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Title: Essays on Modern Novelists
Author: Phelps, William Lyon, 1865-1943
Language: English
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  New York

  _All rights reserved_


Some of the essays in this volume have appeared in recent numbers of
various periodicals. The essays on "Mark Twain" and "Thomas Hardy" were
originally printed in the _North American Review_; those on "Mrs. Ward"
and "Rudyard Kipling," in the _Forum_; those on "Alfred Ollivant,"
"Björnstjerne Björnson," and "Novels as a University Study," in the
_Independent_. The same magazine contained a portion of the present
essay on "Lorna Doone," while the article on "The Teacher's Attitude
toward Contemporary Literature" was written for the _Chicago Interior_.
My friend, Mr. Andrew Keogh, Reference Librarian of Yale University, has
been kind enough to prepare the List of Publications, thereby increasing
my debt to him for many previous favours.

W. L. P.

Tuesday, _5 October, 1909_.



  WILLIAM DE MORGAN                                   1

  THOMAS HARDY                                       33

  WILLIAM DEAN HOWELLS                               56

  BJÖRNSTJERNE BJÖRNSON                              82

  MARK TWAIN                                         99

  HENRYK SIENKIEWICZ                                115

  HERMANN SUDERMANN                                 132

  ALFRED OLLIVANT                                   159

  ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON                            172

  MRS. HUMPHRY WARD                                 191

  RUDYARD KIPLING                                   208

  "LORNA DOONE"                                     229

  APPENDICES                                        245

    A. NOVELS AS A UNIVERSITY STUDY                 245

         LITERATURE                                 252

    C. TWO POEMS                                    258

  LIST OF PUBLICATIONS                              261




"How can you know whether you are successful or not at forty-one? How do
you know you won't have a tremendous success, all of a sudden?
Yes--after another ten years, perhaps--but _some_ time! And then twenty
years of real, happy work. It has all been before, this sort of thing.
Why not you?" Thus spoke the hopeful Alice to the despairing Charley;
and it makes an interesting comment on the very man who wrote the
conversation, and created the speakers. It has indeed "all been before,
this sort of thing"; only when an extremely clever person, whose friends
have always been saying, with an exclamation rather than an
interrogation point appended, "Why don't you write a novel!" ... waits
until he has passed his grand climacteric, he displays more faith in
Providence than in himself. All of which is as it should be. Keats died
at the age of twenty-five, but, from where I am now writing, I can
reach his Poetical Works almost without leaving my chair; he is among
the English Poets. Had Mr. De Morgan died at the age of twenty-five? The
answer is, he didn't. I am no great believer in mute, inglorious
Miltons, nor do I think that I daily pass potential novelists in the
street. Life is shorter than Art, as has frequently been observed; but
it seems long enough for Genius. Genius resembles murder in that it
_will_ out; you can no more prevent its expression than you can prevent
the thrush from singing his song twice over. Crabbed age and youth have
their peculiar accent. Keats, with all his glory, could not have written
_Joseph Vance_, and Mr. De Morgan, with all his skill in ceramics, could
not have fashioned the _Ode on a Grecian Urn_.

Sir Thomas Browne, who loved miracles, did not hesitate to classify the
supposed importance of the grand climacteric as a vulgar error; he
included a whole quaint chapter on the subject, in that old curiosity
shop of literature, the _Pseudodoxia Epidemica_. "And so perhaps hath it
happened unto the number 7. and 9. which multiplyed into themselves doe
make up 63. commonly esteemed the great Climactericall of our lives; for
the dayes of men are usually cast up by septenaries, and every seventh
yeare conceived to carry some altering character with it, either in the
temper of body, minde, or both; but among all other, three are most
remarkable, that is, 7. times 7. or forty-nine, 9. times 9. or
eighty-one, and 7. times 9. or the yeare of sixty-three; which is
conceived to carry with it, the most considerable fatality, and
consisting of both the other numbers was apprehended to comprise the
vertue of either, is therefore expected and entertained with feare, and
esteemed a favour of fate to pass it over; which notwithstanding many
suspect but to be a Panick terrour, and men to feare they justly know
not what; and for my owne part, to speak indifferently, I find no
satisfaction, nor any sufficiency in the received grounds to establish a
rationall feare."

Among various strong reasons against this superstition, Dr. Browne
presents the impressive argument shown by the Patriarchs: "the lives of
our forefathers presently after the flood, and more especially before
it, who, attaining unto 8. or 900. yeares, had not their Climacters
computable by digits, or as we doe account them; for the great
Climactericall was past unto them before they begat children, or gave
any Testimony of their virilitie, for we read not that any begat
children before the age of sixtie five."

The strange case of William De Morgan would have deeply interested Sir
Thomas, and he would have given it both full and minute consideration.
For it was just after he had safely passed the climacterical year of
sixty-three, that our now famous novelist began what is to us the most
important chapter of his life, the first chapter of _Joseph Vance_; and,
like the Patriarchs, it was only after he had reached the age of
sixty-five that he became fruitful, producing those wonderful children
of his brain that are to-day everywhere known and loved. Poets ripen
early; if a man comes to his twenty-fifth birthday without having
written some things supremely well, he may in most instances abandon all
hope of immortality in song; but to every would-be novelist it is
reasonable to whisper those encouraging words, "while there's life
there's hope." Of the ten writers who may be classed as the greatest
English novelists, only one--Charles Dickens--published a good novel
before the age of thirty. Defoe's first fiction of any consequence was
_Robinson Crusoe_, printed in 1719; he was then fifty-eight years old.
Richardson had turned fifty before his earliest novel appeared. And
although I can think at this moment of no case exactly comparable with
that of the author of _Joseph Vance_, it is a book to which experience
has contributed as well as inspiration, and would be something, if not
inferior, at all events very different, had it been composed in early or
in middle life. For it vibrates with the echoes of a long gallery, whose
walls are crowded with interesting pictures.

The recent Romantic Revival has produced many novels that have enjoyed a
brief and noisy popularity; its worst effects are noticeable on the
minds of readers, unduly stimulated by the constant perusal of
rapid-fire fiction. Many will not read further than the fourth page,
unless some casualties have already occurred. To every writer who starts
with some deliberation, they shout, "Leave your damnable faces and
begin." Authors who produce for immediate consumption are prepared for
this; so are the more clever men who write the publishers'
advertisements. An announcement of a new work by an exceedingly
fashionable novelist was headed by the appetising line, "This book goes
with a rush, and ends with a smash." That would hardly do as a
description of _Clarissa Harlowe_, _Wilhelm Meister_, or some other
classics. To a highly nervous and irritably impatient reading public, a
man whose name had no commercial value in literature gravely offered in
the year of grace 1906 an "ill-written autobiography" of two hundred and
eighty thousand words! Well, the result is what might _not_ have been
expected. If ever a confirmed optimist had reason to feel justification
of his faith, Mr. De Morgan must have seen it in the reception given to
his first novel.

Despite the great length of Mr. De Morgan's books, and the leisurely
passages of comment and rather extraneous detail, he never _begins_
slowly. No producer of ephemeral trash, no sensation-monger, has ever
got under way with more speed, or taken a swifter initial plunge into
the very heart of action. One memorable day in 1873, Count Tolstoi
picked up a little story by Pushkin, which his ten-year-old son had been
reading aloud to a member of the family. The great Russian glanced at
the first sentence, "The guests began to assemble the evening before the
_fête_." He was mightily pleased. "That's the way to begin a story!" he
cried. "The reader is taken by one stroke into the midst of the action.
Another writer would have commenced by describing the guests, the rooms,
while Pushkin--he goes straight at his goal." Some of those in the room
laughed, and suggested that Tolstoi himself appropriate such a beginning
and write a novel. He immediately retired and wrote the first sentences
of _Anna Karenina_; which is literally the manner in which that
masterpiece came into being.[1] Now if one will open any of Mr. De
Morgan's works, he will find the procedure that Tolstoi praised.
Something immediately happens--happens before we have any idea of the
real character of the agents, and before we hardly know where we are.
Indeed, the first chapter of _Somehow Good_ may serve as an artistic
model for the commencement of a novel. It is written with extraordinary
vivacity and spirit. But the author understands better how to begin his
works than he does how to end them. The close of _Joseph Vance_ is like
the mouth of the Mississippi, running off into the open sea through a
great variety of passages. The ending of _Alice-for-Short_ is
accomplished only by notes, comment, and citations. And _Somehow Good_
is simply snipped off, when it might conceivably have proceeded on its
way. His fourth novel is the only one that ends as well as it begins.

[1] _Léon Tolstoi: Vie et OEuvres. Mémoires par P. Birukov. Traduction
Française_, Tome III, p. 177.

You cannot judge books, any more than you can individuals, by the first
words they say. If I could only discover somewhere some man, woman, or
child who had not read _Joseph Vance_, I should like to tell him the
substance of the first chapter, and ask him to guess what sort of a
story had awakened my enthusiasm. Suppose some person who had never
heard of Browning should stumble on _Pauline_, and read the first three

    "Pauline, mine own, bend o'er me--thy soft breast
     Shall pant to mine--bend o'er me--thy sweet eyes,
     And loosened hair and breathing lips, and arms"

one sees the sharp look of expectation on the reader's face, and one
almost laughs aloud to think what there is in store for him. He will
very soon exhibit symptoms of bewilderment, and before he has finished
the second page he will push the book aside with an air of pious
disappointment. No slum story ever opened more promisingly than _Joseph
Vance_. We are led at the very start into a dirty rum-shop; there
immediately ensues a fight between two half-drunken loafers in the
darkness without; this results in the double necessity of the police and
the hospital; and a broken bottle, found against a dead cat, is the
missile employed to destroy a human eye. In _Alice-for-Short_, the first
chapter shows us a ragged little girl of six carrying a jug of beer from
a public-house to a foul basement, where dwell her father and mother,
both victims of alcohol. The police again. On the third page of _Somehow
Good_, we have the "fortune to strike on a rich vein of so-called life
in a London slum." The hero gives a drunken, murderous scoundrel a "blow
like the kick of a horse, that lands fairly on the eye socket with a
cracking concussion that can be heard above the tumult, and is followed
by a roar of delight from the male vermin." Once more the police. _It
Never Can Happen Again_ begins in a corner of London unspeakably vile.

Zola and Gorky at their best, and worst--for it is sometimes hard to
make the distinction--have not often surpassed the first chapters of Mr.
De Morgan's four novels. Never has a writer waded more unflinchingly
into the slime. And yet the very last word to characterise these books
would be the word "slum-stories." The foundations of Mr. De Morgan's
work, like the foundations of cathedrals, are deep in the dirt; but the
total impression is one of exceeding beauty. Indeed, with our novelist's
conception of life, as a progress toward something high and sublime,
where evil not only exists, but is a necessary factor in development,
the darkness of the shadows proves the intense radiance of the sun. The
planet Venus is so bright, we are accustomed to remark, that it
sometimes casts a shadow. Christopher Vance emerges from beastly
degradation to a position of power, influence, and usefulness; the Heath
family, in receiving Alice, entertain an angel unawares; and the march
of _Somehow Good_ goes from hell, through purgatory, and into paradise.
It is a divine comedy, in more ways than one; and shows that sometimes
the goal of ill is very unlike the start.

We had not read far into _Joseph Vance_ before we shouted _Dickens
Redivivus!_ or some equivalent remark in the vernacular. We made this
outcry with no tincture of depreciation and with no yelp of the
plagiarism-hunting hound. It requires little skill to observe the
similarity to Dickens, as was proved by the fact that everyone noticed
it. In general, the shout was one of glad recognition; it was the
welcome given to the sound of a voice that had been still. It was not an
imitation: it was a reincarnation. The spirit of Dickens had really
entered into William De Morgan; many chapters in _Joseph Vance_ sounded
as if they had been dictated by the ghost of the author of
_Copperfield_. No book since 1870 had given so vivid an impression of
the best-beloved of all English novelists. This is meant to be high
praise. When Walt Whitman was being exalted for his unlikeness to the
great poets, one sensible critic quietly remarked, "It is easier to
differ from the great poets than to resemble them." To "remind us of
Dickens" would be as difficult for many modern novelists as for a
molehill to remind us of the Matterhorn.

We may say, however, that _Joseph Vance_ and _It Never Can Happen Again_
are more like Dickens in character and in detail than is
_Alice-for-Short_; and that the latter is closer to Dickens than is
_Somehow Good_. The Reverend Benaiah Capstick infallibly calls to mind
the spiritual adviser of Mrs. Weller; with the exception that the latter
was also spirituous. That kind of religion does not seem strongly to
appeal to either novelist; for Mr. Stiggins took to drink, and Capstick
to an insane asylum. There are many things in the conversation of
Christopher Vance that recall the humorous world-wisdom of the elder
Weller; and so we might continue, were it profitable. Another great
point of resemblance between Mr. De Morgan and Dickens is seen in the
method of narration chosen by each. Here William De Morgan is simply
following in the main track of English fiction, where the novelist
cannot refrain from _editing_ the text of the story. The course of
events is constantly interrupted by the author's gloss. Now when the
author's mind is not particularly interesting, the comment is an
unpleasant interruption; it is both impertinent and dull. But when the
writer is himself more profound, more clever, and more entertaining than
even his best characters, we cannot have too much of him. It is true
that Mr. De Morgan has told a good story in each of his novels; but it
is also true that the story is not the cause of their reputation. We
read these books with delight because the characters are so attractive,
and because the author's comments on them and on events are so
penetrating. If it is true, as some have intimated, that this method of
novel-writing proves that Mr. De Morgan, whatever he is, is not a
literary artist, then it is undeniable that Fielding, Dickens, Trollope,
and Thackeray are not artists; which is absurd, as Euclid would say.
Great books are invariably greater than our definitions of them.
Browning and Wagner composed great works of Art without paying much
attention to the rules of the game.

