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Title: Woman's Work in English Fiction - From the Restoration to the Mid-Victorian Period
Author: Whitmore, Clara Helen
Language: English
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                            Woman's Work in
                            English Fiction


                      From the Restoration to the
                          Mid-Victorian Period


                                   By
                        Clara H. Whitmore, A.M.


                          G. P. Putnam's Sons
                          New York and London
                        The Knickerbocker Press
                                  1910



                            COPYRIGHT, 1909
                                   BY
                           CLARA H. WHITMORE
                   The Knickerbocker Press, New York



PREFACE


The writings of many of the women considered in this volume have sunk
into an oblivion from which their intrinsic merit should have preserved
them. This is partly due to the fact that nearly all the books on
literature have been written from a man's stand-point. While in other
arts the tastes of men and women vary little, the choice of novels is to
a large degree determined by sex. Many men who acknowledge
unhesitatingly that Jane Austen is superior as an artist to Smollett,
will find more pleasure in the breezy adventures of _Roderick Random_
than in the drawing-room atmosphere of _Emma_; while no woman can read a
novel of Smollett's without loathing, although she must acknowledge that
the Scottish writer is a man of genius.

This book is written from a woman's viewpoint. Wherever my own judgment
has been different from the generally accepted one, as in the estimate
of some famous heroines, the point in question has been submitted to
other women, and not recorded unless it met with the approval of a
large number of women of cultivated taste.

This work was first undertaken at the suggestion of Dr. E. Charlton
Black of Boston University for a Master's thesis, and it was due to his
appreciative words that it was enlarged into book form. I also wish to
thank Professor Ker of London University, and Dr. Henry A. Beers and Dr.
Wilbur L. Cross of Yale University for the help which I obtained from
them while a student in their classes. It is with the deepest sense of
gratitude that I acknowledge the assistance given to me in this work by
Mr. Charles Welsh, at whose suggestion the scope of the book was
enlarged, and many parts strengthened. I wish especially to thank him
for calling my attention to _The Cheap Repository_ of Hannah More, and
to the literary value of Maria Edgeworth's stories for children.

It is my only hope that this book may in a small measure fill a want
which a school-girl recently expressed to me: "Our Club wanted to study
about women, but we have searched the libraries and found nothing."

                                                            C. H. W.



CONTENTS


                                                                  PAGE
  CHAPTER I.
    MARGARET CAVENDISH, DUCHESS OF NEWCASTLE (1624-1674)--
    APHRA BEHN (1640-1689)--MARY MANLEY (1672-1724)                  1

  CHAPTER II.
    SARAH FIELDING (1710-1768)--ELIZA HAYWOOD (1693-1756)--
    CHARLOTTE LENNOX (1720-1766)--FRANCES SHERIDAN (1724-1766)      24

  CHAPTER III.
    FRANCES BURNEY (1752-1840)                                      45

  CHAPTER IV.
    HANNAH MORE (1745-1833)                                         62

  CHAPTER V.
    CHARLOTTE SMITH (1749-1806)--ELIZABETH INCHBALD (1753-1821)     73

  CHAPTER VI.
    CLARA REEVE (1725-1803)--ANN RADCLIFFE (1764-1822)--SOPHIA
    LEE (1750-1824)--HARRIET LEE (1766-1851)                        88

  CHAPTER VII.
    MARIA EDGEWORTH (1767-1849)--LADY MORGAN (1783-1859)           111

  CHAPTER VIII.
    ELIZABETH HAMILTON (1758-1816)--ANNA PORTER (1780-1832)--JANE
    PORTER (1776-1850)                                             133

  CHAPTER IX.
    AMELIA OPIE (1769-1853)--MARY BRUNTON (1778-1818)              149

  CHAPTER X.
    JANE AUSTEN (1775-1817)                                        157

  CHAPTER XI.
    SUSAN EDMONSTONE FERRIER (1782-1854)--MARY RUSSELL MITFORD
    (1787-1855)--ANNA MARIA HALL (1800-1881)                       179

  CHAPTER XII.
    LADY CAROLINE LAMB (1785-1828)--MARY SHELLEY (1797-1851)       200

  CHAPTER XIII.
    CATHERINE GRACE FRANCES GORE (1799-1861)--ANNA ELIZA BRAY
    (1790-1883)                                                    216

  CHAPTER XIV.
    JULIA PARDOE (1806-1862)--FRANCES TROLLOPE (1780-1863)--
    HARRIET MARTINEAU (1802-1876)                                  231

  CHAPTER XV.
    EMILY BRONTË (1818-1848)--ANNE BRONTË (1820-1849)--
    CHARLOTTE BRONTË (1816-1855)                                   247

  CHAPTER XVI.
    ELIZABETH CLEGHORN GASKELL (1810-1865)                         274

  CONCLUSION                                                       293

  INDEX                                                            297



                            WOMAN'S WORK IN
                            ENGLISH FICTION



CHAPTER I

The Duchess of Newcastle. Mrs. Behn. Mrs. Manley


In the many volumes containing the records of the past, the names of few
women appear, and the number is still smaller of those who have won fame
in art or literature. Sappho, however, has shown that poetic feeling and
expression are not denied the sex; Jeanne d'Arc was chosen to free
France; Mrs. Somerville excelled in mathematics; Maria Mitchell ranked
among the great astronomers; Rosa Bonheur had the stroke of a master.
These women possessed genius, and one is tempted to ask why more women
have not left enduring work, especially in the realm of art. The Madonna
and Child, what a subject for a woman's brush! Yet the joy of maternity
which shines in a mother's eyes has seldom been expressed by her in
words or on canvas. It was left for a man, William Blake, to write some
of our sweetest songs of childhood.

But as soon as the novel appeared, a host of women writers sprang up.
Women have always been story-tellers. Long before Homer sang of the fall
of Troy, the Grecian matrons at their spinning related to their maids
the story of Helen's infidelity; and, as they thought of their husbands
and sons who had fallen for her sake, the story did not lack in fervour.
But the minstrels have always had this advantage over the story-tellers:
their words, sung to the lyre, were crystallised in rhythmic form, so
that they resisted the action of time, while only the substance of the
stories, not the words which gave them beauty and power, could be
retained, and consequently they crumbled away. When the novel took on
literary form, women began to write. They were not imitators of men, but
opened up new paths of fiction, in many of which they excelled.

The first woman to essay prose fiction as an art was Margaret, Queen of
Navarre. In the seventy-two tales of _The Heptameron_, a book written
before the dawn of realism, she related many anecdotes of her brother,
Francis the First, and his courtiers. Woman's permanent influence over
the novel began about 1640, and was due directly to the Hotel
Rambouillet, in whose grand _salon_ there mingled freely for half a
century the noblest minds of France. This _salon_ was presided over by
the Marquise de Rambouillet, who had left the licentious court of Henry
the Fourth, and had formed here in her home between the Louvre and the
Tuileries a little academy, where Corneille read his tragedies before
they were published, and Bousset preached his first sermon, while among
the listeners were the beautiful Duchess de Longueville, Madame de
Lafayette, Madame de Sévigné and Mademoiselle de Scudéri, besides other
persons of royal birth or of genius. The ladies of this _salon_ became
the censors of the manners, the literature, and even the language of
France. Here was the first group of women writers whose fame extended
beyond their own country, and has lasted, though somewhat dimmed, to the
present. Since the seventeenth century the influence of women novelists
has been ever widening.

In England, women entered the domain of literature later than in France,
Spain, or Italy. Not until the Restoration did they take any active part
in the world of letters; and not until the reign of George the Third did
they make any marked contribution to fiction.

The first woman writer of prose fiction in England was the thrice noble
and illustrious Princess Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle. During the
Commonwealth, the Duke and Duchess of Newcastle had lived in exile, but
with the restoration of Charles the Second, in 1660, they returned to
London, where the Duchess soon became a notable personage. Crowds
gathered in the park merely to see her pass, attracted partly by her
fame as a writer, partly by the singularities she affected. Her black
coach furnished with white curtains and adorned with silver trimmings
instead of gilt, with the footmen dressed in long black coats, was
readily distinguished from other carriages in the park. Her
peculiarities of dress were no less marked. Her long black
_juste-au-corps_, her hair hanging in curls about her bared neck, her
much beplumed velvet cap of her own designing, were objects of ridicule
to the court wits, who even asserted that she wore more than the usual
number of black patches upon her comely face.

More singular than her habiliments were her pretentions as a woman of
letters, which caused the courtiers to laugh at her conceit. She was
evidently aware of this failing as she writes in her _Autobiography_:
"I fear my ambition inclines to vain-glory, for I am very ambitious;
yet 't is neither for beauty, wit, titles, wealth, or power, but as they
are steps to raise me to Fame's tower, which is to live by remembrance
in after-ages."

But, notwithstanding her detractors, she received sufficient praise to
foster her belief in her own genius. Her plays were well received. Her
poems were declared by her admirers equal to Shakespeare's. Her
philosophical works, which she dedicated to the great universities of
Oxford and Cambridge, were accepted with fulsome flattery of their
author. When she visited the Royal Society at Arundel House, the Lord
President met her at the door, and, with mace carried before him,
escorted her into the room, where many experiments were performed for
her pleasure. In 1676, a folio volume was published, entitled _Letters
and Poems in Honour of the Incomparable Princess Margaret, Duchess of
Newcastle_, written by men of high rank and of learning, with the
following dedication by the University of Cambridge:

  To Margaret the First:
  Princess of Philosophers:
  Who hath dispelled errors:
  Appeased the difference of opinions:
  And restored Peace
  To Learning's Commonwealth.

Yet this praise was not all flattery, for the scholarly Evelyn always
speaks of her with respect, and after visiting her writes, "I was much
pleased with the extraordinary fanciful habit, garb, and discourse of
the Duchess."

Amid the arid wastes of her philosophical works are green spots
enlivened by good sense and humour that have a peculiar charm. At the
time when the trained minds of the Royal Society were broadening
scientific knowledge by careful experiments, this lady, with practically
no education, sat herself down to write her thoughts upon the great
subjects of matter and motion, mind and body. She was emboldened to
publish her opinions, for, as she says: "Although it is probable, that
some of the Opinions of Ancient Philosophers in Ancient times are
erroneous, yet not all, neither are all Modern Opinions Truths, but
truly I believe, there are more Errors in the One than Truth in the
Other." Some of her explanations are very artless, as when she decides
that passions are created in the heart and not in the head, because
"Passion and Judgment seldom agree."

Her philosophical works are often compounded of fiction and fact. Her
book called _The Description of a New World called the Blazing World_
reminds one of some of the marvellous stories of Jules Verne. According
to the story a merchant fell in love with a lady while she was gathering
shells on the sea-coast, and carried her away in a light vessel. They
were driven to the north pole, thence to the pole of another world which
joined it. The conjunction of these two poles doubled the cold, so that
it was insupportable, and all died but the lady. Bear-men conducted her
to a warmer clime, and presented her to the emperor of the Blazing
World, whose palace was of gold, with floors of diamonds. The emperor
married the lady, and, at her desire to study philosophy, sent for the
Duchess of Newcastle, "a plain and rational writer," to be her teacher.
The story at this point rambles into philosophy.

_Nature's Pictures drawn by Fancy's Pencil_ contains many suggestions
for poems and novels. Particularly beautiful is the fragment of a story
of a lord and lady who were forbidden to love in this world, but who
died the same night, and met on the shores of the Styx. "Their souls did
mingle and intermix as liquid essences, whereby their souls became as
one." They preferred to enjoy themselves thus rather than go to Elysium,
where they might be separated, and where the talk of the shades was
always of the past, which to them was full of sorrow.

The Duchess of Newcastle wrote a series of letters on beauty, eloquence,
time, theology, servants, wit, and kindred subjects, often illustrated
by a little story, reminding the reader of some of the _Spectator_
papers, which delighted the next generation. As in those papers,
characters were introduced. Mrs. P.I., the Puritan dame, appears in
several letters. She had received sanctification, and consequently
considered all vanities of dress, such as curls, bare necks, black
patches, fans, ribbons, necklaces, and pendants, temptations of Satan
and the signs of damnation. In a subsequent letter she becomes a
preaching sister, and the Duchess has been to hear her, and thus
comments upon the meeting: "There were a great many holy sisters and
holy brethren met together, where many took their turns to preach; for
as they are for liberty of conscience, so they are for liberty of
preaching. But there were more sermons than learning, and more words
than reason."

This is the first example of the use of letters in English fiction. In
the next century it was adopted by Richardson for his three great
novels, _Pamela_, _Clarissa Harlowe_, and _Sir Charles Grandison_; it
was used by Smollett in the novel of _Humphry Clinker_, and became a
popular mode of composition with many lesser writers.

But posterity is chiefly indebted to the Duchess of Newcastle for her
life of her husband and the autobiography that accompanies it. Of the
former Charles Lamb wrote that it was a jewel for which "no casket is
rich enough." Of the beaux and belles who were drawn by the ready pens
of the playwrights of the court of Charles the Second none are worthy of
a place beside the Duke of Newcastle and his incomparable wife.

With rare felicity she has described her home life in London with her
brothers and sisters before her marriage. Their chief amusements were a
ride in their coaches about the streets of the city, a visit to Spring
Gardens and Hyde Park; and sometimes a sail in the barges on the river,
where they had music and supper. She announces with dignity her first
meeting with the Duke of Newcastle in Paris, where she was maid of
honour to the Queen Mother of England: "He was pleased to take some
particular notice of me, and express more than an ordinary affection for
me; insomuch that he resolved to choose me for his second wife." And in
another place she writes: "I could not, nor had not the power to refuse
him, by reason my affections were fixed on him, and he was the only
person I ever was in love with. Neither was I ashamed to own it, but
gloried therein." Here is the charm of brevity. Richardson would have
blurred these clearly cut sentences by eight volumes.

In the biography of her husband she relates faithfully his services to
Charles the First at the head of an army which he himself had raised;
his final defeat near York by the Parliamentary forces; and his escape
to the continent in 1644. Then followed his sixteen years of exile in
Paris, Rotterdam, and Antwerp, where "he lived freely and nobly,"
entertaining many persons of quality, although he was often in extreme
poverty, and could obtain credit merely by the love and respect which
his presence inspired. What a sad picture is given of the return of the
exiles to their estates, which had been laid waste in the Civil War and
later confiscated by Cromwell! But how the greatness of the true
gentleman shines through it all, who, as he viewed one of his parks,
seven of which had been completely destroyed, simply said, "He had been
in hopes it would not have been so much defaced as he found it."

In the closing chapter the Duchess gives _Discourses Gathered from the
Mouth of my noble Lord and Husband_. These show both sound sense and a
broad view of affairs. She writes:

     "I have heard My Lord say,

        I

        "That those which command the Wealth of a Kingdom, command
        the hearts and hands of the People.

       *       *       *       *       *

        XXXIII

        "That many Laws do rather entrap than help the subject."

Clarendon, who thought but poorly of the Duke's abilities as a general,
gives the same characterisation of him: a man of exact proportion,
pleasant, witty, free but courtly in his manner, who loved all that were
his friends, and hated none that were his enemies, and who had proved
his loyalty to his king by the sacrifice of his property and at the risk
of his life.

Perhaps the Duchess of Newcastle has unwittingly drawn a true
representation of the great body of English cavaliers, and has partly
removed the stain which the immoralities of the court afterward put upon
the name. These biographies give a story of marital felicity with all
the characteristics of the domestic novel.

At this time the English novel was a crude, formless thing, without
dignity in literature. The Duchess of Newcastle, who aspired to be
ranked with Homer and Plato, would have spurned a place among writers of
romance, although her genius was primarily that of the novelist. She
constantly thought of plots, which she jotted down at random, her common
method of composition. She has described characters, and has left many
bright pictures of the manners and customs of her age. Her style of
writing is better than that of many of her more scholarly
contemporaries, who studied Latin models and strove to imitate them. She
wrote as she thought and felt, so that her style is simple when not lost
in the mazes of philosophical speculation. She had all the requisites
necessary to write the great novel of the Restoration.

But in the next century her voluminous writings were forgotten, and the
casual visitor to Westminster Abbey who paused before the imposing
monument in the north transept read with amused indifference the quaint
inscription which marks the tomb of the noble pair; that she was the
second wife of the Duke of Newcastle, that her name was Margaret Lucas;
"a noble family, for all the brothers were valiant and all the sisters
were virtuous." To Charles Lamb belongs the credit of discovering the
worth of her writings. Delighting in oddities, but quick to discern
truth from falsehood, he loved to pore over the old folios containing
her works, and could not quite forgive his sister Mary for speaking
disrespectfully of "the intellectuals of a dear favourite of mine of the
last century but one--the thrice noble, chaste and virtuous, but again
somewhat fantastical and original-brained, generous Margaret Newcastle."

Her desire for immortality is nearer its fulfilment to-day than at any
previous time. A third edition of the _Life of the Duke of Newcastle_
was published in 1675, the year after her death. Nearly two hundred
years later, in 1872, it was included in Russell Smith's "Library of Old
Authors," and since then a modernised English edition and a French
edition of this book have been published. No one can read this biography
without feeling the charm of the quaint, childlike personality of the
Duchess of Newcastle.

While all London was talking of the "mad Duchess of Newcastle," another
lady was living there no less eminent as a writer, but so distinguished
for her wit, freedom of temper, and brilliant conversation, that even
the great Dryden sought her friendship, and Sothern, Rochester, and
Wycherley were among her admirers. She was named "Astrea," and hailed as
the wonder and glory of her sex. But Aphra Behn's talents brought her a
more substantial reward than fame. Her plays were presented to crowded
houses; her novels were in every library, and she obtained a large
income from her writings; she was the first English woman to earn a
living by her pen.

In her early youth, Mrs. Behn lived for a time at Surinam in Dutch
Guiana, where her father was governor. On one of the plantations was a
negro in whose fate she became deeply interested. She learned from his
own lips about his life in Africa, and was herself an eye witness of the
indignities and tortures he suffered in slavery. She was so deeply
impressed by his horrible fate, that on her return to London she related
his story to King Charles the Second and at his request elaborated it
into the novel _Oroonoko_.

According to the story, Oroonoko, an African warrior, was married to
Imoinda, a beautiful maiden of his own people. His grandfather, a
powerful chieftain, also fell in love with the beautiful Imoinda and
placed her in his harem. When he found that her love for Oroonoko still
continued, he sold her secretly into slavery and her rightful husband
could learn nothing of her whereabouts. Later Oroonoko and his men were
invited by the captain of a Dutch trading ship to dine on board his
vessel. They accepted the invitation, but, after dinner, the captain
seized his guests, threw them into chains, and carried them to the West
Indies, where he sold them as slaves. Here Oroonoko found his wife,
whose loss he had deeply mourned, and they were reunited. Oroonoko,
however, indignant at the treachery practised against himself and his
men, incited the slaves to a revolt. They were overcome, and Oroonoko
was tied to a whipping-post and severely punished. As he found that he
could not escape, he resolved to die. But rather than leave Imoinda to
the cruelty of her owners, he determined to slay first his wife, then
his enemies, lastly himself. He told his plans to Imoinda, who willingly
accompanied him into the forest, where he put her to death. When he saw
his wife dead at his feet, his grief was so great that it deprived him
of the strength to take vengeance on his enemies. He was again captured
and led to a stake, where faggots were placed about him. The author has
described his death with a faithfulness to detail that carries with it
the impress of truth: "'My Friends, am I to die, or to be whipt?' And
they cry'd, 'Whipt! no, you shall not escape so well.' And then he
reply'd, smiling, 'A blessing on thee'; and assured them they need not
tie him, for he would stand fix'd like a Rock, and endure Death so as
should encourage them to die: 'But if you whip me' [said he], 'be sure
you tie me fast.'"

The popularity of the book was instantaneous. It passed through several
editions. It was translated into French and German, and adapted for the
German stage, while Sothern put it on the stage in England. It created
almost as great a sensation as did _Uncle Tom's Cabin_ two hundred years
later. Like Mrs. Stowe's novel it had a strong moral influence, as it
was among the earliest efforts to call the attention of Europe to the
evils of the African slave trade. Moreover, this her first novel gave
Mrs. Behn an acknowledged place as a writer.

_Oroonoko_ marks a distinct advance in English fiction. Nearly all
novels before this had consisted of a series of stories held together by
a loosely formed plot running through a number of volumes, sometimes
only five, but occasionally, as in _The Grand Cyrus_, filling ten
quartos. Their form was such that like the _Thousand and One Nights_
they could be continued indefinitely. Most of these novels belonged
either to the pastoral romance or the historical allegory. In the
former the ladies and gentlemen who in a desultory sort of way carried
on the plot were disguised as shepherds and shepherdesses and lived in
idyllic state in Arcadia. In the latter they masqueraded under the names
of kings and queens of antiquity and entered with the flourish of
trumpets and the sound of drums.

_Oroonoko_ was the first English novel with a well developed plot. It
moves along rapidly, without digression, to its tragic conclusion. Not
until Fielding wrote _Joseph Andrews_ was the plot of any English novel
so definitely wrought. The lesser writer had a slight advantage over the
greater. Mrs. Behn's novel is constructed upon dramatic lines, so that
it holds the interest more closely to the main characters, and the end
is awaited with intense expectation; while Fielding chose the epic form,
which is more discursive, and _Joseph Andrews_ like all his novels is
excessively tame, almost hackneyed in its conclusion. Mrs. Behn's black
hero is the first distinctly drawn character in English fiction, the
first one that has any marked personality. Sometimes the enthusiasm with
which he is described brings a smile to the lips of the modern reader
and reminds one of the heroic savages of James Fenimore Cooper and Helen
Hunt Jackson. She writes of him: "He was pretty tall, but of a Shape the
most exact that can be Fancy'd: The most famous Statuary could not form
the Figure of a Man more admirably turned from Head to Foot.... There
was no one Grace wanting, that bears the Standard of true Beauty." And
thus she continues the description in the superlative degree.

But the story is for the most part realistic. Although the scenes in
Africa show the influence of the French heroic novels, as if the author
were afraid to leave her story in its simple truth but must adorn it
with purple and ermine, as soon as it is transferred to Surinam, where
Mrs. Behn had lived, it becomes real. It has local colouring, at that
time an almost unknown attribute. It has the atmosphere of the tropics.
The descriptions are vivid, and often photographic. Occasionally they
are exaggerated, but few travellers to a region of which their hearers
know nothing have been able to resist the temptation to deviate from the
exact truth. But the whole novel, even at this late day, leaves one with
the impression that it is a true biography.

In the history of the English novel, in which _Pamela_ is given an
important place as the morning star which heralded the great light of
English realism about to burst upon the world, this well arranged,
definite, picturesque story of _Oroonoko_, whose author was reposing
quietly within the hallowed precincts of Westminster Abbey fifty years
before Richardson introduced _Pamela_ to an admiring public, should not
be forgotten. Before _Pamela_ was published, the complete works of Mrs.
Behn passed through eight editions. The plots of all her novels are well
constructed, with little extraneous matter, but with the exception of
Oroonoko the characters are shadowy beings, many of whom meet with a
violent death. _The Nun or the Perjured Duty_ has only five characters,
all of whom perish in the meshes of love. _The Fair Jilt or the Amours
of Prince Tarquin and Miranda_, founded on incidents that came to the
author's knowledge during her residence in Antwerp, is well fitted for
the columns of a modern yellow journal; the beautiful heroine causes the
death of everyone who stands in the way of her love or her ambition, but
she finally repents and lives happy ever after. Mrs. Behn's style is
always careless, owing to her custom of writing while entertaining
friends.

A great change took place in the public taste during the next hundred
years, so that Mrs. Behn's novels, plays, and poems fell into disrepute.
Sir Walter Scott tells the story of his grand-aunt who expressed a
desire to see again Mrs. Behn's novels, which she had read with delight
in her youth. He sent them to her sealed and marked "private and
confidential." The next time he saw her, she gave them back with the
words:

"Take back your bonny Mrs. Behn, and, if you will take my advice, put
her in the fire, for I find it impossible to get through the very first
novel. But is it not a very odd thing that I, an old woman of eighty and
upward, sitting alone, feel myself ashamed to read a book which sixty
years ago I have heard read aloud for the amusement of large circles,
consisting of the first and most creditable society in London?"

Mrs. Behn has been accused of great license in her conduct and of gross
immorality in her writings. Her friend and biographer says of the
former: "For my part I knew her intimately, and never saw ought
unbecoming the just modesty of our sex, though more free and gay than
the folly of the precise will allow." For the latter the fashion must be
blamed more than she. Mrs. Behn was not actuated by the high moral
principles of Mademoiselle de Scudéri and Madame de Lafayette, with whom
love was an ennobling passion, nor was she writing for the refined men
and women of the Hotel Rambouillet; she was striving to earn a living by
pleasing the court of Charles the Second, and in that she was eminently
successful.

       *       *       *       *       *

Nearly a quarter of a century after the death of Mrs. Behn, Mrs. Manley
published anonymously the first two volumes of the _New Atlantis_, the
book by which she is chiefly known, under the title of _Secret Memoirs
and Manners of Several Persons of Quality of both Sexes from the New
Atalantis, an Island in the Mediterranean_. Mrs. Manley was a Tory, and
she peopled the New Atalantis with members of the Whig party under
Marlborough as Prince Fortunatus. The book is written in the form of a
conversation carried on by Astrea, Virtue, and Intelligence, a
personification of the _Court Gazette_. They described the Whig leaders
so accurately, and related the scandal of the court so faithfully, that,
although fictitious names were used, no key was needed to recognise the
personages in the story.

The publisher and printer were arrested for libel, but Mrs. Manley came
forward and owned the authorship. In her trial she was placed under a
severe cross-examination by Lord Sunderland, who attempted to learn
where she had obtained her information. She persisted in her statement
that no real characters were meant, that it was all a work of
imagination, but if it bore any resemblance to truth it must have come
to her by inspiration. Upon Lord Sunderland's objecting to this
statement, on the grounds that so immoral a book bore no trace of divine
impulse, she replied that there were evil angels as well as good, who
might possess equal powers of inspiration. The book was published in
May, 1709; in the following February, she was discharged by order of
the Queen's Bench.

Soon after her discharge from court, she wrote a third and fourth volume
of the _New Atalantis_ under the title, _Memoirs of Europe toward the
Close of the Eighth Century written by Eginardus, Secretary and Favorite
to Charlemagne, and done into English, by the Translator of the New
Atalantis_. Here she has followed the French models. There is a loosely
constructed plot, and the characters tell a series of stories. Many of
the writers of Queen Anne's reign are described with none of that lustre
that surrounds them now, but as they appeared to a cynical woman who
knew them well. She refers to Steele as Don Phaebo, and ridicules his
search for the philosopher's stone; and laments that Addison, whom she
calls Maro, should prostitute his talents for gold, when he might become
a second Vergil.

Mrs. Manley had been well trained to write a book like the _New
Atalantis_. At sixteen, an age when Addison and Steele were at the
Charterhouse preparing for Oxford, her father, Sir Roger Manley, died. A
cousin, taking advantage of her helplessness, deceived her by a false
marriage, and after three years abandoned her. Upon this she entered the
household of the Duchess of Cleveland, the mistress of Charles the
Second, who soon tired of her and dismissed her from her service. She
then began to write, and by her plays and political articles soon won an
acknowledged place among the writers of Grub Street.

From the many references to her in the letters and journals of the
period, she seems to have been popular with the writers of both
political parties. Swift writes to Stella that she is a very generous
person "for one of that sort," which many little incidents prove. She
dedicated her play _Lucius_ to Steele, with whom she was on alternate
terms of enmity and friendship, as a public retribution for her ridicule
of him in the _New Atalantis_, saying that "scandal between Whig and
Tory goes for not." Steele, equally generous, wrote a prologue for the
play, perhaps in retribution for some of the harsh criticisms of her in
the _Tatler_. All readers of Pope remember the reference to her in the
_Rape of the Lock_, where Lord Petre exclaims that his honour, name and
praise shall live

  As long as Atalantis shall be read.

Although Mrs. Manley's pen was constantly and effectively employed in
the interest of the Tory party, she being at one time the editor of the
_Examiner_, the Tory organ, none of her writings had the popularity of
the _New Atalantis_. It went through seven editions and was translated
into the French. The book has no intrinsic merit; its language is
scurrilous and obscene; but it appealed to the eager curiosity of the
public concerning the private immoralities of men and women who were
prominent at court. Human nature in its pages furnishes a contemptible
spectacle.

The _New Atalantis_ has now, however, assumed a permanent place in the
history of fiction. This species of writing had been common, in France,
but it was the first English novel in which political and personal
scandal formed the groundwork of a romance. Swift followed its general
plan in _Gulliver's Travels_, placing his political enemies in public
office in Lilliput and Brobdingnag, only he so wrought upon them with
his imagination that he gave to the world a finished work of art, while
Mrs. Manley has left only the raw material with which the artist works.
Smollett's political satire, _Adventures of an Atom_, was also suggested
by the _New Atalantis_, but here the earlier writer has surpassed the
later. All three of these writers took a low and cynical view of
humanity.

The women novelists who directly followed Mrs. Manley did not have her
strength, but they had a delicacy that has given to their writings a
subtle charm. From the time of Sarah Fielding to the present threatened
reaction the writings of women have been marked by chastity of thought
and purity of expression.



CHAPTER II

Sarah Fielding. Mrs. Lennox. Mrs. Haywood. Mrs. Sheridan


About the middle of the eighteenth century, some interesting novels were
written by women, but their fame was so overshadowed by the early
masters of English fiction, who were then writing, that they have been
almost forgotten. For in 1740 _Pamela_ was published, the first novel of
Samuel Richardson; in 1771, _Humphry Clinker_ appeared, the last novel
of Tobias Smollett; and during the thirty-one years between these two
dates all the books of Richardson, Fielding, Sterne, and Smollett were
given to the world, and determined the nature of the English novel. The
plot of most of their fifteen realistic novels is practically the same.
The hero falls in love with a beautiful young lady, not over seventeen,
and there is a conflict between lust and chastity. The hero, balked of
his prey, travels up and down the world, where he meets with a series of
adventures, all very much alike, and all bearing very little on the main
plot. At last fate leads the dashing hero to the church door, where he
confers a ring on the fair heroine, a paltry piece of gold, the only
reward for her fidelity, with the hero thrown in, much the worse for
wear, and the curtain falls with the sound of the wedding bells in the
distance.

The range of these novels is narrow. They describe a world in which the
chief occupation is eating, drinking, swearing, gambling, and fighting.
Their chief artistic excellence is the strength and vigour with which
these low scenes are described. Sidney Lanier says of them: "They play
upon life as upon a violin without a bridge, in the deliberate endeavour
to get the most depressing tones possible from the instrument." And
Taine, who could hardly endure any of them, writes of Fielding what he
implies of the others: "One thing is wanted in your strongly-built
folks--refinement; the delicate dreams, enthusiastic elevation, and
trembling delicacy exist in nature equally with coarse vigour, noisy
hilarity, and frank kindness."

The women who essayed the art of fiction during these years did not have
so firm a grasp of the pen as their male contemporaries, and they have
added no portraits to the gallery of fiction; but they saw and recorded
many interesting scenes of British life which quite escaped the
quick-sighted Fielding, or Sterne with the microscopic eyes.

In 1744, when Richardson had written only one book, and Fielding had
published only two, before _Tom Jones_ or _Clarissa Harlowe_ had seen
the light of day, Sarah Fielding published _David Simple_, under the
title of _The Adventures of David Simple, containing an account of his
travels through the cities of London and Westminster in the search of a
real friend, by a Lady_. The author commenced the story as a satire on
society. For a long time David's search is unsuccessful. Although he
changed his lodgings every week, he could hear of no one who could be
trusted. Many, to be sure, dropped hints of their own excellence, and
the pity that they had to live with inferior neighbours. Among these was
Mr. Spatter, who introduced him to Mr. Varnish. The former saw the
faults of people through a magnifying glass; while the latter, when he
mentioned a person's failings, added, "He was sure they had some good in
them." But David soon learned that Mr. Varnish was no readier to assist
a friend in need than the fault-finding Mr. Spatter.

Like her brother Henry, Sarah Fielding is often sarcastic. In one of the
chapters she leaves David to his sufferings, "lest it should be
thought," she added, "I am so ignorant of the world as not to know the
proper time of forsaking people." But the pessimistic vein of the first
volume changes to a more optimistic tone in the second. David, in his
search for one friend, finds three. Fortunately these consist of a
brother and sister and a lady in love with the brother. Even at this
early time, an author had no doubts as to how a novel should end. The
heading of the last chapter in the book informs us that it contains two
weddings, "and consequently the Conclusion of the Book."

In its construction, the plot is similar to that of the other novels of
the period. David has plenty of time at his disposal, and listens with
more patience than the reader to the detailed history of all the people
he meets, and often begs a casual acquaintance to favour him with the
story of his life.

But Sarah Fielding's chief charm to her women readers is the feminine
view of her times. In _David Simple_ we have the pleasure of travelling
through England, but with a woman as our guide. As Harry Fielding
travelled between Bath and London, the fair reader wonders what he
reported to Mrs. Fielding of what he had seen and heard. Surely at these
various inns there must have been some by-play of real affection, some
act of modest kindness, some incident of delicate humour. Did he regale
Mrs. Fielding with the scenes he has described for his readers? Probably
when she asked him if anything had happened _en route_, he merely yawned
and replied, "Oh, nothing worth while." He had too much reverence for
his wife to repeat these low scenes to her, and we suspect he had eyes
for no others. What would Addison or Steele have seen in the same place?

Sarah Fielding also takes her characters on a stage-coach journey, but
here we sit beside the fair heroine, an intelligent lady, and gaze at
the men who sit opposite her. There is the Butterfly with his hair
pinned up in blue papers, wearing a laced waistcoat, and humming an
Italian air. He admires nothing but the ladies, and offered some little
familiarity to our heroine, which she repulsed; upon this he paid her
the greatest respect imaginable, being convinced, as she would not
suffer any intimacy from _him_, she must be one of the most virtuous
women that had ever been born. There is the Atheist, who being alone
with her for a few moments makes love to her in an insinuating manner,
and tries to prove to her that pleasure is the only thing to be sought
in life, and assures her that she may follow her inclinations without a
crime, "while she knew that nothing could so much oppose her _gratifying
him_, as her _pleasing herself_." Then there is the Clergyman who makes
honourable love to her, but by doing so puts an end to the friendship
which she had hoped might be between them; until at the end of the
journey, "she almost made a resolution never to speak to a man again,
beginning to think it impossible for a man to be civil to a woman,
unless he had some designs upon her."

Whether or not women have ever portrayed the masculine sex truthfully is
an open question. But a gentleman mellowed and softened in the light of
ladies' smiles is quite a different creature from the same gentleman
when seen among the sterner members of his own sex, and there are
certain phases of men's characters portrayed in the novels of women
which Fielding, Scott, and Thackeray seem never to have seen.

Miss Fielding descants upon many familiar scenes in a manner that would
have made her a valuable contributor to the _Tatler_ or _Spectator_. All
kinds of human nature interested her. There is the man who advises David
as a friend to buy a certain stock which he himself is secretly trying
to sell because he knows it has decreased in value, thus showing that
money transactions in London in the reigns of the Georges differed
little from money transactions on the Stock Exchange to-day. In some
respects, however, society has improved since the days of Sarah
Fielding. She describes the gentlemen of social prominence who tumble up
to the carriages of ladies who are driving through Covent Garden in the
morning, and present them with cabbages or other vegetables which they
have picked up from the stalls, too intoxicated to know that their
conduct is ridiculous. There are the crowds at the theatres who show
their displeasure with a playwright by making so much noise that his
play cannot be heard on its first night and so is condemned. Other
writers of the period complain of having received this kind of treatment
at the hands of the gentlemen mob. And then we are introduced to a scene
in the fashionable West End which is a familiar one to-day, where the
ladies of quality have their whist assemblies and spend all the morning
visiting each other and discussing how the cards were played the
previous evening and why certain tricks were lost.

We recognise the fact, however, that Miss Fielding's knowledge of life
was but slight. She writes from the standpoint of a spectator, not like
her brother as one who had been a part of it. She was one of that group
of gentlewomen who gathered around Richardson and heard him read
_Clarissa_, or discussed life and books with him at the breakfast table
in the summer-house at North End, Hammersmith. Life was not lived there,
but philosophy often sat at the board, and there was fine penetration
into the characters and manners of men. Richardson transferred to Miss
Fielding the compliment which Dr. Johnson had bestowed upon him, and it
was not undeserved by the author of _David Simple_:

"What a knowledge of the human heart! Well might a critical judge of
writing say, as he did to me, that your late brother's knowledge of it
was not (fine writer as he was) comparable to yours. His was but as the
knowledge of the outside of a clock-work machine, while yours was that
of all the finer springs and movements of the inside."

       *       *       *       *       *

It is not difficult to conjure up a picture of the literary gentlemen
and gentlewomen who used to breakfast with Richardson in the
summer-house at North End; the gentlemen in their many-coloured velvet
suits, the ladies wearing broad hoops, loose sacques, and Pamela hats.
One of these ladies was Charlotte Ramsay, better known by her married
name of Mrs. Lennox. Her father, Colonel James Ramsay, was
lieutenant-governor of New York, where his daughter Charlotte was born
in 1720. She was sent to England at the age of fifteen, and soon after
her father died, leaving her unprovided for. She turned her attention to
literature as a means of livelihood, and at once became a favourite in
the literary circles of London, where she met and won the esteem of the
great Dr. Johnson.

When her first novel, _The Life of Harriet Stuart_, was published, he
showed his appreciation of its author in a unique manner. At his
suggestion, the Ivy Lane Club and its friends entertained Mrs. Lennox
and her husband at the Devil's Tavern with a night of festivity. After
an elaborate supper had been served, a hot apple-pie was brought in,
stuffed full of bay-leaves, and Johnson with appropriate ceremonies
crowned the author with a wreath of laurel. The night was passed in
mirth and conversation; tea and coffee were often served; and not until
the creaking of the street doors reminded them that it was eight o'clock
in the morning did the guests, twenty in number, leave the tavern.

Mrs. Lennox's claim to a place in English literature rests solely upon
her novel, _The Female Quixote_, published in 1752. Arabella, the
heroine, is the daughter of a marquis who has retired into the country,
where he lives remote from society. Her mother is dead; her father is
immersed in his books, so that Arabella is left alone, and whiles away
the hours by reading the novels of Mademoiselle de Scudéri. Her three
great novels, _Clelia_, _The Grand Cyrus_ and _Ibrahim_, are historical
allegories, in which the France of Louis XIV is given an historical
setting, and his courtiers masquerade under the names of famous men of
antiquity. There is no attempt at historical accuracy. But to Arabella
these books represented true history and depicted the real life of the
world.

In a fine satirical passage Arabella informs Mr. Selvin, a man so
deeply read in ancient history that he fixed the date of any occurrence
by Olympiads, not years, that Pisistratus had been inspired to enslave
his country because of his love for Cleorante. Mr. Selvin wonders how
this important fact could have escaped his own research, and conceives a
great admiration for Arabella's learning.

In the novels of Mademoiselle de Scudéri the characters, even in moments
of extreme danger, entertain each other with stories of their past
experiences. When Arabella has unexpected guests she bids her maid
relate to them the history of her mistress. She instructs her to "relate
exactly every change of my countenance, number all my smiles,
half-smiles, blushes, turnings pale, glances, pauses, full-stops,
interruptions; the rise and falling of my voice, every motion of my
eyes, and every gesture which I have used for these ten years past: nor
omit the smallest circumstance that relates to me."

All the people Arabella meets are changed by her fancy into the
characters of her favourite books. In common people she sees princes in
disguise. If a man approaches her, she fancies that he is about to bear
her away to some remote castle, or to mention the subject of love, which
would be unpardonable, unless he had first captured cities in her
behalf. Yet amid the wildest extravagances Arabella never loses her
charm. Her generosity and purity of thought make her a very lovable
heroine, much more womanly than Clarissa or Sophia Western, and we do
not wonder that Mr. Glanville continues to love her, although he is so
often annoyed by her ridiculous fancies.

But her belief in her hallucinations is as firm as that of the Spanish
Quixote for whom the book was named. Everyone will remember his attack
on the windmills, which he mistook for giants. Arabella was equally
brave. Thinking herself and some other ladies pursued, when the Thames
cuts off their escape, she addresses her companions in language becoming
one of her favourite heroines: "Once more, my fair Companions, if your
honour be dear to you, if an immortal glory be worth your seeking,
follow the example I shall set you, and equal, with me, the Roman
Clelia." She plunged into the river, but was promptly rescued. The
doctor who attended her in the illness that followed this heroic deed
convinced her of the folly of trying to live according to these old
books, and she consented to marry her faithful and deserving lover.

The character of Arabella is not drawn with the broad strong lines of
Fielding, nor with the attention to minute detail which gives life to
the characters of Richardson. But the girlish sweetness of Arabella, her
refusal to believe wrong of others, her ignorance of life, her contempt
for a lover who has not shed blood nor captured cities in her behalf, is
a reality, and shows that the author knew the nature of the romantic
girl. In the noble simplicity of Arabella, Mrs. Lennox has, perhaps
unconsciously, paid a high tribute to the moral effects of the novels of
Scudéri. Arabella is the only clearly drawn character in the book. But
one humorous situation follows another, so that the interest never
flags.

The other novels of Mrs. Lennox have no value save as they show the
trend of thought of the period. In _Henrietta_, afterward dramatised as
_The Sister_, the heroine, granddaughter of an earl, rather than change
her religion, leaves her family and becomes the maid of a rich but
vulgar tradesman's daughter. Of course her mistress, who has treated her
scurrilously, in time learns her true rank and is properly humbled. The
name given to one of the chapters might suffice for the most of them:
"In which our heroine is in great distress."

This would seem to be the proper heading for many chapters of many books
of the period. In the days of Good Queen Bess, heroines were good and
happy. In the merry reign of Charles, they were bad but happy. Pamela
set a fashion from which heroines seldom dared to deviate for over a
hundred years. They were good--but, oh, so wretched! This type of women
became such a favourite with both sexes, that even the sane-minded Scott
says:

  And love is loveliest when embalmed in tears.

During her period of distress Henrietta lodged with a milliner. Her
landlady showed her a small collection of books and pointed with
especial pleasure to her favourite novels: "There is Mrs. Haywood's
Novels, did you ever read them? Oh! they are the finest love-sick
passionate stories: I assure you, you'll like them vastly." Henrietta,
however, chose _Joseph Andrews_ for her diversion. Mrs. Eliza Haywood
was never admitted into that inner circle of highly respectable English
ladies who clustered around Richardson. She was more of an adventuress
in the domain of letters. In her first novels she followed the fashion
set by Mrs. Manley and supplied the public with scandals in high life.
_Memoirs of a Certain Island Adjacent to Utopia_, published in 1725,
_The Secret Intrigues of the Count of Caramania_, published in 1727, are
the highly suggestive titles of two of the most popular of her early
works.

