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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
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 wateringsion
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, 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 speil 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
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 archeological 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 him, not as we others would treat writers we have mentioned_to it, but always with a grasp and wit, John Ruskin. He is one of easy power which of itself gives a those who can never be dissociated keen pleasure. And this wilful from his works, or rather his works strength makes him somewhat dif- from him. They are all pervaded ficult to characterise; it is quite with a delicate personality-fasas likely at any moment that it tidious, generous, querulous, tender, may turn to the fantastic as to the cruel—the very soul of an imagi. reasonable side, and it is even a native and susceptible being seeing little impatient of the intricacies everything through a glamour of of character-painting. We look genius and feeling, prejudice and back to the personages of his prepossession. We cannot enter dramas without any warm indi- into his principles of art, which vidual feeling. We are deeply in- are too absolute and too capriciterested in them so long as they ous to have had much living efare in his hands, but they have no fect upon the art of his period, separate life, except, perhaps, in the and' in which he has mingled case of David Dodd, the simple, so much extravagance that the faithful, generous sailor, whose sober-minded have been as often beauty of nature makes even his revolted as the enthusiastic have impatient creator pause. To our been impressed. It is no doubt own thinking, the story, one of owing in some degree to Mr Rushis briefest, Love me Little, Love kin's continued and eloquent parme Long,' is one of the finest of tisanship that Turner's great merCharles Reade's productions; but its have been so universally and we do not think that the public promptly acknowledged; but on has confirmed that opinion. the other hand, it is perhaps equally
One great name the reader will owing to him that other artists, perceive has been omitted, that of following the school once called the late Lord Lytton, whose fame pre-Raphaelite, over the creation had risen before the beginning of of which he presided, have lessened these fifty years, although indeed their own fame by mannerisms and the finest manifestation of his monotonies, which are not to be powers, the new beginning, inaugu- desired in Art, as they do not exist rated in this Magazine, which pro- in Nature. But when that little duced · The Caxtons,' "My Novel,' has been said, there remains no and their successors, are all to the name in modern English literature good and glory of the Victorian which we could less dispense with. age.
One of the greatest masters of We cannot enter into any dis- style who has ever employed Engcussion, which might be invidi- lish speech, and who has employed ous, of the existing novelists of the it beautifully, worthily, with a day. The above have all concluded thousand touches that go to the their work. They are from begin- heart, though with some which ning to end of Queen Victoria's tempt a smile, and some which reign, and their fame is of her day. have the gift to enrage the adver
One other development of liter- sary, he is still exercising that ature we must mention ere we gift, with perhaps something of an close. It is that of criticism, espe- old man's garrulity, and an extreme cially the criticism of art, and of gentle egotism which requires most especially the criticism of one much tenderness on the part of who will interest posterity perhaps the reader. But the tenderness as much as any of the greatest happily exists, and this most fanci
ful of old men eloquent does not somewhat sacrificed for an inadeappeal to it in vain.
quate end. Space fails us to record as we And in her Majesty's reign there ought the wonderful development has arisen a genial power, a merry of journalism and periodical writ- moralist who has whipped us many ing of all kinds which has taken a rascal off the scene, and laughed place within these fifty years. down many a folly, and jeered imThe petty newspaper of the pro- partially at all political parties, vincial town, which Dickens made and at the pets of fashion, and at fun of at the beginning of the half- the heroes of the crowd-but never century, has dropped away into the failed, amid all its quips and jests, obscurest regions, and half-a-dozen to give honour to the worthy, and ambitious and influential organs of never at the noisiest of its mirth opinion have sprung up into its mocked at goodness, or suggested place. In London itself what a any unclean thing or thought. difference! Those correspondents We are proud to think that though that dart across the world at a he has had many imitators, and moment's notice to supply our every foreign capital has something breakfast - tables with the latest after his model, only within our intelligence, sometimes by incred- own island could Mr Punch be ible feats of horsemanship, some- what he is. times at the risk of their lives, We have crowded into these had no existence in those peaceful pages as complete a survey as posdays—in which, by the way, there sible of the literature of Queen existed no telegraph to convey Victoria's reign. Our Royal Mistheir messages ; and, we might tress has as much honour of her add_which is for us a less cheerful subjects in this way as any monaspect of the subject—no wars to arch that ever sat on the throne report upon ! The develɔpment of Great Britain before her. And of the newspaper, and of the pro
not forget that to this fession of journalism, is indeed abundant and noble literature the subject enough for as many pages Queen has added certain sketches as we have to devote to literature of her own which will not be in general. And it is possible the least sought after by posterthat, did we enter into the subject, ity, and upon which some histowe should have something more to rian of the future will no doubt say than admiration and wonder. seize with enthusiasm, making out It is a very responsible and dan- from them, like a new Macaulay, gerous business to prepare in haste, a portrait which will be very deas must be done, a facile literature lightful to the imagination,—the of every day, so abundant in quan- portrait of an ingenious and charmtity as to make a recognisable
recognisable ing sensibility and womanly sweetclaim upon the time of those who ness, which with all the force of feel bound to keep up with the contrast will shine the more from opinions and sentiments of the amid the splendour of a throne; day. To many such it becomes but which will not, as we know, more and more all the literature do justice to the admirable good they can attain, and this is not a sense, the great experience, and very comfortable outlook. But all the statesmanlike endowments the level of good writing in the which fifty years of devoted work newspapers is on the whole high, and ceaseless interest in all the and represents a large amount of concerns of her people have refined fine intellect and good training, and developed in our Queen.