As compared with French and Russian fiction, English novels from
Fielding to De Morgan have unquestionably sounded a note of insincerity.
One reason for this lies in the fact that to the Anglo-Saxon mind,
Morality has always seemed infinitely more important than Art. Matthew
Arnold spent his life fighting the Philistines; but when he said that
conduct was three-fourths of life, there was jubilation in the enemy's
camp. Now Zola declared that a novel could no more be called immoral in
its descriptions than a text-book on physiology; the novelist commits a
sin when he writes a badly constructed sentence. A disciple of this
school insisted that it was more important to have an accurate sense of
colour than to have a clear notion of right and wrong. Fortunately for
the true greatness of humanity, you never can get the average Englishman
or American to swallow such doctrine. But it is at the same time certain
that among English-speaking peoples Art has seldom been taken with
sufficient seriousness. We are handy with our fists; but you cannot
imagine us using them in behalf of literature, as we do for real or
personal property. So far as I know, an English audience in the theatre
has never been excited on a purely artistic question--a matter of
frequent occurrence on the Continent. We seem to believe that, after
all, Art has no place in the serious business of life; it is a
recreation, to amuse a mind overstrained by money-making or by
political affairs. We leave it to women, who are supposed to have more
leisure for trifles.

For this reason, English novelists have generally felt compelled to
treat their public as a tired mother treats a restless child. Our
novelists have been in mortal terror lest the attention of their
audience should wander; and instead of taking their work and their
readers seriously, they continually hand us lollipops. Their attitude is
at once apologetic and insulting. They do not dare to believe that a
great work of Art--without personal comment--has in itself moral
greatness, and they do not dare trust the intelligence of spectators,
but must forsooth constantly break the illusion by soothing or
explanatory remarks. The fact that in our greatest writers this is often
presented from the standpoint of humour, does not prevent the loss of
illusion; and in writers who are not great, the reader feels nothing but
indignation. In the first chapter of the third book of _Amelia_, we find
the following advice:--

     "He then proceeded as Miss Matthews desired; but, lest all our
     readers should not be of her opinion, we will, according to our
     usual custom, endeavour to accommodate ourselves to every taste,
     and shall, therefore, place this scene in a chapter by itself,
     which we desire all our readers who do not love, or who, perhaps,
     do not know the pleasure of tenderness, to pass over; since they
     may do this without any prejudice to the thread of the narrative."

In the first chapter of _Shirley_, Charlotte Brontë prologises as

     "If you think ... that anything like a romance is preparing for
     you, reader, you never were more mistaken.... Calm your
     expectations; reduce them to a lowly standard. Something real,
     cool, and solid lies before you;... It is not positively affirmed
     that you shall not have a taste of the exciting, perhaps toward the
     middle and close of the meal, but it is resolved that the first
     dish set upon the table shall be one that a Catholic--ay, even an
     Anglo-Catholic--might eat on Good Friday in Passion Week; it shall
     be cold lentils and vinegar without oil; it shall be unleavened
     bread with bitter herbs, and no roast lamb."

William Black once wrote a novel called _Madcap Violet_, which he
intended for a tragedy, and in which, therefore, we have a right to
expect some artistic dignity. About midway in the volume we find the

     "At this point, and in common courtesy to his readers, the writer
     of these pages considers himself bound to give fair warning that
     the following chapter deals solely and wholly with the shooting of
     mergansers, curlews, herons, and such like fearful wild fowl;
     therefore, those who regard such graceless idling with aversion,
     and are anxious to get on with the story, should at once proceed to
     chapter twenty-three."

At the beginning of the second chapter of _Dr. Thorne_, one of the best
of Trollope's novels, we are petted in this manner:--

     "A few words must still be said about Miss Mary before we rush into
     our story; the crust will then have been broken, and the pie will
     be open to the guests."

At the three hundred and seventy-second page of the late Marion
Crawford's entertaining story, _The Prima Donna_, the course of the
narrative is thus interrupted:--

     "Now at this stage of my story it would be unpardonable to keep my
     readers in suspense, if I may suppose that any of them have a
     little curiosity left. Therefore, I shall not narrate in detail
     what happened Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, seeing that it was just
     what might have been expected to happen at a week-end party during
     the season when there is nothing in the world to do but to play
     golf, tennis, or croquet, or to write or drive all day, and to work
     hard at bridge all the evening; for that is what it has come to."

Finally, in the first chapter of Mr. Winston Churchill's novel,
_Coniston_, the author pleads with his reader in this style:--

     "The reader is warned that this first love-story will, in a few
     chapters, come to an end; and not to a happy end--otherwise there
     would be no book. Lest he should throw the book away when he
     arrives at this page, it is only fair to tell him that there is
     another and much longer love-story later on, if he will only
     continue to read, in which, it is hoped, he may not be

Imagine Turgenev or Flaubert scribbling anything similar to the
interpolations quoted above! When a great French novelist does
condescend to speak to his reader, it is in a tone, that so far from
belittling his own art, or sugaring the expectation of his listener, has
quite the contrary effect. On the second page of _Père Goriot_, we find
the following solemn warning:--

     "Ainsi ferez-vous, vous qui tenez ce livre d'une main blanche, vous
     qui vous enfoncez dans un molleux fauteuil en vous disant:
     'Peut-être ceci va-t-il m'amuser.' Après avoir lu les secrètes
     infortunes du père Goriot, vous dînerez avec appétit en mettant
     votre insensibilité sur le compte de l'auteur, en le taxant
     d'exagération, en l'accusant de poésie. Ah! sachez-le: ce drame
     n'est ni une fiction ni un roman. _All is true_, il est si
     véritable, que chacun peut en reconnaître les éléments chez soi,
     dans son coeur peut-être."

The chief objection to these constant remarks to the reader, so common
in great English novels, is that they for the moment destroy the
illusion. Suppose an actress in the midst of Ophelia's mad scene should
suddenly pause and address the audience in her own accents in this wise:
"I observe that some ladies among the spectators are weeping, and that
some men are yawning. Allow me to say to those of you who dislike tragic
events on the stage, that I shall remain here only a few moments longer,
and shall not have much to say; and that if you will only be patient,
the grave-diggers will come on before long, and it is probable that
their conversation will amuse you."

The two reasons given above, the fear that a novel unexplained by
author's comment will not justify itself morally, and that at all
hazards the gentle reader must be placated and entertained, undoubtedly
partly explain a long tradition in the course of English fiction. But
while we may protest against this sort of thing in general, it is well
to remember that we must take our men of genius as we find them, and
rejoice that they have seen fit to employ any channel of expression.
There are many different kinds of great novels, as there are of great
poems. The fact that Tennyson's poetry belongs to the first class does
not in the least prevent the totally different poetry of Browning from
being ranked equally high. _Joseph Vance_ is a very different kind of
novel from _The Return of the Native_, but both awaken our wonder and
delight. There are some books that inspire us by their art, and there
are others that inspire us by their ideas. Turgenev was surely a greater
artist than Tolstoi, but _Anna Karenina_ is a veritable piece of life.

I do not say that William De Morgan is not a great artist, because, if I
should say it, I should not know exactly what I meant. But the immense
pleasure that his books give me is another kind of pleasure than I
receive from _The Scarlet Letter_. _Joseph Vance_ is not so much a
beautifully written or exquisitely constructed novel as it is an
encyclopædia of life. We meet real people, we hear delightful
conversation, and the tremendously interesting personality of the author
is everywhere apparent. The opinion of many authors concerning
immortality is not worth attention; but I should very much like to know
Mr. De Morgan's views on this absorbing subject. And so I turn to the
fortieth chapter of _Joseph Vance_ with great expectations. The reader
is advised to skip this chapter, a sure indication of its importance.
For, like all humorists, Mr. De Morgan is a bit shamefaced when he talks
about the deepest things, the things that really interest him most. It
surely will not do to have Dr. Thorpe talk like the Reverend Mr.
Capstick, although they both eagerly discuss what we call the
supernatural. Capstick is an ass, but he has one characteristic that we
might, to a certain extent, imitate; he sees no reason to apologise for
conversing on great topics, or to break up such a conversation with an
embarrassed laugh. Most of us are horribly afraid of being taken for
sanctimonious persons, when there is really not the slightest danger. We
are always pleasantly surprised when we discover that our friends are at
heart just as serious as we are, and that they, too, regret the mask of
flippancy that our Anglo-Saxon false modesty compels us to wear. But, as
some one has said, you cannot expect your audience to take your views
seriously unless you express them with seriousness. Mr. De Morgan, like
Robert Browning, would doubtless deny that Dr. Thorpe spoke only the
author's thoughts; but just as you can hear Browning's voice all through
those "utterances of so many imaginary persons, not mine," so I feel
confident that amid all the light banter of this charming talk in the
fortieth chapter, the following remark of Dr. Thorpe expresses the
philosophy of William De Morgan, and at the same time the basal moral
principle underlying this entire novel:--"The highest good is the growth
of the Soul, and the greatest man is he who rejoices most in great
fulfilments of the will of God."

For although Mr. De Morgan belongs, like Dickens, to the great
humorists, who, while keenly conscious of the enormous difference
between right and wrong, regard the world with a kindly smile for human
weakness and folly, he is mainly a psychologist. To all of his novels he
might appropriately have prefixed the words of the author of _Sordello_:
"My stress lay on the incidents in the development of a soul; little
else is worth study." All the characters that he loves show
_soul-development_; the few characters that are unlovely have souls that
do not advance. Joseph, Lossie, Janey, Alicia, Charles Heath, Rosalind,
Athelstan, have the inner man renewed day by day; one feels that at
physical death such personalities proceed naturally into a sphere of
eternal progress. On the other hand, Joey's soul stands still; so do the
souls of Violet, Lavinia Straker, Mrs. Vereker, Mrs. Eldridge, Judith,
and Mrs. Craik. Why should they live for ever? They would always be the
same. This is the real distinction in these novels between people that
are fundamentally good and those that are fundamentally bad; whether
their badness causes tragedy or merely constant irritation. It is an
original manner of dividing virtue from vice, but it is illuminating.

The events in Mr. De Morgan's books are improbable, but the people are
probable. The same might be said of Shakespeare. It is highly improbable
that Christopher Vance could have risen to fortune through his
sign-board, or that Fenwick should have been electrocuted at the feet of
his wife's daughter. But Christopher Vance, Fenwick, and Sally behave
precisely as people would behave in such emergencies in real life. In
many ways I think Christopher Vance is the most convincing character in
all the novels; at any rate, I had rather hear him talk than any of the
others. There is no trace of meanness in him, and even when he is drunk
he is never offensive or disgusting. The day after he has returned
intoxicated from a meeting of the Board of Arbitrators, he seems rather
inquisitive as to his exact condition, and asks his son:--

     "I wasn't singin' though, Nipper, was I?" I said certainly not!
     "Not 'a Landlady of France she loved an Officer, 'tis said,' nor
     'stick 'em up again in the middle of a three-cent pie'?"

     "Neither of them--quite certain." My father seemed reassured.
     "That's _something_, anyhow," said he. "The other Arbitrators was
     singin' both. Likewise 'Rule Britannia.' Weak-headed cards, the two
     on 'em!"

The scene at Christopher Vance's death-bed, when Joseph finally
discloses the identity of the boy who threw the piece of glass into the
eye of the Sweep, touches the depths of true pathos. One feels the
infinite love of the father for the little son who defended him. He is
quite rightly prouder of that exploit than of all the Nipper's
subsequent learning.

While the imaginary events in this novel bear no sort of relation to the
circumstances of the author's own life, I cannot help launching the mere
guess that the father of William De Morgan was, to a certain extent, a
combination of Christopher Vance and Dr. Thorpe. For Augustus De Morgan
was not only a distinguished mathematical scholar, he was well-known for
the keenness of his wit. He had the learning and refinement of Dr.
Thorpe, and the shrewd, irresistible humour of old Vance. At all events,
this striking combination in the novelist can be traced to no more
probable source.

The influence of good women on men's lives is repeatedly shown; it is
indeed a leading principle in three of the books. One of the most
notable differences in novels that reflect a pessimistic
_Weltanschauung_ from those that indicate the contrary may be seen right
here. How completely the whole significance of the works of Guy de
Maupassant would change had he included here and there some women who
combined virtue with personal charm! "Were there no women, men would
live like gods," said a character in one of Dekker's plays; judged by
much modern fiction, one would feel like trying the experiment. But what
would become of Mr. De Morgan's novels, and of the attitude toward life
they so clearly reflect, if they contained no women? Young Joseph Vance
was fortunate indeed in having in his life the powerful influence of two
such characters as Lossie Thorpe and Janey Spencer. They were what a
compass is to a shipman, taking him straight on his course through the
blackest storms. It was for Lossie that he made the greatest sacrifice
in his whole existence; and nothing pays a higher rate of moral interest
than a big sacrifice. It was Janey who led him from the grossness of
earth into the spiritual world, something that Lossie, with all her
loveliness, could not do. Both women show that there is nothing
inherently dull in goodness; it may be accompanied with some _esprit_.
We are too apt to think that moral goodness is represented by such
persons as the Elder Brother in the story of the Prodigal Son, when the
parable indicates that the younger brother, with all his crimes, was
actually the more virtuous of the two. It took no small skill for Mr. De
Morgan to create such an irresistibly good woman as Lossie, make his
hero in love with her from boyhood, cause her to marry some one else,
and then to unite the heart-broken hero with another girl; and through
these tremendous upheavals to make all things work together for good,
and to the reader's complete satisfaction. This could not possibly have
been accomplished had not the author been able to fashion a woman, who,
while totally unlike Lossie in every physical and mental aspect, was
spiritually even more attractive. I am not sure which of the two girls
has the bigger place in their maker's heart; I suspect it is Lossie; but
to me Janey is not only a better woman, I really have a stronger
affection for her.

