • Daniel · Deronda,' fiction, more than did the works are exceedingly powerful concep- of George Eliot, though the latter tions, as is, perhaps the greatest of were in every way greater. Emily all, the wonderful Tito of the great and Anne Brontë have to some Italian romance Romola,' where considerable extent shared their sister's fame-one with some reason, things, and when her Majesty's as the writer of the extraordinary potent example tempered everyand feverish romance • Wuthering thing, and kept the atmosphere Heights,' which in very painful- more clear than it has been since. ness and horror made an impres- Circulating libraries in watering. sion

upon the mind of the public, places where Mudie is not yet greater perhaps than its intrinsic supreme, and where books remain merits justify. Perhaps, however,

Perhaps, however, and accumulate, are the places to it was as much the remarkable make sure of Mrs Gaskell, and biography of Charlotte Brontë, in- even to bring one's self once more volving those of her sisters, written under the more powerful spell of by Mrs Gaskell, with a frankness Lucy Snowe and Jane Eyre. of revelation new to the time, We will not touch upon the though sufficiently practised since, living professors of this branch of which brought this remarkable literature, though their name is family under the observation of legion. But there are two who the world, and heightened the have also passed away into silence, effect of all their literary perform- who cannot, in presence of Dickens, ances, raising the two secondary Thackeray, and George Eliot, be figures to something of the same put in the first class of writers of level as Charlotte. Mrs Gaskell fiction, but who are wronged by herself was also well worthy of that overshadowing greatness, and note as a novelist, and, like the have a right to a first class of Brontës, belongs altogether, be- their own. Anthony Trollope and ginning and end, to the Vic- Charles Reade are enough, indeed, torian period. Their lives and to have made a generation happy. works take up but a short part of This is one of the evils of a too these fifty years, but already Mrs great wealth of genius pouring Gaskell has fallen into that re- upon us, as that fitful inspiration spectful oblivion which is the fate does, not in proportion to the of a writer who reaches a sort of time, but like that wind of greater secondary classical rank, and sur- inspiration still, which bloweth vives, but not effectually, as the where it listeth, and in defiance greater classics do. Even for ^ Jane of all laws of evolution. It is but Eyre,' though it has a much stronger the other day that Trollope was power of survival than . Mary Bar- among us, telling us those stories ton,' it is necessary now to look in of ourselves and our neighbours private libraries, or in the old-fash- which, if never reaching any suioned circulating libraries of our preme point of insight like Thackyouth, where such last. And in- eray's, are so entirely like life, and deed it would be a very profitable the people we encounter, that we exercise for the gentle reader, when all found in his books a new circle the moment comes when he (or she) of acquaintance, only so much goes to the seaside or any watering- more entertaining than those of place, to take along with his waters flesh and blood, that we had their or his baths a course of the novels story presented concisely, and had which belong to the happy days not to follow it out in fragments of the Victorian era—those days through the years, and that their when society was purer and man- minds were as open to us as their ners better—when the Queen was acts, and more interesting. Amid at the head of everything in her all his groups of clerical people, kingdom, its pleasures and its so- what excellent company! The cial habits, as well as more serious Grantleys in ordinary life would

some

as he.

not admit us to all their confer- The spice of adventure, of exciteences as that pair do, with their ment, and of extravagance in him anxieties for their family, and belongs to a much higher imaginadesire to see everybody belonging tive level, but there is a correto them well established and com- sponding failure in the commonfortable, their little mutual dis. places wherein Trollope's strength approvals and criticisms, and im- lies. Charles Reade is a little impatience with the foolish other patient of that everyday level. He people who will always take their loves to tell an exciting story, to own way,—the old Warden, so blow a pleasure-yacht out to sea in gentle, so persuadable, so immov- the midst of the quietest social able ; and Elinor, almost as trouble- arrangements, and to interpolate

Mrs Proudie be- a thrilling event between two dislongs to heroic regions; she is cussions of toilet, in the midst of a figure for all time: and there a young lady's difficulties of choice are touches in the tragic history between two lovers. Sometimes of Mr Crawley, that martyr of he carries us away altogether to a poverty and mischance, and in desert island, and plays all kinds Lady Mason's strange unexpected of pranks like a science professor crime ; and on the burlesque side, gone mad, yet he keeps us breathless in that ludicrous tragedy of the all the same. The · Cloister and unfaithful Crosbie, and his lady the Hearth' is like a piece of Alexandrina, which go to the very medieval life transported bodily height of imaginative portraiture into the midst of us. It is in When our grandchildren want to literature what Nuremberg is in see us, as they surely will, in our art, a thing as real as the old city. habit as

we lived, they will find We hear that his biographers have the England of Queen Victoria's foolishly tried to enhance the glory reign in Anthony Trollope's books of a writer never sufficiently apwith an admirable distinctness and preciated, by the suggestion that reality which perhaps they will Romola' was more or less a plafind nowhere else : for he takes no giarism from this wonderful book, uncommon types, develops no un- than which surely there could be known lines of living, but is all no more extraordinary mistake. for the common strain of his It needs no such enhancement of generation, and draws it as it interest. We should say, putting lived. Amid such a crowd of aside Sir Walter and Notre persons there must be some less Dame,' that there is no other such well executed than the others; historical novel. To open Reade's and it is not to be asserted that masterpiece is to walk into a world the strain of a life's work, which of living folk, not in fictitious coswas never the work of a student, tume or charged with archæological but done with a continual accom- detail, but at home among their paniment of energetic living on natural surroundings, all individhis own part, was not sometimes ual, unconscious of our observation. felt. But the entertainment, the His other works are full everywhere honest pleasure, the relief in hours of the same easy grasp and power. of weariness, to be got out of He is a painter's painter, if we Anthony Trollope's novels is end- may use the words, or rather a less, and their picture of society writer's writer. The members of always animated and true.

his own craft look on in delighted Charles Reade is at once less wonder when he takes his subject and more than his contemporary. in hand. He treats it as it pleases

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