After Richardson had made Virtue more popular than Vice, Mrs. Haywood
followed the literary fashion which he had set, and in 1751 wrote _The
History of Miss Betsey Thoughtless_. This has sometimes been called a
domestic novel, but that is a misnomer, since the characters are seldom
found at home, but rather are met in the various pleasure resorts of
London. As was the fashion in the novels of this time, and probably not
an uncommon occurrence in the English capital, the heroine was often
forced into a chariot by some lawless libertine, but fortunately was
always rescued by some more virtuous lover. The whole story is but a new
arrangement of the one or two incidents with which Richardson had wrung
the heart of the British public. It has one advantage over the most of
the novels which had preceded it. There is little told that does not
bear directly on the plot, the characters of the sub-plot being
important personages in the main story, and the book has a definite
conclusion.

None of the characters, however, are pleasing. The hero, Mr. Trueworthy,
a combination of Tom Jones and Sir Charles Grandison, is a hypocrite.
The other male characters are insignificant. Miss Betsey, the heroine,
is almost charming. Conscious of her own innocence, she repeatedly
appears in a light that makes her worldly lover, Mr. Trueworthy, suspect
her virtue, until at last he begs to be released from his engagement to
her. The author of the book stands as a duenna at Miss Betsey's side,
and points out by the misfortunes of the heroine how foolish it is for
girls to ignore public opinion, and strives to inculcate the lesson
that a husband is the best protection for a young girl. We are properly
shocked at Miss Betsey's levity, who, although she had arrived at the
mature age of fourteen, cared not a straw for any of the gentlemen who
sought her hand, but liked to have them about her only because they
flattered her vanity or afforded her a subject for mirth. Miss Betsey's
gaiety, wit, and generosity would be very attractive--in fact, she is
quite an up-to-date young lady--but we see how much better she would
"get on" if she had a little more worldly wisdom. She is punished, as
she deserves to be, by losing her lover, and marries a man who makes her
very unhappy. Mr. Trueworthy, however, learns of her innocence; her
husband fortunately dies, and the author takes the bold step of uniting
the widow to her former lover, after a year of mourning and passing
through much suffering, brought upon herself by her own thoughtlessness.
She is rewarded, however, very much as Pamela was rewarded, by marrying
a man of honour, who had judged her formerly by his own conduct, being
too willing to believe by appearances that she had lost her chastity,
or, at least, had sullied her good name.

In this novel, Mrs. Haywood is very near the line that divides the
artist from the artisan. Like a young girl with good health and good
spirits, Miss Betsey is ever on the verge of sweeping aside the
prejudices of her duenna, and asserting her own individuality, but is
constantly held back by the sense of worldly propriety. Had Mrs. Haywood
permitted Miss Betsey to carry the plot whither she would without let or
hindrance, she would have won for herself an acknowledged place among
the heroines of fiction.

_The History of Miss Betsey Thoughtless_ was an epoch-making book. The
adventures of its heroine in the city of London took possession of the
imagination of Fanny Burney, while little more than a child, and led to
the story of _Evelina_, the forerunner of Jane Austen and her school.

       *       *       *       *       *

The fashion for weeping heroines was at its height, when, in 1761, Mrs.
Francis Sheridan published _The Memoirs of Miss Sidney Biddulph_. The
story is written in the form of letters, in which the heroine reveals to
a friend of her own sex all the secrets of her heart. All London
rejoiced over the virtues of Sidney Biddulph, and wept over her sorrows.
She had been educated "in the strictest principles of virtue; from which
she never deviated, through the course of an innocent, though unhappy
life." It was so pathetic a story that Dr. Johnson doubted if Mrs.
Sheridan had a right to make her characters suffer so much, and Charles
James Fox, who sat up all night to read it, pronounced it the best of
all novels of his time.

The book, as first written, was in three volumes. The author had brought
the story to a most fitting close. Both Sidney's husband and the man
whom she had really loved were dead, and the widow could have spent her
days in pleasing melancholy, contented with the thought that she had
never done a wrong. But the public demanded a continuation of the story.
In 1767, two volumes were added, giving the history of Sidney's
daughters, who seem to have inherited from their mother the enmity of
the fates, for their sufferings were as great as hers.

Authors are prone to draw upon their own history for the emotions they
depict. But Mrs. Sheridan's life did not furnish the tragic elements of
_Sidney Biddulph_, although it was not without romance. Before her
marriage, she wrote a pamphlet in praise of the conduct of one Thomas
Sheridan, the manager of the Theatre Royal in Dublin, during a riot that
occurred in the theatre. Sheridan read these words in his praise, sought
the acquaintance of their author, and before long married her.

History furnishes a long list of women of talent whose sons were men of
genius. Mrs. Sheridan's second son, Richard Brinsley, the author of the
light and sparkling _Rivals_, inherited his mother's talents without her
gloom. But Mrs. Sheridan also had some ability as a writer of comedy,
and the most famous character of the _Rivals_ was first sketched by her.
In a comedy, _A Journey to Bath_, declined by Garrick, one of the
characters was Mrs. Twyford, whom Richard Brinsley Sheridan transformed
into that famous blundering coiner of words, Mrs. Malaprop.

Mrs. Sheridan's place in literature rests upon _Sidney Biddulph_. This
novel was an innovation in English fiction. Nearly one hundred years
earlier, Madame de Lafayette had written _The Princess of Clèves_, one
of the most nearly perfect novels that has ever been written, and the
first that depended for its interest, not alone on what was done, but on
the subtle workings of the human heart which led to the doing of it.
From that time the novels of French women were largely introspective.
English women, however, were either less interested in the inner life,
or more reserved in laying bare its secrets. _Sidney Biddulph_ was the
first English novel of this kind, and it left no definite trace on
fiction, although it was the favourite novel of Charlotte Smith and had
some slight effect upon her writings, and Mrs. Inchbald, Mrs. Opie, and
Mary Brunton noted the feelings of their characters. Not until _Jane
Eyre_ was published, long after Mrs. Sheridan had been forgotten, was
there any great English novel of the inner life.

In its day _Sidney Biddulph_ was exceedingly popular on the continent of
Europe as well as in England. It was translated into German, and an
adaptation of it was made in French by the Abbé Prévost, under the
title, _Memoirs pour servir a l'histoire de la vertu_. But after all,
Sidney's sorrows were not real, or she herself was not real; and we of
to-day smile or yawn over the pages that drew tears from the eyes of the
mighty Dr. Johnson.

       *       *       *       *       *

Notwithstanding the many excellencies of English fiction during the
middle of the eighteenth century, it was held in low repute. There had
been many writers attempting to portray real life who, without the
genius of the greater novelists, could imitate only their faults. In the
preface to _Polly Honeycomb_, which was acted at Drury Lane theatre in
1760, George Colman, the author, gives the titles of about two hundred
novels whose names appeared in a circulating library at that time.
_Amorous Friars, or the Intrigues of a Convent_; _Beauty put to its
Shifts, or the Young Virgin's Rambles_; _Bubbled Knights, or Successful
Contrivances, plainly evincing, in two Familiar Instances lately
transacted in this Metropolis, the Folly and Unreasonableness of Parents
Laying a Restraint upon their Children's Inclinations in the Affairs of
Love and Marriage_; _The Impetuous Lover, or the Guiltless Parricide_;
these are the titles of a few of the popular books of that period.
Colman in the character of Polly Honeycomb, an earlier Lydia Languish,
attempts to show the moral effects of such reading. Her head had been so
turned by these books that her father exclaims, "A man might as well
turn his daughter loose in Covent-Garden, as trust the cultivation of
her mind to A CIRCULATING LIBRARY."

Fiction at this time lacked delicacy and refinement. The characters
lived largely in the streets or taverns, and were too much engrossed in
the pleasures of active life to give any heed to thoughts or emotions.
Though love was the constant theme of these books, as yet no true love
story had been written. The fires of home had not been lighted. The
refinements, the pure affections, the high ideals which cluster around
the domestic hearth had as yet no place in the novel. It needed the
feminine element, which, while no broader than that which had previously
made the novel, by its own addition gave something new to it and made it
truer to life.

While no woman of marked genius had appeared, the number and influence
of women novelists continued to increase throughout the eighteenth
century. Tim Cropdale in the novel _Humphry Clinker_, who "had made
shift to live many years by writing novels, at the rate of five pounds a
volume," complains that "that branch of business is now engrossed by
female authors, who publish merely for the propagation of virtue, with
so much ease, and spirit, and delicacy, and knowledge of the human
heart, and all in the serene tranquillity of high life, that the reader
is not only enchanted by their genius, but reformed by their morality."
Schlosser in his _History of the Eighteenth Century_ pays this tribute
to the moral influence of the women novelists: "With the increase of the
number of writers in England in the course of the eighteenth century,
women began to appear as authors instead of educating their children,
and their influence upon morals and modes of thinking increased, as that
of the clergy diminished."



CHAPTER III

Fanny Burney


A noteworthy transformation took place in the English novel during the
late years of the eighteenth century and the early part of the
nineteenth. This change cannot be explained by the great difference in
manners only. The mode of life described by the early novelists was in
existence sixty years after they wrote scenes typical of the customs and
manners of their day, just as the quiet home life described by Miss
Austen was to be found in England a hundred years before it graced the
pages of a book. This new era in the English novel was due not to a
change of environment, but to the new ideals of those who wrote.

In 1778, English fiction was represented by the work of Miss Burney, and
for thirty-six years, until 1814, when _Waverley_ appeared, this rare
plant was preserved and kept alive by a group of women, who trimmed and
pruned off many of its rough branches and gave to the wild native fruit
a delicacy and fragrance unknown to it before. English women writers
did at that time for the English novel what French women had done in
the preceding century for the French novel; they made it so pure in
thought and expression that Bishop Huet was able to say of the French
romances of the seventeenth century, "You'll scarce find an expression
or word which may shock chaste ears, or one single action which may give
offence to modesty."

This great change in the English novel was inaugurated by a young woman
ignorant of the world, whose power lay in her innocent and lively
imagination. At his home in Queen Square and later in St. Martin's
Street, Charles Burney, the father of Frances, entertained the most
illustrious men of his day. Johnson, Reynolds, Garrick, Burke, and
Colman were frequent guests, while members of the nobility thronged his
parlours to listen to the famous Italian singers who gladly sang for the
author of the _History of Music_. Here Fanny, a bashful but observant
child, saw life in the drawing-room. But as Dr. Burney gave little heed
to the comings and goings of his daughters, they played with the
children of a wigmaker next door, where, perhaps, Fanny became
acquainted with the vulgar side of London life, which is so humorously
depicted in _Evelina_. She received but little education, nor was she
more than a casual reader, but she was familiar with _Pamela_, _Betsey
Thoughtless_, _Rasselas_, and the _Vicar of Wakefield_. Such was her
preparation for becoming a writer of novels.

From her earliest years, she had delighted in writing stories and
dramas, although she received little encouragement in this occupation.
In her fifteenth year her stepmother proved to her so conclusively the
folly of girls' scribbling that Fanny burned all her manuscripts,
including _The History of Caroline Evelyn_. She could not, however,
banish from her mind the fate of Caroline's infant daughter, born of
high rank, but related through her grandmother to the vulgar people of
the East End of London. The many embarrassing situations in which she
might be placed haunted the imagination of the youthful writer, but it
was not until her twenty-sixth year that these situations were
described, when _Evelina or a Young Lady's Entrance into the World_ was
published.

The success of the book was instantaneous. The name of the author, which
had been withheld even from the publishers, was eagerly demanded. All
agreed that only a man conversant with the world could have written such
accurate descriptions of life both high and low. The wonder was
increased when it was learned that the author was a young woman who had
drawn her scenes, not from a knowledge of the world, but from her own
intuition and imagination. Miss Burney became at once an honoured
member of the literary circle which Mrs. Thrale had gathered at
Streatham, and a favourite of Dr. Johnson, who declared that _Evelina_
was superior to anything that Fielding had written, and that some
passages were worthy of the pen of Richardson. The book was accorded a
place among English classics, which it has retained for over a century.
"It was not hard fagging that produced such a work as _Evelina_," wrote
Mr. Crisp to the youthful author. "It was the ebullition of true
sterling genius--you wrote it because you could not help it--it
came--and so you put it down on paper."

The novel, following the form so common in the eighteenth century, is
written in the form of letters. The plot is somewhat time-honoured;
there is the nurse's daughter substituted for the real heiress, and a
mystery surrounding some of the characters; it is unfolded slowly with a
slight strain upon the readers' credulity at the last, but it ends to
the satisfaction of all concerned. In many incidents and in some of the
characters the story suggests _Betsey Thoughtless_, but Miss Burney had
greater powers of description than Mrs. Haywood.

The plot of the novel is forgotten, however, in the lively, witty manner
in which the characters are drawn and the ludicrous situations in which
they are placed. So long had these men and women held the mind of the
author that they are intensely real as they are presented to us at
assemblies, balls, theatres, and operas, where we watch their oddities
with amusement.

Indeed no woman has given so many graphic, droll, and minute
descriptions of life as Miss Burney. Her genius in this respect is
different from that of other women novelists. She has made a series of
snap-shots of people in the most absurd situations and ridicules them
while she is taking the picture. Few women writers can resist the
temptation of peeping into the hearts of their men and women, and the
knowledge thus gained gives them sympathy, while it often detracts from
the strong lines of the external picture; a writer will not paint a
villain quite so black if he believes he still preserves some remnants
of a noble nature. But Miss Burney has no interest in the inner life of
her men and women. She saw their peculiarities and was amused by them,
and has presented them to the reader with minute descriptions and lively
wit.

She also makes fine distinctions between people. Sir Clement Willoughby,
the West End snob, and Mr. Smith, the East End beau, are drawn with
discrimination. With what wit Miss Burney describes the scene at the
_ridotto_ between Evelina and Sir Clement. He had asked her to dance
with him. Unwilling to do so, because she wished to dance with another
gentleman, if he should ask her, she told Sir Clement she was engaged
for that dance. He did not leave her, however, but remained by her side
and speculated as to who the beast was so hostile to his own interests
as to forget to come to her; pitied the humiliation a lady must feel in
having to wait for a gentleman, and pointed to each old and lame man in
the room asking if he were the miscreant; he offered to find him for her
and asked what kind of a coat he had on. When Evelina did not know, he
became angry with the wretch who dared to address a lady in so
insignificant a coat that it was unworthy of her notice. To save herself
from further annoyance she danced with him, for she now knew that Sir
Clement had seen through her artifice from the beginning.

But the portrait of Mr. Smith, the East End snob, is even better than
that of Sir Clement Willoughby. Evelina is visiting her relatives at
Snow Hill, when Mr. Smith enters, self-confident and vulgar. His aim in
life, as he tells us, is to please the ladies. When Tom Branghton is
disputing with his sister about the place where they shall go for
amusement, he reprimands Tom for his lack of good breeding.

"O fie, Tom,--dispute with a lady!" cried Mr. Smith. "Now, as for me,
I'm for where you will, providing this young lady [meaning Evelina] is
of the party; one place is the same as another to me, so that it be but
agreeable to the ladies. I would go anywhere with you, Ma'm, unless,
indeed, it were to church;--ha, ha, ha, you'll excuse me, Ma'm, but,
really, I never could conquer my fear of a parson;--ha, ha, ha,--really,
ladies, I beg your pardon, for being so rude, but I can't help laughing
for my life."

Mr. Smith endeavoured to make himself particularly pleasing to Evelina,
and for that purpose bought tickets for her and her relatives to attend
the Hampstead Assembly. When he observed that Evelina was a little out
of sorts, he attributed her low spirits to doubts of his intentions
towards her. "To be sure," he told her, "marriage is all in all with the
ladies; but with us gentlemen it's quite another thing." He advised her
not to be discouraged, saying with a patronising air, "You may very well
be proud, for I assure you there is nobody so likely to catch me at last
as yourself."

Both Sir Clement Willoughby and Mr. Smith are selfish and conceited; but
the former had lived among the gentlemen of Mayfair, the latter among
the tradespeople of Snow Hill, and this difference of environment is
shown in every speech they utter.

It is the contrast between these two distinct classes of society that
saves the book from becoming monotonous. Evelina visits the Pantheon
with her West End friends. When Captain Mirvan wonders what people find
in such a place, Mr. Lovel, a fashionable fop, quickly rejoins: "What
the ladies may come hither for, Sir, it would ill become _us_ to
determine; but as to we men, doubtless we can have no other view, than
to admire them." At another time Evelina visits the opera with the
vulgar Branghtons, who all rejoiced when the curtain dropped, and Mr.
Branghton vowed he would never be caught again. The Branghtons at the
opera is hardly inferior to Partridge at the play. Tom Branghton is a
good representative of his class. He describes with glee the last night
at Vauxhall: "There's such squealing and squalling!--and then all the
lamps are broke,--and the women skimper scamper;--I declare I would not
take five guineas to miss the last night!"

All the characters, even the heroine, take delight, in boisterous mirth.
Much of the humour of the book consists rather in ludicrous situations
than in any real delicacy of wit. Too often the laugh is at another's
discomfiture, and so fails to please the present age with its kindlier
feeling towards others. Such are the practical jokes which Captain
Mirvan plays upon Madame Duval. In one instance, disguised as a robber,
he waylays the lady's coach, and leaves her in a ditch with her feet
tied to a tree. The many tricks which the doughty Salt plays upon this
lady so much resemble some of the humorous scenes in _Joseph Andrews_,
and _Tom Jones_ that we may infer the readers of that century found
them laughable. The Captain and the French woman are two puppets which
serve to introduce much of this horse-play. They are not even
caricatures; they are entirely unlike anything in human life. With the
exception of these two characters, all the men and women who provoked
the mirth of the heroine are well portrayed.

Miss Burney is less felicitous in her descriptions of serious
characters. Lord Orville, the same type of man as Sir Charles Grandison,
is true only in the sense that Miss Burney announces the truth of the
entire book. "I have not pretended to show the world what it actually
_is_, but what it _appears_ to a girl of seventeen," she wrote in the
preface to _Evelina_. Lord Orville, all dignity, nobility, charm, and
perfection, is but the ideal of a young girl.

Evelina was a new woman in literature, a revelation to the men of the
time of George the Third. The sincerity of the book could not be
doubted. "But," they asked, "did Evelina represent the woman's point of
view of life? Surely no man ever held like views." The Lovelaces and Tom
Joneses are not so attractive as when seen through the eyes of their own
sex, and the heroines are not so soft and yielding as a man would create
them. Evelina, like all Miss Burney's heroines, is independent,
fearless, and witty, with scarcely a trace of the traditional heroine
of fiction. Saints and Magdalenes have always appealed to the masculine
imagination. _La donna dolorosa_ has occupied a prominent place in the
art and literature of man's creation. Here he has revealed his sex
egoism in all its nudity: the woman weeping for man, either lover,
husband, or son; man the centre of her thoughts, her hopes and fears.
This new heroine with a new regard towards man was a revelation to them.
Evelina was the first woman to break the spell, to show them woman as
woman, in lieu of woman as parasite and adjunct to man. Evelina is not
always pleasing; she hasn't always good manners; she sometimes laughs in
the faces of the dashing beaux who are addressing her. But she is a
woman of real flesh and blood; such women have existed in all time, and,
liked many women we meet every day and whom men in all ages have known,
Evelina insists on being the centre of every scene.

In July, 1782, Miss Burney's second book, _Cecilia, or Memoirs of an
Heiress_, was published. This novel met with as enthusiastic a reception
as _Evelina_. Gibbon read the whole five volumes in a day; Burke
declared they had cost him three days, though he did not part with the
story from the time he first opened it, and had sat up a whole night to
finish it; and Sir Joshua Reynolds had been fed while reading it,
because he refused to quit it at the table.

The book shows more care and effort than _Evelina_. That was an outburst
of youthful vivacity and spirits, but in _Cecilia_ the author is
striving to do her best. This is particularly revealed in the style,
which shows the influence of Doctor Johnson, for it has lost the
simplicity of _Evelina_. The diction is more ambitious, and the
sentences are longer, many of them balanced. Even some of the inferior
characters from their speech, appear to have received a lesson in
English composition from Dr. Johnson.

But the novel owes its place among English classics to the varieties of
characters portrayed and the vivid pictures of English life. Here again
the gaieties of Vauxhall, Ranelagh, Marylebone and the Pantheon have
become immortal, drawn with colours as vivid and enduring as Hogarth
used in painting the sadder sides of London life. No other writer has
brought these places before our eyes as clearly and as fully as Fanny
Burney.

The plot of _Cecilia_, like that of _Evelina_, is so arranged as to
present different classes of society. _Cecilia_ has three guardians,
with one of whom she must live during her minority. First she visits Mr.
Harrel, a gay, fashionable man, a spendthrift and a gambler, who lives
in a fashionable house in Portman Square, where Cecilia, during a
constant round of festivities, meets the fashionable people of London.
Next she visits Mr. Briggs in the City, "a short thick, sturdy man, with
very small keen black eyes, a square face, a dark complexion, and a snub
nose." He was so miserly that when Cecilia asked for pen, ink, and a
sheet of paper, he gave her a slate and pencil, as he supposed she had
nothing of consequence to say. He was as sparing of his words as of his
money, and used the same elliptical sentences in his speech as Dickens
afterwards put into the mouth of Alfred Jingle, the famous character in
_Pickwick Papers_. He thus advises Cecilia in regard to her lovers:
"Take care of sharpers; don't trust shoe-buckles, nothing but Bristol
stones! tricks in all things. A fine gentleman sharp as another man.
Never give your heart to a gold-topped cane, nothing but brass gilt
over. Cheats everywhere: fleece you in a year; won't leave you a groat.
But one way to be safe,--bring 'em all to me." Lastly she visits Mr.
Delvile, her third guardian, a man of family, who despised both the men
associated with him as trustees of Cecilia; he lived in such gloomy
state in his magnificent old house in St. James's Square that it
inspired awe, and repressed all pleasure. Pride in their birth and
prejudice against all parvenus were the faults of Mr. and Mrs. Delvile.

Besides these characters, there were many others whose names were for a
long time familiar in every household. Sir Robert Floyer was as vain as
Mr. Smith. Mr. Meadows was constantly bored to death; it was
insufferable exertion to talk to a quiet woman, and a talkative one put
him into a fever. At the opera the solos depressed him and the full
orchestra fatigued him. He yawned while ladies were talking to him, and
after he had begged them to repeat what they had said, forgot to listen.
"I am tired to death! tired of everything," was his constant expression.

In his critical essay on Madame D'Arblay, Fanny Burney's married name,
under which her later works were published, Macaulay has thus dealt with
her treatment of character:

"Madame D'Arblay has left us scarcely anything but humours. Almost every
one of her men and women has some one propensity developed to a morbid
degree. In _Cecilia_, for example, Mr. Delvile never opens his lips
without some allusion to his own birth and station; or Mr. Briggs
without some allusion to the hoarding of money; or Mr. Hobson, without
betraying the self-indulgence and self-importance of a purse-proud
upstart; or Mr. Simkins, without uttering some sneaking remark for the
purpose of currying favour with his customers; or Mr. Meadows, without
expressing apathy and weariness of life; or Mr. Albany, without
declaiming about the vices of the rich and the misery of the poor; or
Mrs. Belfield, without some indelicate eulogy on her son; or Lady
Margaret, without indicating jealousy of her husband. Morrice is all
skipping, officious impertinence, Mr. Gosport all sarcasm, Lady Honoria
all lively prattle, Miss Larolles all silly prattle; if ever Madame
D'Arblay aimed at more, as in the character of Monckton, we do not think
that she succeeded well.... The variety of humours which is to be found
in her novels is immense; and though the talk of each person separately
is monotonous, the general effect is not monotony, but a most lively and
agreeable diversity."

While the character of Monckton is not strongly drawn, one or two scenes
in which he figures have great power. Mr. Monckton, who had married an
aged woman for her money, lived in constant hope of her dissolution. He
planned to keep Cecilia from marrying until that happy event, when he
schemed to make her his bride, and thus acquire a second fortune. He had
used his influence as a family friend to prejudice her lovers in her
eyes, and had just succeeded in breaking up an intimacy which he feared:
"A weight was removed from his mind which had nearly borne down even his
remotest hopes; the object of his eager pursuit seemed still within his
reach, and the rival into whose power he had so lately almost beheld her
delivered, was totally renounced, and no longer to be dreaded. A
revolution such as this, raised expectations more sanguine than ever;
and in quitting the house, he exultingly considered himself released
from every obstacle to his view,--till, just as he arrived home, he
recollected his wife!"

Cecilia, the heroine of the novel, is only Evelina grown a little older,
a little sadder, a little more worldly wise. The humour is, too, a
little kindlier. The practical jokes so common in _Evelina_ do not mar
the pages of _Cecilia_. At times the latter novel becomes almost tragic.
The scene at Vauxhall where Mr. Harrel puts an end to his life of
dissipation is dramatic and thrilling. But Miss Burney had lost the
buoyancy and lively fancy which made the charm of _Evelina_.

Miss Burney's last two novels, _Camilla, or a Picture of Youth_ and _The
Wanderer, or Female Difficulties_, have no claim to a place among
English classics. It is strange that, as she saw more of life, she
depicted it with less accuracy. This might seem to show that her first
novels owe their excellence to her vivid imagination rather than to her
powers of observation. Her weary life at court as second keeper of the
robes to Queen Charlotte; her marriage to Monsieur D'Arblay, and the
sorrows that came to her as the wife of a French refugee; all her
deeper experiences of life during the fourteen years between the
publication of _Cecilia_ and _Camilla_--these had completely changed her
light, humorous view of externals, and with that loss her power as an
artist disappeared.

_Camilla_ has several heroines whose love affairs interest the reader.
It thus bears a resemblance to Miss Austen's novels, who speaks of it
with admiration and was, perhaps, influenced by it. Eugenia, who has
received the education of a man, is pleasing. Clermont Lynmere, like Mr.
Smith and Sir Robert Floyer, imagines that all the ladies are in love
with him. Sir Hugh Tyrold, with his love for the classics and his regret
that he had not been beaten into learning them when he was a boy, his
strict ideas of virtue and his desire to make everybody happy, is well
conceived, but the outlines are not strong enough to make him a living
character. _Camilla_ shows more than _Cecilia_ the style of Dr. Johnson.
It is heavy and slow, the words are long, and many of them of Latin
derivation.

It was not until the year 1814, the year of _Waverley_, that her last
novel, _The Wanderer, or Female Difficulties_, was published, which,
following the style of _Camilla_, was in five volumes. It was partly
founded on incidents arising out of the French Revolution. The book was
eagerly awaited; the publishers paid fifteen hundred guineas for it;
but even the friendliest critic pronounced it a literary failure.

To sum up, Macaulay in the essay before quoted makes clear Miss Burney's
place in fiction:

"Miss Burney did for the English novel what Jeremy Collier did for the
English drama; and she did it in a better way. She first showed that a
tale might be written in which both the fashionable and the vulgar life
of London might be exhibited with great force and with broad comic
humour, and which yet should not contain a single line inconsistent with
rigid morality, or even with virgin delicacy. She took away the reproach
which lay on a most useful and delightful species of composition. She
vindicated the right of her sex to an equal share in a fair and noble
province of letters ... we owe to her not only _Evelina_, _Cecilia_, and
_Camilla_, but also _Mansfield Park_ and _The Absentee_."



CHAPTER IV

Hannah More


During the time that Dr. Johnson dominated the literary conscience of
England, a group of ladies who had wearied of whist and quadrille, the
common amusements of fashion, used to meet at the homes of one another
to discuss literary and political subjects. They were called in ridicule
the "Blue Stocking Club," because Mr. Benjamin Stillingfleet, who was
always present at these gatherings, wore hose of that colour. Among the
members distinguished by their wit and talents were Mrs. Elizabeth
Montagu, the author of an _Essay on the Genius of Shakespeare_; Mrs.
Elizabeth Carter, a poetess and excellent Greek scholar; Mrs. Chapone,
whose _Letters to Young Ladies_ formed the standard of conduct for young
women of two generations; Miss Reynolds, the sister of Sir Joshua; and
Mrs. Vesey, noted as a charming hostess. Dr. Johnson, David Garrick,
Reynolds, and Burke were frequenters of this club. One may well imagine
that the conversation and wit of the Blue Stockings were far too rare
to be understood by the grosser minds of the mere devotees of fashion,
who in consequence threw a ridicule upon them which has always adhered
to the name.

Hannah More, who had already become known as a playwright, visited
London in 1773, and at once was welcomed by this group. In a poem called
_The Bas Bleu_, dedicated to Mrs. Vesey, she thus describes the pleasure
of these meetings:

    Enlighten'd spirits! You, who know
  What charms from polish'd converse flow,
  Speak, for you can, the pure delight
  When kindling sympathies unite;
  When correspondent tastes impart
  Communion sweet from heart to heart;
  You ne'er the cold gradations need
  Which vulgar souls to union lead;
  No dry discussion to unfold
  The meaning caught ere well 't is told:
  In taste, in learning, wit, or science,
  Still kindled souls demand alliance:
  Each in the other joys to find
  The image answering to his mind.

The Blue Stocking Club was composed largely of Tories, so that when all
Europe became restless under the influence of the French Revolution,
they strongly combated the levelling doctrines of democracy. Hannah More
in particular, who had been conducting schools for the very poor near
Bristol, saw how the teachings of the revolutionists affected men
already prone to idleness and drink. To offset these influences, she
published a little book with the following title-page: "Village
Politics. Addressed to all the Mechanics, Journeymen, and Labourers, in
Great Britain. By Will Chip, a country Carpenter."

It is not a novel in the strict sense of the word, but in simple
language, easily understood, it teaches the labouring people the
inconsistent attitude of France, and the strength and safety of the
English constitution. It is not a deep book, but has good work-a-day
common-sense, such as keeps the world jogging on, ready to endure the
ills it has rather than fly to others it knows not of.

The book is in the form of a dialogue between Jack Anvil, the
blacksmith, and Tom Hood, the mason.

"TOM. But have you read the _Rights of Man_?

"JACK. No, not I: I had rather by half read the _Whole Duty of Man_. I
have but little time for reading, and such as I should therefore only
read a bit of the best."

       *       *       *       *       *

"TOM. And what dost thou take a _democrat_ to be?

"JACK. One who likes to be governed by a thousand tyrants, and yet can't
bear a king."

       *       *       *       *       *

"TOM. What is it to be _an enlightened people_?

"JACK. To put out the light of the Gospel, confound right and wrong, and
grope about in pitch darkness."

       *       *       *       *       *

"TOM. And what is _benevolence_?

"JACK. Why, in the new-fangled language, it means contempt of religion,
aversion to justice, overturning of law, doating on all mankind in
general, and hating everybody in particular."

For a long time the authorship of the book remained a secret, and Will
Chip became a notable figure. The clergy and the land-owners in
particular rejoiced over his homely common-sense, and distributed these
pamphlets broadcast over the land. One hundred thousand copies were sold
in a short time. _Village Politics_ is said to have been one of the
strongest influences in England to awaken the common people to the
dangers which lie in a sudden overthrow of government. The book was
timely, for that decade had become intoxicated by the name of Liberty.
To-day democracy and equality are no longer feared.

During many years Hannah More worked industriously among the poor of
Cheddar and its vicinity. On a visit to the Cliffs of Cheddar she found
an ignorant, half-savage people, many of whom dwelt in the caves and
fissures of the rocks, and earned a miserable subsistence by selling
stalactites and other minerals native to the place, to the travellers
who were attracted thither by the beautiful scenery. Among these people
Hannah More opened a Sunday-school, and later a day school, where the
girls were taught knitting, spinning, and sewing. A girl trained in her
school was presented on her marriage day with five shillings, a pair of
white stockings, and a new Bible. The teaching in the schools was so
practical that within a year schools were opened in nine parishes.

In this missionary work, Miss More became intimately acquainted not only
with the very poor, but also with the rich farmers living in the
neighbourhood and the prosperous tradespeople of the villages. From
these better educated men she met with great opposition. One petty
landlord met her request for assistance with the remark: "The lower
classes are fated to be poor, ignorant and wicked; and wise as you are,
you cannot alter what is decreed." Another man informed her that
religion was the worst thing for the poor, it made them so lazy and
useless.

       *       *       *       *       *

But the minds of the people had been awakened by the French Revolution.
They were beginning to think. Books and ballads attacking church and
constitution were hawked through the country and placed within reach of
all. To counteract the influence of these "corrupt and inflammatory
publications" Hannah More, between the years 1795-1798, published _The
Cheap Repository_, the first regular issue of this kind. Every month a
story, a ballad, and a tract for Sunday were published. Hannah More knew
so well the common reasoning and the mental attitude of those for whom
she wrote, that she was able to make her lessons most effective. So
great was the demand for these chap-books that over two million were
sold the first year.[1]

  [1] For a complete bibliography of these chap-books, see the
      _Catalogue of English and American Chap-Books_ in Harvard
      College Library, pp. 8-10; compiled in part by Charles Welsh.

These stories were divided into two classes, those for "persons of
middle rank" and those for the common people. The former point out the
dangers of pride and covetousness; of substituting abstract philosophy
for religion; and warn masters not to forget their moral obligations
towards their servants. The latter aim to teach neatness, sobriety,
regularity in church attendance, and point out the happiness of those
who follow these precepts, and the misery of those who neglect them.

Her two best known stories are _Mr. Fantom_ and _The Shepherd of
Salisbury Plain_. _Mr. Fantom: or the History of the New-Fashioned
Philosopher, and his Man William_ was written to warn masters of the
danger of teaching their servants disrespect for the Bible and for civil
law. Mr. Fantom was a shallow man, who glided upon the surface of
philosophy and culled those precepts which relieved his conscience from
any moral obligations. When he was asked to help the poor in his own
parish, he refused to consider their wants because his mind was so
engrossed by the partition of Poland. Like Mrs. Jellyby of a later time,
he was so much troubled by sufferings which he could not see that he
neglected his family and servants. When he reprimanded his butler,
William, for being intoxicated, the young man replied: "Why, sir, you
are a philosopher, you know; and I have often overheard you say to your
company, that private vices are public benefits; and so I thought that
getting drunk was as pleasant a way of doing good to the public as any,
especially when I could oblige my muster at the same time." In course of
time William became a thief and a murderer, and expiated his crimes on
the scaffold.

In contrast to this is _The Shepherd of Salisbury Plain_. This shepherd
was contented with his lot, and says: "David was happier when he kept
his father's sheep on such a plain as this, and employed in singing some
of his own psalms perhaps, than ever he was when he became king of
Israel and Judah. And I dare say we should never have had some of the
most beautiful texts in all those fine psalms, if he had not been a
shepherd, which enabled him to make so many fine comparisons and
similitudes, as one may say, from country life, flocks of sheep, hills
and valleys, fields of corn, and fountains of water." The shepherd's
neat cottage with its simple furnishings, his frugal wife and
industrious children are described in simple and convincing language.

In the stories of the poor there are many interesting details of the
everyday life of that class that did not blossom into heroes and
heroines of romance for nearly half a century. Mrs. Sponge, in _The
History of Betty Brown, the St. Giles's Orange Girl_, is a character
that Dickens might have immortalised. Mrs. Sponge kept a little shop and
a kind of eating-house for poor girls near the Seven Dials. She received
stolen goods, and made such large profits in her business that she was
enabled to become a broker among the poor. She loaned Betty five
shillings to set her up in the orange business; she did not ask for the
return of her money, but exacted a sixpence a day for its use, and was
regarded by Betty, and the other girls whom she thus befriended, as a
benefactor. At last, Betty was rescued from the clutches of Mrs. Sponge.
By industry and piety she became mistress of a handsome sausage-shop
near the Seven Dials, and married a hackney coachman, the hero of one of
Miss More's ballads:

  I am a bold coachman, and drive a good hack
  With a coat of five capes that quite covers my back;
  And my wife keeps a sausage-shop, not many miles
  From the narrowest alley in all broad St. Giles.
  Though poor, we are honest and very content,
  We pay as we go, for meat, drink, and for rent;
  To work all the week I am able and willing,
  I never get drunk, and I waste not a shilling;
  And while at a tavern my gentleman tarries,
  The coachman grows richer than he whom he carries,
  And I'd rather (said I), since it saves me from sin,
  Be the driver without, than the toper within.

_The Cheap Repository_ was written to teach moral precepts. Neither
Hannah More nor her readers saw any artistic beauty in the sordid lives
of this lower stratum of society. They were not interested in the
superstitions of "Poor Sally Evans," who hung a plant called
"midsummer-men" in her room on Midsummer eve so that she might learn by
the bending of the leaves if her lover were true to her, and who
consulted all the fortune-tellers that came to her door to learn whether
the two moles on her cheek foretold two husbands or two children.
Hannah More recorded these simple fancies of poor Sally only to show her
folly and the misfortunes that afterwards befell her on account of her
superstitions. Writers of that century either laughed at the ignorant
blunders of the poor, or used them to point a moral. An interest in them
because they are human beings like ourselves with common frailties
belongs to the next century. Nothing proves more conclusively the growth
of the democratic idea than the changed attitude of the novel toward the
ignorant and the criminal.

       *       *       *       *       *

Hannah More was always interested in the education of young ladies. She
wrote a series of essays called _Strictures on the Modern System of
Female Education_, in which she protested loudly against the tendency to
give girls an ornamental rather than a useful education. This was so
highly approved that she was asked to make suggestions for the education
of the Princess Charlotte. This led to her writing _Hints towards
Forming the Character of a Young Princess_.

Hannah More finally embodied her theories on the education of women in a
book which she thought might appeal most strongly to the young ladies
themselves, _Coelebs in Search of a Wife_. Running through it, is a
slight romance. Coelebs, filled with admiration for Eve, as described
in _Paradise Lost_, where she is intent on her household duties, goes
forth into the world to find, if possible, such a helpmate for himself.
As he meets different women, he compares them with his ideal, and,
finding them lacking, passes a severe criticism upon female education
and accomplishments. Finally, he meets a lady with well-trained mind,
who delights in works of charity and piety, one well calculated to
conduct wisely the affairs of his household. She has besides proper
humility, and accepts with gratitude the honour of becoming Coelebs's
wife.

Until her death at the advanced age of eighty-eight years, Hannah More
continued to write moral and religious essays, so that she was before
the public view for over fifty years, Mrs. S. C. Hall in her book
_Pilgrimages to English Shrines_ thus describes her in old age:

"Hannah More wore a dress of very light green silk--a white China crape
shawl was folded over her shoulders; her white hair was frizzled, after
a by-gone fashion, above her brow, and that _backed_, as it were, by a
very full double border of rich lace. The reality was as dissimilar from
the picture painted by our imagination as anything could well be; such a
sparkling, light, bright, 'summery'-looking old lady--more like a
beneficent fairy, than the biting author of _Mr. Fantom_, though in
perfect harmony with _The Shepherd of Salisbury Plain_."



CHAPTER V

Charlotte Smith. Mrs. Inchbald


While Hannah More was endeavouring to improve the condition of the poor
by teaching them diligence and sobriety, a group of earnest men and
women were writing books and pamphlets in which they claimed that
poverty and ignorance were due to unjust laws. The writings of Voltaire
and Rousseau had filled their minds with bright pictures of a democracy.
These theories were considered most dangerous in England, but they were
the theories which helped to shape the American constitution. Among
these English revolutionists were William Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft,
Charlotte Smith, Mrs. Inchbald, and for a time Amelia Opie.

The strongest political novel was _Caleb Williams_ by William Godwin. In
this he shows how through law man may become the destroyer of man. This
interest in the rights of man awakened interest in the condition of
women; and Mary Wollstonecraft, who afterward became Mrs. Godwin, wrote
_Vindication of the Rights of Woman_. This pamphlet was declared
contrary to the Bible and to Christian law, although all its demands
have now been conceded. Charlotte Smith was also interested in the
position of women and the laws affecting them. In _Desmond_ she
discussed freely a marriage problem which in her day seemed very bold,
while in her private life she ignored British prejudices.

She was the mother of twelve children and the wife of a man of many
schemes, so that she was continually devising ways to extricate her
large family from the financial difficulties into which he plunged them.
At one time a friend suggested to her that her husband's attention
should be turned toward religion. Her reply was: "Oh, for heaven's sake,
do not put it into his head to take to religion, for if he does, he will
instantly begin by building a cathedral." She is supposed to have
caricatured him in the projector who hoped to make a fortune by manuring
his estate with old wigs. But when her husband was imprisoned for debt,
she shared his captivity, and began to write to support her family.
Although she died at the age of fifty-seven, she found time during her
manifold cares to write thirty-eight volumes.

But not only did Mrs. Smith endure sorrows as great as those of her
favourite heroine, Sidney Biddulph, but one of her daughters was
equally unfortunate. She was married unhappily, and returned with her
three children for her mother to support. Mr. and Mrs. Smith, after
twenty-three years of married life, agreed to live in separate
countries, he in Normandy, and she in England, although they always
corresponded and were interested in each other's welfare. Yet this
separation, together with the revolutionary tendencies discovered in her
writings, raised a storm of criticism against her.

In _Desmond_, which was regarded as so dangerous, Mrs. Smith has
presented the following problem: Geraldine, the heroine, is married to a
spendthrift, who attempts to retrieve his fortunes by forcing his wife
to become the mistress of his friend, the rich Duc de Romagnecourt. To
preserve her honour she leaves him, hoping to return to her mother's
roof; but her mother refuses to receive her and bids her return to her
husband. As she dares not do this, and is without money, a faithful
friend, Desmond, takes her under his protection, asking no reward but
the pleasure of serving her. Finally Geraldine receives a letter
informing her that her husband is ill. She returns to him, and nurses
him until he dies; after a year of mourning she marries Desmond.

How could a woman have behaved more virtuously than Geraldine? She is
always high-minded and actuated by the purest motives. But it was
feared that her example might encourage wives to desert their husbands,
and consequently the novel was declared immoral.

_Desmond_ was published in 1792, when the feeling against France was
very bitter in England. The plot, as it meanders slowly through three
volumes, is constantly interrupted by political discussions. The
author's clearly expressed preference for a republican government, and
her criticism of English law, met with bitter disapproval. One of the
characters pronounces a panegyric upon the greater prosperity and
happiness that has come to the French soldiers, farmers, and peasants,
since they came to believe that they were sharers in their own labours,
and the hero of the book, writing from France to a friend in England,
says: "I lament still more the disposition which too many Englishmen
show to join in this unjust and infamous crusade, against the holy
standard of freedom; and I blush for my country." In the same book, the
author censures the penal laws of England, by which robbery to the
amount of forty shillings is punishable with death; and criticises the
delay of the courts in dealing justice.