In _Alice-for-Short_, the hero is again blessed with two guardian
angels, his sister and his second wife. Mr. De Morgan is extremely
generous to his favourite men, in permitting either their second choice
or their second experiment in matrimony to prove such an amazing
success. Comparatively few novelists dare to handle the problem of happy
second marriages; the subject for some reason does not lend itself
readily to romance. Josh Billings said he knew of absolutely nothing
that would cure a man of laziness; but that a second wife would
sometimes help. Although he said this in the spirit of farce, it is
exactly what happens in Mr. De Morgan's books. Janey is not technically
a second wife, but she is spiritually; and she rescues Joseph from
despair, restores his ambition and capacity to work, and after her death
is like a guiding star. Alice is a second wife, both in her husband's
heart and in the law; and her influence on Charles Heath provides
exactly the stimulus needed to save him from himself. Fenwick marries
for the second time, and although his wife is in one sense the same
person, in another she is not; she is quite different in everything
except constancy from the wretched girl he left sobbing on the verandah
in India. And what would have become of Fenwick without the mature
Rosalind? Salvation, in Mr. De Morgan's novels, often assumes a feminine
shape. They are not books of Friendship, like _The Cloister and the
Hearth_, _Trilby_, and _Es War_; with all their wonderful intelligence
and play of intellect, they would seem almost barren without women. And
he is far more successful in depicting love after marriage than before.
One of the most charming characteristics of these stories is the
frequent representation of the highest happiness known on earth--not
found in the passion of early youth, but in a union of two hearts
cemented by joy and sorrow in the experience of years. No novelist has
ever given us better pictures of a good English home; more attractive
glimpses into the reserveless intimacy of the affairs of the hearth. The
conversations between Christopher Vance and his wife, between Sir Rupert
and Lady Johnson, between Fenwick and Rosalind, are decidedly superior
to the "love-making" scenes. Indeed, the description of the walk during
which young Dr. Vereker definitely wins Sally, is disappointing. It is
perhaps the only important episode in Mr. De Morgan's novels that shows
more effort than inspiration.

The style in these books, despite constant quotation, is not at all a
literary style. Joseph Vance is called "an ill-written autobiography,"
because it lacks entirely the conventional manner. Many works of fiction
are composed in what might be called the terminology of the art; just as
works in science and in sport are compelled to repeat constantly the
same verbal forms. The astonishing freshness and charm of Mr. De
Morgan's method consist partly in his abandonment of literary precedent,
and adhering only to actual observation. It is as though an actor on the
stage should suddenly drop his mannerism of accent and gesture, and
behave as he would were he actually, instead of histrionically, happy or
wretched. Despite the likeness to Dickens in characters and atmosphere,
_Joseph Vance_ sounds not only as though its author had never written a
novel previously, but as though he had never read one. It has the
strangeness of reality. There is no lack of action in these huge
narratives: the men and women pass through the most thrilling incidents,
and suffer the greatest extremes of passion, pain, and joy that the
human mind can endure. We have three cases of drowning, one tremendous
fire; and in _Somehow Good_--which, viewed merely as a story, is the
best of them--a highly eventful plot; and, spiritually, the characters
give us an idea of how much agony the heart can endure without quite
breaking. But though the bare plot seems almost like melodrama, the
style is never on stilts. In the most awful crises, the language has the
absolute simplicity of actual circumstance. When Rosalind recognises her
husband in the cab, we wonder why she takes it so coolly. Some sixty
pages farther along, we come upon this paragraph:--

     "Nevertheless, these were not so absolute that her demeanour
     escaped comment from the cabby, the only witness of her first sight
     of the 'electrocuted' man. He spoke of her afterwards as that
     squealing party down that sanguinary little turning off Shepherd's
     Bush Road he took that sanguinary galvanic shock to."

Our author is fond of presenting events of the most momentous
consequence through the lips of humble and indifferent observers. It is
only the cabman's chance testimony which shows us that even Rosalind's
superb self-control had the limit determined by real womanhood; and in
_Joseph Vance_, the great climax of emotion, when Lossie visits her
maligned old lover, is given with unconscious force through the faulty
vernacular of the "slut" of a servant-maid, who is utterly unaware of
the angels that ministered over that scene; and then by the broken
English of the German chess-player, equally blind to the divine
presence. Compare these two crude testimonies, which make the ludicrous
blunders made by the Hostess in that marvellous account of the death of
Falstaff, and you have a veritable harmony of the Gospels. Some
novelists use an extraordinary style to describe ordinary events; Mr. De
Morgan uses an ordinary style to describe extraordinary events.

Even in his latest book, _It Never Can Happen Again_,[2] the least
cheerful of all his productions, the title is intended to be as
comforting as Charles Reade's caption, _It Is Never Too Late to Mend_.
In this story, Mr. De Morgan descends into hell. Delirium tremens has
never been pictured with more frightful horror than in the awful night
when the mad wretch is bent on murder. No scene in any naturalistic
novel surpasses this in vivid detail. Indeed, all of Mr. De Morgan's
books might well be circulated as anti-alcohol tracts; the real villain
in his tragedies is Drink. Even though drunkenness in a certain aspect
supplies comedy in _Joseph Vance_, drink is, after all, the ruin of old
Christopher, and we are left with no shade of doubt that this is so. Mr.
De Morgan's unquestionable optimism does not blink the dreadful aspects
of life, any more than did Browning's. The scene in the hospital, where
the fingers without finger-nails clasp the mighty hand in the rubber
glove, is as loathsomely horrible as anything to be found in the annals
of disease. And the career of Blind Jim, entirely ignorant of his divine
origin and destiny, is a series of appalling calamities. He has lost his
sight in a terrible accident; he is run over by a waggon, and loses his
leg; he is run over by an automobile, and loses his life. He has also
lost, though he does not know it, what is far dearer to him than eyes,
or legs, or life,--his little daughter. And yet we do not need the
spirit voice of the dead child to assure us that all is well. Indeed,
the tragic history of Jim and Lizarann is not nearly so depressing as
the humdrum narrative of the melancholy quarrel between Mr. and Mrs.
Challis. In previous novels, the author has been pleased to show us
domestic happiness; here we have the dreary round of perpetual discord.
Of course no one can complain of Mr. De Morgan for his choice in this
matter; it is certainly true that not all marriages are happy, even
though the majority of them (as I believe) are. The difficulty is that
the triangle in this book--husband, wife, and beautiful young lady--has
no corner of real interest. It is not entirely the fault of either Mr.
or Mrs. Challis that they separate; there is much to be said on both
sides. What we object to is the fact that it is impossible to sympathise
with either of them; this is not because each is guilty, but because
neither is interesting. We do not much care what becomes of them. And as
for Judith, the technical virgin who causes all the trouble, she is a
very dull person. We do not need this book to learn that female beauty
without brains fascinates the ordinary man. The best scenes are those
where Blind Jim and Lizarann appear; they are a couple fully worthy of
Dickens at his best. Unfortunately they do not appear often enough to
suit us, and they both die. We could more easily have spared Mr. and
Mrs. Challis, the latter's abominable tea-gossip friend, and that old
hypocritical tiger-cat, Mrs. Challis's mother. Why does Mr. De Morgan
make elderly women so disgustingly unattractive? Does his sympathy with
life desert him here? The entire Challis household, including the
satellites of relationship and propinquity, are hardly worth the
author's skill or the reader's attention. One would suppose that a
brilliant novelist, like Challis, pulled from the domestic orbit by a
comet like Judith, would be for a time in an interesting, if not an
edifying, position; but he is not. Perhaps Mr. De Morgan wishes to show
with the impartiality of a true chronicler of life that a married man,
drawn away by his own lust, and enticed, can be just as dull in sin as
in virtue. Yet the long dreary family storm ends in sunshine; the
discordant pair are redeemed by Love,--the real motive power of this
story,--and one feels that it can never happen again. In spite of Mr. De
Morgan's continual onslaught on creeds, Athelstan Taylor, who believes
the whole Apostles' Creed, compares very favourably with Challis, who
believes only the first seven and the last four words of it, apparently
the portion accepted by Mr. De Morgan: and by their fruits ye shall know
them. It is certainly a proof of the fair-mindedness of our novelist,
that he has created orthodox believers like Lossie's husband and
Athelstan Taylor, big wholesome fellows, both of them; and has
deliberately made both so irresistibly attractive. The professional
parson is often ridiculed in modern novels; it is worth noting that in
this story the only important character in the whole work who combines
intelligence with virtue is the Reverend Athelstan Taylor.

[2] Through the kindness of Messrs. Henry Holt and Co., I have had the
privilege of reading this novel in proof sheets.

Seldom have any books shown so intimate a knowledge of the kingdom of
this world and at the same time reflected with such radiance the kingdom
of heaven. It is noteworthy and encouraging that a man who portrays with
such humorous exactitude the things that are seen and temporal, should
exhibit so firm a faith in the things that are unseen and eternal. In
_Joseph Vance_ we have the growth of the soul from an environment of
poverty and crime to the loftiest heights of nobility and self-denial;
and the theme in the Waldstein Sonata triumphantly repeats the
confidence of Dr. Thorpe, who regards death not as a barrier, but as a
gateway. In _Alice-for-Short_, the mystery of the spirit-world
completely envelops the humdrum inconsistencies that form the daily
round, the trivial task; this is seen perhaps not so much in the
"ghosts," for they speak of the past; but the figure of old
Verrinder--whose heart revolves about the Asylum like the planet around
the sun--and the waking of old Jane from her long sleep, seem to
symbolise the impotence of Time to quench the divine spark of Love. This
story is called a "dichronism"; but it might have been called a
_dichroism_, for from one viewpoint it reflects only the clouded colour
of earth, and from another a celestial glory. In _Somehow Good_ the
ugliest tragedy takes its place in the unapparent order of life. It is
not that good finally reigns in spite of evil; the final truth is that
in some manner good is the very goal of ill. The agony of separation has
tested the pure metal of character; and the fusion of two lives is made
permanent in the frightful heat of awful pain. The fruit of a repulsive
sin may be Beauty, like a flower springing from a dung-hill. "What
became of the baby?... _The_ baby--_his_ baby--_his_ horrible baby!"
"Gerry darling! Gerry _dearest_! do think...."



The father of Thomas Hardy wished his son to enter the church, and this
object was the remote goal of his early education. At just what period
in the boy's mental development Christianity took on the form of a
meaningless fable, we shall perhaps never know; but after a time he
ceased to have even the faith of a grain of mustard seed. This absence
of religious belief has proved no obstacle to many another candidate for
the Christian ministry, as every habitual church-goer knows; or as any
son of Belial may discover for himself by merely reading the prospectus
of summer schools of theology. There has, however, always been a certain
cold, mathematical precision in Mr. Hardy's way of thought that would
have made him as uncomfortable in the pulpit as he would have been in an
editor's chair, writing for salary persuasive articles containing the
exact opposite of his individual convictions. But, although the beauty
of holiness failed to impress his mind, the beauty of the sanctuary was
sufficiently obvious to his sense of Art. He became an ecclesiastical
architect, and for some years his delight was in the courts of the Lord.
Instead of composing sermons in ink, he made sermons in stones,
restoring to many a decaying edifice the outlines that the original
builder had seen in his vision centuries ago. For no one has ever
regarded ancient churches with more sympathy and reverence than Mr.
Hardy. No man to-day has less respect for God and more devotion to His

Mr. Hardy's professional career as an architect extended over a period
of about thirteen years, from the day when the seventeen-year-old boy
became articled, to about 1870, when he forsook the pencil for the pen.
His strict training as an architect has been of enormous service to him
in the construction of his novels, for skill in constructive drawing has
repeatedly proved its value in literature. Rossetti achieved positive
greatness as an artist and as a poet. Stevenson's studies in engineering
were not lost time, and Mr. De Morgan affords another good illustration
of the same fact. Thackeray was unconsciously learning the art of the
novelist while he was making caricatures, and the lesser Thackeray of a
later day--George du Maurier--found the transition from one art to the
other a natural progression. Hopkinson Smith and Frederic Remington, on
a lower but dignified plane, bear witness to the same truth. Indeed,
when one studies carefully the beginnings of the work of imaginative
writers, one is surprised at the great number who have handled an
artist's or a draughtsman's pencil. A prominent and successful
playwright of to-day has said that if he were not writing plays, he
should not dream of writing books; he would be building bridges.

Mr. Hardy's work as an ecclesiastical architect laid the real
foundations of his success as a novelist; for it gave him an intimate
familiarity with the old monuments and rural life of Wessex, and at the
same time that eye for precision of form that is so noticeable in all
his books. He has really never ceased to be an architect. Architecture
has contributed largely to the matter and to the style of his stories.
Two architects appear in his first novel. In _A Pair of Blue Eyes_
Stephen Smith is a professional architect, and in coming to restore the
old Western Church he was simply repeating the experience of his
creator. No one of Mr. Hardy's novels contains more of the facts of his
own life than _A Laodicean_, which was composed on what the author then
believed to be his death-bed; it was mainly dictated, which I think
partly accounts for its difference in style from the other tales. The
hero, Somerset, is an architect whose first meeting with his future
wife occurs through his professional curiosity concerning the castle;
and a considerable portion of the early chapters is taken up with
architectural detail, and of his enforced rivalry with a competitor in
the scheme for restoration. Not only does Mr. Hardy's scientific
profession speak through the mouths of his characters, but old and
beautiful buildings adorn his pages as they do the landscape he loves.
In _Two on a Tower_ the ancient structure appears here and there in the
story as naturally and incidentally as it would to a pedestrian in the
neighbourhood; in _A Pair of Blue Eyes_ the church tower plays an
important part in a thrilling episode, and its fall emphasises a
Scripture text in a diabolical manner. The old church at Weatherbury is
so closely associated with the life history of the men and women in _Far
from the Madding Crowd_ that as one stands in front of it to-day the
people seem to gather again about its portal....

But while Mr. Hardy has drawn freely on his knowledge of architecture in
furnishing animate and inanimate material for his novels, the great
results of his youthful training are seen in a more subtle and
profounder influence. The intellectual delight that we receive in the
perusal of his books--a delight that sometimes makes us impatient with
the work of feebler authors--comes largely from the architectonics of
his literary structures. One never loses sight of Hardy the architect.
In purely constructive skill he has surpassed all his contemporaries.
His novels--with the exception of _Desperate Remedies_ and _Jude the
Obscure_--are as complete and as beautiful to contemplate as a
sculptor's masterpiece. They are finished and noble works of art, and
give the same kind of pleasure to the mind as any superbly perfect
outline. Mr. Hardy himself firmly believes that the novel should first
of all be a story: that it should not be a thesis, nor a collection of
reminiscences or _obiter dicta_. He insists that a novel should be as
much of a whole as a living organism, where all the parts--plot,
dialogue, character, and scenery--should be fitly framed together,
giving the single impression of a completely harmonious building. One
simply cannot imagine him writing in the manner of a German novelist,
with absolutely no sense of proportion; nor like the mighty Tolstoi, who
steadily sacrifices Art on the altar of Reality; nor like the great
English school represented by Thackeray, Dickens, Trollope, and De
Morgan, whose charm consists in their intimacy with the reader; they
will interrupt the narrative constantly to talk it over with the merest
bystander, thus gaining his affection while destroying the illusion. Mr.
Hardy's work shows a sad sincerity, the noble austerity of the true
artist, who feels the dignity of his art and is quite willing to let it
speak for itself.

His earliest novel, _Desperate Remedies_, is more like an architect's
first crude sketch than a complete and detailed drawing. Strength,
originality, and a thoroughly intelligent design are perfectly clear;
one feels the impelling mind behind the product. But it resembles the
_plan_ of a good novel rather than a novel itself. The lines are hard;
there is a curious rigidity about the movement of the plot which
proceeds in jerks, like a machine that requires frequent winding up. The
manuscript was submitted to a publishing firm, who, it is interesting to
remember, handed it over to their professional reader, George Meredith.
Mr. Meredith told the young author that his work was promising; and he
said it in such a way that the two men became life-long friends, there
being no more jealousy between them than existed between Tennyson and
Browning. Years later Mr. Meredith said that he regarded Mr. Hardy as
the real leader of contemporary English novelists; and the younger man
always maintained toward his literary adviser an attitude of sincere
reverence, of which his poem on the octogenarian's death was a beautiful
expression. There is something fine in the honest friendship and mutual
admiration of two giants, who cordially recognise each other above the
heads of the crowd, and who are themselves placidly unmoved by the
fierce jealousy of their partisans. In this instance, despite a total
unlikeness in literary style, there was genuine intellectual kinship.
Mr. Meredith and Mr. Hardy were both Pagans and regarded the world and
men and women from the Pagan standpoint, though the deduction in one
case was optimism and in the other pessimism. Given the premises, the
younger writer's conclusions seem more logical; and the processes of his
mind were always more orderly than those of his brilliant and irregular
senior. There is little doubt (I think) as to which of the two should
rank higher in the history of English fiction, where fineness of Art
surely counts for something. Mr. Hardy is a great novelist; whereas to
adapt a phrase that Arnold applied to Emerson, I should say that Mr.
Meredith was not a great novelist; he was a great man who wrote novels.

Immediately after the publication of _Desperate Remedies_, which seemed
to teach him, as _Endymion_ taught Keats, the highest mysteries of his
art, Mr. Hardy entered upon a period of brilliant and splendid
production. In three successive years, 1872, 1873, and 1874, he produced
three masterpieces--_Under the Greenwood Tree_, _A Pair of Blue Eyes_,
and _Far from the Madding Crowd_; followed four years later by what is,
perhaps, his greatest contribution to literature, _The Return of the
Native_. Even in literary careers that last a long time, there seem to
be golden days when the inspiration is unbalked by obstacles. It is
interesting to contemplate the lengthy row of Scott's novels, and then
to remember that _The Heart of Midlothian_, _The Bride of Lammermoor_
and _Ivanhoe_ were published in three successive years; to recall that
the same brief span covered in George Eliot's work the production of
_Scenes of Clerical Life_, _Adam Bede_, and _The Mill on the Floss_; and
one has only to compare what Mr. Kipling accomplished in 1888, 1889, and
1890 with any other triennial, to discover when he had what the
Methodists call "liberty." Mr. Hardy's career as a writer has covered
about forty years; omitting his collections of short tales, he has
written fourteen novels; from 1870 to 1880, inclusive, seven appeared;
from 1881 to 1891, five; from 1892 to 1902, two; since 1897 he has
published no novels at all. With that singular and unfortunate
perversity which makes authors proudest of their lamest offspring, Mr.
Hardy has apparently abandoned the novel for poetry and the poetic
drama. I suspect that praise of his verse is sweeter to him than praise
of his fiction; but, although his poems are interesting for their ideas,
and although we all like the huge _Dynasts_ better than we did when we
first saw it, it is a great pity from the economic point of view that
the one man who can write novels better than anybody else in the same
language should deliberately choose to write something else in which he
is at his very best only second rate. The world suffers the same kind of
economic loss (less only in degree) that it suffered when Milton spent
twenty years of his life in writing prose; and when Tolstoi forsook
novels for theology.

It is probable that one reason why Mr. Hardy quit novel-writing was the
hostile reception that greeted _Jude the Obscure_. Every great author,
except Tennyson, has been able to endure adverse criticism, whether he
hits back, like Pope and Byron, or whether he proceeds on his way in
silence. But no one has ever enjoyed or ever will enjoy
misrepresentation; and there is no doubt that the writer of _Jude_ felt
that he had been cruelly misunderstood. It is, I think, the worst novel
he has ever written, both from the moral and from the artistic point of
view; but the novelist was just as sincere in his intention as when he
wrote the earlier books. The difficulty is that something of the same
change had taken place in his work that is so noticeable in that of
Björnson; he had ceased to be a pure artist and had become a
propagandist. The fault that marred the splendid novel _Tess of the
D'Urbervilles_ ruined _Jude the Obscure_. When Mr. Hardy wrote on the
title-page of _Tess_ the words, "A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented," he
issued defiantly the name of a thesis which the story (great, in spite
of this) was intended to defend. To a certain extent, his interest in
the argument blinded his artistic sense; otherwise he would never have
committed the error of hanging his heroine. The mere hanging of a
heroine may not be in itself an artistic blunder, for Shakespeare hanged
Cordelia. But Mr. Hardy executed Tess because he was bound to see his
thesis through. In the prefaces to subsequent editions the author turned
on his critics, calling them "sworn discouragers of effort," a phrase
that no doubt some of them deserved; and then, like many another man who
believes in himself, he punished both critics and the public in the
Rehoboam method by issuing _Jude the Obscure_. Instead of being a
masterpiece of despair, like _The Return of the Native_, this book is a
shriek of rage. Pessimism, which had been a noble ground quality of his
earlier writings, is in _Jude_ merely hysterical and wholly
unconvincing. The author takes obvious pains to make things come out
wrong; as in melodramas and childish romances, the law of causation is
suspended in the interest of the hero's welfare. Animalism, which had
partially disfigured _Tess_, became gross and revolting in _Jude_; and
the representation of marriage and the relations between men and women,
instead of being a picture of life, resembled a caricature. It is a
matter of sincere regret that Mr. Hardy has stopped novel-writing, but
we want no more _Judes_. Didactic pessimism is not good for the novel.

_The Well-Beloved_, published in 1897, but really a revision of an
earlier tale, is in a way a triumph of Art. The plot is simply absurd,
almost as whimsical as anything in _Alice in Wonderland_. A man proposes
to a young girl and is rejected; when her daughter is grown, he proposes
to the representative of the second generation, and with the same ill
fortune. When _her_ daughter reaches maturity, he tries the third woman
in line and without success. His perseverance was equalled only by his
bad luck, as so often happens in Mr. Hardy's stories. And yet, with a
plot that would wreck any other novelist, the author constructed a
powerful and beautifully written novel. It is as though the architect
had taken a wretched plan and yet somehow contrived to erect on its
false lines a handsome building. The book has naturally added nothing to
his reputation, but as a _tour de force_ it is hard to surpass.

It is pleasant to remember that a man's opinion of his own work has
nothing to do with its final success and that his best creations cannot
be injured by his worst. Tolstoi may be ashamed of having written _Anna
Karenina_, and may insist that his sociological tracts are superior
productions, but we know better; and rejoice in his powerlessness to
efface his own masterpieces. We may honestly think that we should be
ashamed to put our own names to such stuff as _Little Dorrit_, but that
does not prevent us from admiring the splendid genius that produced
_David Copperfield_ and _Great Expectations_. Mr. Hardy may believe that
_Jude the Obscure_ represents his zenith as a novelist, and that his
poems are still greater literature; but one reading of _Jude_ suffices,
while we never tire of rereading _Far from the Madding Crowd_ and _The
Return of the Native_. Probably no publisher's announcement in the world
to-day would cause more pleasure to English-speaking people than the
announcement that Thomas Hardy was at work on a Wessex novel with
characters of the familiar kind.

For _The Dynasts_, which covers the map of Europe, transcends the sky,
and deals with world-conquerors, is not nearly so great a world-drama as
_A Pair of Blue Eyes_, that is circumscribed in a small corner of a
small island, and treats exclusively of a little group of commonplace
persons. Literature deals with a constant--human nature, which is the
same in Wessex as in Vienna. As the late Mr. Clyde Fitch used to say, it
is not the great writers that have great things happen to them; the
great things happen to the ordinary people they portray. Mr. Hardy
selected a few of the southwestern counties of England as the stage for
his prose dramas; to this locality he for the first time, in _Far from
the Madding Crowd_, gave the name Wessex, a name now wholly fictitious,
but which his creative imagination has made so real that it is
constantly and seriously spoken of as though it were English geography.
In these smiling valleys and quiet rural scenes, "while the earth keeps
up her terrible composure," the farmers and milkmaids hold us spellbound
as they struggle in awful passion. The author of the drama stands aloof,
making no effort to guide his characters from temptation, folly, and
disaster, and offering no explanation to the spectators, who are
thrilled with pity and fear. But one feels that he loves and hates his
children as we do, and that he correctly gauges their moral value. The
very narrowness of the scene increases the intensity of the play. The
rustic cackle of his bourg drowns the murmur of the world.

Mr. Hardy's knowledge of and sympathy with nature is of course obvious
to all readers, but it is none the less impressive as we once more open
books that we have read many times. There are incidentally few novelists
who repay one so richly for repeated perusals. He seems as inexhaustible
as nature herself, and he grows stale no faster than the repetition of
the seasons. It is perhaps rather curious that a man who finds nature so
absolutely inexorable and indifferent to human suffering should love her
so well. But every man must love something greater than himself, and as
Mr. Hardy had no God, he has drawn close to the world of trees, plains,
and rivers. His intimacy with nature is almost uncanny. Nature is not
merely a background in his stories, it is often an active agent. There
are striking characters in _The Return of the Native_, but the greatest
character in the book is Egdon Heath. The opening chapter, which gives
the famous picture of the Heath, is like an overture to a great
music-drama. The _Heath-motif_ is repeated again and again in the story.
It has a personality of its own, and affects the fortunes and the hearts
of all human beings who dwell in its proximity. If one stands to-day on
the edge of this Heath at the twilight hour, just at the moment when
Darkness is conquering Light--the moment chosen by Mr. Hardy for the
first chapter--one realises its significance and its possibilities. In
_Tess of the D'Urbervilles_ the intercourse between man and nature is
set forth with amazing power. The different seasons act as chorus to the
human tragedy. In _The Woodlanders_ the trees seem like separate
individualities. To me a tree has become a different thing since I first
read this particular novel.

Even before he took up the study of architecture, Mr. Hardy's
unconscious training as a novelist began. When he was a small boy, the
Dorchester girls found him useful in a way that recalls the services of
that reliable child, Samuel Richardson. These village maids, in their
various love-affairs, which necessitated a large amount of private
correspondence, employed young Hardy as amanuensis. He did not, like his
great predecessor, compose their epistles; but he held the pen, and
faithfully recorded the inspiration of Love, as it flowed warm from the
lips of passionate youth. In this manner, the almost sexless boy was
enabled to look clear-eyed into the very heart of palpitating young
womanhood, and to express accurately its most gentle and most stormy
emotions; just as the white voice of a choir-child repeats with
precision the thrilling notes of religious passion. These early
experiences were undoubtedly of the highest value in later years;
indeed, as the boy grew a little older, it is probable that the
impression deepened. Mr. Hardy is fond of depicting the vague,
half-conscious longing of a boy to be near a beautiful woman; everyone
will remember the contract between Eustacia and her youthful admirer, by
which he was to hold her hand for a stipulated number of minutes. Mr.
Hardy's women are full of tenderness and full of caprice; and whatever
feminine readers may think of them, they are usually irresistible to the
masculine mind. It has been said, indeed, that he is primarily a man's
novelist, as Mrs. Ward is perhaps a woman's; he does not represent his
women as marvels of intellectual splendour, or in queenly domination
over the society in which they move. They are more apt to be the
victims of their own affectionate hearts. One female reader, exasperated
at this succession of portraits, wrote on the margin of one of Mr.
Hardy's novels that she took from a circulating library, "Oh, how I
_hate_ Thomas Hardy!" This is an interesting gloss, even if we do not
add meanly that it bears witness to the truth of the picture. Elfride,
Bathsheba, Eustacia, Lady Constantine, Marty South, and Tess are of
varied social rank and wealth; but they are all alike in humble
prostration before the man they love. Mr. Hardy takes particular
pleasure in representing them as swayed by sudden and constantly
changing caprices; one has only to recall the charming Bathsheba
Everdene, and her various attitudes toward the three men who admire
her--Troy, Boldwood, and Gabriel Oak. Mr. Hardy's heroines change their
minds oftener than they change their clothes; but in whatever material
or mental presentment, they never lack attraction. And they all resemble
their maker in one respect; at heart every one of them is a Pagan. They
vary greatly in constancy and in general strength of character; but it
is human passion, and not religion, that is the mainspring of their
lives. He has never drawn a truly spiritual woman, like Browning's

His best men, from the moral point of view, are closest to the soil.
Gabriel Oak, in _Far from the Madding Crowd_, and Venn, in _The Return
of the Native_, are, on the whole, his noblest characters. Oak is a
shepherd and Venn is a reddleman; their sincerity, charity, and fine
sense of honour have never been injured by what is called polite
society. And Mr. Hardy, the stingiest author toward his characters, has
not entirely withheld reward from these two. Henry Knight and Angel
Clare, who have whatever advantages civilisation is supposed to give,
are certainly not villains; they are men of the loftiest ideals; but if
each had been a deliberate black-hearted villain, he could not have
treated the innocent woman who loved him with more ugly cruelty.
Compared with Oak and Venn, this precious pair of prigs are seen to have
only the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees; a righteousness
that is of little help in the cruel emergencies of life. Along with them
must stand Clym Yeobright, another slave to moral theory, who quite
naturally ends his days as an itinerant preacher. The real villains in
Mr. Hardy's novels, Sergeant Troy, young Dare, and Alec D'Urberville,
seem the least natural and the most machine-made of all his characters.