This criticism is expressed tamely, barely more than suggested, when
compared with the vigorous attacks which Dickens made in the next
century on English law and the slow action of justice in the famous
"Circumlocution Office." Dickens wrote with such vigour that he brought
about a reform. A modern reader finds _Desmond_ earnest and sincere, but
tame to the point of dulness. It seems strange how the Tory party could
see in this book a menace to the British constitution. But a writer in
the _Monthly Review_ for December, 1792, advocated her cause. "She is
very justly of opinion," he writes, "that the great events that are
passing in the world are no less interesting to women than to men, and
that, in her solicitude to discharge the domestic duties, a woman ought
not to forget that, in common with her father and husband, her brothers
and sons, she is a citizen."

The publication of _The Old Manor House_ in the following year won back
for her many of the friends that she had lost by _Desmond_. But in this
work also the same love of liberty, the same indifference to social
distinctions, occur. The hero of _The Old Manor House_ joins the English
army, and is sent to fight against the Americans; in the many
reflections upon this conflict, the author shows that her sympathies are
with the colonists. The father of the hero had married a young woman who
had nothing to recommend her but "beauty, simplicity, and goodness." The
hero himself falls in love with and marries a girl beneath him in rank,
but he does not seem to feel that he has done a generous thing, nor
does the heroine show any gratitude for this honour. Each seems
unconscious that their difference in rank should be a bar to their
union, provided they do not offend old Mrs. Rayland, the owner of the
manor. A great change had come over the novel since Pamela was
overpowered with gratitude to her profligate master, Mr. B, for
condescending to make her his wife.

The revolutionary principles of Mrs. Smith's novels were soon forgotten,
but two new elements were introduced by her that bore fruit in English
fiction. Her great gift to the novel was the portrayal of refined,
quiet, intellectual ladies, beside whom Evelina and Cecilia seem but
school-girls. Her heroines may be poor, they may be of inferior rank,
but they are always ladies of sensitive nature and cultivated manners,
and are drawn with a feeling and tenderness which no novelist before her
had reached. A contemporary said of Emmeline, "All is graceful, and
pleasing to the sight, all, in short, is simple, femininely beautiful
and chaste." This might be said of all the women she has created. Old
Mrs. Rayland, the central personage in her most popular novel, _The Old
Manor House_, notwithstanding her exalted ideas of her own importance as
a member of the Rayland family, and the arbitrary manner in which she
compels all to conform to her old-fashioned notions, is always the
high-born lady. We smile at her, but she never forfeits our respect.
Scott said of her, "Old Mrs. Rayland is without a peer."

Mrs. Smith's second gift to the novel was her charming descriptions of
rural scenery. Nature had for a long time been banished from the arts.
Wordsworth in one of his prefaces wrote:

"Excepting _The Nocturnal Reverie_ of Lady Winchelsea, and a passage or
two in the _Windsor Forest_ of Pope, the poetry of the period
intervening between the publication of _Paradise Lost_ and _The Seasons_
does not contain a single new image of external nature; and scarcely
presents a familiar one, from which it can be inferred that the eye of
the Poet had been steadily fixed upon his object, much less that his
feelings had urged him to work upon it in the spirit of genuine
imagination."

Fiction was as barren of scenery as poetry. None of the novelists were
cognisant of the country scenes amid which their plots were laid, with
the possible exception of Goldsmith. _The Vicar of Wakefield_ has a
rural setting, and there are references to the trees, the blackbirds,
and the hayfields; but description is not introduced for the sake of its
own beauty as in the novels of Charlotte Smith. In _Ethelinda_ there are
beautiful descriptions of the English Lakes, part of the scene being
laid at Grasmere; _Celestina_ is in the romantic Provence; _Desmond_ in
Normandy; and in _The Old Manor House_ we have the soft landscape of the
south of England.

In _The Old Manor House_ she thus describes one of the paths that led
from the gate of the park to Rayland Hall:

"The other path, which in winter or in wet seasons was inconvenient,
wound down a declivity, where furze and fern were shaded by a few old
hawthorns and self-sown firs: out of the hill several streams were
filtered, which, uniting at its foot, formed a large and clear pond of
near twenty acres, fed by several imperceptible currents from other
eminences which sheltered that side of the park; and the bason between
the hills and the higher parts of it being thus filled, the water found
its way over a stony boundary, where it was passable by a foot bridge
unless in time of floods; and from thence fell into a lower part of the
ground, where it formed a considerable river; and, winding among willows
and poplars for near a mile, again spread into a still larger lake, on
the edge of which was a mill, and opposite, without the park paling,
wild heaths, where the ground was sandy, broken, and irregular, still
however marked by plantations made in it by the Rayland family."

Every feature of the landscape is brought distinctly before the eye.
Such descriptions are not unusual now, but they were first used by
Charlotte Smith.

Even more realistic is the picture of a road in a part of the New Forest
near Christchurch:

"It was a deep, hollow road, only wide enough for waggons, and was in
some places shaded by hazel and other brush wood; in others, by old
beech and oaks, whose roots wreathed about the bank, intermingled with
ivy, holly, and evergreen fern, almost the only plants that appeared in
a state of vegetation, unless the pale and sallow mistletoe, which here
and there partially tinted with faint green the old trees above them.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Everything was perfectly still around; even the robin, solitary
songster of the frozen woods, had ceased his faint vespers to the
setting sun, and hardly a breath of air agitated the leafless branches.
This dead silence was interrupted by no sound but the slow progress of
his horse, as the hollow ground beneath his feet sounded as if he trod
on vaults. There was in the scene, and in this dull pause of nature, a
solemnity not unpleasant to Orlando, in his present disposition of
mind."

In 1842, Miss Mitford wrote to Miss Barrett: "Charlotte Smith's works,
with all their faults, have yet a love of external nature, and a power
of describing it, which I never take a spring walk without feeling." And
again she wrote to a friend referring to Mrs. Smith, "Except that they
want cheerfulness, nothing can exceed the beauty of the style."

       *       *       *       *       *

The life and writings of Mrs. Inchbald had some things in common with
the life and writings of Mrs. Smith. Both were obliged to write to
support themselves as well as those dependent upon them. Both had seen
many phases of human nature, and both viewed with scorn the pretensions
of the rich and beheld with pity the sorrows of the poor. Both were
champions of social and political equality. Mrs. Inchbald, however, was
an actress and a successful playwright, hence her novels are the more
dramatic, but they lack the beautiful rural setting which gives a poetic
atmosphere to the writings of Charlotte Smith.

_A Simple Story_, the first, of Mrs. Inchbald's two novels, has been
called the precursor of _Jane Eyre_. It is the first novel in which we
are more interested in what is felt than in what actually happens. Mr.
Dorriforth, a Catholic priest, and Miss Milner, his ward, fall in love
with each other, and we watch this hidden passion, which preys upon the
health of both. He is horrified that he has broken his vows; she is
mortified that she loves a man who, she believes, neither can nor does
return her feeling for him. When he is released from his vow, it is the
emotion, not external happenings, that holds the interest. The first
part of the story is brought to a close with the marriage of Mr.
Dorriforth, now Lord Elmwood, and Miss Milner.

Seventeen years elapse between the two halves of the novel. During this
time trouble has come between them and they have separated. The
character of each has undergone a change. Traits of disposition that
were first but lightly observed have been intensified with years. Mrs.
Inchbald writes of the hero: "Dorriforth, the pious, the good, the
tender Dorriforth, is become a hard-hearted tyrant; the compassionate,
the feeling, the just Lord Elmwood, an example of implacable rigour and
justice." His friend Sandford has also changed with the years, but he
has been softened, not hardened by them--"the reprover, the enemy of the
vain, the idle, and the wicked, but the friend and comforter of the
forlorn and miserable."

The story of Dorriforth gives unity to the two parts of the novel. The
conflict between his love and his anger holds the reader in suspense
until the conclusion. The characters of eighteenth-century fiction were
actuated by but a small number of motives. In nearly all the novels the
men were either generous and free or stingy and hypocritical; the women
were either virtuous and winsome, or immoral and brazen. Mrs. Inchbald
possessed, only in a less degree, George Eliot's power of
character-analysis; she observed minor qualities, and she was as
unflinching in following the development of evil traits to a tragic
conclusion as was the author of _Adam Bede_.

In _The Gentleman's Magazine_ for March, 1791, some one wrote of _A
Simple Story_:

"She has struck out a path entirely her own. She has disdained to follow
the steps of her predecessors, and to construct a new novel, as is too
commonly done, out of the scraps and fragments of earlier inventors. Her
principal character, the Roman Catholic lord, is perfectly new: and she
has conducted him, through a series of surprising well-contrasted
adventures, with an uniformity of character and truth of description
that have rarely been surpassed."

There is, however, one hackneyed scene. A young girl is seized, thrust
into a chariot, and carried at full speed to a lonely place. There is
hardly an early novel where this bald incident is not worked up into one
or more chapters, with variations to suit the convenience of the plot.
It was as much a part of the stock in trade of the novelist of the
eighteenth century as a family quarrel is of the twentieth. With this
exception, _A Simple Story_ is new in its plot, incidents, characters,
and mode of treatment. Emotion did not play so important a part in a
novel again until Charlotte Brontë wrote _Jane Eyre_.

Mrs. Inchbald's only other novel, _Nature and Art_, shows the
artificialities of society. Two cousins, William and Henry, are
contrasted. William is the son of a dean. Henry's father went to Africa
to live, whence he sent his son to his rich uncle to be educated. Henry
fails to comprehend the society in which he finds himself placed, and
cannot understand that there should be any poor people.

"'Why, here is provision enough for all the people,' said Henry; 'why
should they want? why do not they go and take some of these things?'

"'They must not,' said the dean, 'unless they were their own.'

"'What, Uncle! Does no part of the earth, nor anything which the earth
produces, belong to the poor?'"

His uncle fails to answer this question to his nephew's satisfaction.

The vices and the fawning duplicity of William are contrasted with the
virtues and independent spirit of Henry.

"'I know I am called proud,' one day said William to Henry.

"'Dear Cousin,' replied Henry, 'it must be only then by those who do not
know you; for to me you appear the humblest creature in the world.'

"'Do you really think so?'

"'I am certain of it; or would you always give up your opinion to
that of persons in a superior state, however inferior in their
understanding? ... I have more pride than you, for I will never stoop
to act or to speak contrary to my feelings.'"

William rises to eminence, in time becoming a judge. Henry, who is
always virtuous, can obtain no preferment. This contrast in the two
cousins is not so overdrawn as at first appears. William represents the
aristocracy of the old world; Henry, the free representative of a new
country.

A tragic story runs through the novel, which becomes intensely dramatic
at the point where William puts on his black cap to pronounce sentence
on the girl whom he had ruined years before. He does not recognise her;
but she, who had loved him through the years, becomes insane, not at the
thought of death, but that he should be the one to pronounce the
sentence. It is doubtful if any novelist before Scott had produced so
thrilling a situation, a situation which grew naturally out of the plot,
and the anguish of the poor unfortunate Agnes has the realism of Thomas
Hardy or Tolstoi.

Only by reading these old novels can one comprehend the change produced
in England by the next half-century. The teachings of Mrs. Charlotte
Smith and Mrs. Inchbald were declared dangerous to the state. That they
taught disrespect for authority, was one of the many charges brought
against them. Yet with what ladylike reserve they advance views which a
later generation applauded when boldly proclaimed by Dickens, Thackeray,
and Disraeli!



CHAPTER VI

Clara Reeve. Ann Radcliffe. Harriet and Sophia Lee


The novel of the mysterious and the supernatural did not appear in
modern literature until Horace Walpole wrote _The Castle of Otranto_ in
1764, during the decade that was dominated by the realism of Smollett
and Sterne. The author says it was an attempt to blend two kinds of
romance, the ancient, which was all improbable, and the modern, which
was a realistic copy of nature. The machinery of this novel is clumsy.
An enormous helmet and a huge sword are the means by which an ancestor
of Otranto, long since dead, restores the castle to a seeming peasant,
who proves to be the rightful heir.

       *       *       *       *       *

This book produced no imitators until 1777, when Clara Reeve wrote _The
Old English Baron_, which was plainly suggested by Walpole's novel, but
is more delicate in the treatment of its ghostly visitants. Here, as in
_The Castle of Otranto_, the rightful heir has been brought up a
peasant, ignorant of his high birth. Again his ancestors, supposedly
dead and gone, bring him into his own. One night he is made to sleep in
the haunted part of the castle, where his parents reveal to him in a
dream things which he is later able to prove legally. He learns the
truth about his birth, comes into his estate, and wins the lady of his
heart. When he returns to the castle as its master, all the doors fly
open through the agency of unseen hands to welcome their feudal lord.

The characters of both these novels are without interest, and the
mysterious element fails to produce the slightest creepy thrill.

       *       *       *       *       *

Twelve years passed before Walpole's novel found another imitator in
Mrs. Ann Radcliffe, who so far excelled her two predecessors that she
has been called the founder of the Gothic romance, and in this field she
remains without a peer. In her first novel, _The Castles of Athlin and
Dunbayne_, as in _The Old English Baron_ by Clara Reeve, a peasant
renowned for his courage and virtue loves and is beloved by a lady of
rank. A strawberry mark on his arm proves that he is the Baron Malcolm
and owner of the castle of Dunbayne, at which juncture amid great
rejoicings the story ends.

The characters and the style foreshadow Mrs. Radcliffe's later work.
The usurping Baron of Dunbayne, who has imprisoned in his castle the
women who might oppose his ambition; the two melancholy widows; their
gentle and pensive daughters; their brave, loyal, and virtuous sons in
love respectively with the two daughters; the Count Santmorin, bold and
passionate, who endeavours by force to carry off the woman he
loves--these are types that Mrs. Radcliffe repeatedly developed until in
her later novels they became real men and women with strong conflicting
emotions.

But superior to all her other powers is her ability to awaken a feeling
of the presence of the supernatural. The castle of Dunbayne has secret
doors and subterranean passages. The mysterious sound, as of a lute, is
wafted on the air from an unknown source. Alleyn, in endeavouring to
escape through a secret passage, stumbles over something in the dark,
and, on stooping to learn what it is, finds the cold hand of a corpse in
his grasp. This dead man has nothing to do with the story, but is
introduced merely to make the reader shudder, which Mrs. Radcliffe never
fails to do, even after we have learned all the secrets of her art. We
learn later in the book how the corpse happened to be left here
unburied; for in that day of intense realism, half-way between the
ancient belief in ghosts and the modern interest in mental suggestion,
every occurrence outside the known laws of physics was greeted with a
cynical smile. But, although Mrs. Radcliffe always explains the mystery
in her books, we hold our breath whenever she designs that we shall.

_The Sicilian Romance_, _The Romance of the Forest_, _The Mysteries of
Udolpho_, and _The Italian_ were written and published during the next
seven years and each one shows a marked artistic advance over its
predecessor. With the opening paragraph of each, we are carried at once
into the land of the unreal, into regions of poetry rather than of
prose. Rugged mountains with their concealed valleys, whispering forests
which the eye cannot penetrate, Gothic ruins with vaulted chambers and
subterranean passages, are the scenes of her stories; while event after
event of her complicated plot happens either just as the mists of
evening are obscuring the sun, or while the moonlight is throwing
fantastic shadows over the landscape. It is an atmosphere of mystery in
which one feels the weird presence of the supernatural. This is
heightened by the ghostly suggestions she brings to the mind, as
incorporeal as spirits. A low hurried breathing in the dark, lights
flashing out from unexpected places, forms gliding noiselessly along the
dark corridors, a word of warning from an unseen source, cause the
reader to wait with hushed attention for the unfolding of the mystery.

Sometimes the solution is trivial. The reader and the inmates of Udolpho
are held in suspense chapter after chapter by some terrible appearance
behind a black veil. When Emily ventures to draw the curtain, she drops
senseless to the ground. But this appearance turns out to be merely a
wax effigy placed there by chance. Often the explanation is more
satisfactory. The disappearance of Ludovico during the night from the
haunted chamber where he was watching in hopes of meeting the spirits
that infested it, makes the most sceptical believe for a time in the
reality of the ghostly visitants; and his reappearance at the close of
the book, the slave of pirates who had found a secret passage leading
from the sea to this room, and had used it as a place of rendezvous, is
declared by Sir Walter Scott to meet all the requirements of romance.

But by a series of strange coincidences and dreams Mrs. Radcliffe still
makes us feel that the destiny of her characters is shaped by an unseen
power. Adeline is led by chance to the very ruin where her unknown
father had been murdered years before. She sees in dreams all the
incidents of the deed, and a manuscript he had written while in the
power of his enemies falls into her hands. Again by chance she finds an
asylum in the home of a clergyman, Arnaud La Luc, who proves to be the
father of her lover, Theodore Peyrou. It seems to be by the
interposition of Providence that Ellena finds her mother and is
recognised by her father. So in every tale we are made aware of powers
not mortal shaping human destiny.

Mrs. Radcliffe adds to this consciousness of the presence of the
supernatural by another, perhaps more legitimate, method. She felt what
Wordsworth expressed in _Tintern Abbey_, written the year after her last
novel was published:

                              And I have felt
  A presence that disturbs me with the joy
  Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
  Of something far more deeply interfused,
  Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
  And the round ocean and the living air,
  And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;
  A motion and a spirit, that impels
  All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
  And rolls through all things.

Mrs. Radcliffe seldom loses her feeling for nature, and has a strong
sense of the effect of environment on her characters. Julia, when in
doubt about the fate of Hippolitus, often walked in the evening under
the shade of the high trees that environed the abbey. "The dewy coolness
of the air refreshed her. The innumerable roseate tints which the
parting sun-beams reflected on the rocks above, and the fine vermil
glow diffused over the romantic scene beneath, softly fading from the
eye as the night shades fell, excited sensations of a sweet and tranquil
nature, and soothed her into a temporary forgetfulness of her sorrow."
As the happy lovers, Vivaldi and Ellena, are gliding along the Bay of
Naples, they hear from the shore the voices of the vine-dressers, as
they repose after the labours of the day, and catch the strains of music
from fishermen who are dancing on the margin of the sea.

Sometimes nature is prophetic. The whole description of the castle of
Udolpho, when Emily first beholds it, is symbolical of the sufferings
she is to endure there: "As she gazed, the light died away on its walls,
leaving a melancholy purple tint, which spread deeper and deeper, as the
thin vapour crept up the mountain, while the battlements above were
still tipped with splendour. From these, too, the rays soon faded, and
the whole edifice was invested with the solemn duskiness of evening.
Silent, lonely, and sublime it seemed to stand the sovereign of the
scene, and to frown defiance on all who dared invade its solitary
reign." When Emily is happy in the peasant's home in the valley below,
she lingers at the casement after the sun has set: "But a clear
moonlight that succeeded gave to the landscape what time gives to the
scenes of past life, when it softens all their harsh features, and
throws over the whole the mellowing shade of distant contemplation." It
is this feeling for nature as a constant presence in daily life, now
elating the mind with joy, now awakening a sense of foreboding or
inspiring terror, and again soothing the mind to repose, that gives to
her books a permanent hold upon the imagination and marks their author
as a woman of genius.

In her response to nature, she belongs to the Lake School. Scott said of
her: "Mrs. Radcliffe has a title to be considered as the first poetess
of romantic fiction, that is, if actual rhythm shall not be deemed
essential to poetry." Mrs. Smith describes nature as we all know it, as
it appears on the canvasses of Constable and Wilson. Mrs. Radcliffe's
descriptions of ideal and romantic nature have earned for her the name
of the English Salvator Rosa.

Mrs. Radcliffe's characters are not without interest, although they are
often mere types. All her heroes and heroines are ladies and gentlemen
of native courtesy, superior education, and accomplishments. In _The
Mysteries of Udolpho_ she has set forth the education which St. Aubert
gave to his daughter, Emily: "St. Aubert cultivated her understanding
with the most scrupulous care. He gave her a general view of the
sciences, and an exact acquaintance with every part of elegant
literature. He taught her Latin and English, chiefly that she might
understand the sublimity of their best poets. She discovered in her
early years a taste for works of genius; and it was St. Aubert's
principle, as well as his inclination, to promote every innocent means
of happiness. 'A well informed mind,' he would say, 'is the best
security against the contagion of vice and folly.'"

In all their circumstances her characters are well-bred. This type has
been nearly lost in literature, due, perhaps, to the minuter study of
manners and the analysis of character. When an author surveys his ladies
and gentlemen through a reading-glass, and points the finger at their
oddities and pries into their inmost secrets, even the Chesterfields
become awkward and clownish. But Mrs. Radcliffe, like Mrs. Smith, is a
true gentlewoman, and speaks of her characters with the delicate respect
of true gentility. Julia, Adeline, Emily, and Ellena, the heroines of
four of her books, love nature, and while away the melancholy hours by
playing on the lute or writing poetry, and are, moreover, well qualified
to have charge of a baronial castle and its dependencies. Her heroes are
worthy of her heroines. As they are generally seen in the presence of
ladies, if they have vices there is no occasion for their display.

It is only in the characters of her villains that good and evil are
intertwined, and she awakens our sympathy for them equally with our
horror. Monsieur La Motte, a weak man in the power of an unscrupulous
one, is the best drawn character in _The Romance of the Forest_. He has
taken Adeline under his protection and has been as a father to her. But
before this he had committed a crime which has placed his life in the
hands of a powerful marquis. To free himself he consents to surrender
Adeline to the marquis, who has become enamoured of her beauty, hoping
by the sacrifice of her honour to save his own life. He is agitated in
the presence of Adeline, and trembles at the approach of any stranger.
Scott said of him, "He is the exact picture of the needy man who has
seen better days."

In _The Italian_, Schedoni, a monk of the order of Black Penitents for
whom the novel is named, is guilty of the most atrocious crimes in order
that he may further his own ambition, but he is not devoid of natural
feeling. Scott says the scene in which he "is in the act of raising his
arm to murder his sleeping victim, and discovers her to be his own
child, is of a new, grand, and powerful character; and the horrors of
the wretch who, on the brink of murder, has just escaped from committing
a crime of yet more exaggerated horror, constitute the strongest
painting which has been produced by Mrs. Radcliffe's pencil, and form a
crisis well fitted to be actually embodied on canvas by some great
master."

Every book has one or more gloomy, deep-plotting villains. But all the
people of rank bear unmistakable marks of their nobility, even when
their natures have become depraved by crime. In this she is the equal of
Scott.

In every ruined abbey and castle there is a servant who brings in a
comic element and relieves the strained feelings. Peter, Annette, and
Paulo are all faithful but garrulous, and often bring disaster upon
their masters by overzeal in their service.

When Vivaldi, the hero of _The Italian_, is brought before the tribunal
of the inquisition, his faithful servant, Paulo, rails bitterly at the
treatment his master has received. Vivaldi, well knowing the danger
which they both incur by too free speech, bids him speak in a whisper:

"'A whisper,' shouted Paulo, 'I scorn to speak in a whisper. I will
speak so loud that every word I say shall ring in the ears of all those
old black devils on the benches yonder, ay, and those on that mountebank
stage, too, that sit there looking so grim and angry, as if they longed
to tear us in pieces. They--'

"'Silence,' said Vivaldi with emphasis. 'Paulo, I command you to be
silent.'

"'They shall know a bit of my mind,' continued Paulo, without noticing
Vivaldi. 'I will tell them what they have to expect from all their cruel
usage of my poor master. Where do they expect to go to when they die, I
wonder? Though for that matter, they can scarcely go to a worse place
than that they are in already, and I suppose it is knowing that which
makes them not afraid of being ever so wicked. They shall hear a little
plain truth for once in their lives, however; they shall hear--'"

But by this time Paulo is dragged from the room.

The plots of all Mrs. Radcliffe's novels are complicated. A whole skein
is knotted and must be unravelled thread by thread. _The Mysteries of
Udolpho_ is the most involved. Characters are introduced that are for a
time apparently forgotten; one sub-plot appears within another, but at
the end each is found necessary to the whole.

_The Italian_ is simpler than the others: the plot is less involved, and
there are many strong situations. The opening sentence at once arouses
the interests of the reader: "Within the shade of the portico, a person
with folded arms, and eyes directed towards the ground, was pacing
behind the pillars the whole extent of the pavement, and was apparently
so engaged by his own thoughts as not to observe that strangers were
approaching. He turned, however, suddenly, as if startled by the sound
of steps, and then, without further pausing, glided to a door that
opened into the church, and disappeared." Another scene in which the
Marchesa Vivaldi and Schedoni are plotting the death of Ellena, is
justly famous. The former is actuated by the desire to prevent her son's
marriage to a woman of inferior rank; the latter hopes that he may gain
an influence over the powerful Marchesa that will lead to his promotion
in the church. Their conference, which takes place in the choir of the
convent of San Nicolo, is broken in upon by the faint sound of the organ
followed by slow voices chanting the first requiem for the dead.

_The Italian_ is generally considered the strongest of Mrs. Radcliffe's
novels. It was published in 1797, and was as enthusiastically received
as were its predecessors, but for some reason it was the last book Mrs.
Radcliffe published. Neither the fame it brought her, nor the eight
hundred pounds she received for it from her publishers, tempted its
author from her life of retirement. Publicity was distasteful to her. At
the age of thirty-four, at an age when many novelists had written
nothing, she ceased from writing, and spent the rest of her years either
in travel or in the seclusion of her own home.

The novel at this time was not considered seriously as a work of art,
and Mrs. Radcliffe may have considered that she was but trifling with
time by employing her pen in that way. In looking over the book reviews
in _The Gentlemen's Magazine_ for the years from 1790 to 1800, it is
significant that, while column after column is spent in lavish praise of
a book of medicine or science which the next generation proved to be
false, and of poetry that had no merit except that its feet could be
counted, seldom is a novel reviewed in its pages. _The Mysteries of
Udolpho_ was criticised for its lengthy descriptions, and _The Italian_
was ignored.

The direct influence of these novels on the literature of the nineteenth
century cannot be estimated. Mrs. Radcliffe's influence upon her
contemporaries can be more easily traced. The year after the publication
of _The Mysteries of Udolpho_ Lewis wrote _The Monk_. This has all the
horrors but none of the refined delicacy of Mrs. Radcliffe's work.
Robert Charles Maturin borrowed many suggestions from her, and the
gentle satire of _Northanger Abbey_ could never have been written if
Jane Austen had not herself come under the influence of _The Romance of
the Forest_.

But her greatest influence was upon Scott. The four great realistic
novelists of the eighteenth century, Richardson, Fielding, Smollett and
Sterne whose influence can be so often traced in Thackeray and Dickens,
seem never to have touched the responsive nature of Scott. He edited
their works and often spoke in their praise, but that which was deepest
and truest in him, which gave birth to his poetry and his novels, seems
never to have been aware of their existence. Mrs. Radcliffe and Maria
Edgewood were his most powerful teachers.

Andrew Lang in the introduction to _Rob Roy_ in the Border edition of
the _Waverley Novels_ calls attention to the fact that Waverley, Guy
Mannering, Lovel of _The Antiquary_, and Frank Osbaldistone were all
poets. Not only these men, but others, as Edward Glendinning and Edgar
Ravenswood, bear a strong family resemblance to Theodore Peyrou,
Valancourt, and Vivaldi, as well as to some of the other less important
male characters in Mrs. Radcliffe's novels. Scott's men stand forth more
clearly drawn, while Mrs. Radcliffe's are often but dimly outlined.
Ellen Douglas, the daughter of an exiled family; the melancholy Flora
MacIvor, who whiled away her hours by translating Highland poetry into
English; Mary Avenel, dwelling in a remote castle, are all refined,
educated gentlewomen such as Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Radcliffe delighted in,
and are placed in situations similar to those in which Julia, Adeline,
and Emily are found.

But the heroines of Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Radcliffe have a quality which
not even Scott has been able to give to his women. It is expressed by a
word often used during the reign of the Georges, but since gone out of
fashion. They were women of fine sensibilities. Johnson defines this as
quickness of feeling, and it has been used to mean a quickness of
perception of the soul as distinguished from the intellect. The
sensibilities of women may not be finer than those of men, but they
respond to a greater variety of emotions. This gives to them a certain
evanescent quality which we find in Elizabeth Bennet, Jane Eyre, Maggie
Tulliver, Romola, the portraits of Madame Le Brun and Angelica Kauffman,
and the poetry of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. This quality men have
almost never grasped whether working with the pen or the brush.
Rosalind, Juliet, Viola, Beatrice, all possess it; and in a less degree,
Diana of the Crossways is true to her sex in this respect. But the
features of nearly every famous Madonna, no matter how skilful the
artist that painted her, are stiff and wooden when looked at from this
point of view, and Scott's heroines, with the possible exception of
Jeanie Deans, are immobile when compared with woman as portrayed by many
an inferior artist of her own sex.

Scott's complicated plots and his constant introduction of characters
who are surrounded by mystery or are living in disguise again suggest
Mrs. Radcliffe. Again and again he selected the same scenes that had
appealed to her, and in his earlier novels and poems he filled them in
with the same details which she had chosen. Perhaps it is due to her
influence that all the hills of Scotland, as some critic has observed,
become mountains when he touches them: "The sun was nearly set behind
the distant mountain of Liddesdale" was the beginning of an early
romance to have been entitled _Thomas the Rhymer_. Knockwinnock Bay in
_The Antiquary_ is first seen at sunset, and it is night when Guy
Mannering arrives at Ellangowan Castle. Melrose is described by
moonlight. The sun as it sets in the Trossachs brings to the mind of
Scott the very outlines and colours which Mrs. Radcliffe had used in
giving the first appearance of Udolpho, a scene which Scott has highly
praised; while these famous lines of James Fitz-James have caught the
very essence of one of her favourite spots:

  On this bold brow, a lordly tower;
  In that soft vale, a lady's bower;
  On yonder meadow, far away,
  The turrets of a cloister grey!
  How blithely might the bugle horn
  Chide, on the lake, the lingering morn!
  How sweet, at eve, the lover's lute
  Chime, when the groves were still and mute!
  And, when the midnight moon should lave
  Her forehead in the silver wave,
  How solemn on the ear would come
  The holy matin's distant hum.

In his later works Scott is tediously prosaic in description, far
inferior to Mrs. Radcliffe, and in the romantic description of scenery
he never excels her. It would seem to be no mere chance that in his
poetry and in his earlier novels he has so often struck the same key as
did the author of _The Mysteries of Udolpho_.

       *       *       *       *       *

Two sisters, Harriet and Sophia Lee, were writing books and finding
readers during the time of Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Inchbald, and Mrs.
Radcliffe. In 1784, Sophia Lee published a three-volume novel, _The
Recess_, a story of the time of Queen Elizabeth, in which Elizabeth,
Mary Queen of Scots, and the earls Leicester, Norfolk, and Essex play
important rôles. The two heroines are unacknowledged daughters of Mary
Queen of Scots and Norfolk, to whom she has been secretly married during
her imprisonment in England. Many other situations in the book are
equally fictitious.

The historical novels written in France during the reign of Louis XIV
paid no heed to chronology, but men and women whom the author knew well
were dressed in the garb of historical personages, and various periods
of the past were brought into the space of the story. _The Recess_ was
not a masquerade, but the plot and characters slightly picture the reign
of Elizabeth. This was one of the first novels in which there was an
attempt to represent a past age with something like accuracy. As this
was one of the first historical novels, using the term in the modern
sense, it had perhaps a right to be one of the poorest; for it is
impossible to conceive three volumes of print in which there are fewer
sentences that leave any impress on the mind than this once popular
novel.

Sophia Lee wrote other novels which are said to be worse than this; but
in 1797 she and her sister Harriet, who had the greater imagination,
published _The Canterbury Tales_. Some of those written by Harriet are
excellent. According to the story a group of travellers have met at an
inn in Canterbury, where they are delayed on account of a heavy fall of
snow. To while away the weary hours of waiting, as they are gathered
about the fire in true English fashion, they agree, as did the
Canterbury pilgrims of long ago, that each one shall tell a story. But
the pilgrims whom Chaucer accompanied to the shrine of Thomas à Becket
are accurately described, and between the tales they discuss the stories
and exchange lively banter in which the nature of each speaker is
clearly revealed. In _The Canterbury Tales_ there is little
character-drawing. Any one of the stories might have been told by any
one of the narrators, and before the conclusion the authors dropped this
device.

In the stories that are told the characters are weak, but the plots are
interesting and many of them original and clever. These _Tales_
represent the beginning of the modern short story.

In a preface to a complete edition of the _Tales_ published in 1832,
Harriet Lee wrote:

"Before I finally dismiss the subject, I think I may be permitted to
observe that, when these volumes first appeared, a work bearing
distinctly the title of _Tales_, professedly adapted to different
countries, and either abruptly commencing with, or breaking suddenly
into, a sort of dramatic dialogue, was a novelty in the fiction of the
day. Innumerable _Tales_ of the same stamp, and adapted in the same
manner to all classes and all countries, have since appeared; with many
of which I presume not to compete in merit, though I think I may fairly
claim priority of design and style."

_The Canterbury Tales_ were read and reread a long time after they were
written. A critic in _Blackwood's_ says of them:

"They exhibit more of that species of invention which, as we have
already remarked, was never common in English literature than any of the
works of the first-rate novelists we have named, with the single
exception of Fielding."

The most famous story of the collection is _Kruitzener, or the German's
Tale_. Part of the story is laid in Silesia during the Thirty Years'
War. Frederick Kruitzener, a Bohemian, is the hero, if such a term may
be used for so weak a man. In his youth he is thus described:

"The splendour, therefore, which the united efforts of education,
fortune, rank, and the merits of his progenitors threw around him, was
early mistaken for a personal gift--a sort of emanation proceeding from
the lustre of his own endowments, and for which, as he believed, he was
indebted to nature, he resolved not to be accountable to man.... He was
distinguished!--he saw it--he felt it--he was persuaded he should ever
be so; and while yet a youth in the house of his father--dependent on
his paternal affection, and entitled to demand credit of the world
merely for what he was to be--he secretly looked down on that world as
made only for him."

The tale traces the troubles which Kruitzener brings upon himself, his
misery and his death. It belongs to romantic literature; the mountain
scenes, a palace with secret doors, a secret gallery, a false friend, a
mysterious murder, all these remind us of Mrs. Radcliffe's novels, but
the story does not possess her power or her poetic charm. Ernest
Hartley Coleridge said of this tale: "But the _motif_--a son predestined
to evil by the weakness and sensuality of his father, a father's
punishment for his want of rectitude by the passionate criminality of
his son, is the very key-note of tragedy."

Byron read this story when he was about fourteen, and it affected him
powerfully. By a strange coincidence Kruitzener bears a strong
resemblance to Lord Byron himself. He was proud and melancholy, and,
while he led a life of pleasure, his spirits were always wrapped in
gloom. "It made a deep impression on me," writes Byron, "and may,
indeed, be said to contain the germ of much that I have since written."
In 1821, he dramatised it under the title of _Werner, or the
Inheritance_. The play follows the novel closely both in plot and
conversation. An editor of Byron's works wrote of it: "There is not one
incident in his play, not even the most trivial, that is not in Miss
Lee's novel. And then as to the characters--not only is every one of
them to be found in _Kruitzener_, but every one is there more fully and
powerfully developed."

_The Landlady's Tale_ is far superior to all others in the collection,
if judged by present-day standards. This story of sin and its punishment
reminds one in its moral earnestness of George Eliot. Mr. Mandeville had
brought ruin upon a poor girl, Mary Lawson, whose own child died, when
she became the wet nurse of Robert, Mr. Mandeville's legitimate son and
heir. Mary grew to love the boy, but, when the father threatened to
expose her character unless she would continue to be his mistress, she
ran away, taking the infant with her. She became a servant in a
lodging-house in Weymouth, where she lived for fifteen years, respected
and beloved. At the end of that time, Mr. Mandeville came to the house
as a lodger, where he neither recognised Mary nor knew his son. But he
disliked Robert, and paid no heed to the fact that one of his own
servants was leading the boy into evil ways. When Robert was accused of
a crime which his own servant had committed, he saw him sent to prison
and later transported with indifference. The grief of the father when he
learned that Robert was his own child was most poignant, and his
unavailing efforts to save him are vividly told. He is left bowed with
grief, for he suffers under the double penalty of "a reproachful world
and a reproaching conscience."



CHAPTER VII

Maria Edgeworth. Lady Morgan


"My real name is Thady Quirk, though in the family I have always been
known by no other than 'honest Thady'; afterward, in the time of Sir
Murtagh, diseased, I remember to hear them calling me 'old Thady,' and
now I'm come to 'poor Thady.'" Thus the faithful servant of the Rackrent
family introduces himself, before relating the history of the lords of
the castle, where he and his had lived rent-free time out of mind. And
what consummate art Maria Edgeworth showed in her first novel, _Castle
Rackrent_, in letting "poor Thady" ramble with all the garrulity of old
age. To him, who had never been farther than a day's tramp from the
castle, there was nothing in the world's history but it and its owners.
No servant but an Irish servant could have told the story as he did,
judging the characters of his masters with shrewd wit and relating their
worst failings with a "God bless them."

And where out of Ireland could Thady have found such masters, ready to
spend all they had and another man's too, happy and free, and dying as
merrily as they had lived! There was Sir Patrick, who, as Thady tells
us, "could sit out the best man in Ireland, let alone the three
kingdoms"; Sir Kit, who married a Jewess for her money; and Sir Condy,
who signed away the estate rather than be bothered to look into his
steward's accounts, and then feigned that he was dead that he might hear
what his friends said of him at the wake. But he soon came to life, and
a merry time they had of it. "But to my mind," says Thady, "Sir Condy
was rather upon the sad order in the midst of it all, not finding there
was such a great talk about himself after his death, as he had expected
to hear." But Thady loved his master, and it is with genuine grief that
he records his ultimate death, and with simple and unconscious wit he
adds, "He had but a very poor funeral after all."

In _The Absentee_, the manners and customs of the Irish peasants are
more broadly delineated than in _Castle Rackrent_. _The Absentee_ was
written to call the attention of the Irish landlords who were living in
England to the wretched condition of their tenants left in the power of
unscrupulous stewards. Lord Colambre, the son of Lord Clonbrony, an
absentee, visits his father's estates, which he has not seen for many
years, in disguise, and goes among the peasants, many of whom are in
abject poverty. But the quick generosity of the nation speaks in the
poor Widow O'Neil's "Kindly welcome, sir," with which she opens the door
to the unknown lord, and its enthusiastic loyalty in the joyful
acclamations of the peasants when he reveals himself to them,--a scene
which Macaulay has pronounced the finest in literature since the
twenty-second book of the _Odyssey_.

_Ennui_ is another of her stories of Irish life, in which the supposed
Earl of Glenthorn, after a long residence in England, returns to his
Irish estates. The heroine of this tale is the old nurse, Ellinor
O'Donoghoe. As the nurses of many stories are said to have done, she had
substituted her own child for the rightful heir, and was frantic with
joy when she saw him the master of Glenthorn Castle. Her devotion to the
earl is pathetic, and her secret fears of the deception she had
practised on the old earl may have prompted her strange speech that, if
it pleased God, she would like to die on Christmas Day, of all days,
"because the gates of heaven will be open all that day; and who knows
but a body might slip in unbeknownst?" Ellinor is a woman of many
virtues and many failings, but she is always pure Celt.

How well contrasted are the two cousins, friends of Ormond, Sir Ulick
O'Shane, a wily politician and a member of Parliament, and Mr.
Cornelius O'Shane, King of the Black Islands, called by his dependents
King Corny. The latter, bluff, generous, brave, open as the day, is yet
a match for his crafty kinsman. Sir Ulick's visit to King Corny is a
masterpiece. He has a purpose in his visit and a secret to guard, which
King Corny is watching to discover. Sir Ulick has been bantering his
kinsman on the old-fashioned customs observed on his estate and
ridicules his method of ploughing:

"'Your team, I see, is worthy of your tackle,' pursued Sir Ulick. 'A
mule, a bull, and two lean horses. I pity the foremost poor devil of a
horse, who must starve in the midst of plenty, while the horse, bull,
and even mule, in a string behind him, are all plucking and munging away
at their hay ropes.'

"Cornelius joined in Sir Ulick's laugh, which shortened its duration.

"''Tis comical ploughing, I grant,' said he, 'but still, to my fancy,
anything's better and more profitable nor the tragi-comic ploughing you
practise every sason in Dublin.'

"'I?' said Sir Ulick.

"'Ay, you and all your courtiers, ploughing the half-acre, continually
pacing up and down that castle-yard, while you're waiting in attendance
there. Every one to his own taste, but,

  "'If there's a man on earth I hate,
  Attendance and dependence be his fate.'"

King Corny has been studying his diplomatic kinsman carefully to learn
his secret, until the wily politician, by unnecessary caution in
guarding it, overreaches himself, when King Corny exclaims to himself:

"Woodcocked! That he has, as I foresaw he would."

While the trained diplomat murmurs as he takes his leave, "All's safe."

Native wit had got the better of artful cunning.

And when Sir Ulick dies in disgrace, how pithy is the remark of one of
the men, as he is filling in the grave:

"There lies the making of an excellent gentleman--but the cunning of his
head spoiled the goodness of his heart."

In the same book, how generous and how Irish is Moriarty, lying on the
brink of death, as he thinks of Ormond, who had shot him in a fit of
passion but bitterly repented his rash deed:

"I'd live through all, if possible, for his sake, let alone my
mudther's, or shister's or my own--'t would be too bad, after all the
trouble he got these two nights, to be dying at last, and hanting him,
maybe, whether I would or no."

The quick kindness which so often twists an Irishman's tongue is
humorously illustrated in the _Essay on Irish Bulls_, which Maria
Edgeworth and her father wrote together. Mr. Phelim O'Mooney, disguised
as Sir John Bull, accepts his brother's wager that he cannot remain four
days in England without the country of his birth being discovered eight
times. Whenever his speech betrays him, it is the result of his
emotions. When he sees Bourke, a pugilist of his own country, overcome
by an Englishman, he cries to him excitedly: "How are you, my gay
fellow? Can you see at all with the eye that is knocked out?" A little
later, in discussing a certain impost duty, he grows angry and exclaims:
"If I had been the English minister, I would have laid the dog-tax upon
cats." The humour of his situation increases to a climax, so that the
fun never flags. Such stories as this in which the wit is simply
sparkling good-nature, with no attempt to use it as a weapon against
frail humanity as did Fielding and Thackeray, or to produce a smile by
exaggeration as did Dickens, but simply bubbling fun, as free from guile
as the sun's laughter on Killarney, show that Miss Edgeworth was a
comedian of the first rank. Like all true comedians, she is also strong
in the pathetic, but it is the Irish pathos, in which there is ever a
smile amid the tears. This is found in the story of the return of Lady
Clonbrony to her own country; the fall of Castle Rackrent; and the ruin
by their sudden splendour of the family of Christy O'Donoghoe.

Whenever Miss Edgeworth writes of Ireland and its people, her pages glow
with the inspiration of genius. There is no exaggeration, no caricature;
all is told with simple truth. It has often been the fate of novelists
whose aim has been to depict the manners and customs of a locality to
win the ill-will of the obscure people they have brought into
prominence. But not so with Maria Edgeworth. Her family, although
originally English, had been settled for two hundred years in Ireland.
She loved the country and always wrote of it with a loving pen. Before
_Castle Rackrent_ was written, Ireland had been for many centuries an
outcast in literature, known only for her blunders and bulls. But, as
one of her characters says, "An Irish bull is always of the head, never
of the heart." Even though her characters are humorous, they are never
clowns. All the men have dignity, and all the women grace. She gave them
a respectable place in literature.

But her influence was felt outside of Ireland. Old Thady, in his
garrulous description of the masters of Castle Rackrent, had introduced
the first national novel, in which the avowed object is to represent
traits of national character. Patriotic writers in other countries
learned through her how to serve their own land, and she was one of the
many influences which led to the writing of the Waverley novels. Scott
says in the preface of these books:

"Without being so presumptuous as to hope to emulate the rich humour,
pathetic tenderness, and admirable tact which pervade the work of my
accomplished friend, I felt that something might be attempted for my own
country, of the same kind with that which Miss Edgeworth so fortunately
achieved for Ireland--something which might introduce her natives to
those of the sister kingdom in a more favourable light than they had
been placed hitherto, and tend to procure sympathy for their virtues and
indulgence for their foibles."

As the reader realises the power of Maria Edgeworth's mind, her ability
to describe manners and customs, to read character, and to depict comic
and tragic scenes, he wishes that her father, Richard Lovell Edgeworth,
had not so constantly interfered in her work, and insisted that every
book she wrote must illustrate some principle of education. He was not
singular in this respect. Rousseau, whom he greatly admired at one time,
had taught educational methods by a novel. Madame de Genlis, the teacher
of Louis Philippe, was writing novels that were celebrated throughout
Europe, in which she expounded rules for the training of the young.
Maria Edgeworth, with her father at her elbow, never lost sight of the
moral of her tale. Vivian, in the story of that name, was so weak that
he was always at the mercy of the artful. Ormond's passions led him into
trouble. Beauclerc was almost ruined by his foolish generosity. Lady
Delacour, with no object in life but pleasure, cast aside her own
happiness that she might outshine the woman she hated. Lady Clonbrony
squandered her fortune and health that she might be snubbed by her
social superiors. Mrs. Beaumont played a deep diplomatic game in her
small circle of friends, and finally overreached herself. Lady Cecilia,
the friend of Helen, brought sorrow to her and infamy upon herself by
her duplicity. In the analysis of motive, and the growth of Cecilia's
wrong-doing from a small beginning, the book resembles the novels of
George Eliot. But Maria Edgeworth could not know her own characters as
she otherwise would, because the moral was always uppermost. When Mrs.
Inchbald criticised her novel _Patronage_, she replied: "Please to
recollect, we had our moral to work out." Mr. Edgeworth, in his preface
to _Tales of Fashionable Life_, thus sets forth his daughter's purpose:

"It has been my daughter's aim to promote by all her works the progress
of education from the cradle to the grave. All the parts of this series
of moral fiction bear upon the faults and excellencies of different
ages and classes; and they have all risen from that view of society
which we have laid before the public in more didactic works on
education."

Such a method of writing tended to kill emotion, yet emotion breaks out
at times with genuine force, and always has a true ring. This is
especially true in the _Tales of Fashionable Life_. There society women
appear cold and heartless in the drawing-room, and so they have
generally been represented in fiction. So Thackeray regarded them. But
Maria Edgeworth followed them to the boudoir, and there reveals beneath
the laces and jewels many beautiful womanly traits. As we see in tale
after tale true feeling welling to the surface, and then choked up by
the moral, we recognise the pathetic truth that Mr. Edgeworth's
educational methods were fatal to genius.

But strong emotion sways only a small part of the lives of most men and
women. Were it otherwise, like the great lyric poets, we should all die
young. And she has written about the common, everyday, prosaic life with
a truthfulness rarely excelled.

One of the most interesting studies in a novel is to observe the
author's view of life. With the exception of those of Mademoiselle De
Scudéri nearly all the novels of French women considered love as the
ruling passion for happiness or woe, and all of the characters were
under its sway. Even Mademoiselle De Scudéri in the preface to _Ibrahim_
announced it as her distinct purpose that all her heroes were to be
ruled by the two most sublime passions, love and ambition; but she was a
humorist and unconsciously interested her readers more by her witty
descriptions of people than by the loves of Cyrus and Mandane. But this
passion has seldom held such an exaggerated place in the stories of
English women. Maria Edgeworth in particular noticed that men and women
were actuated by many motives or passions. A large income or a title was
often capable of inspiring a feeling so akin to love that even the bosom
that felt its glow was unable to distinguish the difference. Loss of
respect could kill the strongest passion, and some of her heroines have
even remained single, or else married men whom at first they had
regarded with indifference, rather than marry the object of their first
love after he had forfeited their esteem. Sometimes the tameness of her
heroines shocked their author. While correcting _Belinda_ for Mrs.
Barbauld's "Novelists' Library," Miss Edgeworth wrote to a friend:

"I really was so provoked with the cold tameness of that stick or stone
Belinda, that I could have torn the pages out."

Propinquity, opportunity, almost a mental suggestion are quite enough
to produce a long chain of events affecting a lifetime. "Ask half the
men you are acquainted with why they are married, and their answer, if
they speak the truth, will be, 'Because I met Miss Such-a-One at such a
place, and we were continually together.' 'Propinquity, propinquity,' as
my father used to say, and he was married five times, and twice to
heiresses." So speaks Mrs. Broadhurst, a match-making mother in _The
Absentee_. And this is the reason why most of Miss Edgeworth's heroes
and heroines love. But the advances of a designing woman are quite
sufficient, as in _Vivian_, to make a fond lover forget his plighted
troth to another, and the flattery of an unscrupulous man makes him
suspicious of his real friends. Character is destiny, if the character
is strong, but circumstances are destiny, if the character is weak. It
is the aim of her novels to show how certain traits of character, as
indecision, pride, love of luxury, indolence, lead to misfortune, and
how these dangerous traits may be overcome.

       *       *       *       *       *

Notwithstanding her moral, her plots are never hackneyed and never
repeated. They are drawn from life and have the variety of life. In the
story of _Ennui_, there is the twice-told tale of the nurse's son
substituted for the real heir; but when he learns the true story of his
birth, and resigns the castle, the title, and all its wealth to the
rightful Earl of Glenthorn, who has been living in the village working
at the forge, there is a great change from the usual story. The heir of
the ancient family of Glenthorn accepts the earldom for his son, but
with reluctance. The manners of the peasant remain with the earl, and
the poor man, at last, begs the one who has been educated for the
position to accept the title and the estates. In this she emphasised
again what she constantly taught, that education and environment are
more powerful than heredity.

As she taught that reason should be the guide of life, so she lived. Her
fourscore years and three were spent largely at her ancestral home of
Edgeworthstown. She assisted her father in making improvements to better
the condition of the tenantry, and to promote their happiness. When in
Paris, she met a Mr. Edelcrantz, a gentleman in the service of the king
of Sweden. Admiration was succeeded by love. But he could not leave the
court at Stockholm, and Miss Edgeworth felt that neither duty nor
inclination would permit her to leave her quiet life in Ireland. Reason
was stronger than love. So they parted like her own heroes and heroines.
All that history records of him is that he never married. She resumed
her responsibilities at home, and if the thought of this separation
sometimes brought the tears to her eyes, as her stepmother once wrote
to a friend, she was as cheerful, gay, and light-hearted in the home
circle as she had always been.

       *       *       *       *       *

Besides her moral tales for adults, which were read throughout Europe,
Maria Edgeworth was always interested in the education of boys and
girls. The eldest sister in a family of twenty-one children, the
offspring of four marriages, she taught her younger brothers and
sisters, and thus grew to know intimately the needs of childhood and
what stories would appeal to them. As her father wrote, it was her "aim
to promote by all her works the progress of education from the cradle to
the grave." In her stories for children she inculcated lessons of
industry, economy, thoughtfulness, and unselfishness.

If she helped to eradicate from the novel its false, highly colored
sentimental pictures of life, still greater was her work in producing
literature for young people. Hers were among the first wholesome stories
written for children. Before this the chapman had carried about with him
in his pack small paper-covered books which warned boys and girls of the
dangers of a life of crime. One book was named _An hundred godly lessons
which a mother on her death-bed gave to her children_. Another book of
religious and moral Sunday reading was called _The Afflicted Parent, or
the Undutiful Child Punished_. This gives the sad history of the two
children of a gentleman in Chester, a son and a daughter. The daughter
chided her brother for his wickedness, upon which he struck her and
killed her. He was hanged for this, but even then his punishment was not
completed. He came back to life, told the minister several wicked deeds
which he had committed, and was hanged a second time. In most of these
tales the gallows loomed dark and threatening.

       *       *       *       *       *

In contrast to these morbid tales are the wholesome stories of Maria
Edgeworth. The boys and girls about whom she writes are drawn from life.
If they are bad, their crimes are never enormous, but simply a yielding
to the common temptations of childhood. Hal, in _Waste Not, Want Not_,
thinks economy beneath a gentleman's notice, and at last loses a prize
in an archery contest for lack of a piece of string which he had
destroyed. Fisher in _The Barring Out_, a cowardly boy, buys twelve buns
for himself with a half-crown which belonged to his friend, and then
gives a false account of the money. His punishment is expulsion from the
school. Lazy Lawrence has a worse fate. He will not work, plays pitch
farthing, is led by bad companions to steal, and is sent to Bridewell.
But he is not left in a hopeless condition. After he had served his term
of imprisonment he became remarkable for his industry.

But there are more good boys and girls than bad ones in her stories. The
love of children for their parents, and the sacrifices they will make
for those they love, are beautifully told. In the story of _The
Orphans_, Mary, a girl of twelve, finds a home for her brothers and
sisters, after her father and mother die, in the ruins of Rossmore
Castle, where they support themselves by their labour. Mary finds that
she can make shoes of cloth with soles of platted hemp, and by this
industry the children earn enough for all their needs. As directions are
given for making these shoes, any little girl reading the story would
know how to follow the example of Mary. Jem in the story of _Lazy
Lawrence_ finds that there are many ways by which he can earn the two
guineas without which his horse Lightfoot must be sold. He works early
and late, and at last accomplishes his purpose.

Mrs. Ritchie says of this story: "Lightfoot deserves to take his humble
place among the immortal winged steeds of mythology along with Pegasus,
or with Black Bess, or Balaam's Ass, or any other celebrated steeds."

The story of _Simple Susan_ with its pictures of village life has the
charm of an idyl. The children by the hawthorn bush choosing their May
Queen; Susan with true heroism refusing this honour, in order that she
may care for her sick mother; the incident of the guinea-hen; Rose's
love for Susan; the old harper, playing tunes to the children grouped
about him--are all simply told. Susan's love for her pet lamb reminds
one of Wordsworth's poem of that name.

And yet these children are not unusual. Most boys and girls have days
when they are as good as Mary, or Jem, or Susan. Maria Edgeworth is not
inculcating virtues which are impossible of attainment.

A hundred years ago, these stories, as they came from the pen of Maria
Edgeworth, delighted boys and girls, and for at least fifty years were
read by parents and children. Then for a time they were hidden in
libraries, but a collection of them has lately been edited by Mr.
Charles Welsh under the appropriate title _Tales that never Die_, which
have proved as interesting to the children of to-day as to those of
by-gone generations.

Whether Maria Edgeworth is writing for old or young, there is one marked
trait in all her stories, her kind feeling for all humanity. The vices
of her villains are recorded in a tone of sorrow. She seldom uses
satire; never "makes fun" of her characters. Her attitude towards them
is that of the lady of Edgeworthstown towards her dependents, or rather
that of the elder sister towards the younger members of the family. Such
broad and loving sympathy is found in Shakespeare and Scott, but seldom
among lesser writers.

       *       *       *       *       *

In Sydney Owenson, better known by her married name of Lady Morgan,
Ireland found at this time another warm but less judicious friend. Her
life was more interesting than her books. Her father, an Irish actor,
introduced his daughter, while yet a child, to his associates, so that
she appeared in society at an early age. But Mr. Owenson was
improvident; debts accumulated, and Sydney at the age of fourteen began
to earn her own living. The position of a governess, which she filled
for a time, being unsuited to her gay, independent disposition, she
began to write. Like Johnson a half century or more earlier, with a play
in manuscript as her most valuable possession, she went alone to London.
She did not wait so long as he did for recognition. New books by new
authors were eagerly read. She earned money, a social position, fame,
and with it some disagreeable notoriety. An independent, witty Irish
woman of great charm, fearless in expressing her opinions, who had
introduced herself into society and for whom nobody stood as sponsor,
was looked upon by the old-fashioned English aristocracy as an
adventuress; and later, when she came forth as the champion of Irish
liberties, and upbraided England for tyranny, she was maliciously
denounced by the Tory party.

She entered upon life with three purposes, to each of which she adhered:
to advocate the interest of Ireland by her writings; to pay her father's
debts; and to provide for his old age. All of these purposes she
accomplished.

Besides plays and poems, and two or three insignificant stories, she
wrote four novels upon Irish subjects: _The Wild Irish Girl_,
_O'Donnel_, _Florence Macarthy_, and _The O'Briens and the O'Flahertys_.
In all these books the beauty of Irish scenery is depicted as
background; the fashionable life of Dublin is described, as well as the
peasant life in remote hamlets; while the natural resources of the land
and the native gaiety of the Celtic temperament are feelingly contrasted
with the poverty and misery brought about by unjust laws.

She thus feelingly describes the condition of Ireland in the novel
_O'Donnel_. Its sincerity must excuse its overwrought style: "Silence
and oblivion hung upon her destiny, and in the memory of other nations
she seemed to hold no place; but the first bolt which was knocked off
her chain roused her from paralysis, and, as link fell after link, her
faculties strengthened, her powers revived; she gradually rose upon the
political horizon of Europe, like her own star brightening in the west,
and lifting its light above the fogs, vapours, and clouds, which
obscured its lustre. The traveller now beheld her from afar, and her
shores, once so devoutly pressed by the learned, the pious, and the
brave, again exhibited the welcome track of the stranger's foot. The
natural beauties of the land were again explored and discovered, and
taste and science found the reward of their enterprise and labours in a
country long depicted as savage, because it had long been exposed to
desolation and neglect."

In this book a party of travellers visits the Giant's Causeway and its
scenery is described as an almost unfrequented place.

The new interest in Ireland of which she writes was very largely due to
the novels of Maria Edgeworth, and partly to those of Lady Morgan
herself.

Her last novel, _The O'Briens and the O'Flahertys_, is of historic
value. Its plot was furnished by the stirring events which took place
when the Society of United Irishmen were fighting for parliamentary
reforms. Lord Edward Fitzgerald, the devoted patriot, is easily
recognised in the brave Lord Walter Fitzwalter, and the life of Thomas
Corbet furnished the thrilling adventures of the hero, Lord Arranmore.
When Thomas Moore visited Thomas Corbet at Caen he referred to the
account given of his escape from prison in Lady Morgan's novel as
remarkably accurate in its details.

The style of Miss Owenson's earlier books was execrable and fully
justified the severe criticism in the first number of the _Quarterly
Review_. It gives this quotation from _Ida, or the Woman of Athens_:
"Like Aurora, the extremities of her delicate limbs were rosed with
flowing hues, and her little foot, as it pressed its naked beauty on a
scarlet cushion, resembled that of a youthful Thetis from its blushing
tints, or that of a fugitive Atalanta from its height." The wonder is
that any serious magazine should have wasted two pages of space upon
such nonsense. In ridiculing the book and the author, it gives her some
serious advice, with the encouragement that if she follow it, she may
become, not a writer of novels, but the happy mistress of a family.

Whether Lady Morgan took this ill-meant advice or not, her style
improved with each book, until in _The O'Briens and the O'Flahertys_ it
became simple and clear, with only an occasional tendency to high
colouring and bombast.

Maria Edgeworth has described the customs and manners of Ireland, and
unfolded the character of its people in a manner that has never been
equalled. But Lady Morgan, far inferior as an artist, has given fuller
and more picturesque descriptions of the landscape of the country, and
has made a valuable addition to the books bearing on the history of
Ireland.



CHAPTER VIII

Elizabeth Hamilton. Anna Porter. Jane Porter


Elizabeth Hamilton was also an Irish writer, but through her one novel
she will always be associated with Scotland. In _The Cottagers of
Glenburnie_ she did for the Scotch people what Maria Edgeworth had done
for the Irish, and represented for the first time in fiction the life of
the common people. It is a story of poor people of the serving class.
Mrs. Mason, who had been an upper servant in the family of a lord, has
been pensioned and takes up her abode with a cousin in the village of
Glenburnie. She was among the earliest of our settlement workers. This
little village with the pretty name, situated in a beautiful country,
had accumulated about its homes as much filth as the tenements of the
poorest ward of a large city, and for the same reason, that its
inhabitants did not understand the value of cleanliness. Its thatched
cottages, had it not been for their chimneys and the smoke issuing from
them, would have passed for stables or hog-sties, for there was a
dunghill in front of every door.

Mrs. MacClarty's cottage, where Mrs. Mason was to live, was like all the
rest. It was as dirty inside as out. Mrs. MacClarty picked up a cloth
from the floor beside her husband's boots, with which to wipe her
dishes, and made her cheese in a kettle which had not been washed since
the chickens had eaten their last meal from it, although the remains of
their feast still adhered to the sides. When Mrs. MacClarty put her
black hands into the cheese to stir it, Mrs. Mason reminded her gently
that she had not washed them:

"'Hoot,' returned the gudewife, 'my hands do weel eneugh. I canna be
fash'd to clean them at ilka turn.'"

When Mrs. Mason proposed that the windows should be hung on hinges and
supplied with iron hooks, so that they could be opened at pleasure, Mr.
MacClarty objected to the plan:

"'And wha do you think wad put in the cleek?' returned he. 'Is there
ane, think ye, aboot this hoose, that would be at sic a fash?'

"'Ilka place has just its ain gait,' said the gudewife, 'and ye needna
think that ever we'll learn yours. And, indeed, to be plain wi' you,
cusine, I think you hae owre mony fykes. There, didna ye keep Grizzy for
mair than twa hours, yesterday morning, soopin' and dustin' your room
in every corner, an' cleanin' out the twa bits of buird, that are for
naething but to set your foot on after a'?'"

It may be well to explain that the chickens had been roosting in this
chamber before Mrs. Mason's arrival.

The story of Mr. MacClarty's death is pathetic. He is lying ill with a
fever in the press-bed in the kitchen, where not a breath of air reaches
him. The neighbours have crowded in to offer sympathy. The doors are
tightly closed, and his wife has piled blankets over him and given him
whiskey and hot water to drink. When Mrs. Mason, who knows that with
proper care his life can be saved, urges that he be removed to her room
where he can have air, all the neighbours violently oppose her advice.
But Peter MacGlashon, the oracle of the village, looks at it more
philosophically:

"'If it's the wull o' God that he's to dee, it's a' ane whar ye tak him;
ye canna hinder the wull o' God.'"

But upon Mrs. Mason's insisting that we should do our best to save the
life of the sick with the reason God has given us, Peter becomes
alarmed:

"'That's no soond doctrine,' exclaimed Peter. 'It's the law of works.'"

Elizabeth Hamilton had been a teacher and had written books on
education, so that her description of the school which Mrs. Mason
opened in the village gives an accurate idea of the Scottish schools for
the poorer classes. Each class was divided into landlord, tenants, and
under-tenants, one order being responsible for a specific amount of
reading and writing to the order above it. The landlord was responsible
to the master both for his own diligence and the diligence of his
vassals. If the tenants disobeyed the laws they were tried by a jury of
their mates. The results of the training at Mrs. Mason's school might
well be an aim of teachers to-day: "To have been educated at the school
of Glenburnie implied a security for truth, diligence and honesty."

The pupils in the school gradually learned to love cleanliness and
order. The little flower-garden in front gave pleasure to all. The
villagers declared, "The flowers are a hantel bonnier than the midden
and smell a hantel sweeter, too." With this improvement in taste, the
"gude auld gaits" gave way to a better order of things.

_The Cottagers of Glenburnie_ is more realistic in detail than anything
which had yet been written. It is a short simple story told in simple
language. There is a slight plot, but it is the village upon which our
attention is fastened. One individual stands out more strongly than the
rest: that is Mrs. MacClarty with her constant expression, "It is well
eneugh. I canna be fashed."

This little book was read in every Scotch village, and many of the poor
people saw in it a picture of their own homes. But its sound
common-sense appealed to them. It was reasonable that butter without
hairs would sell for more than with them, and that gardens without weeds
would produce more vegetables than when so encumbered. The book did for
the cottagers of Scotland what Mrs. Mason had done for those of
Glenburnie.

       *       *       *       *       *

The lives of Anna Maria and Jane Porter resemble in a few particulars
that of Elizabeth Hamilton. Like her they belonged, at least on the
father's side, to Ireland, and like her they lived in Scotland, and
their names will always be associated with that country. But Elizabeth
Hamilton wrote the first novel of Scotland's poor, the ancestor of _The
Window in Thrums_ and _Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush_; Jane Porter wrote
the first novel of Scotland's kings, the immediate forerunner of
_Waverley_, _The Abbot_, and _The Monastery_.

Upon the death of Major Porter, who had been stationed for some years
with his regiment at Durham, Mrs. Porter removed to Edinburgh, where her
children were educated. Their quick lively imaginations found food for
growth on Scottish soil. At that time Caledonia was a land of cliff and
crag, inhabited by a quarrelsome people, whom the English still regarded
with something the same aversion which Dr. Johnson had so often
expressed to Boswell. But every castle had its story of brave knights
and fair ladies, and every brae had been the scene of renowned deeds of
arms. In every cottage the memory of the past was kept alive, and
fathers and mothers related to their children stories of Wallace and of
Bruce, until the romantic past became more real than the living present.
Mrs. Porter's servants delighted to relate to her eager children stories
of Scotland's glory. The maids would sing to them the songs of "Wallace
wight," and the serving-man would tell them tales of Bannockburn and
Cambus-Kenneth.

Rarely have stories fallen on such fertile soil. In a short time, three
of these children became famous. Sir Robert Ker Porter, the brother of
Anna and Jane, followed closely in the footsteps of Scotland's heroes,
and became distinguished as a soldier and diplomat, as well as a famous
painter of battles. He painted the enormous canvas of _The Storming of
Seringapatam_, a sensational panorama, one hundred and twenty feet in
length, the first of its kind, but in a style that has often been
followed in recent years. The idol of his family, it would seem that he
was endowed with many of those qualities which his sisters gave to the
heroes of their romances.

Anna Maria Porter, the youngest of the group, was the first to appear in
print. At the age of fifteen, she published a little volume called
_Artless Tales_. From this time until her death, at least every two
years a new book from her pen was announced. She wrote a large number of
historical romances, which were widely read and translated into many
languages. This kind of story, in the hands of Sophia Lee, was tame and
uninteresting. Anna Porter increased its scope and its popularity. Her
plots are well worked out with many thrilling adventures. Her
imagination, however, had been quickened by reading, not by observation,
and although her scenes cover many countries of Europe and many periods
of history, they differ but little in pictorial detail, and her
characters are lifeless. Her style of writing is, moreover, so inflated
that it gives an air of unreality to her books.

She thus describes the Hungarian brothers: "They were, indeed, perfect
specimens of the loveliness of youth and the magnificence of manhood."
This novel, dealing with the French Revolution, was one of the most
popular of all her stories. It went through several editions both in
England and on the continent. Superlative expressions seem to have been
fashionable in that age which was still encumbered by much that was
artificial in dress and manners. Miss Porter with proper formality thus
writes of her heroine as she was recovering from a fainting fit: "With a
blissful shiver, Ippolita slowly unclosed her eyes, and turning them
round, with such a look as we may imagine blessed angels cast, when
awakening amid the raptures of another world, she met those of her sweet
and gracious uncle."

Some of her society novels are witty and have a lively style, which
suggests the truth of Mr. S. C. Hall's description of the sisters. Anna,
a blonde, handsome and gay, he named L'Allegro, in contrast to Jane, a
brunette, equally handsome, but with the dignified manners of the
heroines of her own romances, whom he styled Il Penseroso.

       *       *       *       *       *

Jane Porter took a more serious view of the responsibilities of
authorship than her sister. Her first novel, _Thaddeus of Warsaw_, was
written while England was agitated against France and excited over the
wrongs of Poland. It grew out of popular feeling. Miss Porter had become
acquainted with friends of Kosciusko, men who had taken part with him in
his country's struggle for liberty, and made him the hero of the story.
The scenery of Poland was so well described that the Poles refused to
believe that she had not visited their country; and events were related
in a manner so pleasing to them that they distinguished the author by
many honours. It is one thing to write an historical novel of people and
events that have long been buried in oblivion; but to write a story of
times so near the present that its chief actors are still living, is,
indeed, a rash task. And for any history to meet with the approval of
its hero and his friends bespeaks rare excellence in the work.

In the light of the classic standing of the historical novel, due to the
genius of Scott and Dumas, it is interesting to read how _Thaddeus of
Warsaw_ came to be published. Miss Porter wrote the romance merely for
her own amusement, with no thought of its being read outside the circle
of her family and intimate friends. They urged her to publish it. But
for a long time she resisted their importunities on the ground that it
did not belong to any known style of writing: stories of real life, like
_Tom Jones_, or improbable romances, like _The Mysteries of Udolpho_,
were the only legitimate forms of fiction. _Thaddeus of Warsaw_ had the
exact details of history with a romance added to please the author's
fancy. Thus did Jane Porter discover to the world the possibilities of
the historical novel.

Her next novel, _The Scottish Chiefs_, grew out of the stories she had
heard in her childhood. Besides the tales of Scotland's struggle for
independence which she heard from the servants in her own home, a
venerable old woman called Luckie Forbes, who lived not far from Mrs.
Porter's house, used to tell her of the wonderful deeds of William
Wallace. Of the influence these stories had upon her childish mind, Jane
Porter has thus written:

"I must avow, that to Luckie Forbes's familiar, and even endearing,
manner of narrating the lives of William Wallace and his dauntless
followers; her representation of their heart-sacrifices for the good of
their country, filling me with an admiration and a reverential
amazement, like her own; and calling forth my tears and sobs, when she
told of the deaths of some, and of the cruel execution of the virtuous
leader of them all;--to her I must date my early and continued
enthusiasm in the character of Sir William Wallace! and in the friends
his truly hero-soul delighted to honour."

Before writing _The Scottish Chiefs_, Miss Porter read everything she
could find bearing upon the history of England and Scotland during the
reigns of the first two Edwards. She personally visited the places she
described. She wrote in the preface: "I assure the reader that I seldom
lead him to any spot in Scotland whither some written or oral testimony
respecting my hero had not previously conducted myself." Besides these
sources of information, Miss Porter was familiar with the poem of
_Wallace_ by Blind Harry the Minstrel, the biographer of Scotland's
national hero. Blind Harry lived nearly two centuries after the death of
Wallace, but he had access to books now lost, and collected stories
about Scotland's struggle for independence while it was still prominent
in the public mind. Although he tells many exalted stories of the
numbers whom Wallace overcame by his single arm, the poem is on the
whole authentic. Sheriff Mackay in the _Dictionary of National
Biography_ writes that the life of Wallace by Blind Harry "became the
secular bible of his countrymen, and echoes through their later
history." Miss Porter introduced love scenes to vary the deeds of war,
but there is nothing else in _The Scottish Chiefs_ which is not true to
history, or to that more legitimate source of romance, the traditions
common among the people.

From the opening chapter, in which Wallace is described as an outlaw
because he had refused to take the oath of allegiance to an English
king, to his death in London and the final crowning of Bruce, there is
not a dull page. Especially interesting is the scene between William
Wallace and the Earl of Carrick, after the battle of Falkirk, and the
appearance of Robert Bruce, who overheard this conversation, fighting by
the side of Wallace. The truth of this incident has been denied, but it
is related by Blind Harry. The trial of William Wallace in the great
hall at Westminster for treason, and his defence that he had never
acknowledged the English government, is most impressive, and is a matter
of record.

_The Scottish Chiefs_ is the first historical novel in which the author
made diligent research in order to give a truthful representation of the
times. It has the atmosphere of feudal days. Notwithstanding the
ridicule cast upon Wallace as a lady's hero, he is drawn in heroic
proportions. Miss Mitford declared that she scarcely knew "one _herós de
roman_ whom it is possible to admire, except Wallace in Miss Porter's
story." The work is written in the style of the old epics. The many
puerile attempts of the last few years to write an historical romance in
which Washington or Lincoln should figure have shown how difficult is
the task. How weak and commonplace have these great men appeared in
fiction! It requires a nature akin to the heroic to draw it. In 1810,
when it was published, _The Scottish Chiefs_ was the only great
historical romance. Four years later _Waverley_ was published, the first
of the novels of Sir Walter Scott. This was superior in imagination and
in craftsmanship to Miss Porter's novel, but not in interest. _The
Scottish Chiefs_ has since been excelled by many others of the Waverley
novels, though not by all, by _Henry Esmond_, and _A Tale of Two
Cities_, but it preceded all these in time, and still holds a place as a
classic of the second rank.

Critics of to-day smile at its enthusiastic style, but Miss Porter
speaks with no more enthusiasm than did the poor folk from whom she
heard the story. As long as enthusiastic youth loves an unblemished
hero, _The Scottish Chiefs_ will be read. It is impossible to analyse
these early impressions or to test their truth. One can only remember
them with gratitude. Jane Porter has, however, taught the youth of other
lands to reverence Scotland's popular hero, so that the mention of his
name awakens a thrill of pleasure, and the hills and glades associated
with his deeds glow with the light of romance.

In 1815, Jane Porter wrote a third historical novel, _The Pastor's
Fireside_. This is far inferior to _The Scottish Chiefs_. It has the
same elevated style, and the mystery which surrounds the hero awakens
and holds the attention. But the novel deals with the later Stuarts, and
one feels that the author herself was but little interested in the
historical events about which she was writing. The book has no abiding
qualities.

In 1832 was published a book bearing the title _Sir Edward Seaward's
Narrative of His Shipwreck and Consequent Discovery of certain Islands
in the Caribbean Sea, with a Detail of many extraordinary and highly
interesting Events in his Life from the year 1733 to 1749 as written in
his Own Diary. Edited by Jane Porter._ In the preface Miss Porter
explains how the manuscript was given to her by the relatives of Sir
Edward. The story reads like a second Robinson Crusoe. It has all the
minute details that give an air of verisimilitude to the writings of
Defoe. In the opening chapter, Edward Seaward supposedly gives this
account of himself:

"Born of loyal and honest parents, whose means were just sufficient to
give a common education to their children, I have neither to boast of
pedigree nor of learning; yet they bequeathed to me a better
inheritance--a stout constitution, a peaceable disposition, and a proper
sense of what is due to my superiors and equals; for such an inheritance
I am grateful to God, and to them."

In the story he is married to a woman of his own rank, and she embarks
with him for Jamaica, but they are shipwrecked on an island near Lat. 14
deg. 30 min. N. and Long. 81 deg. W. They find bags of money hidden on
the island, some negroes come to them, and a schooner is driven to
their haven. Edward sees in this a purpose which afterward is fulfilled.
He says to his wife: "I should be the most ungrateful of men, to the
good God who has bestowed all this on me, if I did not feel that this
money, so wonderfully delivered into my hands, was for some special
purpose of stewardship. The providential arrival of the poor castaway
negroes, and then of the schooner,--all--all working together to give us
the means of providing every comfort, towards planting a colony of
refuge in that blessed haven of our own preservation,--seem to me, in
solemn truth, as so many signs from the Divine Will, that it is our duty
to fulfil a task allotted to us, in that long unknown island."

This island becomes inhabited by a happy people, and Seaward is knighted
by George the Second.

Everybody read the book. A second edition was called for within the
year. Old naval officers got out their charts, and hunted up the
probable locality of the places mentioned. Nobody at first doubted its
veracity. The _Quarterly_, however, decided that no such man had ever
existed and that the whole story was a fiction. It hunted for a schooner
mentioned and the names of the naval officers. The latter had never
served in his Majesty's navy and the former had not timed her voyages
according to the story. The uniform of a naval officer described in the
narrative was not worn until thirteen years after these adventures had
taken place, and no man by the name of Seaward had been knighted during
this time, nor was there any village in England having the name of the
village which he gave as his birthplace. Supposing the editor had
changed names and dates, the _Quarterly_ criticism becomes valueless.
Although the magazine declared it a work of fiction, it gave both the
story and the style high praise, and declared it far superior to her
romances. When Miss Porter was asked about it, she declined to answer,
but said that Scott had his great secret and she might be permitted to
have her little one.

It is generally considered now to have been the work of Jane Porter. No
two books differ more in style than _The Scottish Chiefs_ and _Sir
Edward Seaward_. But twenty-two years had elapsed between them. The
former is written in dignified, stately language; the latter in simple
homely words, and both its invention and its style entitle it to a place
among English classics.



CHAPTER IX

Amelia Opie. Mary Brunton


Every novel that touches upon the life of its generation naturally in
course of time becomes historical. These novels should be preserved, not
necessarily for their literary excellence, but because they bear the
imprint of an age. Such are the novels of Amelia Opie and Mary Brunton.

Mrs. Opie, then Miss Alderson, left her quiet home in Norwich to visit
London at the height of the furor occasioned by the French Revolution.
The literary circles in which she was received were discussing excitedly
the rights of men and women, and the beauties of life lived according to
the dictates of nature. Among these enthusiasts, Miss Alderson met Mary
Wollstonecraft, the author of _Vindication of the Rights of Woman_, and
esteemed her highly. Her own imagination did not, however, yield to the
intoxication of a life of perfect freedom, a dream which wrecked the
life of Mary Wollstonecraft.

There is no sadder biography than that of Mary Wollstonecraft. In Paris,
she met Gilbert Imlay, an American, with whom she fell in love. When he
wished to marry her, she refused to permit him to make her his wife,
because she had family debts to pay, and she was unwilling to have him
legally responsible for them. But she had read the books of Rousseau,
and had been deeply impressed with the thought that marriage is a
bondage, not needed by true love. She took the name of Imlay, and passed
for his wife, but the marriage was not sanctioned either by the church
or by law. After the birth of a daughter, Imlay deserted her. At first
she tried to commit suicide, and there is the sad picture of this
talented woman walking about in the drenching rain, and then throwing
herself from the bridge at Putney. She was rescued, and a little over a
year later became the wife of William Godwin.

The life-story of Mary Wollstonecraft suggested to Amelia Opie the novel
of _Adeline Mowbray, or the Mother and Daughter_, which was not written
until after the death of the original.

It is a tender pathetic story. Mrs. Mowbray, the mother of Adeline,
believed by her neighbours to be a genius, is interested in new theories
of education, and, while writing a book on that subject, occasionally
experiments with Adeline, although she neglects her for the most part.
In spite of this Adeline grows up beautiful and pure, totally ignorant
of the world and its wickedness. Her mother often quoted in her presence
the book of a Mr. Glenmurray, in which he proves marriage to be a
tyranny and a profanation of the sacred ties of love. Adeline is
captivated by the enthusiastic ideals of the young author. There is a
fine contrast in character and motive, where Adeline is entertaining Mr.
Glenmurray, the high-minded writer, and Sir Patrick O'Carrol, a man of
many gallantries. Sir Patrick is shocked to meet at her home the man
whose theories have banished him from respectable society. Adeline,
innocent of any low interpretation that may be put upon her words, makes
the frank avowal that, in her opinion, marriage is a shameless tie, and
that love and honour are all that should bind men and women. Sir Patrick
heartily agrees with her sentiments, and as a consequence accosts her
with a freedom repugnant to her, although she hardly understands its
import, while Glenmurray sits by gloomily, resolving to warn her in
private that the opinions she had expressed were better confined in the
present dark state of the public mind to a select and discriminating
circle. After they leave Adeline, Glenmurray, as the outcome of this
meeting, had the satisfaction of fighting a duel with Sir Patrick,
contrary to the tenets of his own book.

But when, to escape the advances of Sir Patrick, Adeline places herself
under the protection of Glenmurray, who ardently loves her, he urges her
to marry him. This she refuses to do, and encourages him to show the
world the truth and beauty of his teachings. Glenmurray, a man of
sensitive nature, suffers more than Adeline from the indignities she
constantly receives when she frankly says she is Mr. Glenmurray's
companion, not his wife. He takes her from place to place to avoid them,
for he realises that the world censures her, while it excuses him. But
Adeline is so happy in her love for him, and in her faith in his
teachings, that she endures every humiliation with the faith of the
early Christian martyrs. When he urges her, as he so often does, to
marry him, he reads in her eyes only grief that he will not gladly
suffer for what he believes to be right, and desists rather than pain
her. But his death is hastened by the harassing thought that her whole
future is blighted by his teachings. As he says to her just before his
death:

"Had not I, with the heedless vanity of youth, given to the world the
crude conceptions of four-and-twenty, you might at this moment have been
the idol of a respectable society; and I, equally respected, have been
the husband of your heart; while happiness would perhaps have kept that
fatal disease at bay, of which anxiety has facilitated the approach."

It is a beautiful love story, but the hero and heroine were of too fine
a fibre to stand alone against the world. After the death of Glenmurray,
the interest flags. The conclusion is weak, not at all worthy of the
beginning. Love of every variety has been the theme of poets and
novelists, but there is no love story more beautiful for its
self-sacrificing devotion to principle and to each other, than the few
pages of this novel which tell of the unsanctioned married life of the
high-minded idealist and his bride.

Mrs. Opie wrote _Simple Tales_ and _Tales of Real Life_. They are for
the most part pathetic stories in which unhappiness in the family circle
is caused either by undue sternness of a parent, the unfilial conduct of
a son or daughter, or a misunderstanding between husband and wife. The
feelings of the characters are often minutely described. A firm faith in
the underlying goodness of human nature is shown throughout all these
tales, and all teach love and forbearance.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mary Brunton like Mrs. Opie wrote to improve the ethical ideals of her
generation. In the books of that day the theory was often advanced that
young men must sow their wild oats, and that men were more pleasing to
the ladies for a few vices. Her first novel, _Self-Control_, was written
to contradict this doctrine. In a letter to Joanna Baillie, Mrs. Brunton
wrote:

"I merely intended to show the power of the religious principle in
bestowing self-command, and to bear testimony against a maxim as immoral
as indelicate, that a reformed rake makes the best husband."

Laura, the heroine of _Self-Control_, ardently loved a man of rank and
fashion. When she learned of his amours, her love turned first to grief,
then to disgust. Stung by her abhorrence, he attempted to seduce her to
conquer her pride. The purity of the heroine triumphs. She meets a man
whom she esteems and afterwards marries. Many of Laura's adventures
border on the improbable, but her emotions are truthfully depicted.

This was a bolder novel than appears on the surface. Long before this
the wicked heroine had been banished from fiction. The leading lady must
be virtuous to keep the love of the hero. Richardson laid down that law
of the novel. Mary Brunton asserted the same rule for the hero, and
maintained that a gentleman, handsome, noble, accomplished, could not
retain the love of a pure woman, if he were not virtuous.

The book gave rise to heated discussions. Two gentlemen had a violent
dispute over it: one said it ought to be burnt by the common hangman;
the other, that it ought to be written in letters of gold. Beyond its
ethical import, the novel has no literary value.

The kind reception given to _Self-Control_ led the author to begin her
second novel, _Discipline_. This was intended to show how the mind must
be trained by suffering before it can hope for true enjoyment when
self-control is lacking. Mary Brunton had read Miss Edgeworth's
description of the Irish people with pleasure; so she planned to set
forth in this novel the manners of the Scottish Highlands and of the
Orkneys, where she herself had been born. But before it was finished,
_Waverley_ was published. There the Scottish Highlands stood forth on a
large canvas, distinct and truthful, and Mrs. Brunton realised at once
how weak her own attempts were compared with Scott's masterly work. Her
interest in her book flagged, although it was published in December of
that year. Some of the Highland scenes are interesting because
accurately described, and her account of a mad-house in Edinburgh is
said to be an exact representation of an asylum for the insane in that
city.

Mrs. Brunton died before her third novel, _Emmeline_, was finished. Her
husband, the Reverend Alexander Brunton, professor of Oriental
Languages at Edinburgh University, published the fragment of it with her
memoirs after her death. The aim of this novel was to show how little
chance of happiness there is when a divorced woman marries her seducer.
It only shows the inability of Emmeline to live down her past shame and
the unhappiness which follows the married pair.

In the novels of Mrs. Opie and Mary Brunton the standard of conduct is
the same as to-day. Both men and women are expected to lead upright
lives, with true regard for the happiness of those about them. In
_Self-Control_ the hero refuses to fight a duel with the villain who has
injured him, and forgives him with a true Christian spirit. To be sure,
there are still seductions, and the world of fashion is without a heart.
But conduct which the former generation would have regarded with a smile
is here denominated SIN, and that which they named Prudery shines forth
as VIRTUE. The problems of life which these novels discuss are the same,
as we have said, which agitate the world to-day.



CHAPTER X

Jane Austen


If in this age of steam and electricity you would escape from the noise
of the city, and experience for an hour the quiet joys of the English
countryside, at a time when a chaise and four was the quickest means of
reaching the metropolis from any part of the kingdom, turn to the pages
of Jane Austen. In them have been preserved faithful pictures of the
peaceful life of the south of England exactly as it existed a hundred
and more years ago. The gently sloping downs crossed by hedgerows, the
lazy rivers meandering through the valleys, the little villages half
hidden in the orchards of apple, pear, peach, and plum, all suggest the
land of happy homes. On the outskirts of every village there are the two
of three gentlemen's houses: the substantial mansion of the squire, with
its park of old elms, oaks, and beeches; a smaller house suitable for a
gentleman of slender income, like Mr. Bennet, the father of the four
girls of _Pride and Prejudice_, or for an elder son who will in time
take possession of the hall, like Charles Musgrove in the story of
_Persuasion_; and the still smaller parsonage standing in the garden of
vegetables and flowers, surrounded by a laurel hedge, where lives a
younger son or a friend of the family.

The gentry that inhabit these homes carry on the plot of Jane Austen's
novels. And what an even, almost uneventful life they lead. Life with
them is one long holiday. Dance follows dance, varied only by a dinner
at the mansion, a picnic party, private theatricals, a brief sojourn at
Bath, a briefer one in London, or a ride to Lyme, seventeen miles away.
But Cupid ever hovers near, and in each one of these groups of gentle
folk we watch the course of true love, "which never did run smooth." For
in spite of match-making mammas and stern fathers with an eye that the
marriage settlements shall be sufficient to clothe sentiment with true
British respectability, the six novels of Jane Austen contain as many
true and tender love stories, differing from one another not so much in
the incidents as in the characters of the lovers. Unlike the older
novelists, who constantly drew the attention away from the main theme by
stories of thrilling adventure, Jane Austen holds closely to the great
problem of fiction, whether or not the youths and maidens will be
happily married at the conclusion of the book.