Mr. Hardy's pessimism is a picturesque and splendid contribution to
modern fiction. We should be as grateful for it in this field as we are
to Schopenhauer in the domain of metaphysics. I am no pessimist myself,
but I had rather read Schopenhauer than all the rest of the
philosophers put together, Plato alone excepted. The pessimism of Mr.
Hardy resembles that of Schopenhauer in being absolutely thorough and
absolutely candid; it makes the world as darkly superb and as terribly
interesting as a Greek drama. It is wholly worth while to get this point
of view; and if in practical life one does not really believe in it, it
is capable of yielding much pleasure. After finishing one of Mr. Hardy's
novels, one has all the delight of waking from an impressive but
horrible dream, and feeling through the dissolving vision the real
friendliness of the good old earth. It is like coming home from an
adequate performance of _King Lear_, which we would not have missed for
anything. There are so many make-believe pessimists, so many whose
pessimism is a sham and a pose, which will not stand for a moment in a
real crisis, that we cannot withhold admiration for such pessimism as
Mr. Hardy's, which is fundamental and sincere. To him the Christian
religion and what we call the grace of God have not the slightest shade
of meaning; he is as absolute a Pagan as though he had written four
thousand years before Christ. This is something almost refreshing,
because it is so entirely different from the hypocrisy and cant, the
pretence of pessimism, so familiar to us in the works of modern writers;
and so inconsistent with their daily life. Mr. Hardy's pessimism is the
one deep-seated conviction of his whole intellectual process.

I once saw a print of a cartoon drawn by a contemporary Dresden artist,
Herr Sascha Schneider. It was called "The Helplessness of Man against
Destiny." We see a quite naked man, standing with his back to us; his
head is bowed in hopeless resignation; heavy manacles are about his
wrists, to which chains are attached, that lead to some fastening in the
ground. Directly before him, with hideous hands, that now almost
entirely surround the little circle where he stands in dejection, crawls
flatly toward him a prodigious, shapeless monster, with his horrid
narrow eyes fixed on his defenceless human prey. And the man is so
conscious of his tether, that even in the very presence of the
unspeakably awful object, _the chains hang loose_! He may have tried
them once, but he has since given up. The monster is Destiny; and the
real meaning of the picture is seen in the eyes, nose, and mouth of the
loathsome beast. There is not only no sympathy and no intelligence
there; there is an expression far more terrible than the evident lust to
devour; there is plainly the _sense of humour_ shown on this hideous
face. The contrast between the limitless strength of the monster and the
utter weakness of the man, flavours the stupidity of Destiny with the
zest of humour.

Now this is a correct picture of life as Mr. Hardy sees it. His God is a
kind of insane child, who cackles foolishly as he destroys the most
precious objects. Some years ago I met a man entirely blind. He said
that early in life he had lost the sight of one eye by an accident; and
that years later, as he held a little child on his lap, the infant, in
rare good humour, playfully poked the point of a pair of scissors into
the other, thus destroying his sight for ever. So long an interval had
elapsed since this second and final catastrophe, that the man spoke of
it without the slightest excitement or resentment. The child with the
scissors might well represent Hardy's conception of God. Destiny is
whimsical, rather than definitely malicious; for Destiny has not
sufficient intelligence even to be systematically bad. We smile at
Caliban's natural theology, as he composes his treatise on Setebos; but
his God is the same who disposes of man's proposals in the stories of
our novelist.

    "In which feat, if his leg snapped, brittle clay,
     And he lay stupid-like,--why, I should laugh;
     And if he, spying me, should fall to weep,
     Beseech me to be good, repair his wrong,
     Bid his poor leg smart less or grow again,--
     Well, as the chance were, this might take or else
     Not take my fancy....
     'Thinketh, such shows nor right nor wrong in Him,
     Nor kind, nor cruel: He is strong and Lord."

Mr. Hardy believes that, morally, men and women are immensely superior
to God; for all the good qualities that we attribute to Him in prayer
are human, not divine. He in his loneliness is totally devoid of the
sense of right and wrong, and knows neither justice nor mercy. His poem
_New Year's Eve_[3] clearly expresses his theology.

[3] See Appendix.

Mr. Hardy's pessimism is not in the least personal, nor has it risen
from any sorrow or disappointment in his own life. It is both
philosophic and temperamental. He cannot see nature in any other way. To
venture a guess, I think his pessimism is mainly caused by his deep,
manly tenderness for all forms of human and animal life and by an almost
abnormal sympathy. His intense love for bird and beast is well known;
many a stray cat and hurt dog have found in him a protector and a
refuge. He firmly believes that the sport of shooting is wicked, and he
has repeatedly joined in practical measures to waken the public
conscience on this subject. As a spectator of human history, he sees
life as a vast tragedy, with men and women emerging from nothingness,
suffering acute physical and mental sorrow, and then passing into
nothingness again. To his sympathetic mind, the creed of optimism is a
ribald insult to the pain of humanity and devout piety merely absurd. To
hear these suffering men and women utter prayers of devotion and sing
hymns of adoration to the Power whence comes all their anguish is to him
a veritable abdication of reason and common sense. God simply does not
deserve it, and he for one will have the courage to say so. He will not
stand by and see humanity submit so tamely to so heartless a tyrant.
For, although Mr. Hardy is a pessimist, he has not the least tincture of
cynicism. If one analyses his novels carefully, one will see that he
seldom shows scorn for his characters; his contempt is almost
exclusively devoted to God. Sometimes the evil fate that his characters
suffer is caused by the very composition of their mind, as is seen in _A
Pair of Blue Eyes_; again it is no positive human agency, but rather an
Æschylean conception of hidden forces, as in _The Return of the Native_;
but in neither case is humanity to blame.

This pessimism has one curious effect that adds greatly to the reader's
interest when he takes up an hitherto unread novel by our author. The
majority of works of fiction end happily; indeed, many are so badly
written that any ending cannot be considered unfortunate. But with most
novelists we have a sense of security. We know that, no matter what
difficulties the hero and heroine may encounter, the unseen hand of
their maker will guide them eventually to paths of pleasantness and
peace. Mr. Hardy inspires no such confidence. In reading Trollope, one
smiles at a cloud of danger, knowing it will soon pass over; but after
reading _A Pair of Blue Eyes_, or _Tess_, one follows the fortunes of
young Somerset in _A Laodicean_ with constant fluctuation of faint hope
and real terror; for we know that with Mr. Hardy the worst may happen at
any moment.

However dark may be his conception of life, Mr. Hardy's sense of humour
is unexcelled by his contemporaries in its subtlety of feeling and charm
of expression. His rustics, who have long received and deserved the
epithet "Shakespearian," arouse in every reader harmless and wholesome
delight. The shadow of the tragedy lifts in these wonderful pages, for
Mr. Hardy's laughter reminds one of what Carlyle said of Shakespeare's:
it is like sunshine on the deep sea. The childlike sincerity of these
shepherd farmers, the candour of their repartee and their appraisal of
gentle-folk are as irresistible as their patience and equable temper.
Everyone in the community seems to find his proper mental and moral
level. And their infrequent fits of irritation are as pleasant as their
more solemn moods. We can all sympathise (I hope) with the despair of
Joseph Poorgrass: "I was sitting at home looking for Ephesians and says
I to myself, 'Tis nothing but Corinthians and Thessalonians in this
danged Testament!"



Born in a little village in Ohio over seventy years ago, and growing up
with small Latin and less Greek, Mr. Howells may fairly be called a
self-educated man. Just why the epithet "self-made" should be applied to
those non-college-graduates who succeed in business, and withheld from
those who succeed in poetry and fiction, seems not entirely clear.
Perhaps it is tacitly assumed that those who become captains of industry
achieve prominence without divine assistance; whereas men of letters,
with or without early advantages, and whether grateful or not, have
unconscious communication with hidden forces. Be this as it may, the boy
Howells had little schooling and no college. All the public institutions
in the world, however, are but a poor makeshift in the absence of good
home training; and the future novelist's father was the right sort of
man and had the right sort of occupation to stimulate a clever and
ambitious son. The elder Howells was the editor of a country newspaper,
which, like a country doctor, makes up in variety of information what it
loses in spread of influence. The boy was a compositor before he was a
composer, as plenty of literary men since Richardson have been; he
helped to set up lyrics, news items, local gossip, the funny column, and
patent medicine advertisements. From mechanical he passed to original
work, both in his father's office and in other sanctums about the state;
sometimes acting not only as contributor, but "moulding public opinion"
from the editor's chair. And indeed he has never entirely stepped out of
the editorial rôle. During an amazingly busy life as novelist,
dramatist, poet, and foreign diplomat, Mr. Howells has acted as
editorial writer on the _Nation_, the _Atlantic_, the _Cosmopolitan
Magazine_, and _Harper's Monthly_. I think he would sometimes be
appalled at the prodigious amount of merely "timely" articles that he
has written, were it not for the fact that during his long career he has
never published a single line of which he need feel ashamed.

Type-setters and printers are commonly men of ideas, who have
interesting minds, and are good to talk with. Mr. Howells was certainly
no exception to the rule, and to the foundation of his early education
as a compositor and journalist he added four years of study of the
Italian language and literature in the pleasant environment of Venice.
He has always been a man of peace; and it is interesting to remember
that during the four years of tumultuous and bloody civil war, Mr.
Howells was serving his country as a United States Consul in Italy, and
at the same time preparing to add to the kind of fame she most sorely
needs. The "woman-country" never meant to him what it signified to
Browning; but it has always been an inspiration, and he would have been
a different person without this foreign influence. Besides some critical
and scholarly works on Italian literature, much of his subsequent
writing has been done beyond the Alps, and the plot of one of his
foremost novels develops on the streets of Florence. And in another and
wholly delightful story, we have the keen pleasure of seeing Italian
life and society through the eyes of Lydia Blood.

He formally began a literary career by the composition of a volume of
poems, as Blackmore, Hardy, Meredith, and many other novelists have seen
fit to do. He is not widely known as a poet to-day, though all his life
he has written more or less verse without achieving distinction; for he
is essentially a _prosateur_. In 1872, twelve years after the appearance
of his book of poems, came his first successful novel, _Their Wedding
Journey_. This story is written in the style that is responsible for
its author's fame and popularity; it is thoroughly typical of the whole
first part of his novel-production. It has that quiet stingless humour,
clever dialogue, and wholesome charm, that all readers of Mr. Howells
associate with his name. In other words, it is a clear manifestation of
his own personality. Now as to the permanent value and final place in
literature of these American novels, critics may differ; but there can
be only one opinion of the man who wrote them.

The personality of Mr. Howells, as shown both in his objective novels
and in his subjective literary confessions, is one that irresistibly
commands our highest respect and our warmest affection. A simple,
democratic, unaffected, modest, kindly, humorous, healthy soul, with a
rare combination of rugged virility and extreme refinement. It is
exceedingly fortunate for America that such a man has for so many years
by common consent, at home and abroad, been regarded as the Dean of
American Letters. He has had more influence on the output of fiction in
America than any other living man. This influence has been entirely
wholesome, from the standpoint of both morals and Art. He has
consistently stood for Reticent Realism. He has ridiculed what he is
fond of calling "romantic rot," and his own novels have been a silent
but emphatic protest against "mentioning the unmentionable." Every now
and then there has risen a violent revolt against his leadership, the
latest outspoken attack coming from a novelist of distinction, Gertrude
Atherton. In the year 1907 she relieved her mind by declaring that Mr.
Howells has been and is a writer for boarding-school misses; that he has
never penetrated deeply into life; and that not only has his own
timidity prevented him from courageously revealing the hearts of men and
women, but that his position of power and influence has cast a blight on
American fiction. Thanks to him, she insists, American novels are pale
and colourless productions, and are known the world over for their
tameness and insipidity. Mrs. Atherton has been supported in this revolt
by many very young literary aspirants, who lack her wisdom and her
experience, and whose chief dislike of Mr. Howells, when finally
analysed, seems to be directed against his intense ethical earnestness.
For, at heart, Mr. Howells resembles most Anglo-Saxon novelists in being
a moralist.

It is true that American novelists and playwrights are at one great
disadvantage as compared with contemporary Continental writers. Owing to
the public conscience, they are compelled to work in a limited field.
The things that we leave to medical specialists and to alienists are
staple subject-matter in high-class French and German fiction. In a
European dictionary there is no such word as "reserve." French writers
like Brieux protest that American conceptions of French morals are based
on the reading of French books whose authors have no standing in Paris,
and whose very names are unknown to their countrymen. But this protest
fades before facts. The facts are that Parisian novelists and dramatists
of the highest literary and social distinction, who are awarded national
prizes, admitted to the French Academy, and who receive all sorts of
public honours, write and publish books, which, if produced in the
United States by an American, would bar him from the houses and from the
society of many decent people, and might cause his arrest. At any rate,
he would be regarded as a criminal rather than as a hero. I have in mind
plays by Donnay, recently elected to the French Academy; plays by Capus,
who stands high in public regard; novels by Regnier, who has received
all sorts of honours. These men are certainly not fourth- and
fifth-class writers; they are thoroughly representative of Parisian
literary taste. Regnier has not hesitated to write, and the editors have
not hesitated to accept, for the periodical _L'Illustration_, which goes
into family circles everywhere, a novel that could not possibly be
published in any respectable magazine in America. I do not say that
Americans are one peg higher in morality than Frenchmen; it may be that
we are hypocrites, and that the French are models of virtue; but the
difference in moral tone between the average American play or novel and
that produced in Paris is simply enormous.