When Darcy first meets Elizabeth, the heroine of _Pride and Prejudice_,
he shuns her and her family as vulgar. Elizabeth is so prejudiced
against him that she cannot forget his insulting arrogance. But Darcy's
love cannot be stemmed. Other heroes have plunged into raging floods to
rescue the fair heroine. Darcy does more. For love of Elizabeth he
accepts the whole Bennet family, including Mrs. Bennet, who always says
the silly thing, and Lydia, who had almost invited Wickham to elope with
her and was indifferent as to whether or not he married her, until Darcy
compelled him to do so--a bitter humiliation for a man whose greatest
fault was overweening pride of birth. At last, Elizabeth comprehends the
extent of his generosity, his superior understanding and strength of
character, and Darcy is rewarded by the hand of the sunniest heroine in
all fiction. Who but Elizabeth with her independent spirit, quick
intelligence and lively wit could curb his family pride! They marry, and
we know they will be happy.

_Sense and Sensibility_ works out a problem for lovers. Like many
romantic girls, Marianne asserts that a woman can love but once. "He
never loved that loved not at first sight" is also part of her creed.
But after her infatuation for Willoughby has been cured, she contentedly
marries Colonel Brandon, although she knows that he frequently has
rheumatism and wears flannel waistcoats. Marianne will be much happier
as the wife of a man of mature years who loves her impulsive nature and
can control it than she would have been with the gallant who won her
first love.

In the piquant satire of _Northanger Abbey_ there is another problem
suggested. This book is distinctly modern. Man is the pursued; woman the
pursuer. Bernard Shaw has treated this momentous question in a serious
manner in many of his plays. Jane Austen regards it with a humorous
smile. Did Henry Tilney ever know why he married Catherine Morland? Or
was this daughter of a country parsonage, without beauty, without
accomplishments, and without riches, aware that on her first visit to
Bath she used feminine arts that would have put Becky Sharp to
shame--who, by the way, was a little girl at that time--and would have
made Anne, the knowing heroine of _Man and Superman_, green with envy?
Yet her arts consisted simply in following the dictates of her heart.
She fell in love with Henry Tilney; looked for him whenever she entered
the pump-room; was unhappy if he were absent and expressed her joy at
his approach; saw in him the paragon of wisdom and looked at every thing
with his eyes. From first ignoring her, he began to seek her society,
and learn the true excellence of her character. And then Jane Austen
explains:

"I must confess that this affection originated in nothing better than
gratitude; or in other words, that a persuasion of her partiality for
him had been the only cause of giving her a serious thought. It is a new
circumstance in romance, I acknowledge, and dreadfully derogatory of an
heroine's dignity, but if it is as new in common life, the credit of a
wild imagination will be all my own."

But lest we think that Miss Austen is asserting a rule that women take
the initiative in this matter of love and marriage, it is well to
remember that Darcy first loved Elizabeth Bennet, and forced her to
acknowledge his worth, and that Colonel Brandon married a young lady who
had formerly supposed him at the advanced age of thirty-five to be
occupied with thoughts of death rather than of love.

And Mr. Knightley is another hero who fell in love and waited patiently
for its return. Emma is like Marianne in one respect, she needed
guidance. Almost from childhood the mistress of her father's house and
the first lady in the society of Highbury, she was threatened by two
evils, "the power of having too much her own way, and a disposition to
think a little too well of herself." Mr. Knightley, the elder brother of
her elder sister's husband, is the only person that sees that she is not
always wise and that she is sometimes selfish. He is the only one that
chides her. Emma is interested in promoting the welfare of all about
her, but she lacks that most feminine quality of insight, so that her
well-meant help, as in the case of her protégée, poor Harriet Smith, is
sometimes productive of evil. And yet Emma is brave and self-forgetful.
Not until she has schooled herself to think of Mr. Knightley as married
to Harriet, is she aware how much he is a part of her own life. But this
is only another instance of her blindness. When she learns that he has
loved her with all her faults ever since she was thirteen, she is very
happy. There is no tumultuous passion in this union, but we are assured
of a love that will abide through the years.

In _Mansfield Park_ and in _Persuasion_, there is another variety of the
old story. Fanny Price and Anne Elliot, the one the daughter of a poor
lieutenant of marines, whose family is the most ill-bred in all Miss
Austen's books, the other the neglected daughter of Sir Walter Elliot,
Baronet, have more in common than any other of her heroines. Although
these stories are different, yet in each it is the devotion of the
heroine that guides the course of love through many obstacles into a
quiet haven. Who that reads their story will say that Miss Austen's
maidens are without passion? They do not analyse their feelings, nor do
they pour them forth in wild soliloquy. But the heart of each is
clearly revealed through little acts and expressions. Fanny Price,
cherishing a love for Edmund Bertram, who was kind to her when she was
neglected by everybody else, refuses to marry the rich, handsome, and
brilliant Mr. Crawford, although she herself is penniless. We feel her
misery as she realises that she is nothing but a friend to Edmund and
rejoice with her when her love awakens a response. Anne Elliot, the
gentlest of all her heroines, who in obedience to her father has broken
her engagement to Captain Wentworth eight years before, when she is
again thrown into his company, observes his every expression, and grows
sad and weak in health at his studied neglect. Other heroines have said
more, but none have felt more than Miss Austen's. Anne Elliot herself
has spoken for them:

"All the privilege I claim for my own sex (it is not a very enviable
one) is that of loving longest, when existence, or when hope, is gone."

But Jane Austen, like Shakespeare, is a dramatist. So, lest this be
taken for Miss Austen's opinion, Captain Wentworth has the last word
here when he writes to Anne, "Dare not say that man forgets sooner than
woman, that his love has an earlier death. Unjust I have been, weak and
resentful I have been, but never inconstant."

And so, at the close of these novels, two more happy homes are added to
those of rural England.

Are there many heroes and heroines for whom we dare predict a happy
married life? Would Mr. B. and Pamela have written such long letters to
each other about the training of their children if conversation had not
been a bore? Evelina must have been disappointed to discover that Lord
Orville lived on roast beef, plum-pudding, and port wine instead of
music and poetry. Of all Scott's heroes and heroines none had sacrificed
more for each other than Ivanhoe and Rowena; he gave up Rotherwood, and,
as a disinherited son, sought forgetfulness of her charms in distant
Palestine; she put aside all hopes of becoming a Saxon queen, and was
true to the gallant son of Cedric. Yet we have Thackeray for authority
that they were not only unhappy, but often quarrelled after Scott left
them at the altar. And none of Thackeray's marriages turned out well,
although Becky Sharp made Rodney Crawley very happy until he discovered
her wiles. Dickens was perhaps more fortunate, but David was led away by
the cunning ways of Dora before he discovered a companion and helpmate
in Agnes, a heroine worthy to be placed beside Elizabeth and Jane
Bennet. George Eliot's books and those of later novelists are rather a
warning than an incentive to matrimony. Have all our sighs and tears
over the mishaps of ill-starred lovers been in vain, and is it true that
when the curtain falls at the wedding it is only to shut from view a
scene of domestic infelicity?

Not so with Jane Austen. She is the queen of match-makers. The marriages
brought about by her guidance give a belief in the permanency of English
home life, quite as necessary for the welfare of the kingdom as the
stability of Magna Charta. Her heroes have qualities that wear well, and
her heroines might have inspired Wordsworth's lines:

  A creature not too bright or good
  For human nature's daily food,
  For transient sorrows, simple wiles,
  Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears and smiles.

Besides the lovers, many diverting people lived in these homes of the
gentry, quite as amusing as any of the peasants who were brought upon
the stage by the older dramatists for our entertainment; perhaps more
amusing, because of their self-sufficiency. These people seldom do
anything that is peculiar, nor are they the objects of practical jokes,
as were so many men and women in the earlier books; but they talk freely
both at home and abroad about whatever is of interest to them. They
seldom use stereotyped words or phrases, yet their conversation is a
crystal from which the whole mental horizon of the speaker shines
forth. When Mrs. Bennet learns that Netherfield Park has been let to a
single gentleman of fortune, her first exclamation comes from the
heart--"What a fine thing for our girls!" After Mr. Collins, upon whom
Mr. Bennet's estate is entailed, has resolved to make all possible
amends to his daughters by marrying one of them, and is making his
famous proposal to Elizabeth, he says with solemn composure: "But,
before I am run away with by my feelings on this subject, perhaps it
would be advisable for me to state my reasons for marrying--and,
moreover, for coming into Hertfordshire with the design of selecting a
wife, as I certainly did." No wonder Elizabeth laughed at such a lover.
Mr. Collins is the same type of man as Mr. Smith, whom Evelina meets at
Snow Hill, but infinitely more ridiculous because he is an educated man
of some attainments.

Then there is Mr. Woodhouse, the father of Emma, with his constant
solicitude for everybody's health and his fears that they may have
indigestion. When his daughter and her family arrive from London, all
well and hearty, he says by way of hospitality: "You and I will have a
nice basin of gruel together. My dear Emma, suppose we all have a basin
of gruel." His friend Mrs. Bates is always voluble. She is describing
Mr. Dixon's country seat in Ireland to Emma: "Jane has heard a great
deal of its beauty--from Mr. Dixon, I mean--I do not know that she ever
heard about it from anybody else--but it was very natural, you know,
that he should like to speak of his own place while he was paying his
addresses--and as Jane used to be very often walking out with them--for
Colonel and Mrs. Campbell were very particular about their daughter's
not walking out often with only Mr. Dixon, for which I do not at all
blame them; of course she heard everything he might be telling Miss
Campbell about his own home in Ireland." One respects the mental power
of a woman who could remember the main thread of her discourse amid so
many digressions.

How characteristic is Sir Walter Elliot's reply to the gentleman who is
trying to bring a neighbour's name to his mind. "Wentworth? Oh, ay! Mr.
Wentworth, the curate of Monkford. You misled me by the term
_Gentleman_. I thought you were speaking of some man of property." And
not the least amusing of these people is Mr. Elton's bride, a pert sort
of woman who for some reason patronises everybody into whose company she
is thrown. After meeting Mr. Knightley, by far the most consequential
person about Highbury, she expresses her approval of him to Emma:
"Knightley is quite the gentleman! I like him very much! Decidedly, I
think, a very gentlemanlike man." And Emma wonders if Mr. Knightley has
been able to pronounce this self-important newcomer as quite the lady.
Pick out almost any speech at random, and anyone who is at all familiar
with Miss Austen will easily recognise the speaker.

This ability to describe people by such delicate touches has been highly
praised by Macaulay in the essay on Madame D'Arblay before quoted. He
thus compares Jane Austen with Shakespeare:

"Admirable as he [Shakespeare] was in all parts of his art, we must
admire him for this, that, while he has left us a greater number of
striking portraits than all other dramatists put together, he has
scarcely left us a single caricature. Shakespeare has had neither equal
nor second. But among the writers who, in the point which we have
mentioned, have approached nearest to the manner of the great master, we
have no hesitation in placing Jane Austen, a woman of whom England is
justly proud. She has given us a multitude of characters, all, in a
certain sense, commonplace, all such as we meet every day. Yet they are
all as perfectly discriminated from each other as if they were the most
eccentric of human beings. There are, for instance, four clergymen, none
of whom we should be surprised to find in any parsonage in the kingdom,
Mr. Edward Ferrars, Mr. Henry Tilney, Mr. Edmund Bertram, and Mr.
Elton. They are all specimens of the upper part of the middle class.
They have all been liberally educated. They all lie under the restraints
of the same sacred profession. They are all young. They are all in love.
Not one of them has any hobbyhorse, to use the phrase of Sterne. Not one
has a ruling passion, such as we read of in Pope. Who would not have
expected them to be insipid likenesses of each other? No such thing.
Harpagon is not more unlike to Jourdain, Joseph Surface is not more
unlike to Sir Lucius O'Trigger, than every one of Miss Austen's young
divines to his reverend brethren. And almost all this is done by touches
so delicate that they elude analysis, that they defy the powers of
description, and that we know them to exist only by the general effect
to which they have contributed."

Like Shakespeare Jane Austen knew the inner nature by intuition, and had
learned its outward expression by observation. Character not only
affects the speech of each one of her men and women, but determines
their destiny and shapes the plot of the story. The class she has chosen
to represent is the least under the sway of circumstances of any in
England. With money for all needs, and leisure for enjoyment, free from
obligations which pertain to higher rank, character here develops
freely and naturally. Not one of the matchmaking men or women, not even
the intelligent Emma, succeeds in changing the life of those whom they
attempt to influence. Character is stronger than any outside agency. In
this respect, Jane Austen is decidedly at variance with Thomas Hardy or
Tolstoi, but she is at one with Shakespeare.

In the opening paragraph of each book, character begins to assert
itself. If Darcy had been without PRIDE, and Elizabeth had been without
PREJUDICE; if Marianne had had her sensibilities under control; if Emma
had not been blind; if Captain Wentworth had not been unjust and
resentful--there would have been no story to tell, the course of true
love would have run so smooth. But all of them are loving and faithful,
and these qualities in the end conquer, and bring the stories to a happy
conclusion.

Edmund Gosse thus writes of her delineation of character:

"Like Balzac, like Tourgenieff at his best, Jane Austen gives the reader
an impression of knowing everything there was to know about her
creations, of being incapable of error as to their acts, thoughts, or
emotions. She presents an absolute illusion of reality; she exhibits an
art so consummate that we mistake it for nature. She never mixes her
own temperament with those of her characters, she is never swayed by
them, she never loses for a moment her perfect, serene control of them.
Among the creators of the world, Jane Austen takes a place that is with
the highest and that is purely her own."

This seeming control of her characters is due largely to the fact that
whatever happens to them is just what might have been expected. This is
particularly true of the bad people she has created. Innocence led
astray has been a popular means of exciting interest ever since
Richardson told the sad story of Clarissa Harlowe. But there is no such
incident in Jane Austen's books. Lydia, who hasn't a thought for anybody
nor anything but a red-coat, and Wickham, who elopes with her without
any intention of matrimony, are properly punished, by being married to
each other, and the future unhappiness which must be their lot is due to
their own natures. Willoughby had seduced one girl, trifled with the
affections of another, and married an heiress, but he finds only misery,
and sadly says: "I must rub through the world as well as I can." Henry
Crawford, and his sister, with so much that is good in their natures,
yet with a lack of moral fibre, are both unhappy. Each has lost the one
they respected and loved and might have married. With what wit she
leaves William Elliot, the all-agreeable man, the heir of Sir Walter,
who, that he may keep the latter single, has enticed the scheming Mrs.
Clay from his home:

"And it is now a doubtful point whether his cunning or hers may finally
carry the day; whether, after preventing her from being the wife of Sir
Walter, he may not be wheedled and caressed at last into making her the
wife of Sir William."

And so punishment is meted out with that nicety of judgment which
distinguishes every detail of her novels.

But Jane Austen has little interest in immorality. "Let other pens dwell
on guilt and misery; I quit such odious subjects as soon as I can," she
says in _Mansfield Park_. And her readers have observed that deeds of
evil take place off the stage, while she records only what is reported
of them in the drawing-room.

She dwells as little on misery as on guilt. She shows in her letters
charitable regard for the poor people of Steventon and Chawton. She
describes minutely the unkempt house of Lieutenant Price at Portsmouth
with its incessant noise of heavy steps, banging doors, and untrained
servants, where every voice was loud excepting Mrs. Price's, which
resembled "the soft monotony of Lady Bertram's, only worn into
fretfulness." Miss Austen's pen was able to portray scenes of squalor
and vice; she chose to turn from them. Perhaps she felt instinctively
that true æsthetic pleasure cannot be produced by dwelling on a scene in
a book which would be repulsive to the eye. Miss Austen wrote before
there was much serious interest in the lives of the poor. Their only
function in literature had been to provoke laughter. The sensitive
daughter of the rector of Steventon may have felt, as others have, that
there was no occasion to laugh at the blunders and ill-manners of
peasants, which were proper and natural to their condition of life. She
did not need these people to entertain us. There were quite as funny
people in the hall as in the cottage, funnier, even, because their
humorous sayings spring from a humorous twist in their natures, not from
ignorance.

Sir Walter Scott, after reading _Pride and Prejudice_ for the third
time, said:

"That young lady had a talent for describing the involvements and
feelings and characters of ordinary life, which is to me the most
wonderful I ever met with. The Big Bow-wow strain I can do myself, like
any now going; but the exquisite touch, which renders ordinary
commonplace things and characters interesting from the truth of the
description and the sentiment, is denied to me."

Sir Walter Scott proved the truth of the above statement in _St.
Ronan's Well_, one of the least successful of his novels, which was
written in imitation of Jane Austen.

Because Jane Austen confined her work so closely to ordinary
middle-class people, she has been called narrow. But if we judge men and
women not by dress and manners, but by what they are, these people
furnish as broad a view of humanity as could be obtained by travelling
up and down the world. A trained botanist will gather an herbarium from
a country lane that will give a more extended knowledge of botany than a
less skilful one could get by travelling through the woods and fields of
a continent. Very few novelists have portrayed greater varieties of
human nature than Miss Austen.

Jane Austen's style has been praised by all critics. George William
Curtis wrote of her art:

"She writes wholly as an artist, while George Eliot advocates views, and
Miss Brontë's fiery page is often a personal protest. In Miss Austen, on
the other hand, there is in kind, but infinitely less in degree, the
same clear atmosphere of pure art which we perceive in Shakespeare and
Goethe."

While Miss Austen has been so often likened to Shakespeare, she is in no
sense a romantic writer. She belongs purely to the classic school. She
has the restraint, the perfect poise of the Greeks. She recognises
everywhere the need of law. She accepts society as it exists under the
restraints of law and religion. She no more questioned the English
prayer book and the English constitution than Homer questioned the
existence of the gods and the supreme power of kings. This feeling for
law shaped her art. Her plots are perfectly symmetrical. There is no
redundancy in expression. There is none of that wild luxuriance in fancy
or expression so common in romanticism. Each word used is needed in the
sentence, and is in its proper place. The strength of romanticism lies
in its impetuosity; the strength of classicism lies in its self-control.
This is the strength of Jane Austen.

Emotion in her books is so restrained that the superficial reader doubts
its existence. Yet her characters feel deeply and are sensitive to the
acts and words of those about them. Although their feelings are under
control, they are none the less real. The reader watches, but is not
asked to participate in their griefs.

As she never moves to tears, neither does she provoke laughter, but she
lightens every page with a quiet glow of humour. Humour was as natural
to her as to Elizabeth Bennet, whose sayings give the sparkle to _Pride
and Prejudice_. Much of the humour in her letters consists of an
unexpected turn to a sentence or an incongruous combination of words.
She writes of meeting "Dr. Hall in such very deep mourning that either
his mother, his wife or himself must be dead." She announces the
marriage of a gentleman to a widow by the laconic message, "Dr. Gardiner
was married yesterday to Mrs. Percy and her three daughters." And again
she says that a certain Mrs. Blount appeared the same as in September,
"with the same broad face, diamond bandeau, white shoes, pink husband,
and fat neck." She sees through the affectations of society and observes
the pleasure afforded by the small misfortunes of another as plainly as
did Thackeray later. The wife of a certain gentleman is discovered "to
be everything the neighbourhood could wish, silly and cross as well as
extravagant." She finds continual source of enjoyment in people's
foibles, and thinks that her own misfortunes ought to furnish jokes to
her acquaintances, or she will die in their debt for entertainment.

In a less refined degree, this was the view of life of Miss Burney, her
favourite author. Miss Austen was but three years old when Evelina made
her début at Ranelagh, and not over seven when Cecilia visited her three
guardians in London: _Camilla_ was published in the year that it is
thought that Miss Austen began _Pride and Prejudice_. During these
years, Miss Burney's fame was undimmed. Consider yourself for a moment
in a circulating library, in the year 1797 or 1798, suppose you are fond
of novel reading, and have moreover the refined tastes of Miss Austen;
you will find there no novelist who can hold a rival place to Miss
Burney. Miss Austen refers to her both in her novels and letters. In
only one passage in her novels has she interrupted her story to express
a general opinion; that is in _Northanger Abbey_, where she praises the
art of the novelist, and refers particularly to _Cecilia_, _Camilla_,
and _Belinda_. In the same novel John Thorpe's lack of taste is
emphasised by his calling _Camilla_ a stupid book of unnatural stuff,
which he could not get through. She evidently discussed Miss Burney's
novels with the people she met; a certain young man just entered at
Oxford has heard that _Evelina_ was written by Dr. Johnson, and she
finds two traits in a certain Miss Fletcher very pleasing: "She admires
_Camilla_, and drinks no cream in her tea." But Miss Austen was no blind
disciple of Miss Burney. All the odd characters which Miss Burney culled
from the lower ranks of society were swept away by Miss Austen.
Everything approaching tragedy or the improbable is avoided, but what is
left is amplified and refined until there is no more trace of Miss
Burney than there is of Perugino in the paintings of Raphael.

Artists in other lines have striven in their work for a unified whole.
Most novelists have been more intent on pointing a moral or producing a
sensation than on the technique of their writing. Their works as a whole
lack proportion. They obtrude unnecessarily in one part and are weak in
another. Miss Austen wrote because the characters in her brain demanded
expression. Who could remain silent with Elizabeth Bennet urging her to
utterance? She wrote with the greatest care because she could do nothing
slovenly. Whatever place may be assigned to her as the years go by, her
novels surpass all others written in English in their perfect art.

Miss Austen's genius was but slowly recognised. Her first books were
published in 1811, only three years before _Waverley_, and her last
novels were published after it. Who will linger over the teacups while
knights in armour are riding the streets without? It is not until the
cavalcade has passed that home seems again a quiet, refreshing spot. So
the public, tired of the brilliant scenes and conflicting passions of
other novels, has in the last few years turned back to the simple,
wholesome stories of Jane Austen.



CHAPTER XI

Miss Ferrier. Miss Mitford. Anna Maria Hall


Walter Scott, the most chivalrous of all writers, brought to an end
woman's supremacy in the novel, in 1814. At this time prose fiction was
far different from what it was in 1772, when Tobias Smollet died, and
much of this difference was due to women. Professor Masson, in his
lectures on the novel, gives the names of twenty novelists who wrote
between 1789-1814 who are remembered in the history of English
literature. "With the exception of Godwin," he writes, "I do not know
that any of the male novelists I have mentioned could be put in
comparison, in respect of genuine merit, with such novelists of the
other sex as Mrs. Radcliffe, Miss Edgeworth, and Miss Austen." It is
equally worthy of note that, of the twenty names given, fourteen are
women.

Although during these years women had developed the historical novel,
and had brought the novel of mystery to a high degree of perfection,
they left the most enduring stamp on literature as realists, as painters
of everyday life and commonplace people. Francis Jeffrey wrote:

"It required almost the same courage to get rid of the jargon of
fashionable life and the swarms of peers, foundlings, and seducers, that
infested our modern fables as it did in those days to sweep away the
mythological persons of antiquity, and to introduce characters who spoke
and acted like those who were to peruse their adventures."

Women awakened interest in the humdrum lives of their neighbours next
door, and this without any exaggeration, simply by minute attention to
little things, and quick sympathy in the joys and sorrows of others.
They described manners and customs; their view of life was largely
objective. It is a noteworthy fact that while Scott was casting over all
Europe the light of romanticism, the women writers of the time, with but
one or two exceptions, were viewing life with the clear vision of Miss
Edgeworth and Miss Austen, as if the world obtruded too glaringly upon
their eyes to be lost sight of in happy day-dreams.

       *       *       *       *       *

Susan Edmonstone Ferrier is better known to-day as the friend of Scott,
and an occasional visitor at Abbotsford, than as a successful novelist.
She was born at Edinburgh in 1782, where her father, James Ferrier, was
Writer to the Signet, and at one time Clerk of Session, Scott being one
of his colleagues. That great genius was one of the earliest to
appreciate the excellence of her descriptions of Scottish life given in
her first book, entitled _Marriage_, published anonymously in 1818. In
the conclusion of the _Tales of my Landlord_ he paid the unknown writer
this graceful tribute:

"There remains behind not only a large harvest, but labourers capable of
gathering it in; more than one writer has of late displayed talents of
this description, and if the present author, himself a phantom, may be
permitted to distinguish a brother, or perhaps a sister, shadow, he
would mention in particular the author of the very lively work entitled
_Marriage_."

Miss Ferrier wrote but three novels, _Marriage_, _The Inheritance_, and
_Destiny_, a period of six years intervening between the appearance of
each of them. Like Miss Burney and Miss Edgeworth she depicts two grades
of society. She shows forth the fashionable life of Edinburgh and
London, and the cruder mode of living found in the Scottish Highlands.
But between her and her models there is the great difference of genius
and talent. They passed what they had seen through the alembic of
imagination; she has depicted what she saw with the faithfulness of the
camera, and the crude realism of these scenes does not always blend
with the warp and woof of the story.

Like Miss Edgeworth, Miss Ferrier had a moral to work out. She treats
society as a satirist, and lays bare its heartlessness, and the
unhappiness of its members who to escape ennui are led hither and
thither by the caprice of the moment. While she may present one side of
the picture, one hesitates to accept Lady Juliana, Mrs. St. Clair, or
Lady Elizabeth as common types of a London drawing-room.

Her plots as well as her characters suffer from this conscious attempt
to teach the happiness that must follow the practice of the Christian
virtues. In _Marriage_ there are two complete stories. Lady Juliana is
the heroine of the first part; her two daughters, who are born in the
first half, supplant their mother as heroines of the second half. The
plot of _Destiny_ is not much better. The denouement is tame, and the
characters lack consistency. _The Inheritance_ has the strongest plot of
the three; but Mrs. St. Clair and her secret interviews with the
monstrosity Lewiston, who, by the way, has the honour to be an American,
throw an air of unreality over a story in many respects intensely real.
In this story, as in so many old novels, the nurse's daughter had been
brought up as the rightful heiress. The scene in which she tells her
betrothed lover, the heir of the estate, the story of her birth, which
she had just learned, is said to have suggested to Tennyson the
beautiful ballad of _Lady Clare_.

But when Miss Ferrier sees loom in imagination the sombre purple hills
of the Highlands, with the black tarns in the hollows half-hidden in
mist, her genius awakes. If she had devoted herself to these people and
this region, and ignored the fashionable life of the cities, she might
have written a book worthy to be placed beside the best of Miss
Edgeworth or Miss Mitford. At the time she wrote, the Highland chief no
longer summoned his clan about him at a blast from his bugle, but he had
lost little of his old-time picturesqueness. The opening of _Destiny_
describes the wealth of the chief of Glenroy:

"All the world knows that there is nothing on earth to be compared to a
Highland chief. He has his loch and his islands, his mountains and his
castle, his piper and his tartan, his forests and his deer, his
thousands of acres of untrodden heath, and his tens of thousands of
black-faced sheep, and his bands of bonneted clansmen, with claymores
and Gaelic, and hot blood and dirks."

But Miss Ferrier also depicted a more sordid type of Highlander.
Christopher North in his _Noctes Ambrosianæ_ writes of her novels:

"They are the works of a very clever woman, sir, and they have one
feature of true and melancholy interest quite peculiar to themselves. It
is in them alone that the ultimate breaking-down and debasement of the
Highland character has been depicted. Sir Walter Scott had fixed the
enamel of genius over the last fitful gleams of their half-savage
chivalry, but a humbler and sadder scene--the age of lucre-banished
clans,--of chieftains dwindled into imitation squires, and of chiefs
content to barter the recollections of a thousand years for a few gaudy
seasons of Almacks and Crockfords, the euthanasia of kilted aldermen and
steamboat pibrochs, was reserved for Miss Ferrier."

Besides her descriptions of the Highlands, Miss Ferrier has drawn
several Scotch characters that deserve to live. What a delightful group
is described in _Marriage_, consisting of the three Misses Douglas,
known as "The girls," and their friend Mrs. Maclaughlan! Miss Jacky
Douglas, the senior of the trio, "was reckoned a woman of sense"; Miss
Grizzy was distinguished by her good-nature and the entanglement of her
thoughts; and it was said that Miss Nicky was "not wanting for sense
either"; while their friend Lady Maclaughlan loved and tyrannised over
all three of them. Sir Walter Scott admired the character of Miss Becky
Duguid, a poor old maid, who "was expected to attend all accouchements,
christenings, deaths, chestings, and burials, but she was seldom asked
to a marriage, and never to any party of pleasure." Joanna Baillie
thought the loud-spoken minister, M'Dow, a true representative of a few
of the Scotch clergy whose only aim is preferment and good cheer. But
none of her other characters can compare with the devoted Mrs. Molly
Macaulay, the friend of the Chief of Glenroy in _Destiny_. When Glenroy
has an attack of palsy, she hurries to him, and when she is told that he
has missed her, she exclaims with perfect self-forgetfulness:

"Deed, and I thought he would do that, for he has always been so kind to
me,--and I thought sometimes when I was away, oh, thinks I to myself, I
wonder what Glenroy will do for somebody to be angry with,--for
Ben-bowie's grown so deaf, poor creature, it's not worth his while to be
angry at him,--and you're so gentle that it would not do for him to be
angry at you; but I'm sure he has a good right to be angry at me,
considering how kind he has always been to me."

Christopher North said of Molly Macaulay, "No sinner of our gender could
have adequately filled up the outline."

George Saintsbury, considering the permanent value of Miss Ferrier's
work, wrote for the _Fortnightly Review_ in 1882:

"Of the four requisites of the novelist, plot, character, description,
and dialogue, she is only weak in the first. The lapse of an entire
half-century and a complete change of manners have put her books to the
hardest test they are ever likely to have to endure, and they come
through it triumphantly."

But, besides the excellences mentioned by Mr. Saintsbury, Miss Ferrier
is master of humour and pathos. No story is sadder than that of Ronald
Malcolm, the hero of _Destiny_. He had been willed the castle of Inch
Orran with its vast estates, but with the provision that he was to have
no benefit from it until his twenty-sixth year. In case of his death the
property was to go to his father, an upright but poor man. As Ronald had
many years to wait before he could enjoy his riches, he entered the
navy. His ship was lost at sea and the news of his death reported in
Scotland. But Ronald had been rescued from the sinking ship, and
returned to his father's cottage. Here he met a purblind old woman, who
told him how his father, Captain Malcolm, had moved to the castle, and
what good he was doing among his tenantry. She described the sorrow of
the people at the death of Ronald, but added: "Och! it was God's
providence to tak' the boy out of his worthy father's way; and noo a'
thing 's as it should be, and he has gotten his ain, honest man; and
long, long may he enjoy it!" And then she said thankfully, "The poor
lad's death was a great blessing--och ay, 'deed was 't." The scene where
Ronald goes to the castle and looks in at the window upon the happy
family group, consisting of his father and mother, brothers and sisters,
resembles in many particulars the sad return of Enoch Arden. The close
of the scene is as touching in the novel as in the poem: "Yes, yes, they
are happy, and I am forgotten!" sobs the lad, as he turns away.

Miss Ferrier, however, seldom touches the pathetic; she is first of all
a humourist. But there is a blending of the smiles and tears of human
life in the delightful character of Adam Ramsay. Engaged as a boy to
Lizzie Lundie, he had gone forth into the world to make a fortune, but
when he returned after many years he found that she had married in his
absence, and soon afterwards had died. Crabbed to all about him, he
still cherished the remembrance of his early love, and was quickly moved
by any appeal to her memory.

The practical philosophy of the Scottish peasantry is amusingly set
forth in the scene where Miss St. Clair visits one of the cottages on
Lord Rossville's estate. She found the goodman very ill, and everything
about the room betokening extreme poverty. When she offered to send him
milk and broth, and a carpet and chairs to make the room more
comfortable, his wife interposed, "A suit o' gude bein comfortable dead
claise, Tammes, wad set ye better than aw the braw chyres an' carpets i'
the toon." Sometime afterward, when Miss St. Clair called to see how the
invalid was, she found him in the press-bed, while the clothes were
warming before the fire. His wife explained that she could not have him
in the way, and if he were cold, it could not be helped, as the clothes
had to be aired, and added, "An' I 'm thinkin' he 'll no be lang o'
wantin' them noo."

But notwithstanding her humour, Miss Ferrier was a stern moralist, whose
attitude toward life had been influenced indirectly by the teachings of
John Knox. She sometimes seems to stand her characters in the stocks,
and call upon the populace to view their sins or absurdities. She seldom
throws the veil of charity over them. Men as novelists are prone to
exaggeration. Women have represented life with greater truth both in its
larger aspects and in details. Miss Ferrier carries this quality to an
extreme. She tells not only the truth, but, with almost heartless
honesty, reveals the whole of it, so that many of her men and women are
repugnant to the reader while they amuse him. The best judges of
Scottish manners have borne witness to the exactness of her portraiture.
She is, perhaps, an example of the artistic failure of over-realism.

Mary Russell Mitford like Miss Ferrier painted her scenes and her
portraits from real life. But there is as wide a difference between
their writings as between the rocky ledges of the Grampian Hills and the
soft meadows bathed in the sunshine which stretch back of the cottages
of Our Village. Miss Mitford's, indeed, was a sunny nature, not to be
hardened nor embittered by a lifelong anxiety over poverty and debts.
Her father, Dr. Mitford, had spent nearly all his own fortune when he
married Miss Mary Russell, an heiress. Besides being constantly involved
in lawsuits, he was addicted to gambling, and soon squandered the
fortune which his wife had brought him, besides twenty thousand pounds
won in a lottery. He is said to have lost in speculations and at play
about seventy thousand pounds, at that time a large fortune. The
authoress was a little over thirty years of age when the poverty of the
family forced them to leave Bertram House, their home for many years,
and remove to a little labourer's cottage about a mile away, on the
principal street of a little village near Reading, known as Three Mile
Cross. Here the support of the family devolved upon the daughter, a
burden made harder by the continual extravagance of the father, whom she
devotedly loved. Although she received large sums for her writings, it
is with the greatest weariness that she writes to her friend Miss
Barrett, afterwards Mrs. Browning, of the struggles that have been hers
the greater part of her life, the ten or twelve hours of literary
drudgery each day, often in spite of ill health, and her hope that she
may always provide for her father his accustomed comforts. Not only was
she enabled to do this, but, through the help of friends, to pay, after
his death, the one thousand pounds indebtedness, his only legacy to her.

Yet there is not a trace of this worry in the delightful series of
papers called _Our Village_, which she began to contribute at this time
to the _Lady's Magazine_. Before this she had become known as a poet and
a successful playwright, but had believed herself incapable of writing
good prose. Necessity revealed her fine power of description, and Three
Mile Cross furnished her with scenes and characters.

_Our Village_ marked a new style in fiction. The year it was commenced,
she wrote to a friend:

"With regard to novels, I should like to see one undertaken without any
plot at all. I do not mean that it should have no story; but I should
like some writer of luxuriant fancy to begin with a certain set of
characters--one family, for instance--without any preconceived design
farther than one or two incidents or dialogues, which would naturally
suggest fresh matter, and so proceed in this way, throwing in incidents
and characters profusely, but avoiding all stage tricks and strong
situations, till some death or marriage should afford a natural
conclusion to the book."

Miss Mitford followed this plan as far as her great love of nature would
permit. For when she found her daily cares too great to be borne in the
little eight-by-eight living-room, she escaped to the woods and fields.
She loved the poets who wrote of nature, and next to Miss Austen, whom
she placed far above any other novelist, she delighted in the novels of
Charlotte Smith, and in her own pages there is the same true feeling for
nature.

_Our Village_ follows in a few particulars Gilbert White's _History of
Selborne_. As he described the beauties of Selborne through the varying
seasons of the year, she describes her walks about Three Mile Cross,
first when the meadows are covered with hoar frost, then when the air is
perfumed with violets, and later when the harvest field is yellow with
ripened corn. All the lanes, the favourite banks, the shady recesses are
described with delicate and loving touch. How her own joyous, optimistic
nature speaks in this record of a morning walk in a backward spring:

"Cold bright weather. All within doors, sunny and chilly; all without,
windy and dusty, It is quite tantalising to see that brilliant sun
careering through so beautiful a sky, and to feel little more warmth
from his presence than one does from that of his fair but cold sister,
the moon. Even the sky, beautiful as it is, has the look of that one
sometimes sees in a very bright moonlight night--deeply, intensely blue,
with white fleecy clouds driven vigorously along by a strong breeze, now
veiling and now exposing the dazzling luminary around whom they sail. A
beautiful sky! and, in spite of its coldness, a beautiful world!"

But how naturally we meet the people of the village and become
interested in them. There is Harriet, the belle of the village, "a flirt
passive," who made the tarts and puddings in the author's kitchen; Joel
Brent, her lover, a carter by calling, but, by virtue of his personal
accomplishments, the village beau. There is the publican, the carpenter,
the washerwoman; little Lizzie, the spoilt child, and all the other boys
and girls of the village. It is very natural to-day to meet these poor
people in novels; at that time the poor people of Ireland and Scotland
had begun to creep into fiction, but it was as unusual in England as a
novel without a plot. Even to-day Miss Mitford's attitude toward these
people is not common. It seems never to have occurred to the author, and
certainly does not to her readers, that these men dressed in overalls
and these women in print dresses with sleeves rolled to the elbow were
not the finest ladies and gentlemen of the land. She greets them all
with a playful humour which reminds one of the genial smile of Elia. C.
H. Herford in _The Age of Wordsworth_ wrote of _Our Village_:

"No such intimate and sympathetic portrayal of village life had been
given before, and perhaps it needed a woman's sympathetic eye for little
things to show the way. Of the professional story-teller on the alert
for a sensation there is as little as of the professional novelist on
the watch for a lesson."

_Belford Regis_, a series of country and town sketches, was written soon
after the completion of _Our Village_. Here again is the happy blending
of nature and humanity; the same fusion of truth and fiction. As Belford
Regis is "Our Market Town," there is a wider range of characters, as
different classes are represented; and a more intimate view, since the
same people appear in more than one story. Stephen Lane, the butcher,
and his wife are often met with. He is so fat that "when he walks, he
overfills the pavement, and is more difficult to pass than a link of
full-dressed misses or a chain of becloaked dandies." Of Mrs. Lane she
writes: "Butcher's wife and butcher's daughter though she were, yet was
she a graceful and gracious woman, one of nature's gentlewomen in look
and in thought." There was Miss Savage, "who was called a sensible woman
because she had a gruff voice and vinegar aspect"; and Miss Steele, who
was called literary, because forty years ago she made a grand poetical
collection. Miss Mitford even does justice to Mrs. Hollis, the fruiterer
and the village gossip; "There she sits, a tall, square, upright figure,
surmounted by a pleasant, comely face, eyes as black as a sloe, cheeks
as rounds as an apple, and a complexion as ruddy as a peach, as fine a
specimen of a healthy, hearty English tradeswoman, the feminine of John
Bull, as one would desire to see on a summer's day.... As a gossip she
was incomparable. She knew everybody and everything; had always the
freshest intelligence, and the newest news; her reports like her plums
had the bloom on them, and she would as much have scorned to palm upon
you an old piece of scandal as to send you strawberries that had been
two days gathered."

A reviewer in the _Athenæum_ thus criticises the book:

"If (to be hypercritical) the pictures they contain be a trifle too
sunny and too cheerful to be real--if they show more generosity and
refinement and self-sacrifice existing among the middle classes than
does exist,--too much of the meek beauty, too little of the squalidity
of humble life,--we love them none the less, and their authoress all the
more."

In _Belford Regis_ we miss the fields, the brooks, the flowers, and the
sky, which made the charm of _Our Village_. In some respects it is a
more ambitious book, but it has not the perennial charm of _Our
Village_.

Miss Mitford's favourite author, as we have seen, was Jane Austen. She
had the same regard for her that Miss Austen felt for Fanny Burney. The
two authors have many points of resemblance. Both have the same clear
vision, and sunny nature; the same repugnance to all that is
sensational, or coarse, or low; the same dislike of strong pathos or
broad humour; and Miss Mitford has approached more closely than any
other writer to the elegance of diction and purity of style of Miss
Austen.

They have another point in common, they both show excellent taste in
their writings. This quality of good taste is due to native delicacy and
refinement, a sensitive withdrawal from what is ugly, and a quick
feeling for true proportion; the very things which give to a woman her
superior tact, which Ruskin has called "the touch sense." In the novel
it is pre-eminently a feminine characteristic. Few men have it in a
marked degree. It adds all the charm we feel in the presence of a
refined woman to the novels of Miss Edgeworth, Miss Austen, and Miss
Mitford.

But, while Miss Mitford and Miss Austen have many points of resemblance,
they have many points of difference. Miss Austen liked the society of
men and women, and during her younger days was fond of dinner-parties
and balls. Miss Mitford preferred the woods and fields, liked the
society of her dogs, and wrote to a friend before she was twenty that
she would never go to another dance if she could help it. Miss Austen
selects a small group of gentry, and by the intertwining of their lives
forms a beautiful plot; Miss Mitford rambles through the village and the
country walks of Three Mile Cross, and as she meets the butcher, the
publican, the boys at cricket, she gleans some story of interest, and
brings back to us, as it were, a basket in which have been thrown in
careless profusion violets and anemones, cowslips and daisies, and all
the other flowers of the field.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mrs. Anna Maria Hall, a country-woman of Miss Edgeworth, wrote of her
first novel: "_My Sketches of Irish Character_, my first dear book, was
inspired by a desire to describe my native place, as Miss Mitford had
done in _Our Village_, and this made me an author." Most of these
sketches were drawn from the county of Wexford, her native place, whose
inhabitants, she says in the preface, are descendants of the
Anglo-Norman settlers of the reign of Henry the Second, and speak a
language unknown in other districts of Ireland.

The book is a series of well-told stories of the poor people, whom we
should have imagined to be pure Celt, if the author had not said they
resembled the English. There is the tender pathos, the quick humour, the
joke which often answers an argument, the guidance of the heart rather
than the head; but she has dwelt upon one characteristic but lightly
touched upon by Miss Edgeworth and Lady Morgan, the poetic feeling of
the Celt, the imagery that so often adorns their common speech. The old
Irish wife says to the bride who speaks disrespectfully of the fairies:
"Hush, Avourneen! Sure they have the use of the May-dew before it falls,
and the colour of the lilies and the roses before it's folded in the
tender buds; and can steal the notes out of the birds' throats while
they sleep."

_The Irish Peasantry_, and _Lights and Shadows of Irish Life_, won Mrs.
Hall the ill-will rather than the love of her countrymen. She had lived
for a long time in England, and upon returning to her native land was
impressed by the lack of forethought which kept the country poor. Their
early marriages, their indifference to time, their frequent visits to
the public house, their hospitality to strangers even when they
themselves were in extreme poverty and debt--all made so deep an
impression upon her mind that she attempted to teach the Irish worldly
wisdom. But the lesson was distasteful to the people and probably
useless, as the characteristics which she would change were the very
essence of the Irish nature, the traits which made him a Celt, not a
Saxon. In these books, the wooings, weddings, and funerals are
portrayed, and there is a little glimpse of fairy lore.