The modern German novel is no better than the French. Last night I
finished reading Sudermann's long and powerful story, _Das hohe Lied_. I
could not help thinking how entirely different it is in its
subject-matter, in its characters, in its scenes, and in its atmosphere,
from the average American novel. Now of course the subject that arouses
the most instant interest from all classes of people, both young and
old, innocent and guilty, is the subject of sex. A large number of
modern successful French and German novels and plays contain no other
matter of any real importance--and would be intolerably dull were it not
for their dealing with sexual crimes. The Continental writer is barred
by no restraint; when he has nothing to say, as is very often the case,
he simply plays his trump card. The American, however, is not permitted
to penetrate beyond the bounds of decency; which shuts him off from the
chief field where European writers dwell. He must somehow make his novel
interesting to his readers, just as a man is expected to make himself
interesting in social conversation, without recourse to pruriency or

Leaving out of debate for a moment the moral aspect of Art, is it
necessarily true that novels which plunge freely into sex questions are
a more faithful representation of life than those that observe the
limits of good taste? I think not. The men and women in many Continental
stories have apparently nothing to do except to gratify their passions.
All the thousand and one details that make up the daily routine of the
average person are sacrificed to emphasise one thing; but this, even in
most degraded Sybarites, would be only a part of their actual activity.
I believe that _A Modern Instance_ is just as true to life as _Bel-Ami_.
It would really be a misfortune if Mrs. Atherton could have her way; for
then American novelists would copy the faults of European writers
instead of their virtues. The reason why French plays and French novels
are generally superior to American is not because they are indecent; and
we shall never raise our standard merely by copying foreign immorality.
The superiority of the French is an intellectual and artistic
superiority; they excel us in literary style. If we are to imitate them,
let us imitate their virtues and not their defects, even though the task
in this case be infinitely more difficult.

And, granting what Mrs. Atherton says, that the reticence of American
fiction is owing largely to the influence of Mr. Howells, have we not
every reason to be grateful to him? Has not the modern novel a
tremendous influence in education, and do we really wish to see young
men and women, boys and girls, reading stories that deal mainly with
sex? Is it well that they should abandon Dickens, Thackeray, and
Stevenson, for the novel in vogue on the Continent? It is often said
that French fiction is intended only for seasoned readers, and is
carefully kept from youth. But this is gammon, and should deceive only
the grossly ignorant. As if anything nowadays could be kept from youth!
With the exception of girls who are very strictly brought up, young
people in Europe have the utmost freedom in reading. In one of Regnier's
novels, which purports to be autobiographical, the favourite bedside
book of the boy in his teens is _Mademoiselle de Maupin_. In a secret
ballot vote recently taken by a Russian periodical, to discover who are
the most popular novelists with high-school boys and girls in Russia, it
appeared that of all foreign writers Guy de Maupassant stood first. Is
this really a desirable state of affairs? Suppose it be true, as it
probably is, that the average Russian, German, or French boy of
seventeen is intellectually more mature than his English or American
contemporary--are we willing to make the physical and moral sacrifice
for the merely mental advance? Is it not better that our boys should be
playing football and reading _Treasure Island_, than that they should
be spending their leisure hours in the manner described by Regnier?

Mr. Howells's creed in Art is perhaps more open to criticism than his
creed in Ethics. His artistic creed is narrow, strict, and definite. He
has expressed it in his essays, and exemplified it in his novels. His
two doctrinal works, _Criticism and Fiction_, and _My Literary
Passions_, resemble Zola's _Le Roman Expérimental_ in dogmatic
limitation. The creed of Mr. Howells is realism, which he has not only
faithfully followed in his creative work, but which he uses as a
standard by which to measure the value of other novelists, both living
and dead. As genius always refuses to be measured by any standard, and
usually defies classification, Mr. Howells's literary estimates of other
men's work are far more valuable as self-revelation than as adequate
appraisal. Indeed, some of his criticisms seem bizarre. Where works of
fiction do not run counter to his literary dogmas, he is abundantly
sympathetic and more than generous; many a struggling young writer has
cause to bless him for powerful assistance; apparently there has never
been one grain of envy, jealousy, or meanness in the mind of our
American dean. But, broadly speaking, Mr. Howells has not the true
critical mind, which places itself for the moment in the mental
attitude of the author criticised; he is primarily a creative rather
than a critical writer. Here he is in curious opposition to his friend
and contemporary, Henry James. Mr. James is a natural-born critic, one
of the best America has ever produced. His essay on Balzac was a
masterpiece. His intellectual power is far more critical than creative;
as a novelist, he seems quite inferior to Mr. Howells. And his best
story, the little sketch, _Daisy Miller_, was properly called by its
author a "study."

Mr. Howells's literary career has two rather definite periods. The break
was caused largely by the influence of Tolstoi. The earlier novels are
more purely artistic; they are accurate representations of American
characters, for the most part joyous in mood, full of genuine humour,
and natural charm. A story absolutely expressive of the author as we
used to know him is _The Lady of the Aroostook_. As a sympathetic and
delightful portrayal of a New England country girl, this book is one of
his best productions. The voyage across the Atlantic; the surprise
caused by Lydia's name and appearance, and homely conversation. "I want
to know!" cried Lydia. The second surprise caused by her splendid
singing voice. The third surprise caused to the sophisticated young
gentleman by discovering that he was in love with her. His rapture at
his glorious good-fortune in saving the drunken wretch from drowning,
thus acting as hero before his lady's eyes; her virginal experiences in
Italy; the final happy consummation--all this is in Mr. Howells's best
vein, the Howells of thirty years ago. The story is full of observation,
cerebration, and human affection. As Professor Beers has remarked, if
Mr. Howells knows his countrymen no more intimately than does Henry
James, at least he loves them better. This charming novel was rapidly
followed in the next few years by a succession of books that are at once
good to read, and of permanent value as reflections of American life,
manners, and morals. These were _A Modern Instance_, _A Woman's Reason_,
_The Rise of Silas Lapham_, and _Indian Summer_; making a literary
harvest of which not only their author, but all Americans, have reason
to be justly proud.

Somewhere along in the eighties Mr. Howells came fully within the grasp
of the mighty influence of Tolstoi, an influence, which, no matter how
beneficial in certain ways, has not been an unmixed blessing on his
foreign disciples. What the American owes to the great Russian, and how
warm is his gratitude therefor, any one may see for himself by reading
_My Literary Passions_. It is indeed difficult to praise the maker of
_Anna Karenina_ too highly; but nobody wanted Mr. Howells to become a
lesser Tolstoi. When we wish to read Tolstoi, we know where to find
him; we wish Mr. Howells to remain his own self, shrewdly observant, and
kindly humorous. The latter novels of the American show the same kind of
change that took place in Björnson, that has also characterised Bourget;
it is the partial abandonment of the novel as an art form, and its
employment as a social, political, or religious tract. Mr. Howells's
saving sense of humour has kept him from dull extremes; but when _A
Hazard of New Fortunes_ appeared, we knew that there was more in the
title than the writer intended; our old friend had put on Saul's armour.
As has been suggested above, this change was not entirely an individual
one; it was symptomatic of the development of the modern novel all over
the world. But in this instance it seemed particularly regrettable. We
have our fill of strikes and labour troubles in the daily newspaper,
without going to our novelist for them. With one exception, it is
probable that not a single one of Mr. Howells's novels published during
the last twenty years is as good, from the artistic and literary point
of view, as the admirable work he produced before 1889. The exception is
_The Kentons_ (1902), in which he returned to his earlier manner, in a
triumphant way that showed he had not lost his skill. Indeed, there is
no trace of decay in the other books of his late years; there is merely
a loss of charm.

I think that _Indian Summer_, despite its immense popularity at the time
of publication, has never received the high praise it really deserves.
It is written in a positive glow of artistic creation. I believe that of
all its author's works, it is the one whose composition he most keenly
enjoyed. The conversations--always a great feature of his stories--are
immensely clever; I suspect that as he wrote them he was often agreeably
surprised at his own inspiration. The three characters, the middle-aged
man and woman, and the romantic young girl, are admirably set off; no
one has ever better shown the fact that it is quite possible for one to
imagine oneself in love when really one is fancy-free. The delicate
shades of jealousy in the intimate talks between the two women are
exquisitely done; the experience of the grown woman contrasting finely
with the imagination of the young girl. The difference between a man of
forty and a woman of twenty, shown here not in heavy tragedy, but in the
innumerable, convincing details of daily human intercourse, is finely
emphasised; and we can feel the great relief of both when the engagement
tie is broken. This story in its way is a masterpiece; and anyone who
lacks enthusiasm for its author ought to read it again.

His most powerful novel is probably _A Modern Instance_. This, like many
American and English fictions, first appeared in serial form--a fact
that should be known before one indulges in criticism. The old objection
to this method was that it led the writer to attempt to end each section
dramatically, leaving the reader with a sharp appetite for more. The
movement of the narrative, when the book was finally published as a
whole, resembled a series of jumps. Someone has said, that even so fine
a novel as _Far from the Madding Crowd_ was a succession of brilliant
leaps; whether or not this was caused by its original serial printing, I
do not know. This difficulty would never appear in Mr. Howells, at all
events; because his stories do not impress us by their special dramatic
scenes, or supreme moments, but rather by their completeness. The other
objection, however, has some force here--the fact that details may be
extended beyond their artistic proportion, in a manner that does not
militate against the separate instalments, but is seen to mar the book
as a whole. The logging camp incident in _A Modern Instance_ is
prolonged to a fault. Proportion is sacrificed to realism. From this
point of view, it is well to remember that _The Newcomes_ appeared in
single numbers, whereas _Henry Esmond_ was published originally as a
complete work.

But this slight defect is more than atoned for by the power shown in the
depiction of character. This is a study of degeneration, not dealing
with remote characters in far-off historical situations, but brought
home to our very doors. One feels that this dreadful fate might happen
to one's neighbours--might happen to oneself. It seems to me a greater
book in every way than _Romola_, though I am not prepared to say that
Mr. Howells is a greater novelist than George Eliot. There is all the
difference between Tito Melema and Bartley Hubbard that there is between
a fancy picture and a portrait. Mr. Howells is fond of using
Shakespearian quotations as titles; witness _The Counterfeit
Presentment_, _The Undiscovered Country_, _The Quality of Mercy_, and _A
Modern Instance_. Now the word "modern," as every student of Shakespeare
knows, means in the poet's works almost the opposite of what it
signifies to-day. "Full of wise saws and modern instances" is equivalent
to saying prosaically, "full of sententious proverbs and old, trite
illustrations." In the Shakespearian sense, Mr. Howells's title might be
translated "A Familiar Example"--for it is not only a story of modern
American life, it portrays what is unfortunately an instance all too
familiar. Bartley Hubbard is the typical representative of the "smart"
young American. He is not in the least odious when we first make his
acquaintance. His skill in address and in adaptation to society assure
his instant popularity; and at heart he is a good fellow, quite unlike
a designing villain. He would rather do right than do wrong, provided
both are equally convenient. He simply follows the line of least
resistance. Nor is he by nature a Bohemian; he loves Marcia, is proud of
her fresh beauty, and enjoys domestic life. Then he has the fascinating
quality of true humour. His conversations with his wife, when he is free
from worry, are exceedingly attractive to the impersonal listener. He is
just like thousands of clever young American journalists--quick-witted,
enterprising, energetic, with a sure nose for news; there is, in fact,
only one thing the matter with Bartley. Although, when life is flowing
evenly, he does not realise his deficiency, he actually has at heart no
moral principle, no ethical sense, no honour. The career of such a man
will depend entirely upon circumstances; because his standard of virtue
is not where it should be, within his own mind, but without. Like many
other men, he can resist anything but temptation. Whether he will become
a good citizen or a blackleg, depends not in the least upon himself, but
wholly upon the events through which he moves. Had he married exactly
the right sort of girl, and had some rich uncle left the young couple a
fortune, it is probable that neither his friends, nor his wife, nor even
he himself, would have guessed at his capacity for evil. He would have
remained popular in the community, and died both lamented and
respected. But the difficulty is that he did not marry wisely, and he
subsequently became short of cash. Now, as some writer has said, it does
not matter so much whether a man marries with wisdom or the reverse, nor
whether he behaves in other emergencies with prudence or folly; what
really matters is how he behaves himself _after_ the marriage, or after
any other crisis where he may have chosen foolishly. But Bartley, like
many other easy-going youths, was no man for adverse circumstances.
Almost imperceptibly at first his degeneration begins; his handsome
figure shows a touch of grossness; the refinement in his face becomes
blurred; drinking ceases to be a pleasure, and becomes a habit.
Meanwhile, as what he calls his bad luck increases, quarrels with his
wife become more frequent; try as he will, there is always a sheaf of
unpaid bills at the end of the month; his home loses its charm. The
mental and spiritual decline of the man is shown repulsively by his
physical appearance. No one who has read the book can possibly forget
his broad back as he sits in the courtroom, and the horrible ring of fat
that hangs over his collar. The devil has done his work with such
technique that Bartley as we first see him, and Bartley as we last see
him, seem to be two utterly different and distinct persons and
personalities; it is with an irrepressible shudder that we recall the
time when this coarse, fat sot was a slender, graceful young man, who
charmed all acquaintances by his ease of manner and winsome
conversation. And yet, as one looks back over his life, every stage in
the transition is clear, logical, and wholly natural.