_Midsummer Eve, a Fairy Tale of Love_, grew out of the fairy legends of
Ireland. It is said that a child whose father has died before its birth
is placed by nature under the peculiar guardianship of the fairies; and,
if born on Midsummer Eve, it becomes their rightful property; they take
it to their own homes and leave in its place one of their changelings.
The heroine of the story is a child of that nature, over whose birth the
fairies of air, earth, and water preside. But at the will of Nightstar,
Queen of the Fairies of the Air, she is left with her mother, but
adopted and watched over by the fairies as their own. Their great gift
to her is that of loving and being loved. The human element is not well
blended with the fairy element. The entire setting should have been
rural, for in the city of London, particularly in the exhibition of the
Royal Academy, where part of the story is placed, it is not easy to
keep the tranquil twilight atmosphere, which fairies love. The book is
like a song in which the bass and soprano are written in different keys.
But when we are back in Ireland, and the fairies again appear and
disappear, it is charming. The old woodcutter, Randy, who sees and talks
with the fairies, is a delightful creature, and gives to the story much
of its beauty.

Mrs. Hall's novels have but little literary value, but she has brought
to light Irish characteristics and Irish traditions which were
overlooked by her predecessors, and for that reason they deserve to
live.



CHAPTER XII

Lady Caroline Lamb. Mrs. Shelley


It is impossible to comprehend the Byronic craze which swept cool-headed
England off her feet during the regency. _Childe Harold_ was the
fashion, and many a hero of romance, even down to the time of
_Pendennis_, aped his fashions. Disraeli and Bulwer were among his
disciples. Bulwer's early novels, _Falkland_ and _Pelham_, were
influenced by him; and _Vivian Grey_ and _Venetia_ might have been the
offspring of Byron's prose brain, so completely was Disraeli under his
influence at the time.

The poorest of the novels of this class, but the one which gives the
most intimate picture of Byron, is _Glenarvon_, by Lady Caroline Lamb.
Its hero is Byron. The plot follows the outlines of her own life, and
all the characters were counterparts of living people whom she knew.
Calantha, the heroine, representing Lady Caroline, is married to Lord
Avondale, or William Lamb, better known as Lord Melbourne, at one time
Premier of England. Lord and Lady Avondale are very happy, until
Glenarvon, "the spirit of evil," appears and dazzles Calantha. Twice
she is about to elope with him, but the thought of her husband and
children keeps her back. They part, and for a time tender _billets-doux_
pass between them, until Calantha receives a cruel letter from
Glenarvon, in which he bids her leave him in peace. Other well-known
people appeared in the book. Lord Holland was the Great Nabob, Lady
Holland was the Princess of Madagascar, and Samuel Rogers was the Yellow
Hyena or the Pale Poet. The novel had also a moral purpose; it was
intended to show the danger of a life devoted to pleasure and fashion.

Of course the book made a sensation. Lady Caroline Lamb, the daughter of
Earl Bessborough, the granddaughter of Earl Spencer, related to nearly
all the great houses of England, had all her life followed every impulse
of a too susceptible imagination. Her infatuation for Lord Byron had
long been a theme for gossip throughout London. She invited him
constantly to her home; went to assemblies in his carriage; and, if he
were invited to parties to which she was not, walked the streets to meet
him; she confided to every chance acquaintance that she was dying of
love for him. Yet, as one reads of this affair, one suspects that this
devotion was nothing more than the infatuation of a high-strung nature
for the hero of a romance. In writing to a friend about her husband,
she says, "He was privy to my affair with Lord Byron and laughed at it."
On her death-bed she said of her husband, "But remember, the only noble
fellow I ever met with was William Lamb."

A month after her death, Lord Melbourne wrote a sketch of her life for
the _Literary Gazette_. In this he said:

"Her character it is difficult to analyse, because, owing to the extreme
susceptibility of her imagination, and the unhesitating and rapid manner
in which she followed its impulses, her conduct was one perpetual
kaleidoscope of changes.... To the poor she was invariably
charitable--she was more: in spite of her ordinary thoughtlessness of
self, for them she had consideration as well as generosity, and delicacy
no less than relief. For her friends she had a ready and active love;
for her enemies no hatred: never perhaps was there a human being who had
less malevolence; as all her errors hurt only herself, so against
herself only were levelled her accusation and reproach."

How far Byron was in earnest in this tragicomedy is more difficult to
determine. In one letter to her he writes: "I was and am yours, freely
and entirely, to obey, to honour, to love, and fly with you, where,
when, and how yourself might and may determine." That Byron was piqued
when he read the book, his letter to Moore proves: "By the way, I
suppose you have seen _Glenarvon_. It seems to me if the authoress had
written the truth--the whole truth--the romance would not only have been
more romantic, but more entertaining. As for the likeness, the picture
can't be good; I did not sit long enough." It was not pleasing to Lord
Byron's vanity to appear in her book as the spirit of evil, beside her
husband, a high-minded gentleman, ready to sacrifice for his friends
everything "but his honour and integrity."

Notwithstanding the humorous elements in the connection of Lord Byron
and Lady Caroline Lamb, the story is pathetic. His poetic personality
attracted her as the light does the poor moth. Disraeli caricatured her
in the character of Mrs. Felix Lorraine in _Vivian Grey_, and introduced
her into _Venetia_ under the title of Lady Monteagle, where he made much
of her love for the poet Cadurcis, otherwise Lord Byron.

Lady Caroline Lamb wrote two other novels, but they are of no value. In
her third, _Ada Reis_, considered her best, she introduced Bulwer as the
good spirit.

The little poem written by Lady Caroline Lamb on the day fixed for her
departure from Brocket Hall, after it had been decided that she was to
live in retirement away from her husband and son, shows tenderness and
poetic feeling:

  They dance--they sing--they bless the day,
  I weep the while--and well I may:
  Husband, nor child, to greet me come,
  Without a friend--without a home:
  I sit beneath my favourite tree,
  Sing then, my little birds, to me,
  In music, love, and liberty.

At the time that the British public was smiling graciously, even if a
little humorously, upon Lady Caroline Lamb, and was lionising Lord
Byron, it spurned from its presence with the greatest disdain Percy and
Mary Shelley. Even after the death of Shelley, when Mary returned to
London with herself and son to support, it received her as the prodigal
daughter for whom the crumbs from the rich man's table must suffice.

Mary Shelley had inherited from her mother the world's frown. Mary
Wollstonecraft Godwin had been, the greater part of her life, at
variance with society. She was the author, as has been said, of the
_Vindication of the Rights of Woman_, and had for a long time been an
opponent of marriage, chiefly because the civil laws pertaining to it
deprived both husband and wife of their proper liberty. Her bitter
experience with Imlay had, however, so modified her views on this
latter subject that she became the wife of William Godwin a short time
before the birth of their daughter Mary, who in after years became Mrs.
Shelley. Although her mother died at her birth, Mary Godwin was deeply
imbued with her theories of life. She had read her books, and had often
heard her father express the same views concerning the bondage of
marriage and its uselessness. Her elopement with Shelley while his wife
Harriet was still living gains a certain sanction from the fact that she
plighted her troth to him at her mother's grave. After the sad death of
Harriet, however, Shelley and Mary Godwin conceded to the world's
opinion, and were legally married. But the anger of society was not
appeased, and, even after both had become famous, it continued to ignore
the poet Shelley and his gifted wife.

At the age of nineteen Mrs. Shelley was led to write her first novel.
Mr. and Mrs. Shelley and Byron were spending the summer of 1816 in the
mountains of Switzerland. Continuous rain kept them in-doors, where they
passed the time in reading ghost stories. At the suggestion of Byron,
each one agreed to write a blood-curdling tale. It is one of the strange
freaks of invention that this young girl succeeded where Shelley and
Byron failed. Byron wrote a fragment of a story which was printed with
_Mazeppa_. Shelley also began a story, but when he had reduced his
characters to a most pitiable condition, he wearied of them and could
devise no way to bring the tale to a fitting conclusion. After listening
to a conversation between the two poets upon the possibilities of
science discovering the secrets of life, the story known as
_Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus_ shaped itself in Mary's mind.

_Frankenstein_ is one of those novels that defy the critic. Everyone
recognises that the letters written by Captain Walton to his sister in
which he tells of his meeting with Frankenstein, and repeats to her the
story he has just heard from his guest, makes an awkward introduction to
the real narrative. Yet all this part about Captain Walton and his crew
was added at the suggestion of Shelley after the rest of the story had
been written. But the narrative of Frankenstein is so powerful, so real,
that, once read, it can never be forgotten. Mrs. Shelley wrote in the
introduction of the edition of 1839 that, before writing it, she was
trying to think of a story, "one that would speak to the mysterious
fears of our nature, and awaken thrilling horror--one to make the reader
dread to look round, to curdle the blood and quicken the beatings of the
heart." That she has done this the experience of every reader will
prove.

But the story has a greater hold on the imagination than this alone
would give it. The monster created by Frankenstein is closely related to
our own human nature. "My heart was fashioned to be susceptible of love
and sympathy," he says, "and, when wrenched by misery to vice and
hatred, it did not endure the violence of the change without torture,
such as you cannot even imagine." There is a wonderful blending of good
and evil in this demon, and, while the magnitude of his crimes makes us
shudder, his wrongs and his loneliness awaken our pity. "The fallen
angel becomes a malignant devil. Yet even that enemy of God and man had
friends and associates in his desolation; I am quite alone," the monster
complains to his creator. Who can forget the scene where he watches
Frankenstein at work making for him the companion that he had promised?
Perhaps sadder than the story of the monster is that of Frankenstein,
who, led by a desire to widen human knowledge, finds that the fulfilment
of his lofty ambition has brought only a curse to mankind.

In 1823, Mary Shelley published a second novel, _Valperga_, so named
from a castle and small independent territory near Lucca. Castruccio
Castracani, whose life Machiavelli has told, is the hero of the story.
The greatest soldier and satirist of his times, the man of the novel is
considered inferior to the man of history. Mrs. Shelley had read
broadly before beginning the book, and she has described minutely the
customs of the age about which she is writing. Shelley pronounced it "a
living and moving picture of an age almost forgotten."

The interest centres in the two heroines, Euthanasia, Countess of
Valperga, and Beatrice, Prophetess of Ferrara. Strong, intellectual, and
passionate, not until the time of George Eliot did women of this type
become prominent in fiction. Euthanasia, a Guelph and a Florentine, with
a soul "adapted for the reception of all good," was betrothed to the
youth Castruccio, whom she at that time loved. Later, when his character
deteriorated under the influence of selfish ambition, she ceased to love
him, and said, "He cast off humanity, honesty, honourable feeling, all
that I prize." Castruccio belonged to the Ghibelines, so that the story
of their love is intertwined with the struggle between these two parties
in Italy.

But more beautiful than the intellectual character of Euthanasia, is the
spiritual one of Beatrice, the adopted daughter of the bishop of
Ferrara, who is regarded with feelings of reverence by her countrymen,
because of her prophetic powers. Pure and deeply religious, she accepted
all the suggestions of her mind as a message from God. When Castruccio
came to Ferrara and was entertained by the bishop as the prince and
liberator of his country, she believed that together they could
accomplish much for her beloved country: "She prayed to the Virgin to
inspire her; and, again giving herself up to reverie, she wove a subtle
web, whose materials she believed heavenly, but which were indeed stolen
from the glowing wings of love." No wonder she believed the dictates of
her own heart, she whose words the superstition of the age had so often
declared miraculous. She was barely seventeen and she loved for the
first time. How pathetic is her disillusionment when Castruccio bade her
farewell for a season, as he was about to leave Ferrara. She had
believed that the Holy Spirit had brought Castruccio to her that by the
union of his manly qualities and her divine attributes some great work
might be fulfilled. But as he left her, he spoke only of earthly
happiness:

"It was her heart, her whole soul she had given; her understanding, her
prophetic powers, all the little universe that with her ardent spirit
she grasped and possessed, she had surrendered, fully, and without
reserve; but, alas! the most worthless part alone had been accepted, and
the rest cast as dust upon the winds."

Afterwards, when she wandered forth a beggar, and was rescued by
Euthanasia, she exclaimed to her:

"You either worship a useless shadow, or a fiend in the clothing of a
God."

The daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft could fully sympathise with
Beatrice. In the grief, almost madness, with which Beatrice realises her
self-deception, there are traces of Frankenstein. Perhaps no problem
plucked from the tree of good and evil was so ever-present to Mary
Shelley as why misery so often follows an obedience to the highest
dictates of the soul. Both her father and mother had experienced this;
and she and Shelley had tasted of the same bitter fruit. In the analysis
of Beatrice's emotions Mrs. Shelley shows herself akin to Charlotte
Brontë.

Three years after the death of Shelley, she published _The Last Man_. It
relates to England in the year 2073 when, the king having abdicated his
throne, England had become a republic. Soon after this, however a
pestilence fell upon the people, which drove them upon the continent,
where they travelled southward, until only one man remained. The plot is
clumsy; the characters are abstractions.

But the feelings of the author, written in clear letters on every page,
are a valuable addition to the history of the poet Shelley and his wife.
Besides her fresh sorrow for her husband, Byron had died only the year
before. Her mind was brooding on the days the three had spent together.
Her grief was too recent to be shaken from her mind or lost sight of in
her imaginative work. Shelley, and the scenes she had looked on with
him, the conversations between him and his friends, creep in on every
page. Lionel Verney, the Last Man, is the supposed narrator of the
story. He thus describes Adrian, the son of the king: "A tall, slim,
fair boy, with a physiognomy expressive of the excess of sensibility and
refinement, stood before me; the morning sunbeams tinged with gold his
silken hair, and spread light and glory over his beaming countenance ...
he seemed like an inspired musician, who struck, with unerring skill,
the 'lyre of mind,' and produced thence divinest harmony.... His slight
frame was over informed by the soul that dwelt within.... He was gay as
a lark carrolling from its skiey tower.... The young and inexperienced
did not understand the lofty severity of his moral views, and disliked
him as a being different from themselves." Shelley, of course, was the
original of this picture. Lord Byron suggested the character of Lord
Raymond: "The earth was spread out as a highway for him; the heavens
built up as a canopy for him." "Every trait spoke predominate self-will;
his smile was pleasing, though disdain too often curled his lips--lips
which to female eyes were the very throne of beauty and love.... Thus
full of contradictions, unbending yet haughty, gentle yet fierce,
tender and again neglectful, he by some strange art found easy entrance
to the admiration and affection of women; now caressing and now
tyrannising over them according to his mood, but in every change a
despot."

A large part of the three volumes is taken up with a characterisation of
Adrian and Lord Raymond, the latter of whom falls when fighting for the
Greeks. How impossible it was for her to rid her mind of her own sorrow
is shown at the end of the third volume, where Adrian is drowned, and
Lionel Verney is left alone. He thus says of his friend:

"All I had possessed of this world's goods, of happiness, knowledge, or
virtue--I owed to him. He had, in his person, his intellect, and rare
qualities, given a glory to my life, which without him it had never
known. Beyond all other beings he had taught me that goodness, pure and
simple, can be an attribute of man."

Mrs. Shelley made the great mistake of writing this novel in the first
person. _The Last Man_, who is telling the story, although he has the
name of Lionel, is most assuredly of the female sex. The friendship
between him and Adrian is not the friendship of man for man, but rather
the love of man and woman.

Mrs. Shelley's next novel, _Lodore_, written in 1835, thirteen years
after the death of her husband, had a better outlined plot and more
definite characters. But again it echoes the past. Lord Byron's unhappy
married relations and Shelley's troubles with Harriet are blended in the
story, Lord Byron furnishing the character in some respects of Lord
Lodore, while his wife, Cornelia Santerre, resembles both Harriet and
Lady Byron. Lady Santerre, the mother of Cornelia, augments the trouble
between Lord and Lady Lodore, and, contrary to the evident intentions of
the writer, the reader's sympathies are largely with Cornelia and Lady
Santerre. When Lodore wishes Cornelia to go to America to save him from
disgrace, Lady Santerre objects to her daughter's accompanying him:

"He will soon grow tired of playing the tragic hero on a stage
surrounded by no spectators; he will discover the folly of his conduct;
he will return, and plead for forgiveness, and feel that he is too
fortunate in a wife who has preserved her own conduct free from censure
and remark while he has made himself a laughing-stock to all."

These words strangely bring to mind Lord Byron as having evoked them.

Again Lady Lodore's letter to her husband at the time of his departure
to America reminds one of Lady Byron:

"If heaven have blessings for the coldly egotistical, the unfeeling
despot, may those blessings be yours; but do not dare to interfere with
emotions too pure, too disinterested for you ever to understand. Give me
my child, and fear neither my interference nor resentment."

Lady Lodore's character changes in the book, and becomes more like that
of Harriet Shelley. As Mrs. Shelley wrote, fragments of the past
evidently came into her mind and influenced her pen, and her original
conception of the characters was forgotten. Clorinda, the beautiful,
eloquent, and passionate Neapolitan, was drawn from Emilia Viviani, who
had suggested to Shelley his poem _Epipsychidion_, while both Horatio
Saville, who had "no thought but for the nobler creations of the soul,
and the discernment of the sublime laws of God and nature," and his
cousin Villiers, also an enthusiastic worshipper of nature, possessed
many of Shelley's qualities.

Besides two other novels of no value, _Perkin Warbeck_ and _Falkner_,
Mrs. Shelley wrote numerous short stories for the annuals, at that time
so much in vogue. In 1891, these were collected and edited with an
appreciative criticism by Sir Richard Garnett. Many of them have the
intensity and sustained interest of Frankenstein.

After the death of her husband, grief and trouble dimmed Mrs. Shelley's
imagination. But the pale student Frankenstein, the monster he created,
and the beautiful priestess, Beatrice, three strong conceptions, testify
to the genius of Mary Shelley.



CHAPTER XIII

Mrs. Gore. Mrs. Bray


During the second decade of the nineteenth century, while Scott was
writing some of the most powerful of the Waverley novels, a host of new
writers sprang into popular notice. John Galt, William Harrison
Ainsworth, and G. P. R. James began their endless series of historical
romances, while in 1827, Bulwer Lytton and Benjamin Disraeli introduced
to the reading public, as the representatives of fashionable society,
_Falkland_ and _Vivian Grey_. The decade was prolific also in novels by
women. Jane Austen had died in 1817, but Maria Edgeworth, Lady Morgan,
the Porters, Amelia Opie, Miss Ferrier, Mrs. Shelley and Miss Mitford
were still writing; during this period, Mrs. S. C. Hall began her work
in imitation of Miss Mitford, while Mrs. Gore and Mrs. Bray took up the
goose-quill, piled reams of paper on their desks, and began their
literary careers.

About a score of years before Thackeray tickled English society with
pictures of its own snobbery, Mrs. Gore, a young woman, wife of an
officer in the Life Guards, saw through the many affectations of the
polite world, and in a series of novels, pointed out its ludicrous
pretences with lively wit. Mrs. Gore has suffered, however, from the
multiplicity of her writings. During the years between 1823, when she
wrote her first novel, _Theresa Marchmont_, and 1850, when, quite blind,
she retired from the world of letters, she published two hundred volumes
of novels, plays, and poems. Her plots are often hastily constructed,
her men and women dimly outlined, but she is never dull. No writer since
Congreve has so many sparkling lines. She has been likened to Horace,
and if we compare her wit with that of Thackeray, who by the way
ridiculed her in his _Novels by Eminent Hands_, her humour has qualities
of old Falernian, beside which his too frequently has the bitter flavour
of old English beer. The Englishman is inclined to take his wit, like
his sports, too seriously, and to mingle with it a little of the spice
of envy. Mrs. Gore has none of this, however, and skims along the
surface of fashionable life with a grace and ease and humour extremely
diverting.

Her writings are so voluminous that one can only make excerpts at
random. One of the liveliest is _Cecil, or the Adventures of a Coxcomb_,
a humorous satire on _Vivian Grey_. "The arch-coxcomb of his
coxcombical time" had become a coxcomb at the age of six months, when he
first saw himself in the mirror, from which time his nurse stopped his
crying by tossing him in front of a looking-glass. His curls made him so
attractive that at six years of age he was admitted to his mother's
boudoir, from which his red-headed brother was excluded, and he
superseded the spaniel in her ladyship's carriage. With the loss of his
curls went the loss of favour. He did not prosper at school, and was
rusticated after a year's residence at Oxford. Here he formed an
acquaintance which helped him much in the world of coxcombry. Though
this man was not well born, he was an admitted leader among gentlemen.
Cecil soon discovered that his high social position was due entirely to
his impertinence, and he made this wise observation: "Impudence is the
quality of a footman; impertinence of his master. Impudence is a thing
to be rebutted with brute force; impertinence requires wit for the
putting down." So he matched his wit with this man's impertinence, and
they became sworn friends.

When Cecil went to London, he found that "people had supped full of
horrors, during the Revolution, and were now devoted to elegiac
measures. My languid smile and hazel eyes were the very thing to settle
the business of the devoted beings left for execution." Of course all
the women fell desperately in love with him. "I had always a
predisposition to woman-slaughter, with extenuating circumstances, as
well as a stirring consciousness of the exterminating power," he
explains to us. Like Childe Harold and Vivian Grey, this coxcomb soon
became weary of London, and travelled through Europe in an indolent way,
for after all it was his chief pleasure "to lie in an airy French bed,
showered over with blue convolvulus," and read tender billets from the
ladies. This book was an excellent antidote to the Byronic fever, then
at its height.

In her _Sketches of English Character_, Mrs. Gore describes different
men who were in her time to be met with in the social life of London.
The Dining-Out Man thus speaks for himself:

"Ill-natured people fancy that the life of a dining-out man is a life of
corn, wine, and oil; that all he has to do is to eat, drink and be
merry. I only know that, had I been aware in the onset of life, of all I
should have to go through in my vocation, I would have chosen some
easier calling. I would have studied law, physic, or divinity."

In the sketches of _The Clubman_, she assigns John Bull's dislike of
ladies' society as the reason for the many clubs in the English
metropolis:

"While admitting woman to be a divinity, he chooses to conceal his idol
in the Holy of Holies of domestic life. Duly to enjoy the society of
Mrs. Bull, he chooses a smoking tureen, and cod's head and shoulders to
intervene between them, and their olive branches to be around their
table.... For John adores woman in the singular, and hates her in the
plural; John loves, but does not like. Woman is the object of his
passion, rarely of his regard. There is nothing in the gaiety of heart
or sprightliness of intellect of the weaker sex which he considers an
addition to society. To him women are an interruption to business and
pleasure."

Mrs. Gore could also unveil hypocrisy. In her novel _Preferment, or My
Uncle the Earl_, she thus describes a worthy ornament of the church:

"The Dean of Darbington glided along his golden railroad--'mild as
moonbeams'--soft as a swansdown muff--insinuating as a silken eared
spaniel. His conciliating arguments were whispered in a tone suitable to
the sick chamber of a nervous hypochondriac, and his strain of argument
resembled its potations of thin, weak, well-sweetened barley water.
While Dr. Macnab succeeded with _his_ congregation by kicking and
bullying them along the path of grace, Dr. Nicewig held out his finger
with a coaxing air and gentle chirrup, like a bird-fancier decoying a
canary."

A critic in the _Westminster Review_ in 1831 thus writes of her:

"Mrs. Gore has a perfectly feminine knowledge of all the weaknesses and
absurdities of an ordinary man of fashion, following the routine of
London life in the season. She unmasks his selfishness with admirable
acuteness; she exposes his unromantic egotism, with delightful
sauciness. Her portraits of women are also executed with great spirit;
but not with the same truth. In transferring men to her canvas, she has
relied upon the faculty of observation, usually fine and vigilant in a
woman; but when portraying her own sex, the authoress has perhaps looked
within; and the study of the internal operations of the human machine is
a far more complex affair, and requires far more extensive experience,
and also different faculties, from those necessary to acquire a perfect
knowledge of the appearances on the surface of humanity."

Notwithstanding Mrs. Gore touches so lightly on the surface of life,
certain definite sociological and moral principles underlie her work.
She is as democratic as Charlotte Smith, Mrs. Inchbald, Miss Mitford, or
even William Godwin. She asserts again and again that men of inferior
birth with the same opportunities of education may be as intellectual
and refined as the sons of a "hundred earls." Those members of the
aristocracy who fail to recognise the true worth of intelligent men of
plebeian origin are made very ridiculous. In her novel _Pin Money_,
published in 1831, how very funny is Lady Derenzy's speech when she
learns that a soap manufacturer is being fêted in fashionable society!
Lady Derenzy, by the way, is the social law-giver to her little coterie:

"It is now some years," said she, "since the independence of America,
and the influence exerted in this country by the return of a large body
of enlightened men, habituated to the demoralising spectacle of an
equalisation of rank, was supposed to exert a pernicious influence on
the minds of the secondary and inferior classes of Great Britain. At
that critical moment I whispered to my husband, 'Derenzy! be true to
yourself, and the world will be true to you. Let the aristocracy of
Great Britain unite in support of the Order; and it will maintain its
ground against the universe!' Lord Derenzy took my advice, and the
country was saved.

"Again, when the assemblage of the States General of France,--the fatal
tocsin of the revolution,--spread consternation and horror throughout
the higher ranks of every European country, and the very name of the
guillotine operated like a spell on the British peerage, I whispered to
my husband, 'Derenzy! be true to yourself, and the world will be true
to you. Let the aristocracy of Great Britain unite in support of the
Order; and it will maintain its ground against the universe!' Again Lord
Derenzy took my advice, and again the country was saved."

Mrs. Gore has so cleverly mingled the so-called self-made men and men of
inherited rank in her books that one cannot distinguish between them. In
_The Soldier of Lyons_, one of her early novels, which furnished Bulwer
with the plot of his play _The Lady of Lyons_, the hero, a peasant by
birth and a soldier of the Republic, enters into a marriage contract
with the widow of a French marquis, in order to save her from the
guillotine. This lady of high rank learns to respect her husband, and
becomes the suitor for his love. In _The Heir of Selwood_, a former
field marshal of Napoleon, a peasant, devotes his energies to improving
the condition of the poor on the estate he had won by his services to
his country, and at his death his tenants erected a column to his
memory, bearing the inscription: "Most dear to God, to the king, and to
the people."

Mrs. Gore constantly asserts that the only distinctions between men are
based upon character and ability. She says of one of her characters, a
poet:

"His footing in society is no longer dependent upon the caprice of a
drawing-room. It is the security of that intellectual power which forces
the world to bend the knee. The poor, dreamy boy, self-taught,
self-aided, had risen into power. He wields a pen. And the pen in our
age weighs heavier in the social scale than a sword of a Norman baron."

Mrs. Gore lived at a time when the introduction of machinery and the
establishment of large factories was producing a new type of man: men
like Burtonshaw in _The Hamiltons_: "A practical, matter-of-fact
individual, with plenty of money and plenty of intellect; the sort of
human power-loom one would back to work wonders against a dawdling old
spinning-jenny like Lord Tottenham."

A critic in the _Westminster Review_ wrote in 1832 as follows:

"The wealthy merchant or money-dealer is represented, perhaps for the
first time in fiction, as a man of true dignity, self-respect,
education, and thorough integrity, agreeable in manners, refined in
tastes, and content with, if not proud of, his position in society."

Mrs. Gore was called by her contemporaries the novelist of the new era.

She was also interested in the great ethical questions of life. She did
not write of the love of youthful heroes and more youthful heroines. She
often traced the consequences of sin on character and destiny. In _The
Heir of Selwood_, she is as stern a moralist in tracing the effects of
vice as George Eliot. _The Banker's Wife_, the scene of which is laid
among the merchants of London, is a serious study of the sorrows of a
life devoted to outward show. The picture of the banker among his
guests, whose wealth, unknown to them, he has squandered, reminds one of
the days before the final overthrow of Dombey and Son.

Mrs. Gore was a woman of genius. With the stern principles of the
puritan, and feelings as republican as the mountain-born Swiss, she was
never controversial. She saw the absurdities of certain hollow
pretensions of society, but her good-humoured raillery offended no one.
If her two hundred volumes could be weeded of their verbiage by some
devotee of literature, and reduced to ten or fifteen, they would be not
only entertaining reading, but would throw strong lights upon the
_élite_ of London in the days when hair-oils, pomades, and strong
perfumes were the distinguishing marks of the Quality.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mrs. Gore owed her place in English letters to native wit and ability;
Mrs. Bray owed hers to hard study and painstaking endeavour. She was one
of the few women who followed the style of writing brought to perfection
by Sir Walter Scott.

Mrs. Bray became imbued with the historic spirit early in life. Her
first husband was Charles Stothard, the author of _Monumental Effigies
of Great Britain_, with whom she travelled through Brittany, Normandy
and Flanders. While he made careful drawings of the ruins of castles and
abbeys, she read Froissart's _Chronicles_, visited the places which he
has described, and traced out among the people any surviving customs
which he has recorded.

Two novels were the result of these studies. _De Foix, or Sketches of
the Manners and Customs of the Fourteenth Century_, is a story of Gaston
Phoebus, Count de Foix, whose court Froissart visited, and of whom he
wrote: "To speak briefly and truly, the Count de Foix was perfect in
person and in mind; and no contemporary prince could be compared with
him for sense, honour, or liberality." _The White Hoods_, a name by
which the citizens of Ghent were denominated, is laid in the
Netherlands, and tells of the conflict between the court and the
citizens of Ghent, under Philip von Artaveld, during the reign of
Charles the Fifth of France and the early kingship of Charles the Sixth.
As in all her novels, the accuracy for which she strove in the most
minute details retards the action of the plot, but adds to the
historical value of these romances.

For the tragic romance of _The Talba, or Moor of Portugal_, Mrs. Bray,
as she had not visited the Spanish peninsula, depended upon her reading.
The plot was suggested to her by a picture of Ines de Castro in the
Royal Academy. It represented the gruesome coronation of the corpse of
Ines de Castro, six years after her death. Thus did her husband, Don
Pedro, show honour to his wife, who had been put to death while he, then
a prince, was serving in the army of Portugal. The whole story is a
fitting theme for tragedy, and was at one time dramatised by Mary
Mitford. In order to give her mind the proper elevation for the
impassioned scenes of this novel, it was Mrs. Bray's custom to read a
chapter of Isaiah or Job each day before beginning to write.

After the death of her first husband, Mrs. Bray married the vicar of
Tavistock, and for thirty-five years lived in the vicarage of that town.
Here she became interested in the legends of Devon and Cornwall, and
wrote five novels founded upon the history of tradition of those
counties. _Henry de Pomeroy_ opens at the abbey of Tavistock, one of the
oldest abbeys in England, during the reign of Richard Coeur-de-Leon.
The scene of _Fitz of Fitz-Ford_ is also laid at Tavistock, but during
the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Another story of the reign of the Virgin
Queen was _Warleigh, or the Fatal Oak: a Legend of Devon_. _Courtenay of
Walreddon: a Romance of the West_ takes place in the reign of Charles
the First, about the commencement of the Civil War. A gypsy girl, by
name Cinderella Small, is introduced into the story, and has been highly
praised. The character, as well as some of the stories told of her, was
drawn from life.

But the most famous of these novels is _Trelawny of Trelawne; or the
Prophecy: a Legend of Cornwall_, a story of the rebellion of Monmouth.
Like most of the romances upon English themes, the private history of
the family furnishes the romance, the historical happenings being used
only for the setting: the usual method of Scott. The hero of this novel
is Sir Jonathan Trelawny, one of the seven bishops who were committed to
the Tower by James the Second. When he was arrested by the king's
command, the Cornish men rose one and all, and marched as far as Exeter,
in their way to extort his liberation. Trelawny is a popular hero of
Cornwall, as the following lines testify:

  A good sword and a trusty hand!
  A merry heart and true!
  King James's men shall understand
  What Cornish lads can do!

  And have they fixed the where and when?
  And shall Trelawny die?
  Here's twenty thousand Cornish men
  Will know the reason why!

  Out spake their captain brave and bold,
  A merry wight was he--
  "If London Tower were Michael's hold,
  We'll set Trelawny free!"

  We'll cross the Tamar, land to land,
  The Severn is no stay,
  All side to side, and hand to hand,
  And who shall say us nay?

  And when we come to London Wall,
  A pleasant sight to view,
  Come forth! Come forth! Ye cowards all,
  To better men than you!

  Trelawny he's in keep and hold--
  Trelawny he may die,
  But here's twenty thousand Cornish bold
  Will know the reason why!

Like Scott, Mrs. Bray went about with notebook in hand, and noted the
features of the landscape, the details of a ruin, or the furniture or
armour of the period of which she was writing. It is this painstaking
work, together with the fact that she had access to places and books
that were then denied to the ordinary reader, and chose subjects and
places not before treated in fiction, that gives permanent value to her
writings. She also had the proper feeling for the past, and dignity and
elevation of style. Sometimes an entire page of her romances might be
attributed to the pen of the "Mighty Wizard." Perhaps the highest
compliment that can be paid her as an artist is that she resembles Scott
when he is nodding.



CHAPTER XIV

Julia Pardoe. Mrs. Trollope. Harriet Martineau


Somewhere between the second and third decades of the nineteenth
century, the modern novel was born. The romances of the twenties are,
for the most part, old-fashioned in tone, and speak of an earlier age;
but in the thirties, the modern novel, with its exact reproduction of
places, customs, and speech, and strong local flavour, was full-grown.
Dickens, under the name of Boz, was contributing his sketches to _The
Old Monthly Magazine_ and the _Evening Chronicle_. Thackeray was
beginning to contribute articles to _Fraser's Magazine_, established in
1830. Annuals and monthlies sprang up in the night, and paid large sums
for long and short stories. The thirst for them was unquenchable. Many
women were supporting themselves by writing tales which did not live
beyond the year of their publication. Mrs. Marsh was writing stories of
fashionable life varied by historical romances. Mrs. Crowe wrote
stories of fashionable life varied by supernatural romances and tales of
adventure. In _The Story of Lilly Dawson_, published in 1847, the
heroine was captured and brought up by smugglers, and the gradual
development of her character was traced; thus giving to the story a
psychological interest. Lady Blessington earned two thousand pounds a
year for twenty years by novels and short stories of fashionable life.
Lady Blessington had a European reputation as a court beauty and a
brilliant and witty conversationalist. This with the coronet must have
helped to sell her books. They do not contain even a sentence that holds
the attention. A friend said of her, "Her genius lay in her tongue; her
pen paralysed it." More enduring work in fiction was done by Julia
Pardoe, Mrs. Trollope, and Harriet Martineau.

       *       *       *       *       *

The novels of Julia Pardoe, like those of Mrs. Bray, owe their value,
not to their intrinsic merit, but to the comparatively unknown places to
which she introduces her readers. She accompanied her father, Major
Pardoe, to Constantinople, where they were entertained by natives of
high position, to whom they had letters of introduction, and Miss Pardoe
was the guest of their wives in the harem. Her knowledge of the mode of
life and habits of thought of Turkish women is considered second only
to that of Mary Wortley Montagu.

The material for her story _The Romance of the Harem_ was obtained
during her visits to these Turkish ladies. In this she has caught the
languid, heavily perfumed atmosphere of the Orient. Besides the main
plot, stories of adventure and love are related which beguiled the
slowly passing hours of the inmates of the seraglio. Some of them might
have been told by Schehezerhade, if she had wished to add to her
entertainment of _The Thousand and One Nights_.

After Miss Pardoe's return to England, she wrote a series of fashionable
novels, inferior to many of those of Mrs. Gore, and better than the best
of those by Lady Blessington. _Confessions of a Pretty Woman_, _The
Jealous Wife_, and _The Rival Beauties_ were the most popular of these,
although they have long since been forgotten.

In 1849, Miss Pardoe published a collection of stories under the title
_Flies in Amber_. The title, she explains in the preface, was suggested
by a belief of the Orientals that amber comes from the sea, and attracts
about it all insects, which find in it both a prison and a posthumous
existence. Some of the stories of this collection were gathered in her
travels. _An Adventure in Bithynia_, _The Magyar and the Moslem, or an
Hungarian Legend_, and the _Yèrè-Batan-Seraï_, which means
Swallowed-up Palace, the great subterranean ruin of Constantinople, have
the interest which always attaches to tales gathered by travellers in
unfrequented places.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mrs. Frances Trollope, the mother of the more famous author Anthony
Trollope, like Miss Pardoe, found material for stories in unfamiliar
places. Mrs. Trollope had the nature of the pioneer. With her family,
she sought our western lands of the Mississippi Valley, where the virgin
forest had resounded to the axe of the first settler but a short time
before. She wrote the first book of any note describing the manners of
the Americans; the first strong novel calling attention to the evils of
slavery in our Southern States; and the first one describing graphically
the white slavery in the cotton-mills of Lancashire; and she is,
perhaps, the only writer who began a long literary career at the age of
fifty-two.

On the fourth of November, 1827, Mrs. Trollope with her three children
sailed from London, and, after about seven weeks on the sea, arrived on
Christmas Day at the mouth of the Mississippi. After a brief visit in
New Orleans, this party of English travellers sailed up the river to
Memphis, where, remote from the comforts of civilisation, they abode for
a time under the direction of Mrs. Wright, an English lecturer who had
come to America for the avowed purpose of proving the perfect equality
of the black and white races. But Mrs. Trollope and her family soon
tired of life in the wilderness, and sought Cincinnati, at that time a
small city of wooden houses, not over thirty years of age. After two
years' residence in Cincinnati, she went by stage to Baltimore, visited
Philadelphia and New York, and returned to England, after a sojourn of
three and a half years in this country.

During her residence in the United States, she made copious notes of
what she saw and heard. These she published the year after her return to
England, under the title _Domestic Manners of the Americans_. At once
the pens of all the critics were let loose upon the author. Her American
critics declared that she knew nothing about them or their country; and
their English friends refused to believe that the people of America had
such shocking bad manners.

Mrs. Trollope reported truthfully what she saw and heard. But a frontier
city is made up of people gathered from the four corners of the earth:
each family is a law unto itself; so that the speeches Mrs. Trollope
carefully set down, and the customs she depicted, were often
peculiarities of individuals rather than of a community. But she has
left a vivid picture of American life in the twenties, less exaggerated
than the picture Charles Dickens gave of it in the forties. Mrs.
Trollope's attitude is no more hostile than his, but he is more
entertaining. He held us up to ridicule and laughed at us; she seriously
pointed out our errors in the hope that we might amend. She is slightly
inconsistent at times, for, while asserting the equality of whites and
blacks, she as bitterly resented the equality of white master and white
servant. Her purpose in writing this book was to warn her own countrymen
of the evils which must follow a government of the many.

Although she never takes the broad view, but always the narrow and
partial one, her book gives a good picture of the everyday life and
habits of thought of the next generation to that which had fought and
won the American Revolution. The white heat of republican fervour, so
obnoxious to a European, welded the nation together as one people, and
filled their hearts with a religious reverence for the constitution. She
meant them as a reproach, but we read these words with pride: "I never
heard from anyone a single disparaging word against their government."

Mrs. Trollope has been described by her friends as a refined woman of
charming personality. But as soon as she began to write, she donned her
armour and proclaimed her hostility either to her hero or to the larger
part of the characters of the book. This method is dangerous to art.
Even the genius of Thackeray is lessened by his lack of sympathy.

In 1833 Mrs. Trollope published her first novel, _The Refugee in
America_. It is the story of an English lord who has fled to America to
escape English justice. He and his friends have settled in Rochester,
New York. It was written for the sole purpose of describing the manners
of the people of our Eastern cities. The author's attitude toward them
is well illustrated by a conversation between Caroline, the young
English girl, and her American _protégée_, Emily. After a dinner in
Washington, Caroline exclaims to her friend:

"'Oh, my own Emily, you must not live and die where such things be.'

"Emily sighed as she answered, 'I am born to it, Miss Gordon.'

"'But hardly bred to it. We have caught you young, and we have spoiled
you for ever as an American lady.'"

Three years later Mrs. Trollope published her strongest novel, _The Life
and Adventures of Jonathan Jefferson Whitlaw_. This is a powerful
picture of early life on the Mississippi; it was the first novel since
Mrs. Behn's _Oroonoko_ which called attention to the evils of African
slavery. It is marred, however, by want of sympathy with the community
she is describing. Mr. Jonathan Whitlaw Senior has "squat in the bush,"
an expression to which Mrs. Trollope objects, but which brings to mind
at once the log cabin in the forest clearing, and the muscular, uncouth
pioneer. Jonathan furnishes firewood to the Mississippi steamers, and by
this means gains sufficient wealth to carry out his life's ambition: to
set up a store in Natchez, and to own "niggers." But the life of a
pioneer has made Jonathan as cunning as a fox. This cunning his son
Jonathan, the hero of the story, has inherited to the full. As a
slave-owner he is as grasping and cruel as Legree, whom Mrs. Stowe
immortalised some years later. His character, though drawn with strength
and vigour, is inconsistent. He is a miser, yet he is a gambler and a
spendthrift, qualities not often found together. He is not a true
representative of the son of a pioneer. Clio Whitlaw, the aunt of the
hero, belongs more truly to her environment. One suspects the English
family at Cincinnati had received neighbourly kindnesses from women like
her. With her physical strength and great courage she is kind and
neighbourly to all who need her help. The sad story of Edward Bligh, the
young Kentuckian who preached the gospel to the slaves, the victim of
lynch law, a word dreaded even then, is as thrilling as parts of _Uncle
Tom's Cabin_.

Besides _Jonathan Jefferson Whitlaw_, Mrs. Trollope created two other
characters that will cause her name to live as long as those of William
Harrison Ainsworth or G. P. R. James. The coarse scheming widow Barnaby
is the heroine of three novels, _Widow Barnaby_, _The Widow Married_,
and _The Widow Wedded, or the Barnabys in America_. In the last book
Mrs. Trollope somewhat humorously pays off her scores against her
American critics, who had dubbed her a cockney, unfamiliar with good
society in either England or America. The Widow Barnaby, who has come to
New Orleans with her husband after his little gambling ways have made
residence in London unpleasant, decides to earn some money by writing a
book on America. She describes the Americans, not as they are, but as
they think they are. She listens to all their boasts about themselves
and country, and puts it faithfully in her book. Of course they like it
and she becomes the literary lion of America.

Anthony Trollope, in his book _An Autobiography_, said of his mother's
books on America: "Her volumes were very bitter; but they were very
clever, and they saved the family from ruin." She is also given the
credit of having improved the manners of American society. Whenever a
"gentleman" at his club put his feet on the table, or indulged in any
liberty of which she would not have approved, others cried, "Trollope!
Trollope! Trollope!"

The _Vicar of Wrexhill_, the scene of which is laid in England, is an
attack on the evangelical clergy in the Episcopal Church. The vicar is
no truer to the great body of evangelical preachers than Jonathan
Jefferson Whitlaw is true to the great body of slave-owners. There is
the same exaggeration to prove a theory. Evangelical preaching is
harmful, is the theorem, and a man is selected to prove it who in any
walk of life would be a hypocrite and libertine. The book has many
interesting situations. The vicar's proposal to the rich widow, one of
his parishioners, is clever: "Let me henceforth be as the shield and
buckler that shall guard thee; so that thou shalt not be afraid for any
terror by night, nor for the arrow that flieth by day." And he promises,
if she will marry him, to lead her "sinful children into the life
everlasting." No other book has shown, as this does, the powerful effect
upon sensitive natures of this kind of preaching. One feels that the
followers of the Reverend Vicar were under the influence of hypnotic
suggestion, and that their awakening from this spell was like the
awakening from a trance.

Mrs. Trollope was actuated by humanitarian motives. This was not as
usual then as since Dickens popularised the humanitarian novel. Only
three years after he wrote _Sketches by Boz_, Mrs. Trollope wrote _The
Life and Adventures of Michael Armstrong_, the story of a boy employed
in the mills of Lancashire. Negro slavery in the South, even as Mrs.
Trollope saw it, was a happy state of existence compared with child
slavery in the mills of Ashleigh and Deep Valley, Lancashire, where the
children were driven to work by the lash in the morning, and were
crippled by the "Billy roller," the name of the stick by which they were
beaten for inattention to their work during the day. If the truth of
these horrors were not attested by other writers of this time, one would
doubt the possibility of their existence in the same land and at the
same time in which Wordsworth was writing of the beauties of his own
childhood, where the river Derwent mingled its murmurs with his nurse's
song.

Mrs. Trollope assailed injustice with a powerful pen. Woman's moral
nature is truer and more sensitive than man's. Even if her sympathies
cloud her judgment, it is better than that her judgment should reason
away her sympathies. Neither has woman in her philanthropy contented
herself with broad principles which would help all and therefore reach
none. The dusky slave in the cotton-fields, the pale-faced child in the
cotton-mills, have alike touched the hearts of women, who by their pens
have been able to awaken the conscience of a nation. The horror of child
labour wrung from Mrs. Browning the heart-felt poem, _The Cry of the
Children_. The four strong novels proclaiming the tyranny of the whites
over the blacks, _Oronooko_, _Jonathan Jefferson Whitlaw_, _Uncle Tom's
Cabin_, and _The Hour and the Man_, were written by women.

       *       *       *       *       *

The name of Harriet Martineau was a familiar one in every household
during the early years of Queen Victoria's reign. Like Mrs. Trollope she
was a woman of fearless honesty. But Harriet Martineau was never the
_raconteur_, she was first the educator. She wrote story after story to
teach lessons in political and social science. Her method of work, as
set forth in her autobiography, was peculiar, and the result is not
uninteresting. In her _Political Economy Tales_, she selected certain
principles which she wished to set forth, and embodied each principle in
a character. The operations of these principles furnished the plot of
the story. Besides the illustrations of the principles by the
characters, the laws were discussed in conversation, and thus the lesson
was taught. In the story _Brooke and Brooke Farm_, she made use of an
expression which Ruskin almost paraphrased: "The whole nation, the whole
world, is obliged to him who makes corn grow where it never grew
before; and yet more to him who makes two ears ripen where only one
ripened before." In the tale _A Manchester Strike_, factory life and the
problems that face the working men are set forth, the aim being to show
that work and wages depend upon the great laws of supply and demand.

Miss Martineau wrote two novels. _Deerbrook_, in 1839, was modelled on
_Our Village_. The village doctor, Mr. Hope, is the central figure. Firm
in his convictions, he loses the favour of the leading families, and
through their influence he is deprived of his practice. A fever,
however, sweeps over the place and his former enemies beg, not in vain,
for his skilful services. A double love story runs through the book.
Mrs. Rowland, a scheming woman, is the most cleverly drawn of the
characters, and was evidently suggested by some of Miss Edgeworth's
fashionable ladies.

Harriet Martineau also visited America, but some years later than Mrs.
Trollope, when the slavery agitation was at its height. As she had
written upon the evils of slavery before she left England, she was
invited to attend a meeting of the Abolitionists in Boston. She accepted
this invitation, and expressed there her abhorrence of slavery. After
this she received letters from some of the citizens of the pro-slavery
States, threatening her life if she entered their domain. This
naturally threw her entirely with the Abolition party, and she wrote
many articles to help their cause.

Miss Martineau's second novel, _The Hour and the Man_, grew out of her
sympathy and belief in the coloured race. Toussaint de L'Ouverture, the
devoted slave, soldier, liberator, and martyr, is the hero. Every scene
in which this wonderful black figures is vividly written. Many of the
minor incidents are but slightly sketched, and many of the minor
characters elude the reader's grasp. How far this book is a truthful
portrayal of the negro cannot be judged until the "race problem" is
surveyed with unprejudiced eyes. Then and not until then will its place
in literature be assigned. She gives the same characterisation of this
hero of St. Domingo as does Wendell Phillips in his wonderful speech of
which the following is the peroration:

"But fifty years hence, when Truth gets a hearing, the Muse of History
will put Phocian for the Greek, Brutus for the Roman, Hampden for
England, Fayette for France, choose Washington as the bright, consummate
flower of our earlier civilisation, then, dipping her pen in the
sunlight, will write in the clear blue, above them all, the name of the
soldier, the statesman, the martyr, TOUSSAINT L'OUVERTURE."

_The Hour and the Man_ was published in 1840, and was warmly received by
the Abolitionists. William Lloyd Garrison, after reading it, wrote the
following sonnet to the author:

  England! I grant that thou dost justly boast
  Of splendid geniuses beyond compare;
  Men great and gallant,--women good and fair,--
  Skilled in all arts, and filling every post
  Of learning, science, fame,--a mighty host!
  Poets divine, and benefactors rare,--
  Statesmen,--philosophers,--and they who dare
  Boldly to explore heaven's vast and boundless coast,
  To one alone I dedicate this rhyme,
  Whose virtues with a starry lustre glow,
  Whose heart is large, whose spirit is sublime,
  The friend of liberty, of wrong the Foe:
  Long be inscribed upon the roll of time
  The name, the worth, the works of HARRIET MARTINEAU.

Miss Martineau wrote on a variety of subjects, and generally held a view
contrary to the accepted one. She wrote upon mesmerism, positivism,
atheism, which she professed, and after each book warriors armed with
pens sprang up to assail the author. But she had many friends, even
among those who were most bitter against her doctrines. One wrote of
her, "There is the fine, honest, solid, North-country element in her."
R. Brimley Johnson in _English Prose_, edited by Craik in 1896, said of
her writings:

"Her gift to literature was for her own generation. She is the exponent
of the infant century in many branches of thought:--its eager and
sanguine philanthropy, its awakening interest in history and science,
its rigid and prosaic philosophy. But her genuine humanity and real
moral earnestness give a value to her more personal utterances, which do
not lose their charm with the lapse of time."

Harriet Martineau's name and personality will be remembered in history
after her books have been forgotten.



CHAPTER XV

The Brontës


During the middle of the nineteenth century, English fiction largely
depicted manners and customs of different classes and different parts of
England. While Dickens, Thackeray, Disraeli, and Mrs. Gaskell were
writing realistic novels, romantic fiction found noble exponents in the
Brontë sisters.

The quiet life lived by the Brontës in the vicarage on the edge of the
village of Haworth in the West Riding of Yorkshire seems prosaic to the
casual observer, but it had many weird elements of romanticism. The
purple moors stretching away behind the grey stone vicarage, the grey
sky, and the sun always half-frowning, and never sporting with nature
here as it does over the mountains in Westmoreland, make thought earnest
and deep, and suggest the mystery which surrounds human life. It is a
serious country, that of the Wharf valley; the people are a serious
people, silent and observant. The Brontës were a direct outcome of this
country and people, only in them their severity and silence were kindled
into life by a Celtic imagination.

What a group of people lived within those grey stone walls! As the vicar
and his four motherless children gathered about their simple board,
while they engaged in conversation with each other or with the curate,
what scenes would have been enacted in that quiet room if the fancies
teeming in each childish brain could have been suddenly endowed with
life! How could even a dull curate, with an undercurrent of addition and
subtraction running in his brain, based upon his meagre salary and
economical expenditures, have been insensible to the thought with which
the very atmosphere must have been surcharged? The brother, Patrick
Branwell, found his audience in the public house, and delighted it with
his wit and conversation. The sisters, after their household tasks were
done, wrote their stories and often read them to each other.

But fate had chosen her darkest hues in which to weave the warp and woof
of their lives. The wild dissipations and wilder talk of their brother
Branwell clouded the imaginations of his sisters, and in a short time
death was a constant presence in their midst. In September, 1848,
Branwell died at the age of thirty; in less than three months, Emily
died at the age of twenty-nine; and in five-months, Anne died at the
age of twenty-seven; and Charlotte, the eldest, was left alone with her
father. During the remaining six years of her life, her compensation for
her loss of companionship was her writing. Not long after the death of
her sisters, Mr. Nicholls proposed to her; was refused; proposed again
and was accepted; then came the separation caused by Mr. Brontë's
hostility to the marriage; then the marriage in the church under whose
pavement so many members of her family were buried, grim attendants of
her wedding; then the nine short months of married life; then the death
of the last of the Brontë sisters at the age of thirty-nine. Mr. Brontë
outlived her only six years, but he was the last of his family. Six
children had been born to Patrick Brontë, not one survived him. Forty
years had eliminated a family which yet lives through the imaginative
powers of the three daughters who reached years of maturity.

Of the three sisters, the least is known of Emily, and her one novel,
_Wuthering Heights_, reveals nothing of herself. Not one of the
characters thought or felt as did the quiet, retiring author. Yet so
great was her dramatic power that her brother Branwell was credited with
the book, as it was deemed impossible for a woman to have conceived the
character of Heathcliff. And yet this arch-fiend of literature was
created by the daughter of a country vicar, whose only journeys from
home had been to schools, either as pupil or governess. Charlotte Brontë
has thrown but little light upon her sister's character. She says that
she loved animals and the moors, but was cold toward people and repelled
any attempt to win her confidence. The author of _Jane Eyre_ seems
neither to have understood Emily's nature nor her genius. Yet we are
told that Emily was constantly seen with her arms around the gentle
Anne, and that they were inseparable companions. If Anne Brontë could
have lived longer, she would have thrown much light upon the character
of the author of _Wuthering Heights_. But now, as we read of her brief
life and her one novel, she seems to belong to the great dramatists
rather than to the novelists, to the poets who live apart from the world
and commune only with the people of their own creating.

_Wuthering Heights_ stands alone in the history of prose fiction. It
belongs to the wild region of romanticism, but it imitates no book, and
has never been copied. No incident, no character, no description, can be
traced to the influence of any other book, but the atmosphere is that of
the West Riding of Yorkshire.

Charlotte Brontë thus speaks of it in a letter to a friend:

"_Wuthering Heights_ was hewn in a wild workshop, with simple tools, out
of homely materials. The statuary found a granite block on a solitary
moor; gazing thereon, he saw how from the crag might be elicited a head,
savage, swart, sinister: a form moulded with at least one element of
grandeur--power. He wrought with a rude chisel, and from no model but
the vision of his meditations. With time and labour, the crag took human
shape, and there it stands, colossal, dark and frowning, half statue,
half rock, in the former sense, terrible and goblin-like; in the latter,
almost beautiful, for its colouring is of mellow grey, and moorland moss
clothes it, and heath, with its blooming bells and balmy fragrance,
grows faithfully close to the giant's foot."

All of this is true, but it gives only the general outlines, nothing of
the inner meaning.

In all literature, there is not so repulsive a villain as Heathcliff,
the offspring of the gipsies. Insensible to kindness, but resentful of
wrong; hard, scheming, indomitable in resolution; quick to put off the
avenging of an injury until he can make his revenge serve his purpose;
the personification of strength and power; he is yet capable of a love
stronger than his hate. Heathcliff is so repulsive that he does not
attract, and drawn with such skill that, as has been said, he has not
been imitated.

But the strong, dark picture of Heathcliff makes us forget that
Catharine is the centre of the story. The night that Mr. Lockwood spends
at Wuthering Heights he reads her books, and her spirit appears to him
crying for entrance at the window, and complaining that she has wandered
on the moors for twenty years. While living, she represents a human soul
balanced between heaven and hell, loved by both the powers of darkness
and of light. But in her earliest years, she had loved Heathcliff; their
thoughts, their affections were intertwined, and they were welded, as it
were, into one soul, not at first by love, but by their common hatred of
Hindley Earnshaw. When Catharine meets Edgar Linton, her finer nature
asserts itself. She loves him as a being from another world; he gives
her the first glimpse of real goodness, kindness, and gentleness. She
catches through him a gleam of Paradise. But she knows how transient
this is, and says to her old nurse, Nelly Dean:

"I've no more business to marry Edgar Linton than I have to be in
heaven; and if the wicked man in there had not brought Heathcliff so
low, I shouldn't have thought of it. It would degrade me to marry
Heathcliff now; and that, not because he's handsome, no, Nelly, but
because he's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his
and mine are the same, and Linton's is as different as a moonbeam from
lightning, or frost from fire."

But Catharine is married to Edgar, and for three years her better nature
triumphs. Heathcliff is away; Edgar Linton loves her truly, and their
home is happy. Catharine alone knows that that house is not her true
place of abode. She alone knows that Edgar has not touched her inner
nature. She knows that her real self, the self that must abide through
the centuries, is indissolubly linked with another's. And when
Heathcliff returns, the intensity of her joy, her almost unearthly
delight, she neither can nor attempts to conceal. Not once is she
deceived as to his true nature. She knows the depth of his depravity,
and thus warns the girl who has fallen in love with him:

"He's not a rough diamond--a pearl-containing oyster of a rustic;--he's
a fierce, pitiless, wolfish man. I never say to him, let this or that
enemy alone, because it would be ungenerous or cruel to harm them,--I
say, let them alone, because I should hate them to be wronged: and he'd
crush you, like a sparrow's egg, Isabella, if he found you a troublesome
charge."

But Catharine's nature is akin to his, and it is with almost brutal
delight that she helps forward this marriage, when she finds the girl
does not trust her word.

Then comes the strife between Edgar and Heathcliff for the soul, so it
seems, of Catharine. There is no jealousy on Edgar's part. The book
never stoops to anything so earthly. Edgar loathes Heathcliff and cannot
understand Catharine's affection for her early playmate. Although she
never for a moment hesitates in her allegiance to Heathcliff, it is this
strife that causes her death. The strife between good and evil wears her
out.

Even after her death, her soul cannot leave this earth. It is still
joined to Heathcliff's. It resembles here the story of Paola and
Francesca. Catharine is waiting for him and his only delight is in her
haunting presence. Heathcliff cannot be accused of keeping Catharine
from Paradise. In life she would not let him from her presence, and she
clings to him now. It is the story of _Undine_ reversed. Undine gained a
soul through a mortal's love. And we feel toward the close that
Catharine, selfish and passionate as she was, is yet Heathcliff's better
spirit. Catharine while living had prevented Heathcliff from killing her
brother. Although he loved Catharine better than himself, and would have
made any sacrifice at her request, he feels no more tenderness for her
offspring than for his own. But the spirit of Catharine lived in her
child and nephew, and when they looked at him with her eyes, he had no
pleasure in his revenge upon the son of Hindley nor on the daughter of
Edgar Linton.

In the tenderness that once or twice comes over Heathcliff as he looks
at Hareton Earnshaw, there is a ray of promise that he may be redeemed.
And in the final outcome of the story, one can but hope that Catharine's
restless spirit, as it watches and waits for Heathcliff, is striving to
bring some blessing upon her house. The awakening of a better nature in
Hareton, through his love for Catharine's daughter, is a pretty, tender
idyl. The book is like a Greek tragedy in this, that at the close the
atmosphere has been purged; the sun once more shines through the windows
of Wuthering Heights; hatred is dead, and love reigns supreme.

_Wuthering Heights_ is a novel not of externals, not of character, but
of something deeper, more vital. The love of Catharine and Heathcliff
has no physical basis; it is the union of souls evil, but not material.
It is the sex of spirit, not of body, that adds its might to the
resistless force that unites these two. Notwithstanding the external
pictures are so distinct that a painter could transfer them to his
canvas, the book is a soul-tragedy.

_Wuthering Heights_ cannot be classed among the so-called popular
novels. It has appealed to the poets rather than to the readers of
fiction. It has received the warmest praise from the poet Swinburne. In
_The Athenæum_ of June 16, 1883, he thus eulogises it:

"Now in _Wuthering Heights_ this one thing needful ['logical and moral
certitude'] is as perfectly and triumphantly attained as in _King Lear_
or _The Duchess of Malfi_, in _The Bride of Lammermoor_ or _Notre-Dame
de Paris_. From the first we breathe the fresh dark air of tragic
passion and presage; and to the last the changing wind and flying
sunlight are in keeping with the stormy promise of the dawn. There is no
monotony, there is no repetition, but there is no discord. This is the
first and last necessity, the foundation of all labour and the crown of
all success, for a poem worthy of the name; and this it is that
distinguishes the hand of Emily from the hand of Charlotte Brontë. All
the works of the elder sister are rich in poetic spirit, poetic feeling,
and poetic detail; but the younger sister's work is essentially and
definitely a poem in the fullest and most positive sense of the term."

At the close of this essay he writes:

"It may be true that not many will ever take it to their hearts; it is
certain that those who do like it will like nothing very much better in
the whole world of poetry or prose."

All that we know of Emily Brontë's nature is consistent, such as we
would expect of the author of _Wuthering Heights_. The first stanza of
her last poem, written but a short time before her death, reveals her
strength of will and faith:

  No coward soul is mine,
    No trembler in the world's storm-troubled sphere:
  I see Heaven's glories shine,
    And faith shines equal, arming me from fear.

These lines evoked the following tribute from Matthew Arnold:

                                  ----she
  (How shall I sing her?) whose soul
  Knew no fellow for might,
  Passion, vehemence, grief,
  Daring, since Byron died,
  That world-famed son of fire--she, who sank
  Baffled, unknown, self-consumed;
  Whose too bold dying song
  Stirr'd, like a clarion-blast, my soul.

The great books of prose fiction have been for the most part the work of
mature years. The lyric poets burst into rhapsody at the dawn of life;
but the powers of the novelist have ripened more slowly. The novelists
have done better work after thirty-five than at an earlier age but few
of them have written a classic at the age of twenty-eight, as did Emily
Brontë.

       *       *       *       *       *

Anne Brontë's fame has been both augmented and dimmed by the greater
genius of her two sisters. She is remembered principally as one of the
Brontës, so that her books have been oftener reprinted and more
extensively read than their actual merit would warrant. In comparison
with the greater genius of Charlotte and Emily, her writings have been
declared void of interest, and without any ray of the brilliancy which
distinguishes their books. This latter statement is not true. Anne
Brontë did not have their imaginative power, but she reproduced what she
had seen and learned of life with conscientious devotion to truth.
_Wuthering Heights_ and _Agnes Grey_, Anne Brontë's first book, were
published together in three volumes so as to meet the popular demand
that novels, like the graces, should appear in threes. It is a
photographic representation of the life of a governess in England during
the forties. Agnes's courage in determining to augment the family income
by seeking a position as governess; the high hopes with which she enters
upon her first position; her conscientious resolve to do her full
Christian duty to the spoiled children of the Bloomfields; her dismissal
and sad return home; her second position in the family of Mr. Murray, a
country squire; the two daughters, one determined to make a fine match
for herself, the other a perfect hoyden without a thought beyond the
horses and dogs; the disregard of the truth in both; Mr. Hatfield, the
minister, who cared only for the county families among his
parishioners; Miss Murray's marriage for position and the unhappiness
that followed it--form a series of photographs, which only a sensitive,
responsive nature could have produced. The contrast between the gentle,
refined governess, and the coarse natures upon whom she is dependent, is
well shown, although there is no attempt on the part of the author to
assert any superiority of one over the other. We have many books in
which the shrinking governess is described from the point of view of the
family or one of their guests, but here the governess of an English
fox-hunting squire has spoken for herself; she has described her trials
and the constant self-sacrifice which is demanded of her without
bitterness, and in a kindly spirit withal, and for that reason the book
is a valuable addition to the history of the life and manners of the
century.

_The Tenant of Wildfell Hall_, her second novel, was a peculiar book to
have shaped itself in the brain of the gentle youngest daughter of the
Vicar of Haworth. But Anne Brontë had seen phases of life which must
have sorely wounded her pure spirit. She had been governess at Thorp
Green, where her brother Branwell was tutor, and where he formed that
unfortunate attachment for the wife of his employer, which, with the
help of liquor and opium, deranged his mind. Anne wrote in her diary at
this time, "I have had some very unpleasant and undreamt-of experience
of human nature." As we picture Anne Brontë, with her light brown hair,
violet-blue eyes, shaded by pencilled eyebrows, and transparent
complexion, she seems a spirit of goodness and purity made to behold
daily a depth of evil in the nature of one dear to her, which fills her
with wonderment and horror.

Mr. Huntingdon of Wildfell Hall was drawn from personal observation of
her brother. She wrote with minuteness, because she believed it her duty
to hold up his life as a warning to others. The gradual change in Mr.
Huntingdon from the happy confident lover to the ruined debauchee is
well traced; the story of his infatuation for the wife of his friend, so
reckless that he attempted no concealment, is realistic in the extreme.
But what a change in the novel! A hundred years before, Huntingdon would
have made a fine hero of romance, but here he is disgraced to the
position of chief villain, and the reader feels for him only pity and
loathing. Probably a man's pen would have touched his errors more
lightly, but Anne Brontë painted him as he appeared to her. The author
attributes such a character as Huntingdon's to false education, and
makes her heroine say:

"As for my son--if I thought he would grow up to be what you call a man
of the world,--one that has 'seen life,' and glories in his experience,
even though he should so far profit by it as to sober down, at length,
into a useful and respected member of society--I would rather that he
died to-morrow--rather a thousand times."

Notwithstanding its defects--and it is full of them judged from the
stand-point of art--_Wildfell Hall_ is a book of promise. In the
descriptions of the Hall, the mystery that surrounds its mistress, the
rumours of her unknown lover, the heathclad hills and the desolate
fields, there are romantic elements that remind one of _Wuthering
Heights_. The book is more faulty than _Agnes Grey_, but the writer had
a deeper vision of life with its weaknesses and its depths of human
passion. If years had mellowed that "undreamt-of experience" of Thorp
Green, Anne Brontë with her truthful observation and sympathetic insight
into character might have written a classic. The material out of which
_Wildfell Hall_ was wrought, under a more mature mind, with a better
grasp of the whole and a better regard for proportion, would have made a
novel worthy of a place beside _Jane Eyre_.

       *       *       *       *       *

That English fiction has produced sweeter and more varied fruit by being
grafted with the novels of women no one who gives the matter a serious
thought can for a moment doubt. One distinctive phase of woman's mind
made its way but slowly in the English novel. Women are by nature
introspective. They read character and are quick to grasp the motives
and passions that underlie action. The French women have again and again
embodied this view of human nature in their novels, which are
essentially of the inner life. _The Princess of Clèves_ by Madame de
Lafayette, written in 1678, is the first book in which all the conflicts
are those of the emotions; here the great triumph is that which a woman
wins over her own heart. Madame de Tencin in _Mémoires du Comte de
Comminges_ represents her hero and heroine under the influence of two
great passions, religion and love. Madame de Souza, Madame Cottin,
Madame de Genlis, Madame de Staël, and George Sand wrote novels of the
inner life. The Princess of Clèves with noble dignity controls her
emotion and at last conquers it. The pages of George Sand thrill with
unbridled passion.

The English women, however, are more repressed by nature than the
French, and the English novel of the inner life advanced but slowly. The
emotions of the long-forgotten Sidney Biddulph are minutely told. _A
Simple Story_ by Mrs. Inchbald is a psychological novel. Amelia Opie,
Mary Brunton, and Mrs. Shelley wrote novels of the inner life.

But _Jane Eyre_ is the first English novel which in sustained intensity
of emotion can compare with the novels of Madame de Staël or George
Sand. The style partakes of the high-wrought character of the heroine,
and the reader is whirled along in the vortex of feeling until he too
partakes of every varied mood of the characters, and closes the book
fevered and exhausted. It is one of the ironies of fate that Charlotte
Brontë with her strong pro-Anglican prejudices should belong to the
school of these French women. But there is the same difference between
their writings that there is between the French temperament and the
English. Even in the wildest moments of Jane Eyre her passion is rather
like the river Wharf when it has overflowed its banks; while theirs is
like the mountain torrent that bears all down before it.

Much of the passion that Charlotte Brontë describes is pure imagination.
She wrote freely to her friends about herself and the people whom she
knew. The three rejected suitors caused her only a little amusement. Her
love for Mr. Nicholls, whom she afterwards married, was little warmer
than respect. We could as easily weave a romance out of Jane Austen's
remark that the poet Crabbe was a man whom she could marry as to make a
love story out of Charlotte's relations to Monseiur Héger, who figures
as the hero in three of her books. Here she is greater than the French
women writers: they knew by experience what they wrote; she by innate
genius.

Perhaps no novelist ever had more meagre materials out of which to make
four novels than had Charlotte Brontë: her sisters, Monsieur and Madame
Héger, the curates, and herself; a small village in Yorkshire, two
boarding schools, two positions as governess, and a short time spent in
a school in Brussels. Compare this range with the material that Scott,
Dickens, or Thackeray had--then judge how much of the elixir of genius
was given to each.

The early pages of _Jane Eyre_, the first novel which Charlotte Brontë
published, describe Lowood Institution, a place modelled upon Cowan's
Bridge School. The two teachers, the kind Miss Temple and the cruel Miss
Scatcherd, were drawn from two instructors there at the time the Brontës
attended it. Helen Burns, so untidy but so meek in spirit, was Maria
Brontë, the eldest sister, who died at the age of eleven, probably as a
result of the poor food and harsh treatment of the school. With what
calm she replies to Jane, when she would sympathise with her for an
unjust punishment:

"I am, as Miss Scatcherd said, slatternly; I seldom put, and never keep,
things in order; I am careless; I forget rules; I read when I should
learn my lessons; I have no method; and sometimes I say, like you, I
cannot bear to be subjected to systematic arrangements. This is all very
provoking to Miss Scatcherd, who is naturally neat, punctual, and
particular."

Helen Burns, with her calm submission, and Jane Eyre, with her
rebellious spirit, are finely contrasted. Jane's passionate resentment
of the punishments which Miss Scatcherd inflicted on Helen was genuine.
Charlotte was nine years old when she left Cowan's Bridge School, but
her suppressed anger at the punishments which her sister Maria had
received there flashed out years afterwards in _Jane Eyre_.

Charlotte Brontë was writing _Jane Eyre_ at the same time that Emily and
Anne were writing _Wuthering Heights_ and _Agnes Grey_. As they read
from their manuscripts, Charlotte objected to beauty as a requisite of a
heroine, and said, "I will show you a heroine as plain and as small as
myself, who shall be as interesting as any of yours." So arose the
conception of Jane Eyre. If the slight, shy, Yorkshire governess,
without beauty or charm of manner, had appeared before the imagination
of any novelist either male or female, at that time, and asked to be
admitted into the house of fiction, she would have been refused entrance
as cruelly as Hannah shut the door in the face of Jane Eyre, when she
came to her dripping with the rain, cold and weak from two nights'
exposure on the moor, and asking for charity. But Charlotte Brontë,
with a woman's sympathetic eye made doubly penetrating and loving by
genius, chose this outcast from romance as a heroine, a woman without
beauty or charm, and boldly proclaimed that moral beauty was superior to
physical beauty, and that the attraction of one soul for another lay
quite beyond the pale of external form.

Jane Eyre is not, however, Charlotte Brontë, as has been so often
asserted. She would not have gone back to comfort Mr. Rochester, after
she had once left the Hall. One suspects that he was drawn from reading,
since the author hardly trusted her knowledge of worldly men to draw a
fitting lover for Jane. Mr. Rochester is very much the same type of man
as Mr. B., whom Pamela married, and the independent Jane addresses him
as "My Master," an expression constantly on the lips of Pamela. Yet
Rochester leaves a permanent impression on the mind, for he represents a
strong man at war with destiny. He conceals his marriage because of his
determination to conquer fate. It is pointed out by critics to-day that
he is quite an impossible character, that he is, in fact, a woman's
hero. It is well to remember, however, that the author of _Jane Eyre_
was believed at first to have been a man, as it was thought impossible
for a man like Rochester to have been conceived in a woman's brain, and
not until Mrs. Gaskell's life of the Brontës was published was
Charlotte's character as a modest woman established. But men have
repudiated Mr. Rochester, and so we must accept their judgment.

The heroine of her next novel, _Shirley_, was suggested by Emily Brontë.
Only Shirley was not Emily. Shirley could not have conceived even the
dim outlines of _Wuthering Heights_, but she had many of the strong
qualities of Emily, and these, mingled with the softer stuff of her own
nature, make her contradictory but charming, and Louis Moore, an
agreeable tutor whom Emily Brontë would have quite despised, naturally
falls in love with his wayward pupil, as they pore over books in the
school-room. Shirley is contrasted with Caroline Helstone, of whom Mrs.
Humphry Ward says: "For delicacy, poetry, divination, charm, Caroline
stands supreme among the women of Miss Brontë's gallery." Even if other
admirers of Miss Brontë deny her this eminence, she certainly possesses
all the qualities, rare among heroines, which Mrs. Ward has attributed
to her.

In many of the conversations between Shirley and Caroline, there are
reminders of what passed between the Brontë sisters in their own home.
The relative excellence of men and women novelists always interested
them. Shirley evidently expressed Charlotte's own views in the
following words:

"If men could see us as we really are, they would be a little amazed;
but the cleverest, the acutest men are often under an illusion about
women. They do not read them in a true light; they misapprehend them,
both for good and evil: their good woman is a queer thing, half doll,
half angel; their bad woman almost always a fiend. Then to hear them
fall into ecstasies with each other's creations, worshipping the heroine
of such a poem--novel--drama, thinking it fine,--divine! Fine and divine
it may be, but often quite artificial--false as the rose in my best
bonnet there. If I spoke all I think on this point, if I gave my real
opinion of some first-rate female characters in first-rate works, where
should I be? Dead under a cairn of avenging stones in half-an-hour."

"After all," says Caroline, "authors' heroines are almost as good as
authoresses' heroes."

"Not at all," Shirley replies. "Women read men more truly than men read
women. I'll prove that in a magazine article some day when I've time;
only it will never be inserted; it will be 'declined with thanks,' and
left for me at the publisher's."

The greater part of the men in _Shirley_ were drawn from life, and are
as true to their sex as were the heroines of Dickens, Thackeray, or
Disraeli, who were then writing. As for the curates, they are perfect.
No man's hand could have executed their portraits so skilfully. They
have no more real use in the story than they seem to have had in their
respective parishes. But this daughter of a country vicar, who knew
nothing of the London cockney, who was then enlivening the books of
Dickens, seized upon the funniest people she knew, the curates, and they
have been immortalised.

There is often in Charlotte Brontë's novels a separation of plot and
character, as if they formed themselves independently in her mind. This
is especially true of _Shirley_. At that time the attention of England
was directed toward the manufacturing towns of Lancashire and Yorkshire.
Mrs. Trollope and Harriet Martineau had written upon conditions of life
there. In _Sybil_ Disraeli considered broadly the underlying causes of
the misery of the operatives. Mrs. Gaskell wrote _Mary Barton_, a story
of Manchester life, the same year that Charlotte Brontë was writing
_Shirley_. The plot of the last named is laid in the early years of the
nineteenth century, and turns upon the opposition of the workmen to the
introduction of machinery. But the plot and characters are constantly
getting in each other's way and tripping each other up. Though the book
is full of defects, one cannot judge it harshly. When she began the
funny description of the curates' tea-drinking, her brother and sisters
were with her. Before it was finished, she and her father were left
alone. But at this time the public demanded melodrama. Fires, drownings,
and death-beds were popular methods of untying hard knots and of playing
upon the emotions of the reader. She, like Mrs. Gaskell, constantly
resorts to outside circumstances to help put things to rights when they
are drifting in the wrong direction, circumstances which Jane Austen
would not have admitted in a book of hers.

Before Charlotte Brontë wrote _Jane Eyre_ or _Shirley_, she had finished
_The Professor_, and offered it to different publishers, but it was
rejected by all. Finally she herself lost faith in it, and transformed
it into the beautiful story of _Villette_, where the school of Madame
and Monseiur Héger in Brussels is made immortal. In the plot of
_Villette_, as in the plot of _Jane Eyre_ and of _Shirley_, many
extraneous events happen which are either unexpected or unnecessary.
Like _Jane Eyre_, _Villette_ is steeped in the romantic spirit, but the
hard light of reason again dispels the illusion. In the management of
the supernatural Charlotte is far inferior to Emily. The explanation of
the nun in _Villette_ is even childish. It is the mistake made by Mrs.
Radcliffe, by nearly all writers of the age of reason. They give a ray,
as it were, a whisper from the mysterious world which surrounds that
which is manifest to our everyday senses. Be it the fourth dimension, or
what not, we catch for a moment a message from this other world, which,
even indistinct, still tells us that this visible world is not all, that
there is something beyond. Then, with hard common-sense, they deny their
own message, and, so doing, deny to us the world of mystery, and leave
us only the material world in which to believe. Not so Emily Brontë. Not
so Scott or Shakespeare. We may believe in Hamlet's ghost or not; we may
believe or not in the White Lady of Avenel; we may believe or not that
Catharine's soul hovered near Heathcliff. But we are still left with a
belief in the life after death, and still believe in something beyond
experience, and still grope to find those things in heaven and earth of
which philosophy does not dream.

But the characters, not the plot, remain in the mind, after reading
_Villette_. Madame Beck, whose prototype was Madame Héger, is as clever
as Cardinal Wolsey or Cardinal Richelieu; but she uses all her
diplomatic skill in the management of a lady's school, which, under her
ever watchful eye, with the aid of duplicate keys to the trunks and
drawers of the teachers and pupils, runs without friction of any kind.
Lucy Snowe, the English teacher in _Villette_, is far more pleasing than
Jane Eyre; she is not so passionate, but her view of life is deeper and
broader, and consequently kinder. And there is Paul Emanuel. Who would
have believed the rejected professor would have grown into that scholar
of middle age? He is so distinctly the foreigner in showing every
emotion under which he is labouring. How pathetic and how lovable he is
on the day of his fête when he thinks that the English governess has
forgotten him, and has not brought even a flower to make the day happier
for him! So fretful in little things, so heroic in large things, with so
many faults which every pupil can see, but with so many virtues, frank
even about his little deceptions, he is a lovable man. But many of Miss
Brontë's readers do not find Paul Emanuel as delightful as Paulina, the
womanly little girl who grows into the childlike woman. She is as
sensitive as the mimosa plant to the people about her. Every event of
her childhood, all the people she cared for then, remained indelibly
imprinted on her mind, so that, with her, friendship and love are strong
and abiding.

Notwithstanding their many defects, Charlotte Brontë's novels have left
a permanent impression upon English fiction and have won an acknowledged
place among English classics. She first made a minute analysis of the
varying emotions of men and women, and noted the strange, unaccountable
attractions and repulsions which everybody has experienced. Paulina, a
girl of six, is happy at the feet of Graham, a boy of sixteen, although
he is unconscious of her presence. And so instance after instance can be
given of affinities and antipathies which lie beyond human reason. She,
like her sister Emily, though with less clear vision, was searching for
the hidden sources of human feeling and human action.

Charlotte Brontë wrote to a friend:

"I always through my whole life liked to penetrate to the real truth; I
like seeking the goddess in her temple, and handling the veil, and
daring the dread glance."

Her truthfulness in painting emotion, which to her own generation seemed
most daring, even coarse, has given an abiding quality to her work. And
besides she created Paulina and Paul Emanuel.



CHAPTER XVI

Mrs. Gaskell


Ever since Eve gave Adam of the forbidden fruit, "and he did eat," the
relative position of the sexes has rankled in the heart of man. The sons
of Adam proclaim loudly that they were given dominion over the earth and
all that the earth contained; but they have been ever ready to follow
blindly the beckoning finger of some fair daughter of Eve. Perhaps it is
a consciousness of this domination of the weaker sex that has led man to
proclaim in such loud tones his mastery over woman, having some doubts
of its being recognised by her unless asserted in bold language. At a
time when the novels of women received as warm a welcome from the public
and as large checks from the publishers as those of men, a writer whose
sex need not be given thus discussed their relative merits:

"What is woman, regarded as a literary worker? Simply an inferior
animal, educated as an inferior animal. And what is man? He is a
superior being, educated by a superior being. So how can they ever be
equal in that particular line?"

Granted the premises, there can be but one conclusion.

The perfect assurance with which men have asserted their own sufficiency
in all lines of art would be amusing if it had not been so disastrous in
distorting and warping at least three of them: music, the drama, and
prose fiction. As slow as the growth of spirituality, has been the
recognition of woman's mental and moral power. It seems almost
incredible that not many years ago only male voices were heard in places
of amusement. Deep, rich, full, and sonorous, no one disputes the beauty
of the male chorus; but modern opera would be impossible without the
soprano and alto voices, and Madame Patti, Madame Sembrich, and Madame
Lehman have proved that in natural gifts and in the technique of art
women are not inferior to their brethren.

By the same slow process women have won recognition on the stage. Even
in Shakespeare's time men saw no reason why women should acquire the
histrionic art. Imagine Juliet played by a boy! Yet Essex, Leicester,
Southampton, in the boxes, the groundlings in the pit, and Ben Jonson
sitting as critic of all, were well satisfied with it, for they were
used to it, just as men have accepted the heroines of their own novels,
though every woman they meet is a refutation of their truth. It only
needed a woman in a woman's part to open the eyes of the audience to all
they had missed before. Not until the Restoration, did any woman appear
on the English stage. The following lines given in the prologue written
for the revival of _Othello_, in which the part of Desdemona was acted
for the first time by a woman, show how quick critics were to see the
folly of the old custom:

  For to speak truth, men act, that are between
  Forty and fifty, wenches of fifteen,
  With bone so large, and nerve so uncompliant,
  When you call Desdemona, enter Giant.

As we cannot conceive of the English stage without such women as Mrs.
Siddons, Charlotte Cushman, and Ellen Terry, so we cannot conceive of
the English novel without such writers as Maria Edgeworth, Jane Austen,
Mary Mitford, the Brontës, Elizabeth Gaskell, and George Eliot, each one
of whom carried some phase of the novel to so high a point that she has
stood pre-eminent in her own particular line. Too often we confuse art
with its subject-matter. If it requires as much skill to give interest
to the everyday occurrences of the home as to the thrilling adventures
abroad; to depict the life of women as the life of men; to reveal the
joys and sorrows of a woman's heart as the exultations and griefs of
man's; then these women deserve a place equal to that held by
Richardson, Fielding, Scott, Dickens, and Thackeray. Their art, as their
subject-matter, is different. With the exception of George Eliot, they
have not virility with its strength and power, but they have femininity,
no less strong and powerful, a quality possessed by Scott, but by no
other of these masculine writers, with the possible exception of
Dickens, and in him it is a femininity, which tends to run to
sentimentalism, a different characteristic.

       *       *       *       *       *

Elizabeth Gaskell, one of the most feminine of writers, is so well known
as the author of _Cranford_, that delightful village whose only
gentleman dies early in the story, that many of its readers do not know
that its author was better known by her contemporaries through her
humanitarian novels; in which she discussed the great problems that face
the poor.

Mrs. Gaskell, whose maiden name was Stevenson, was born in Chelsea in
1810. She spent the greater part of her childhood and girlhood at the
home of her mother's family, Knutsford in Cheshire, the place she
afterward made famous under the name of Cranford. In 1832, she married
the Reverend William Gaskell, minister of the Unitarian chapel in
Manchester, and that city became her home. She took an active interest
in all the affairs of the city, and constantly visited the poor. Her
husband's father, besides being the professor of English History and
Literature in Manchester New College, a Unitarian institution, was a
manufacturer; thus Mrs. Gaskell had the opportunity of hearing both
sides of the controversy which was then waging between labour and
capital.

In the early forties, there was much suffering among the "mill-hands";
many were dying of starvation, and consequently there were many strikes
and uprisings. These conditions led to her writing her first novel,
_Mary Barton_. The book was written during the years 1845-1847, although
it was not published until 1848. The nucleus of it, Mrs. Gaskell wrote
to a friend, was John Barton. Since she herself was constantly wondering
at the inequalities of fortune, which permitted some to starve, while
others had abundance, how must it affect an ignorant man, himself on the
verge of starvation, and filled with pity for the sufferings of his
friends? Driven almost insane by the condition of society, and hoping to
remedy it, he commits a crime, which preys so upon his conscience that
it finally wears out his own life.

Mrs. Gaskell in this, her first novel, has left an undying picture of
that section of smoky Manchester where the mill-workers live: its
narrow lanes; small but not uncomfortable cottages, well supplied with
furniture in days when work was plentiful, but destitute even of a fire
when it was scarce; the undersized men and women, with irregular
features, pale blue eyes, sallow complexions, but with an intelligence
rendered quick and sharp by their life among the machinery, and by their
hard struggle for existence. The life of the poor had often furnished a
theme for the poets, but it was the life of shepherds and milkmaids,
above whom the blue sky arched, and whose labours were brightened by the
songs of the birds, and the colours and sweet odours of fruit and
flowers. But Mrs. Gaskell described the life of the poor in a town where
factory smoke obscured the light of the sun, and where the weariness of
labour was rendered more intense by the clanging factory bell, and the
constant whirr of machinery ringing in their ears. It is a gloomy
picture, but no gloomier than the reality.

Disraeli in _Sybil_ discussed the questions of labour and capital in
their relations to the history of England, with a broad intellectual
grasp of the sociological causes which produced these conditions. He
wrote in the interests of two classes, the Crown and the People, with
the hope that England might again have a free monarchy and a prosperous
people. It is a well illustrated treatise on government, but the
principles advocated or discussed always overshadow the characters. He
had no such intimate knowledge of the lives of the poor as had Mrs.
Gaskell. She conducts us to the homes of John Barton, George Wilson, and
Job Legh, shows the simplicity of their lives, and their sense of the
injustice under which they are suffering, and their helpfulness to each
other in times of need.