From another point of view this novel is a study of the passion of
jealousy. No other American novel, so far as I know, has given so
accurate a picture of the gradual and subtle poisoning produced by this
emotion, and only one American play,--Clyde Fitch's thoughtful and
powerful drama, _The Girl with the Green Eyes_. It is curious that
jealousy, so sinister and terrible in its effects on character, should
usually appear on the stage and in fiction as comic. It is seldom
employed as a leading motive in tragedy, though Shakespeare showed its
possibilities; but one frequently sees it in broad farce. Of all the
passions, there is none which has less mirth than jealousy. It is
fundamentally tragic; and in _A Modern Instance_, we see the evil
transformation it works in Marcia, and its force in accelerating her
husband's degeneration. Marcia is an example of the wish of Keats--she
lives a life of sensations rather than of thoughts; and jealousy can be
conquered only by mental power, never by emotional. Marcia has no
intellectual resources; her love for her husband is her whole existence.
She has no more mind than many another American country girl who comes
home from boarding-school. As one critic has pointed out, "she has not
yet emerged from the elemental condition of womanhood." Jealousy is, of
course, an "animal quality," and Marcia, without knowing it, is simply a
tamed, pretty, affectionate young animal. Her jealousy is entirely
without foundation, but it causes her the most excruciating torment, and
constantly widens the breach between herself and the man she loves. If
she had only married Halleck! She would never have been jealous with
him. But jealousy is like an ugly weed in a beautiful garden; it exists
only where there is love. And a girl like Marcia could never have
returned the love of a stodgy man like Halleck. One cannot help asking
three vain questions as one contemplates the ruins of her happiness and
sees the cause. If she had never met Bartley, and had married Halleck,
would she have been better off? are we to understand that she is finally
saved by Halleck? and if so, what is the nature of her salvation?

The old sceptical lawyer, Marcia's father, is one of the most convincing
characters that Mr. Howells has ever drawn. Those who have lived in New
England know this man, for they have seen him often. He is shrewd,
silent, practical, undemonstrative, yet his unspoken love for his
daughter is almost terrible in its intensity, and finally brings him to
the grave. Although he admires young Bartley's cleverness, he would have
admired him more had he been less clever. He has a sure instinct against
the young man from the start, and knows there can be only one outcome of
such a marriage; because he is better acquainted with the real character
of husband and wife than they are with themselves. Squire Gaylord is a
person of whose creation any novelist in the history of fiction might be

When _A Modern Instance_ was first published, a contemporary review
called it "a book that all praise but none like." I imagine that the
unpleasant sensations it awakens in every reader are like those roused
by Mr. Barrie's _Sentimental Tommy_. The picture is simply too faithful
to be agreeable. Everyone beholds his own faults and tendencies clearly
portrayed, and the result is quite other than reassuring. The book finds
us all at home. But, as Gogol, the great Russian, used to say, quoting
an old Slavonic proverb, "We must not blame the mirror if the face looks

It is both instructive and entertaining to try the effect of this novel
on a representative group of American college undergraduates. Those who
had lived in New England villages, and were familiar with the scenes
described, were loud in their praises of the background, and of the
Gaylord family. One young man remarked--he was at Yale--"I know a young
journalist who was last year at Harvard, who is going to the devil in
very much the same way." Another said, with an experience hardly
consonant with his years, that he had known women just as jealous as
Marcia. Most of them, however, believed that her jealousy was grossly
exaggerated; it looks so like folly to those yet untouched by the
passion of love. Another truthful and modest youth said pathetically, "I
am too young to appreciate this book." Still another remarked with rare
lucidity and definiteness of penetration, "In reading this story somehow
something struck me unfavourably." Minor improbabilities in the novel
produced the greatest shock--the hot-scotch episode seemed quite
impossible, and Mr. Howells was thought to be a poor judge of the
effects of whiskey. But the criticism I enjoyed most came from the
undergraduate who said in all sincerity, "I think this is a very good
book for young ladies to read before getting married." So indeed it is.

In the year 1902, by the publication of _The Kentons_, Mr. Howells gave
us a most delightful surprise. It was like the return of an old friend
from a far journey. In literature it was as though Björnson should
publish a story like _A Happy Boy_, or as though Mr. Hardy should give
us a tale like _Under the Greenwood Tree_. _The Kentons_ is a thoroughly
charming international novel, containing the pleasant adventures of an
Ohio family on the ocean liner and in Europe, written in the _Aroostook_
style, sparkling with humour, and rich in sympathy and tenderness.
Political, social, and ethical problems are conspicuously absent, and
the only material used by the writer is human nature. This is one of the
best books he has ever written; it has all the charm of _Their Wedding
Journey_, plus the wisdom and observation that come only by years. It is
wholesome, healthy, realistic; a thoroughly representative American
novel from a master's hand. In a French _roman_, Bittredge would of
course have been a libertine, and one of the girls ruined by him. In
_The Kentons_, he is merely _fresh_, and though he causes some trouble,
everybody in the end is better off for the experience. Mr. Howells seems
especially to dislike _Frechheit_ in young men, and he has made the
vulgarity and assurance of Bittredge both offensive and absurd. We have
too many Bittredges in the United States; and some of them do not lose
their bittredgidity with advancing years.

The five members of the Kenton family are wonderfully well drawn, and
are just such people as we fortunately meet every day. The purity and
sweetness of married and family life are beautifully exemplified here;
they are exactly what we see in thousands of American homes, and
constitute the real answer to modern attacks on the conjugal relation.
The judge and his wife are two companions, growing old together in
simplicity and innocence, happy in the truest sense--loving each other
far more in age than in youth, which is perfectly natural in life if not
in fiction; because every day they become more necessary to each other
and have common interests extending over many years. The scene in their
bedroom, as they talk together before slumber, while the old Judge winds
up his watch, is a veritable triumph of Art.

The younger daughter Lottie is a vivid portrait of the typical American
high-school girl, slangy, superficial, flirtatious, not quite vulgar,
and in every emergency with young men fully capable of taking care of
herself. After a round of joyous, heart-free, and innocent familiarities
with various youthful admirers, she finally becomes an admirable wife
and housekeeper. Her sister Ellen is of an opposite temperament, pale,
slight, and non-athletic. She is entirely different from the Booth
Tarkington or Richard Harding Davis heroine, and in her purity,
delicacy, and refinement, takes us back to old-fashioned fiction. As a
spectator on the steamer says of her, "that pale girl is adorable." In
her shyness and extraordinary loveliness she reminds us of Turgenev's
spiritual Lisa. The scene in the night, where her young brother steals
to her bed and pours into her sympathetic ears all the troubled passion
and sorrow, all the embarrassment and suffering of his sensitive boy's
heart, is exceedingly beautiful and tender. He knows _she_ will
understand. And at last it is Ellen, and not Lottie, who becomes the
fashionable, aristocratic, New York woman--preserving in her wealthy
environment all the fruits of the spirit.

Boyne, the small boy, the "kid brother," is a fine illustration of the
enthusiasm for humanity so characteristic of Mr. Howells. It is
instructive to compare this little man with the young brother of Daisy
Miller. Both are at the age most trying to their elders, and both are
faithfully portrayed; but Randolph C. Miller is made particularly
obnoxious, even odious, while one cannot help loving Boyne. The
difference is that one is drawn with the finger of scorn and the other
with the insight of sympathy. Mr. Howells calls Boyne "a mass of
helpless sweetness though he did not know it." His romantic love for the
young queen of Holland and the burning mortification he suffers thereby,
are sufficiently easy to understand. The contrast between the high
seriousness with which he takes himself, and the impression he makes on
others, is something that every man who looks back will remember. As
the novelist puts it, "He thought he was an iceberg when he was merely
an ice cream of heroic mould."

_The Kentons_, like some other novels by Mr. Howells, may seem to many
readers superficial, because it is so largely taken up with the trivial
details of daily existence. It is really a profound study of life, made
by an artist who has not only the wisdom of the head, but the deeper
wisdom of the heart.



For over half a century this intellectual athlete has been one of the
busiest men in the world. A partisan fighter born and bred, he has been
active in every political Skandinavian struggle; in religious questions
he has fought first on one side and then on the other, changing only by
honest conviction, and hitting with all his might every time; to him the
word "education" is as a red rag to a bull, for he believes that it has
been mainly bad, and if people will only listen, he can make it mainly
good; in a passion of chivalry, he has drawn his pen for the cause of
Woman, whose "sphere" he hopes to change--the most modern and the most
popular of all the vain attempts to square the circle; his powerful
voice has been heard on the lecture platform, not only in his own
beloved country, but all over Europe and in America; he has served for
years as Theatre-Director, in the determination to convert the
playhouse, like everything else he touches, into a vast moral force. In
addition to all the excitement of a life spent in fighting, his purely
literary activity has been enormous in quantity and astonishing in
range. His numerous dramas treat of all possible themes, from the old
Sagas to modern divorce laws; and after exhausting all earthly material,
he has boldly advanced into the realm of the supernatural; his splendid
play, _Beyond Human Power_, holds the boards in most European cities,
and has exercised a profound influence on modern drama. His novels are
as different in style and purpose as it is possible for the novels of
one man to be; and some of them are already classics. A man with such an
endowment, with such tremendous convictions, with buoyant optimism and
terrific energy, has made no small stir in the world, and it will be a
long time before the name of Björnstjerne Björnson is forgotten.

Had he not possessed, in addition to a fine mind, a magnificent physical
frame, he would long since have vanished into that spiritual world that
has interested him so deeply. But he has the physique of a Norse god.
Many instances of his bodily strength and endurance have been cited; it
is sufficient to remember that even after his mane of hair had become
entirely grey he regularly took his bath by standing naked under a
mountain waterfall. Let that suffice, as one trial of it would for most
of us. He came honestly by his health and vigour, born as he was on a
lonely mountain-side in Norway. It was in the winter of 1832 that this
sturdy baby gave his first cry for freedom, his father being a village
pastor, whose flock were literally scattered among steep and desolate
rocks, where the salient feature of the landscape during nine months of
the year was snow. More than once the good shepherd had to seek and save
that which was lost. For society, the little boy had a few pet animals
and the dreams engendered by supreme loneliness. But when he was six
years old, the father was fortunately called to a pastorate in a
beautiful valley on the west coast, surrounded by noble and inspiring
scenery, the effect of which is visibly seen in all his early stories.
We cannot help comparing this vale of beauty, trailing clouds of glory
over Björnson's boyhood, with the flat, wet, dismal gloom of East
Prussia, that oppressed so heavily the child Sudermann, and made Dame
Care look so grey.

At the grammar school, at the high school, and at the university he
showed little interest in the curriculum, and no particular aptitude for
study; but before leaving college he had already begun original
composition, and at the age of twenty-four he published a masterpiece.
This was the pastoral romance, _Synnövé Solbakken_, which for sheer
beauty of style and atmosphere he has never surpassed. For some years
preceding the date of its appearance there had been a lull in literary
activity in Norway. Out of this premonitory hush of stillness came a
beautiful voice, which by the newness and freshness of its tones aroused
immediate interest. Everybody listened, enchanted by the strange
harmony. Men saw that a new prophet had arisen in Israel. The absolute
simplicity of the style, the naïveté of the story, the naturalness of
the characters, the short, passionate sentences like those of the Sagas,
the lyrically poetic atmosphere, appealed at once to the Norwegian
heart. Why is it that we are surprised in books and in plays by simple
language and natural characters? It must be that we are so accustomed to
literary conventions remote from actual life, that when we behold real
people and hear natural talk in works of art our first emotion is glad
astonishment. For the same reason we praise certain persons for
displaying what we call common sense. Be this as it may, no one believed
that a pastoral romance could be so vigorous, so fresh, and so true. Of
all forms of literature, pastoral tales, whether in verse or in prose,
have been commonly the most artificial and the most insipid; but here
was the breath of life. I can recommend nothing better for the soul
weary of the closeness of modern naturalism than a course of reading in
the early work of Björnson.

He followed this initial success with three other beautiful prose
lyrics--_Arne_, _A Happy Boy_, and _The Fisher Maiden_. These stories
exhibit the same qualities so strikingly displayed in _Synnövé
Solbakken_. In all this artistic production Björnson is an
impressionist, reproducing with absolute fidelity what he saw, both in
the world of matter and of spirit. We may rely faithfully on the
correctness of these pictures, whether they portray natural scenery,
country customs, or peasant character. We inhale Norway. We can smell
the pines. The nipping and eager air, the dark green resinous
forests--we feel these as plainly as if we were physically present in
the Land of the Midnight Sun. The kindly simplicity of the peasants, the
village ceremonies at weddings and funerals, the cheerful loneliness
with sheep on mountain pasture, and the subdued but universal note of
deep rural piety, make one feel as though the whole community were bound
by gold chains about the feet of God. Björnson says, "The church is in
the foreground of Norwegian peasant life." And indeed everything seems
to centre around God's acre, and the spire of the meeting-house points
in the same direction as the stories themselves. Many beautiful passages
affect us like noble music; our eyes are filled with happy tears.

In view of the strong and ardent personality of the author, it is
curious that these early romances should be so truly objective. One
feels his personality in a general way, as one feels that of Turgenev;
but the young writer separates himself entirely from the course of the
story; he nowhere interferes. The characters apparently develop without
his assistance, as the events take place without any manipulation. As a
work of objective art, _Synnövé Solbakken_ approaches flawless
perfection. It has one plot, which travels in one direction--forward.
The persons are intensely Norwegian, but there their similarity ends.
Each is individualised. The simplicity of the story is so remarkable
that to some superficial and unobservant readers it has seemed childish.
The very acme of Art is so close to nature that it sometimes is mistaken
for no art at all, like the acting of Garrick or the style of Jane
Austen. Adverse criticisms are the highest compliments. Language is well
managed when it expresses profound thoughts in words clear to a child.