How simple and true is the friendship that binds Mary Barton, the
dressmaker's apprentice; Margaret, the blind singer; and Alice Wilson,
the aged laundress, whose mind is constantly dwelling on the green
fields and running brooks of her childhood's home. These women possess
the strength of character of the early Teutonic women. They are
reticent, not given to the exchange of confidences, but ready to help a
friend with all they have in the hour of need. When Margaret thinks that
the Bartons are in want of money, she says to Mary, "Remember, if you're
sore pressed for money, we shall take it very unkind if you do not let
us know." But she does not question her. Later when her great trouble
comes to Mary Barton, which she must bear alone, when she must free a
lover from the charge of murder without incriminating her father, she
shows presence of mind, clearness of vision, and both moral and physical
courage.

Jem Wilson, the hero of the story, is as strong as Mary Barton, the
heroine. Although Dickens was writing of the poor, he always found some
means to educate his heroes, and generally placed them among gentlemen.
Jem Wilson's education was received in the factory, and the little rise
he made above his fellows was due to his better understanding of
machinery. He was a working man, proud of his skill, and of his good
name for honesty and sobriety.

The plot of _Mary Barton_ is highly melodramatic, and its technique is
open to criticism. It should not be read, however, for the story, but
for the many home scenes in which we come into close sympathy with the
men and women of Manchester. There is no novel in which we feel more
strongly the heart-beats of humanity. It leaves the impression, not of
art, but of life.

Mrs. Gaskell turned again to the struggles between labour and capital
for the plot of her novel _North and South_. Between this story and
_Mary Barton_ she had written _Cranford_ and _Ruth_, but her mind seemed
to revert, as it were, from the peaceful village life to the stirring
mill-towns of Lancashire. The great contrast between life in the
counties of England presided over by the landed gentry, and that in the
counties where the manufacturers formed the aristocracy, suggested this
book. It was published in 1855, seven years after _Mary Barton_. The
plot of _North and South_ is better proportioned than is that of _Mary
Barton_. There are fewer characters, better contrasted. It is a brighter
picture, with more humour, but it does not leave so strong an impression
on the mind as does the earlier work. Both, however, are more accurate
than _Hard Times_, a book with which Dickens himself was highly
dissatisfied. He knew little of the life in the manufacturing districts,
but, in a spirit of indignation at the poverty brought on by grasping
manufacturers, he caricatured the entire class in the persons of Mr.
Gradgrind and Mr. Bounderby. When these men are compared with the
manufacturers as represented in _North and South_, Mrs. Gaskell's more
intimate knowledge of them is at once apparent.

Mrs. Gaskell had been accused of taking sides with the working men, and
representing their point of view in _Mary Barton_. In _North and South_,
the hero, Mr. Thornton, is a rich manufacturer, a fine type of the
self-made man, but standing squarely on his right to do what he pleases
in his own factory. "He looks like a person who would enjoy battling
with every adverse thing he could meet with--enemies, winds, or
circumstances," was Margaret Hale's comment when she first met him.
"He's worth fighting wi', is John Thornton," said one of the leaders of
the strike. For although the condition of affairs in the mill-towns had
much improved since John Barton went to London as a delegate from his
starving townsmen, and was refused a hearing by Parliament, a large part
of the book is concerned with the story of a strike, which in its
outcome brought starvation to many of the men, and bankruptcy to some of
the masters, the acknowledged victors.

Higgins, one of the leaders of the working men, is a true Lancashire
man, and like Thornton, the leader of the masters, has many traits of
character as truly American as English. His sturdy independence is well
shown in Margaret's first interview with him. The daughter of a vicar in
the south of England, she had been accustomed to call upon the poor in
her father's parish. Learning that Higgins's daughter, Bessy, is ill she
expresses her desire to call upon her. "I'm none so fond of having
stranger folk in my house," Higgins informs her, but he finally relents
and says, "Yo may come if yo like."

But besides the conflict between the manufacturers and their employees,
with which much of the book is concerned, there is the sharp contrast
between the Hales, born and bred in the south of England, and the
mill-owners in whose society they are placed. Mr. Hale, indecisive,
inactive, in whom thought is more powerful than reality, is as helpless
as a child among these men of action, and utterly unable to cope with
the problems they are facing. Margaret, the refined daughter of a poor
clergyman, is contrasted with the proud Mrs. Thornton, the mother of a
wealthy manufacturer, who would make money, not birth, the basis of
social distinctions. But Margaret is even better contrasted with the
poor factory girl, Bessy Higgins, who turns to her for help and
sympathy. There is hardly a story of Mrs. Gaskell's which is not adorned
by the friendship of the heroine for some other woman in the book.

In both these novels, she taught that the only solution of the great
problem of capital and labour was a recognition of the fact that their
interests were identical, and that friendly intercourse was the only
means of breaking down the barrier that divided them.

Mrs. Gaskell was so versatile, she touched upon so many problems of
human life, that it is almost impossible to summarise her work. _Ruth_
considers the question of the girl who has been betrayed. Ruth is as
pure as Tess of the D'Urbervilles, and like her is a victim of
circumstances. A stranger who has taken her under her protection reports
that Ruth is a widow, and Ruth passively acquiesces in the deception,
hoping that her son may never know the disgrace of his birth. But the
truth comes to light, involving in temporary disgrace Ruth and her son,
and the household of Mr. Benson, the dissenting minister whose home had
been her place of refuge. But Mrs. Gaskell is always optimistic. By her
good deeds, Ruth wins the love and honour of the entire community. This
novel was loudly assailed. It was claimed that Mrs. Gaskell had condoned
immorality, and it was considered dangerous teaching that good deeds
were an atonement for such a sin. But if _Ruth_ found detractors, it
also found warm admirers, who recognised the broader teachings of the
story. Mrs. Jameson wrote to Mrs. Gaskell:

"I hope I do understand your aim--you have lifted up your voice against
'that demoralising laxity of principle,' which I regard as the ulcer
lying round the roots of society; and you have done it wisely and well,
with a mingled courage and delicacy which excite at once my gratitude
and my admiration."

The scene of _Sylvia's Lovers_ is laid in Whitby, at a time when the
press-gang was kidnapping men for the British navy. It is a story of the
loves, jealousies, and sorrows of sailors, shopkeepers, and small
farmers, among whom Sylvia moves as the central figure. Du Maurier, who
illustrated the second edition of this novel, was so charmed with the
heroine that he named his daughter Sylvia for her. This story, like
_Ruth_, has much of the sentimentalism so fashionable in the middle of
the nineteenth century. The leading canon of criticism at that time was
the power with which a writer could move the emotions of the reader, and
the novelist was expected either to convulse his readers with laughter
or dissolve them into tears. There are many funny scenes in _Sylvia's
Lovers_, but the key-note is pathos. Like many novels of Dickens, there
are death-bed scenes introduced only for the luxury of weeping over
sorrows that are not real, and there are melodramatic situations as in
her other books. Parts of this novel suggested to Tennyson the poem of
_Enoch Arden_.

But, however powerful may be the novels dealing with the questions that
daily confront the poor, there is a perennial charm in the society of
people who dwell amid rural scenes. Mrs. Gaskell has written several
short stories of the pastoral type. Such a story is _Cousin Phillis_. It
is a beautiful idyl and reminds one of the old pastorals in which ladies
and gentlemen played at shepherds and shepherdesses. Cousin Phillis
cooks, irons, reads Dante, helps the haymakers, falls in love, and mends
a broken heart, and is brave, true, and unselfish. Her father is what
one would expect from such a daughter. He cultivates his small farm,
finds rest from his labours in reading, and neglects none of the many
duties which belong to him as the dissenting minister of a small
village.

_Cranford_ and _Wives and Daughters_ have this in common, that the scene
of both is laid in the village of Knutsford. The former is a rambling
story of events in two or three households, and of the social affairs in
which all the village is concerned. It is without doubt the favourite of
Mrs. Gaskell's novels. _Wives and Daughters_ was Mrs. Gaskell's last
story, and was left unfinished at her death. It shows a great artistic
advance over her earlier work. The plot is more natural; it has not so
many sharp contrasts, which George Eliot criticised in Mrs. Gaskell's
stories. The characters are also more subtle. Molly, the daughter of the
village doctor, is an unselfish, thoughtful girl, but with none of that
unreal goodness which Dickens sometimes gave to his heroines. When she
receives her first invitation to a child's party, and her father is
wondering whether or not she can go, her speech is characteristic of her
nature:

"Please, Papa,--I do wish to go--but I don't care about it."

Molly feels very keenly, and longs for things with all the strength of
an ardent nature, but she always subordinates herself and her wishes to
others. In the character of Cynthia, Mrs. Gaskell makes a plea for the
heartless coquette. Cynthia is beautiful, she likes to please those in
whose company she finds herself, but quickly forgets the absent. It is
not her fault that young men's hearts are brittle, for it is as natural
for her to smile, and be gay and forget, as it is for Molly to love, be
silent, and remember. So it is Cynthia who has the lovers, while Molly
is neglected. Clare, Cynthia's mother, is more selfish than her
daughter, but she has learned the art of seeming to please others while
thinking only of pleasing herself. She is as crafty as Becky Sharp, but
softer, more feline, and more subtle; a much commoner type in real life
than Thackeray's diplomatic heroine.

Mr. A. W. Ward, in the biographical introduction to the Knutsford
Edition of her novels, says of her later work:

"When Mrs. Gaskell had become conscious that if true to herself, to her
own ways of looking at men and things, to the sympathies and hopes with
which life inspired her, she had but to put pen to paper, she found what
it has been usual to call her later manner--the manner of which
_Cranford_ offered the first adequate illustration, and of which _Cousin
Phillis_ and _Wives and Daughters_ represent the consummation."

The same critic compares the later work of Mrs. Gaskell with the later
work of George Sand and finds that "in their large-heartedness" they are
similar. He also gives George Sand's tribute to her English
contemporary. "Mrs. Gaskell," she said, "has done what neither I nor
other female writers in France can accomplish: she has written novels
which excite the deepest interest in men of the world, and yet which
every girl will be the better for reading."

It is not often that a novelist finds another writer to take up and
enlarge her work as did Mrs. Gaskell. Her novels contain the germ of
much of George Eliot's earlier writings. _The Moorland Cottage_
suggested many parts of _The Mill on the Floss_. Edward and Maggie
Brown--the former important, consequential and dictatorial, the latter
self-forgetful, eager to help others, and by her very eagerness prone to
blunders--were developed by George Eliot into the characters of Tom and
Maggie Tulliver. The weak and fretful mothers in the two books are much
alike, while the love story and the catastrophe have the same general
outline.

They both drew largely from the working people of the North or of the
Midlands, and both constantly introduced Dissenters. Silas Marner
belongs to the manufacturing North, and the people of Lantern Yard are
of the same class as those of Manchester and Milton. Felix Holt and Adam
Bede belong to the same type as Jem Wilson and Mr. Thornton, while
Esther Lyon is not unlike Margaret Hale. Both often presented life from
the point of view of the poor.

Both were interested in the development of character, and in the
changes which it underwent for good or evil under the influence of
outward circumstances. But George Eliot had greater intellectual power
than Mrs. Gaskell. She had the broader view and the deeper insight. Mrs.
Gaskell could never have conceived the plots nor the characters of
_Romola_ nor _Middlemarch_. She constantly introduced extraneous matter
to shape her plots according to her will, while with George Eliot the
fate of character is as hard and unyielding as was the fate of
predestination in the sermons of the old Calvinistic divines. Mrs.
Gaskell, like Dickens, introduced death-bed scenes merely to play upon
the emotions. George Eliot was never guilty of this defect; with her,
character is a fatalism that is inexorable.

But Mrs. Gaskell had a more hopeful view of life than had George Eliot.
The Unitarians believe in man and have faith in the clemency of God.
This makes them a cheerful people. However dark the picture that Mrs.
Gaskell paints, we have faith that conditions will soon be better, and
at the close of the book we see the dawn of a brighter day. George Eliot
had taken the suggestions of Mrs. Gaskell and amplified them with many
details that the woman of lesser genius had omitted. But to each was
given her special gift. If George Eliot's characters stand out as more
distinct personalities, they are drawn with less sympathy. George
Eliot's men and women are often hard and sharp in outline; Mrs.
Gaskell's, no matter how poor or ignorant, are softened and refined.

It was this quality that made it possible for her to write that
inimitable comedy of manners, _Cranford_. Her other novels with their
deep pathos, strong passion, and dramatic situations must be read to
show the breadth of her powers, but _Cranford_ will always give its
author a unique place in literature. Imagine the material that furnished
the groundwork of this story put into the hands of any novelist from
Richardson to Henry James. It seems almost like sacrilege to think what
even Jane Austen might have said of these dear elderly ladies. As for
Thackeray, their little devices to keep up appearances would have seemed
to him instances of feminine deceit, and he might have put even Miss
Jenkyns with her admiration of Dr. Johnson into his _Book of Snobs_.
What tears Dickens would have drawn from our eyes over the love story of
Miss Matty and Mr. Holbrook. How George Eliot would have mourned over
the shallowness of their lives. Henry James would have squinted at them
and their surroundings through his eye-glass until he had discovered
every faded spot on the carpet or skilful darn in the curtain. Miss
Mitford would have appreciated these ladies and loved them as did Mrs.
Gaskell, only she would have been so interested in the flowers and
birds and clouds that she would have forgotten all about the Cranford
parties, and would probably have ignored the presence in their midst of
the Honourable Mrs. Jamieson, the sister-in-law of an earl. So we must
conclude that only Mrs. Gaskell could make immortal this village of
femininity, where to be a man was considered almost vulgar, but into
which she has introduced one of the most chivalrous gentlemen in the
person of Captain Browne, and one of the most faithful of lovers in the
person of Mr. Holbrook, while no book has a more lovable heroine than
fluttering, indecisive Miss Matty, over whose fifty odd years the
sorrows of her youth have cast their lengthening shadows.

_Mary Barton_ is a work of genius. Only a woman of high ideals could
have drawn the character of Margaret Hale, an earlier Marcella, or Molly
Gibson, or Mr. Thornton, or Mr. Holman. Only a woman of deep insight
could have created a woman like Ruth: a book which in its problem and
its deep earnestness reminds one of _Aurora Leigh_. But her readers will
always love Mrs. Gaskell for the sake of the gentle ladies of
_Cranford_.



CONCLUSION


Mrs. Gaskell died on the twelfth of November, 1865. Of the novelists who
have been considered in this book only three survived her, Mrs. Bray,
Mrs. S. C. Hall, and Harriet Martineau, but they added little to prose
fiction after that date. During the third quarter of the nineteenth
century, however, the number of books written by women continued to
increase each year. Julia Kavanagh was the author of several novels, the
first of which _The Three Paths_, was published in 1848; all her stories
were written with high moral aim and delicacy of feeling. _Uncle Tom's
Cabin_, by Harriet Beecher Stowe, published in 1850, is probably the
most powerful novel ever written to plead the cause of oppressed
humanity. Dinah Maria Muloch Craik kept up the interest in the domestic
novel; her most popular book, _John Halifax, Gentleman_, has lost none
of its charm for young women, even if it does not meet the requirements
of a classic. Mrs. Henry Wood is still remembered as the author of the
melodramatic _East Lynne_, but her best stories are the _Johnny Ludlow
Papers_, which deal with character alone; her popularity is attested by
the fact that more than a million copies of her books have been issued.
Charlotte Yonge's forgotten novels were classed among the _Church
Stories_, because they contain so much piety and devotion. Of a
different type was Miss de la Ramée, who wrote under the name of Ouidà;
she had fine gifts of word-painting, but a fondness for the questionable
in conduct. Miss Braddon, the author of _Lady Audley's Secret_, excelled
in complicated plots. Mrs. Oliphant has been a most versatile writer,
and followed almost every style of prose fiction; her domestic stories
are generally considered her best. Anne Thackeray, better known as Mrs.
Ritchie, the daughter of the great novelist, has written several novels,
all of which have a delightfully feminine touch. Miss Rhoda Broughton
has entertained the reading public by love stories which hold the
attention until the marriage takes place. But all these women fade into
insignificance beside George Eliot, whose first story, _The Sad Fortunes
of the Rev. Amos Barton_, appeared in _Blackwood's Magazine_ in 1857,
and whose last novel, _Daniel Deronda_, was published nearly twenty
years later, in 1876.

It seems strange that any reader of her books should have thought them
the product of a man's brain, as was at first believed. For,
notwithstanding her power in developing a plot, her breadth of view, and
her mental grasp, her genius is essentially feminine. She excelled in
analysis of character, in attention to details, in ethical teaching, and
in artistic truthfulness, the qualities in which women have been
pre-eminent. Only a woman's pen could have drawn such characters as
Dinah Morris, Maggie Tulliver, and Dorothea Casaubon, or could have
followed the minute and subtle influences under which the plot of
_Middlemarch_ is shaped. George Eliot has left a larger portrait gallery
of women than any other novelist. Not only has she drawn different
grades of society, but, what is perhaps a more difficult task, she has
drawn the different grades of spiritual greatness and moral littleness.
She brought the psychological novel to a degree of perfection which has
never been surpassed.

Mrs. Oliphant has thus written of George Eliot's place in literature:

"Another question which has been constantly put to this age, and which
is pushed with greater zeal every day, as to the position of women in
literature and the height which it is in their power to attain, was
solved by this remarkable woman, in a way most flattering to all who
were and are fighting the question of equality between the two halves of
mankind; for here was visibly a woman who was to be kept out by no
barriers, who sat down quietly from the beginning of her career in the
highest place, and, if she did not absolutely excel all her
contemporaries in the revelation of the human mind and the creation of
new human beings, at least was second to none in those distinguishing
characteristics of genius."

We are too near the nineteenth century to decide as to the relative
positions of its great novelists. At one time George Eliot was placed at
the head of all writers of fiction, with Dickens and Thackeray as rivals
for the second place. But she was dethroned by Thackeray, and there are
signs that the final kingship will be given to Charles Dickens, unless
Scott receives it instead.

Fashions in novels change at least every fifty years. Exciting plots and
situations, strong emotional scenes, sharp contrasts, are not demanded
by present readers, who also turn away with disgust from the saintly
heroine and the irreclaimable villain. Of the many volumes of fiction
written in the eighteenth century only two are in general circulation
to-day, _Robinson Crusoe_ and _The Vicar of Wakefield_. But all those
once popular novels, even if their very names are now forgotten, have
done their work in shaping the thought and morals of their own and
succeeding generations.



INDEX


  _Abbott, The_, 137
  _Absentee, The_, 61, 112-113, 122
  _Ada Reis_, 203
  _Adam Bede_, 84, 289, 295
  Addison, Joseph, 21, 28
  _Adeline Mowbray, or the Mother and Daughter_, 150-153
  _Adventures of an Atom_, 23
  _Afflicted Parent, The, or the Undutiful Child Punished_, 125
  _Age of Wordsworth, The_, 193
  _Agnes Grey_, 258-259, 261, 265
  Ainsworth, William Harrison, 216, 239
  Alderson, Miss, _see_ Opie, Amelia
  _Amorous Friars, or the Intrigues of a Convent_, 42
  _Amos Barton_, 294
  _Amours of Prince Tarquin and Miranda_, 18
  _Antiquary, The_, 102, 104
  _Arabian Nights_, 15, 233
  Arblay, Madame D', _see_ Burney, Frances
  _Arblay, Madame D', Essay on_, 57-58, 61, 168-169
  Arden, Enoch, 187
  Arnold, Matthew, 257
  _Artless Tales_, 139
  _Athenæum, The_, 194, 256
  _Aurora Leigh_, 292
  Austen, Jane, 39, 45, 60, 101, 157-178, 179, 180, 191, 195, 196,
          216, 263, 270, 276, 291

  Baillie, Joanna, 154, 155
  Balzac, Honoré de, 170
  _Banker's Wife, The_, 225
  Barbauld, Mrs. Anna Letitia, 121
  Barrett, Miss, _see_ Browning, Elizabeth
  _Barring Out, The_, 125
  _Bas Bleu_, 62, 63
  _Beauty Put to its Shifts, or the Young Virgin's Rambles_, 42
  Behn, Aphra, 1, 13-19
  _Belford Regis_, 193-196
  _Belinda_, 121, 177
  _Beside the Bonny Brier Bush_, 137
  _Betsy Thoughtless, Miss, The History of_, 36-39, 46, 48
  _Bithynia, An Adventure in_, 233
  _Blackwood's Magazine_, 107, 294
  Blake, William, 2
  _Blazing World, Description of a New World Called the_, 6-7
  Blessington, Lady, 232, 233
  Blind Harry the Minstrel, 143, 144
  Bonheur, Rosa, 1
  _Book of Snobs, The_, 291
  Boswell, James, 138
  Bousset, 3
  Braddon, Mary Elizabeth, 294
  Bray, Ann Eliza, 216, 225-230, 232, 293
  _Bride of Lammermoor, The_, 256
  Brontë, Anne, 249, 250, 257-261
  Brontë, Charlotte, 85, 174, 210, 249, 250, 256, 258, 261-273
  Brontë, Emily, 248, 249-257, 258, 267, 270, 271, 273
  Brontës, The, 247-273, 276
  _Brooke and Brooke Farm_, 242
  Broughton, Rhoda, 294
  Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, 81, 103, 190, 242
  Brunton, Alexander, 156
  Brunton, Mary, 41, 149, 153-156, 262
  _Bubbled Knights, or Successful Contrivances_, 42
  Bulwer, Edward, Lord Lytton, 200, 216, 223
  Burke, Edmund, 46, 54, 62
  Burney, Charles, 46
  Burney, Frances, 39, 45-61, 168, 176, 177, 181, 195
  Byron, Lord (George Gordon), 109, 200-206, 210-213, 257

  _Caleb Williams_, 73
  _Camilla, or a Picture of Youth_, 59-60, 176, 177
  _Canterbury Tales, The_, 106-110
  _Caroline Evelyn, The History of_, 47
  Carter, Elizabeth, 62
  _Castle of Otranto, The_, 88
  _Castle Rackrent_, 111-112, 117
  _Castles of Athlyn and Dunbayne_, 89
  Cavendish, Margaret, _see_ Newcastle, Duchess of
  Cavendish, William, _see_ Newcastle, Duke of
  _Cecil, or the Adventures of a Coxcomb_, 217-219
  _Cecilia, or Memoirs of an Heiress_, 54-59, 60, 61, 78, 176, 177
  _Celestina_, 80
  _Chap-Books_, 67
  Chapone, Hester, 62
  Chaucer, Geoffrey, 106
  _Cheap Repository, The_, 67-71
  _Childe Harold_, 200, 219
  Clarendon, Earl of (Edward Hyde), 10
  _Clarissa Harlowe_, 8, 26, 30, 171
  _Clelia_, 32
  _Clubman, The_, 219
  _Coelebs in Search of a Wife_, 71-72
  Coleridge, Ernest Hartley, 109
  Collier, Jeremy, 61
  Colman, George, 42, 43, 46
  _Confessions of a Pretty Woman_, 233
  Congreve, William, 217
  Cooper, James Fenimore, 16
  Corneille, 3
  _Cottagers of Glenburnie, The_, 16
  Cottin, Sophie, Madame de, 262
  _Court Gazette_, 20
  _Courtenay of Walreddon; a Romance of the West_, 227
  _Cousin Phillis_, 286-287, 288, 292
  Crabbe, George, 263
  Craik, Dinah Maria Muloch, 293
  Craik's _English Prose_, 245
  _Cranford_, 277, 281, 287, 288, 291-292
  Crewe, Catherine, 232
  _Cry of the Children, The_, 242
  Curtis, George William, 174

  _Daniel Deronda_, 294
  Dante, Alighieri, 286
  David Copperfield, 164
  _David Simple_, 26-31
  _Deerbrook_, 243
  Defoe, Daniel, 146
  _De Foix, or Sketches of the Manners and Customs of the Fourteenth
          Century_, 226
  _Desmond_, 74-77, 80
  _Destiny_, 181, 182, 183, 185, 186-187
  Diana of the Crossways, 103
  Dickens, Charles, 56, 69, 76, 77, 87, 102, 116, 164, 231, 236, 240,
          247, 264, 268, 269, 277, 281, 282, 286, 290, 291, 296
  _Discipline_, 155
  Disraeli, Benjamin, 87, 200, 216, 247, 269, 279
  Dombey and Son, 225
  _Domestic Manners of the Americans_, 235-236
  Dryden, John, 13
  _Duchess of Malfi, The_, 256
  Du Maurier, 285

  _East Lynne_, 293
  Edgeworth, Maria, 102, 111-128, 130, 131, 133, 155, 179, 180, 181,
          182, 183, 196, 197, 216, 243, 276
  Edgeworth, Richard Lovell, 115, 118, 119, 121, 124
  _Eighteenth Century, History of the_, 44
  Elia, _see_ Lamb, Charles
  Eliot, George, 84, 109, 119, 164, 174, 276, 277, 289-291, 294-296
  Emma, 161-162, 166-167, 168, 170
  _Emmeline_, 155
  _Ennui_, 113, 122
  _Enoch Arden_, 286
  _Epipsychidion_, 214
  _Essay on Irish Bulls_, see _Irish Bulls, Essay on_
  _Essay on Madame D'Arblay_, see _Arblay, Madame D', Essay on_
  _Ethelinda_, 79
  Evans, Marian, _see_ Eliot, George
  _Evelina, or a Young Lady's Entrance into the World_, 39, 46, 47-54,
          55, 59, 61, 78, 164, 176, 177
  Evelyn, John, 5
  _Evening Chronicle_, 231
  _Examiner_, 22

  _Fair Jilt, The_, 18
  _Falkland_, 200, 216
  _Falkner_, 214
  _Fantom, Mr.: or the History of the New-Fashioned Philosopher,
          and his Man William_, 68, 72
  Felix Holt, 289
  _Female Education, Strictures on the Modern System of_, 71
  _Female Quixote, The_, 32-35
  Ferrier, Susan Edmonstone, 179-188, 189, 216
  Fielding, Henry, 16, 24, 25, 26, 27, 34, 48, 101, 116, 277
  Fielding, Sarah, 23, 24, 26-31
  _Fits of Fitz-Ford_, 227
  _Flies in Amber_, 233
  _Florence Macarthy_, 129
  _Fortnightly Review_, 185
  Fox, Charles James, 40
  _Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus_, 206-207, 215
  _Fraser's Magazine_, 231
  Froissart's _Chronicles_, 226

  Gait, John, 216
  Garnett, Sir Richard, 214
  Garrick, David, 41, 46, 62
  Garrison, William Lloyd, 245
  Gaskell, Elizabeth Cleghorn, 247, 267, 269, 270, 274-293
  Genlis, Stephanie Felicite, Comtesse de, 118, 262
  _Gentleman's Magazine, The_, 101
  Gibbon, Edward, 54
  _Glenarvon_, 200-203
  Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft, _see_ Wollstonecraft, Mary
  Godwin, William, 73, 150, 179, 205, 210, 221
  Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, 174
  Goldsmith, Oliver, 79
  Gore, Catherine Grace Frances, 216-225, 233
  Gosse, Edmund, 170
  _Grand Cyrus, The_, 15, 32, 121
  _Gulliver's Travels_, 23
  Guy Mannering, 102

  _Hackney Coachman, The_, 70
  Hall, Anna Maria (Mrs. S. C.), 72, 179, 196-199, 216, 293
  Hall, S. C., 140
  Hamilton, Elizabeth, 133-137
  _Hamiltons, The_, 224
  Hamlet, 271
  _Hard Times_, 282
  Hardy, Thomas, 86, 170
  _Harriet Stuart, The Life of_, 31
  Harry, Blind, the Minstrel, _see_ Blind Harry the Minstrel
  Haywood, Eliza, 24, 36-39, 48
  _Heir of Selwood, The_, 223, 225
  Helen, 119
  _Henrietta_, 35
  _Henry de Pomeroy_, 227
  _Henry Esmond_, 145
  _Heptameron_, The, 2
  Herford, C. H., 193
  _Hints towards Forming the Character of a Young Princess_, 71
  Homer, 2, 11, 175
  Horace, 217
  _Hour and the Man, The_, 242, 244-245
  Huet, Bishop, Pierre Daniel, 46
  _Humphry Clinker_, 8, 24, 44
  _Hungarian Brothers_, 139

  _Ibrahim_, 32, 121
  _Ida, or the Woman of Athens_, 131
  _Impetuous Lover, The, or the Guiltless Parricide_, 43
  Inchbald, Elizabeth, 41, 73, 82-87, 105, 119, 221, 262
  _Inheritance, The_, 181, 182-183, 184, 185, 187-188
  _Irish Bulls, Essay on_, 115-116
  _Irish Peasantry, Stories of the_, 197, 198
  _Italian, The_, 91, 94, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101
  Ivanhoe, 164

  Jackson, Helen Hunt (H. H.), 16
  James, G. P. R., 216, 239
  James, Henry, 291
  Jameson, Mrs. (Anna), 285
  _Jane Eyre_, 41, 82, 85, 250, 261, 263, 264-267, 270, 272
  _Jealous Wife, The_, 233
  Jeffrey, Francis, 180
  Joan of Arc, 1
  _John Halifax, Gentleman_, 293
  _Johnny Ludlow Papers_, 294
  Johnson, R. Brimley, 245
  Johnson, Dr. Samuel, 30, 31, 32, 39, 42, 46, 48, 55, 60, 62, 103, 128,
          138, 291
  _Jonathan Jefferson Whitlaw, The Life and Adventures of_, 237-239, 242
  Jonson, Ben, 275
  _Joseph Andrews_, 16, 36, 52
  _Journey to Bath_, 41
  Jules Verne, _see_ Verne, Jules

  Kauffman, Angelica, 103
  Kavanagh, Julia, 293
  _King Lear_, see _Lear_
  Knox, John, 188
  _Kruitzener, or the German's Tale_, 108-109

  _Lady Audley's Secret_, 294
  _Lady Clare_, 183
  _Lady of Lyons, The_, 223
  _Lady's Magazine_, 190
  Lafayette, Madame de, 3, 19, 41, 262
  Lamb, Lady Caroline, 200-204
  Lamb, Charles, 8, 12, 193
  Lamb, William (Lord Melbourne), 200, 201, 202, 203, 204
  _Landlady's Tale, The_, 109
  Lang, Andrew, 102
  Lanier, Sidney, 25
  _Last Man, The_, 210-212
  _Lazy Lawrence_, 125, 126
  _Lear, King_, 256
  Lee, Harriet, 88, 105-110
  Lee, Sophia, 88, 105-110, 139
  Lennox, Charlotte, 24, 31-36
  _Letters of the Duchess of Newcastle_, 7-8
  _Letters to Young Ladies_, 62
  Lewis, Matthew Gregory, 101
  "Library of Old Authors," Russell Smith, 12
  _Life of the Duke of Newcastle_, see _Newcastle, Life of the Duke of_
  _Lights and Shadows of Irish Life_, 197-198
  _Lilly Dawson, The Story of_, 232
  _Literary Gazette_, 202
  _Lodore_, 212-214
  Longueville, Duchesse de, 3
  _Lucius_, 22
  Lytton, Bulwer, _see_ Bulwer, Edward (Lord Lytton)

  Macaulay, Thomas Babington, 57, 61, 113, 168
  Machiavelli, Niccolo, 207
  Mackay, Sheriff, 143
  _Magyar, The, and the Moslem_, 233
  _Man and Superman_, 160
  _Manchester Strike, A_, 243
  Manley, Mary, 1, 19-23, 36
  _Mansfield Park_, 61, 162-164, 171, 172
  Marcella, 292
  Margaret, Queen of Navarre, 2
  _Marriage_, 181, 182, 184
  Marsh, Anne, 231
  Martineau, Harriet, 231, 232, 242-246, 269, 293
  _Mary Barton_, 269, 278-281, 282, 283, 289, 292
  Masson, David, 179
  Maturin, Charles Robert, 101
  _Mazeppa_, 206
  Mémoires du Comte de Comminges, 262
  _Mémoires pour servir à l'histoire de la vertu_, 42
  _Memoirs of a Certain Island Adjacent to Utopia_, 36
  _Michael Armstrong, The Life and Adventures of_, 241
  _Middlemarch_, 290, 295
  _Midsummer Eve, a Fairy Tale of Love_, 198-199
  _Mill on the Floss_, The, 289, 295
  Mitford, Mary Russell, 81, 144, 179, 183, 189-196, 216, 221, 227,
          276, 291, 292
  _Monastery, The_, 137, 271
  _Monk, The_, 101
  Montagu, Elizabeth, 62
  Montagu, Mary Wortley, 233
  _Monthly Review_, 77
  _Monumental Effigies of Great Britain_, 226
  Moore, Thomas, 131
  _Moorland Cottage, The_, 289
  More, Hannah, 62-72, 73
  Morgan, Lady, 111, 197, 216
  _Music, History of_, 46
  _Mysteries of Udolpho, The_, 91, 92, 94, 95, 96, 99, 101, 104, 105,
          141

  _Nature and Art_, 85-86
  _Nature's Pictures Drawn by Fancy's Pencil_, 7
  _New Atalantis_, 19-23
  Newcastle, Duchess of, 1, 3-13
  Newcastle, Duke of, 4, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
  _Newcastle, Life of the Duke of_, 10-12
  _Noctes Ambrosianæ_, 183
  _Nocturnal Reverie_, 79
  North, Christopher (John James Wilson), 183, 185
  _North and South_, 281-284, 289, 292
  _Northanger Abbey_, 101, 160-161, 177
  _Notre Dame de Paris_, 256
  "Novelists' Library," 121
  _Novels by Eminent Hands_, 217
  _Nun, The, or the Perjured Duty_, 18

  _O'Briens, The, and the O'Flahertys_, 129, 130-131
  _O'Donnel_, 129-130
  _Odyssey_, 113
  _Old English Baron, The_, 88, 89
  _Old Manor House, The_, 77-78, 79, 80
  Oliphant, Mrs. Margaret, 294, 295
  Opie, Mrs. Amelia, 41, 73, 149-153, 156, 216, 262
  _Orange Girl of St. Giles's, The_, 69-70
  Ormond, 113-115
  _Oroonoko_, 13-18, 237, 242
  _Orphans, The_, 126
  _Othello_, 276
  Ouidà, 294
  _Our Village_, 189, 190-193, 195, 196, 243
  Owenson, Sydney, _see_ Morgan, Lady

  _Pamela_, 8, 17, 18, 24, 31, 35, 46, 78, 164, 266
  _Paradise Lost_, 72, 79
  Pardoe, Julia, 231-234
  _Pastor's Fireside, The_, 146
  _Patronage_, 119
  _Pelham_, 200
  _Pendennis_, 200
  _Perkin Warbeck, The Fortunes of_, 214
  _Persuasion_, 158, 162-164, 167, 170, 172
  Phillips, Wendell, 244
  _Pickwick Papers_, 56
  _Pilgrimages to English Shrines_, 72
  _Pin Money_, 222-223
  Plato, 11
  _Political Economy Tales_, 242-243
  _Polly Honeycomb_, 42, 43
  Pope, Alexander, 22, 79, 160
  Porter, Anna Maria, 133, 137-140, 216
  Porter, Jane, 133, 137, 138, 140-148, 216
  _Preferment, or My Uncle the Earl_, 220
  Prévost, Abbé, 42
  _Pride and Prejudice_, 157, 158-159, 161, 164, 166, 170, 171, 173,
          175, 176, 178
  Princess of Clèves, The, 41, 262
  _Professor, The_, 270

  _Quarterly Review_, 131, 147, 148

  Radcliffe, Ann, 88, 89-105, 108, 179, 270
  Rambouillet, Marquise de, 3
  Ramée, Louise de la, _see_ Ouidà
  Ramsey, Charlotte, _see_ Lennox, Charlotte
  _Rape of the Lock_, 22
  _Rasselas_, 46
  _Recess, The_, 105-106
  Reeve, Clara, 88-89
  _Refugee in America, The_, 237
  Richardson, Samuel, 8, 9, 17, 24, 26, 30, 31, 34, 36, 37, 48, 101,
          154, 171, 277, 291
  _Rights of Man_, 64
  _Rights of Woman, Vindication of the_, see _Vindication of the
          Rights of Woman_
  Ritchie, Mrs., 126, 294
  _Rival Beauties, The_, 233
  _Rivals, The_, 41, 43
  _Rob Roy_, 102
  _Robinson Crusoe_, 146, 296
  Rogers, Samuel, 201
  _Romance of the Forest, The_, 91, 92, 93, 97, 101
  _Romance of the Harem, The_, 233
  _Romance of the West, A_, 228
  Romeo and Juliet, 275
  _Romola_, 290
  Rousseau, Jean Jacques, 73, 118
  Ruskin, 195
  _Ruth_, 281, 284-285, 286, 292

  _St. Ronan's Well_, 174
  Saintsbury, George, 185, 186
  Sand, George, 262, 263, 288
  Sappho, 1
  Schlosser, 44
  Scott, Sir Walter, 18, 36, 102, 103, 104, 105, 118, 128, 141, 144,
          155, 164, 173, 179, 180, 181, 184, 216, 225, 228, 229, 230,
          264, 271, 277, 296
  _Scottish Chiefs, The_, 142-145
  Scudèri, Mlle. de, 3, 19, 32, 33, 35, 120, 121
  _Seasons, The_, 79
  _Secret Intrigues of the Count of Caramania, The_, 36
  _Selborne, The Natural History and Antiquities of_, 191
  _Self-Control_, 154-155, 156
  _Sense and Sensibility_, 159-160, 161, 170, 171
  Sévigné, Madame, de, 3
  Shakespeare, William, 5, 103, 128, 168, 169, 170, 174, 271, 275
  _Shakespeare, Essay on the Genius of_, 62
  Shaw, Bernard, 160
  Shelley, Mary, 200, 204-215, 262
  Shelley, Percy Bysshe, 204, 205, 206, 208, 210-214
  _Shepherd of Salisbury Plain, The_, 68, 69, 72
  Sheridan, Mrs. Frances, 24, 39-42
  Sheridan, Richard Brinsley, 40, 41
  _Shirley_, 267-270
  _Sicilian Romance, The_, 91, 93, 94
  _Sidney Biddulph, The Memoirs of Miss_, 39-42, 74
  _Silas Marner_, 289
  _Simple Story, A_, 82-84, 262
  _Simple Susan_, 126-127
  _Simple Tales_, 153
  _Sir Charles Grandison_, 8, 37, 53
  _Sir Edward Seaward's Narrative_, 146-148
  _Sister, The_, 35
  _Sketches by Boz_, 241
  _Sketches of English Character_, 219-220
  _Sketches of Irish Character_, 196-197
  Smith, Charlotte, 41, 73-82, 87, 102, 103, 105, 191, 221
  Smith Russell, "Library of Old Authors," _see_ "Library of
          Old Authors"
  Smollett, Tobias, 8, 23, 24, 88, 101, 179
  _Soldier of Lyons, The, a Tale of the Tuileries_, 223
  Sothern, Thomas, 13, 15
  Souza, Madame de, 262
  _Spectator Papers_, 7, 29
  Staël, Madame de (Anne Louise Necker), 262, 263
  Steele, Richard, 21, 22, 28
  Sterne, Laurence, 24, 25, 88, 102, 169
  _Stories of the Irish Peasantry_, see _Irish Peasantry,
          Stories of the_
  Stothard, Charles, 226
  Stowe, Harriet Beecher, 15, 238, 293
  Swift, Jonathan, 22, 23
  Swinburne, Charles Algernon, 256
  _Sybil_, 269, 279
  _Sylvia's Lovers_, 285-286

  Taine, 25
  _Talba, The, or Moor of Portugal_, 226
  _Tale of Two Cities_, 145
  _Tales of Fashionable Life_, 119-120
  _Tales of my Landlord, The_, 181
  _Tales of Real Life_, 153
  _Tales that Never Die_, 127
  _Tatler, The_, 22, 29
  _Tenant of Wildfell Hall, The_, 259-261
  Tencin, Mme. de, 262
  Tennyson, Alfred, Lord, 183, 286
  Tess of the D'Urbervilles, 284
  Thackeray, Anna Isabella, _see_ Ritchie, Mrs.
  Thackeray, William Makepeace, 87, 102, 116, 120, 164, 176, 216,
          217, 231, 237, 247, 264, 277, 288, 291, 296
  _Thaddeus of Warsaw_, 140-141
  _Theresa Marchmont_, 217
  _Thomas the Rhymer_, 104
  Thrale, Mrs. (Mrs. Piozzi), 48
  _Three Paths, The_, 293
  _Tintern Abbey_, 93
  Tolstoi, Count Leo, 86, 170
  _Tom Jones_, 26, 37, 53, 141
  Tourgenieff, 170
  _Trelawny of Trelawne; or the Prophecy: a Legend of Cornwall_, 228
  Trollope, Anthony, 234, 239
  Trollope, Frances, 231, 232, 234-242, 243, 269

  _Udolpho, The Mysteries of_, see _Mysteries of Udolpho,  The_
  _Uncle Tom's Cabin_, 15, 238, 293
  _Undine_, 254

  _Valperga: or the Life and Adventures of Castruccio, Prince of
          Lucca_, 207-210
  _Vanity Fair_, 164, 288
  _Venetia_, 200
  Verne, Jules, 6
  _Vicar of Wakefield, The_, 46, 79, 296
  _Vicar of Wrexhill, The_, 240
  _Village Politics: Addressed to all Mechanics, Journeymen, and
          Labourers in Great Britain. By Will Chip, a Country
          Carpenter_, 64-65
  _Villette_, 270-273
  _Vindication of the Rights of Woman_, 74, 149, 204
  Vivian, 119, 122
  _Vivian Grey_, 200, 216, 217, 219
  Voltaire, François, 73

  Wallace, 143
  Walpole, Horace, 88, 89
  _Wanderer, The, or Female Difficulties_, 59, 60
  Ward, A. W., 288
  Ward, Mrs. Humphry, 267
  _Warleigh, or the Fatal Oak; a Legend of Devon_, 227
  _Waste Not, Want Not_, 125
  _Waverley_, 45, 60, 137, 144, 155, 178
  _Waverley Novels_, 102, 117, 145, 216
  Welsh, Charles, 67, 127
  _Werner, or the Inheritance_, 109
  _Westminster Review_, 221, 224
  White, Gilbert, 191
  _White Hoods, The_, 226
  _Whole Duty of Man_, 64
  _Widow Barnaby_, 239
  _Widow Married, The_, 239
  _Widow Wedded, The, or the Barnabys in America_, 239
  _Wild Irish Girl, The_, 129
  _Will Chip, a Country Carpenter_, see _Village Politics_
  _Winchelsea, Lady_, 79
  _Window in Thrums, The_, 137
  _Windsor Forest_, 79
  _Wives and Daughters_, 287-288, 292, 293
  Wollstonecraft, Mary, 73, 74, 149, 150, 204, 205, 210
  Wood, Mrs. Henry, 293
  Wordsworth, William, 79, 93, 127, 165, 241
  _Wuthering Heights_, 249, 256, 258, 261, 265, 267, 271
  _Wycherley, William_, 13

  _Yèrè-Batan-Seraï_, 234
  Yonge, Charlotte Mary, 294





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