The love scenes in this narrative are idyllic; in fact, the whole book
is an idyl. It seems radiant with sunshine. It is as pure as a mountain
lake, and as refreshing. And besides the artistic unity of the work,
that satisfies one's standards so fully, there is an exquisite something
hard to define; a play of fancy, a veil of poetic beauty lingering over
the story, that makes us feel when we have closed the book as if we were
gazing at a clear winter sunset.

Björnson has the creative imagination of the true poet. In the wonderful
prologue to _Arne_ he gives the trees separate personalities, in a
manner to arouse almost the envy of Thomas Hardy. Indeed, the author of
_The Woodlanders_ has never felt the trees more intensely than the
Norwegian novelist. The prose style unconsciously breaks into verse form
at times, with the natural grace and ease of a singing bird. Not the
least charming incidents in Björnson's romances are the frequent lyrics,
that spring up like cowslips in a pasture.

    "Punctual as Springtide forth peep they."

       *       *       *       *       *

The novels in Björnson's second period are so totally unlike those we
have just been considering that if all his work had been published
anonymously, no one would have ventured to say that the same man had
written _A Happy Boy_ and _In God's Way_. There came a pause in his
creative activity. He wrote little imaginative literature, and many
thought the well of his inspiration had gone dry. Really he was passing
through a belated _Sturm und Drang_; a tremendous intellectual struggle
and fermentation had set in, from which he emerged mentally a changed
man, with a new outfit of opinions and ideas. At nearly the same time
his great contemporary Tolstoi was also in the Slough of Despond, but he
climbed out on the other side and set his face towards the Celestial
City. Björnson's floundering ultimately carried him in precisely the
opposite direction. While Tolstoi was studying the New Testament,
Björnson applied himself to Darwin, Mill, and Spencer, and became
completely converted from the Christianity of his youth. Many minds
would have been temporarily paralysed by such a result, and would
finally have become either pessimistic or coldly critical. But Björnson
simply could not endure to be a gloomy, cynical spectator of life, like
his countryman, Ibsen, any more than he could leave his native land and
calmly view its nakedness from the comfortable environment of Munich or
Rome. Björnson has the sort of intellect that cannot remain in
equilibrium. He was ever a fighter, and cannot live without something to
fight for. The natural optimism of his temperament, so opposed in every
way to the blank despair of Ibsen, made him see in his new views the way
of salvation. He is just as sure he is right now as he was when he held
opinions exactly the contrary. With joyful ardour he became the champion
and propagandist of democracy in politics and of free thought in
religion; apparently adopting Spencer's saying, "To the true reformer no
institution is sacred, no belief above criticism." For the word
"reformer" precisely describes Björnson; like the chief characters in
his later novels, he is an apostle of reform, zealous, tireless, and

Lowell, in his fine essay on Gray, said that one reason why the
eighteenth century was so comfortable was that "responsibility for the
universe had not yet been invented." Now Björnson feels this
responsibility with all the strength of his nature, and however
admirable it may be as a moral quality, it has vitiated his artistic
career. As he renounced Christianity for agnosticism, so he renounced
romance for realism. The novels written since 1875 are not only unlike
his early pastoral romances in literary style; they are totally
different productions in tone, in spirit, and in intention. And, from
the point of view of art, they are, in my opinion, as inferior to the
work of his youth as Hawthorne's campaign _Life of Pierce_ is inferior
to _The Scarlet Letter_. In every way Björnson is farther off from
heaven than when he was a boy.

In addition to many short sketches, his later period includes three
realistic novels. These are: _Flags Are Flying in Town and Harbour_,
translated into English with the title, _The Heritage of the Kurts_, for
it is a study in heredity; _In God's Way_,[4] loudly proclaimed as his
masterpiece, and _Mary_. The first two originally attracted more
attention abroad than at home. The _Flags_ hung idly in Norway, and the
orthodox were not anxious to get in God's way. But the second book
produced considerable excitement in England, which finally reacted in
Christiania and Copenhagen; it is still hotly discussed. In these three
novels the author has stepped out of the rôle of artist and become a
kind of professor of pedagogy, his speciality being the education of
women. In _Flags_ the principal part of the story is taken up with a
girls' school, which gives the novelist an opportunity to include a
confused study of heredity, and to air all sorts of educational theory.
The chief one appears to be that in the curriculum for young girls the
"major" should be physiology. Hygiene, which so many bewildered persons
are accepting just now in lieu of the Gospel, plays a heavy part in
Björnson's later work. The gymnasium in _Flags_ takes the place of the
church in _Synnövé_; and acrobatic feats of the body are deemed more
healthful than the religious aspirations of the soul. Kallem, a
prominent character of the story _In God's Way_, usually appears walking
on his hands, which is not the only fashion in which he is upside down.
The book _Flags_ is, frankly speaking, an intolerable bore. The hero,
Rendalen, who also appears in the subsequent novel, is the mouthpiece of
the new opinions of the author; a convenient if clumsy device, for
whenever Björnson wishes to expound his views on education, hygiene, or
religion, he simply makes Rendalen deliver a lecture. Didactic novels
are in general a poor substitute either for learning or for fiction,
but they are doubly bad when the author is confused in his ideas of
science and in his notions of art. One general "lesson" emerges from the
jargon of this book--that men should suffer for immorality as severely
as women, a doctrine neither new nor practicable. The difficulty is that
with Björnson, as with some others who shout this edict, the equalising
of the punishment takes the form of leaving the men as they are, and
issuing a general pardon to the women. Rendalen, the head-master of the
school, is constantly bringing up this topic, and he makes it the chief
subject for discussion in the girls' debating society! These females are
going to be emancipated. A pseudo-scientific twist is also given to this
novel by the introduction of mesmerism and hypnotic influence, matters
in which the author is deeply interested. We are given to understand
that a large number of women are annually ruined, not by their lack of
moral conviction and will power, but simply by the hypnotic influence of
men. One may perhaps reasonably doubt the ultimate value of a wide
dissemination of this great idea, especially in a young ladies'
seminary. To the unsympathetic reader, the one question that will keep
him afloat in all this welter, is not concerned with pedagogy; it is the
honest attempt to discover why the book bears its strange title.
Unfortunately he will not find out until the last leaf. Then

     "the connexion of which with the plot one sees."

[4] In the original the title is "In God's Ways."

It is pleasant to take up the volume _In God's Way_, for, however
disappointing it may be to those who know the young Björnson, it is
vastly superior to _Flags_. It is what is called to-day a "strong"
novel, and has naturally evoked the widest variation of comment. By many
it has been greeted with enthusiastic admiration and by many with
outspoken disgust. Psychologically, it is indeed powerful. The
characters are interesting, and they develop in a way that may or may
not be God's, but resemble His in being mysterious. One cannot foresee
in the early chapters what is going to happen to the _dramatis personæ_,
nor what is to be our final attitude toward any of them. Think of the
impression made on us by our first acquaintance with Josephine, or
Kallem, or Ragni, or Ole; and then compare it with the state of our
feelings as we draw near the end. Not one of these characters remains
the same; each one develops, and develops as he might in actual life.
Björnson does not approach his men and women from an easy chair, in the
descriptive manner; once created, we feel that they would grow without
his aid.

For all this particular triumph of art, _In God's Way_ is plainly a
didactic novel, with the author preaching from beginning to end. The
"fighting" quality in the novelist gets the better of his literary
genius. We have a story in the extreme realistic style, marked by
occasional scenes of great beauty and force; but the exposition of
doctrine is somewhat vague and confused, and the construction of the
whole work decidedly inartistic. Two general points, however, are made
clear: First, that one may walk in God's way without believing in God.
Religion is of no importance in comparison with conduct, nor have the
two things any vital or necessary connexion. This is a modern view, and
perhaps a natural reaction from the strictness of Björnson's childhood
training. Second, that virtue is a matter entirely of the heart, bearing
no relation whatever to the statute-book. A woman may be legally an
adulteress and yet absolutely pure. This also is quite familiar to us in
the pages of modern dramatists and novelists. Björnson has taken an
extraordinary instance to prove his thesis, a thesis that perhaps needs
no emphasis, for human nature is only too well disposed to make its
moral creed coincide with its bodily instincts.

The same theme--mental as opposed to physical female chastity--is the
leading idea of _Mary_, a novel that has had considerable success in
Norway and in Germany, but has only this year been translated into
English. This work of his old age shows not the slightest trace of
decay. It is an interesting and powerful analysis of a girl's heart,
written in short, vigorous sentences. Mary, after taking plenty of time
for reflexion, and without any solicitation, deliberately gives herself
to her lover, in a manner exactly similar to a scene in Maupassant's
novel, _Notre Coeur_. Her fiancé is naturally amazed, as there has been
nothing leading up to this; she comes to him of her own free will. Her
theory of conduct (which exemplifies that of Björnson) is that a woman
is the sovereign mistress of her own body, and can do what she pleases.
There is nothing immoral in a woman's free gift of herself to her lover,
provided she does it out of her royal bounty, and not as a weak yielding
to masculine pursuit. The next day Mary is grievously disappointed to
discover that, instead of the homage and worship she expected, the
erstwhile timid lover glories in the sense of possession. She fears that
she cannot live an absolutely independent life with such a husband--and
Björnson's gospel is, of course, the untrammelled freedom of woman. So,
although she is about to become a mother, she deliberately cancels the
engagement to the putative child's father; this puzzles him even more
than her previous conduct, though he is forced to acquiesce. Then, in a
final access of despair, as she is about to commit suicide, she is
rescued by a man whose love is like the moth's for the star--who tells
her that no matter what she has done, she is the noblest, purest woman
on earth, and the chaste queen of his heart. Thus, by a stroke of good
fortune, rather than by anything inevitable in the story, the book ends
happily, with Mary and her second adoring lover in the very delirium of
joy. It is evident that the novel is nothing but a _Tendenz-Roman_;
Björnson wishes us to approve of his heroine's conduct throughout--of
the entirely unnecessary sacrifice of her virtue, of the subsequent
sacrifice of her reputation, and of her remorseless joy in the arms of
another man. Such is to be the doctrine of sex equality; men are not to
be made more virtuous, but the freedom of women is not only to be
pardoned, but approved.

In comparing the three late with the four early novels, the most
striking change is instantly apparent to anyone who reads _Synnövé
Solbakken_ and then opens _In God's Way_. It is the sudden and
depressing change of air, from the mountains to the sick-room. The
abundance of medical detail in the later novel is almost nauseating, and
would be wholly so were it not absurd. One has only to compare the
invigorating scenery and the simple love scenes in _Synnövé_ with the
minute examination of Ragni's spittle (for tuberculosis) in the other
book--but enough is said. Despite all that has been written in praise of
Björnson's "courage" in dealing with problems of sex and disease, I
sympathise with the cry of his friend in 1879:--

     "Come back again, dear Björnson, come back!"

It is easy to see that the influence of modern English scepticism cannot
account entirely for the revolution in the Norwegian's mind and art. We
can clearly observe an attraction much nearer, that has drawn this
luminous star so far out of its course. It is none other than the mighty
Ibsen. Ibsen's analysis of disease, his examination of marriage
problems, his Ishmaelite attacks on the present structure of civilised
society--all this has had its effect on his contemporary and countryman.
As a destructive force Ibsen was stronger than Björnson, because he was
ruthless. But one had the courage of despair, while the other has the
courage of hope. Björnson does not believe in Fate and is not afraid of
it. He loves and believes in humanity. His gloomiest books end with a
vision. There is always a rift in the clouds. Throughout all his career
he has set his face steadfastly toward what he has taken to be the true
light. Such men compel admiration, no matter whose colours they bear.
And however much we may deplore his present course, we cannot now echo
the cry of his friend and say, "Come back!" The language of the poet
better expresses our attitude:--

    "Life's night begins: let him never come back to us!
     There would be doubt, hesitation, and pain,
     Forced praise on our part--the glimmer of twilight,
     Never glad confident morning again!
     Best fight on well, for we taught him--strike gallantly,
     Menace our heart ere we master his own;
     Then let him receive the new knowledge and wait us,
     Pardoned in heaven, the first by the throne!"



During the last twenty years, a profound change has taken place in the
attitude of the reading public toward Mark Twain. I can remember very
well when he was regarded merely as a humorist, and one opened his books
with an anticipatory grin. Very few supposed that he belonged to
literature; and a complete, uniform edition of his _Works_ would perhaps
have been received with something of the mockery that greeted Ben
Jonson's folio in 1616. Professor Richardson's _American Literature_,
which is still a standard work, appeared originally in 1886. My copy,
which bears the date 1892, contains only two references in the index to
Mark Twain, while Mr. Cable, for example, receives ten; and the whole
volume fills exactly nine hundred and ninety pages. Looking up one of
the two references, we find the following opinion:--

     "But there is a class of writers, authors ranking below Irving or
     Lowell, and lacking the higher artistic or moral purpose of the
     greater humorists, who amuse a generation and then pass from sight.
     Every period demands a new manner of jest, after the current
     fashion.... The reigning favourites of the day are Frank R.
     Stockton, Joel Chandler Harris, the various newspaper jokers, and
     'Mark Twain.' But the creators of 'Pomona' and 'Rudder Grange,' of
     'Uncle Remus and his Folk-lore Stories,' and 'Innocents Abroad,'
     clever as they are, must make hay while the sun shines. Twenty
     years hence, unless they chance to enshrine their wit in some
     higher literary achievement, their unknown successors will be the
     privileged comedians of the republic. Humour alone never gives its
     masters a place in literature; it must coexist with literary
     qualities, and must usually be joined with such pathos as one finds
     in Lamb, Hood, Irving, or Holmes."

It is interesting to remember that before this pronouncement was
published, _Tom Sawyer_ and _Huckleberry Finn_ had been read by
thousands. Professor Richardson continued: "Two or three divisions of
American humour deserve somewhat more respectful treatment," and he
proceeds to give a full page to Petroleum V. Nasby, another page to
Artemus Ward, and two and one-half pages to Josh Billings, while Mark
Twain had received less than four lines. After stating that, in the case
of authors like Mark Twain, "temporary amusement, not literary product,
is the thing sought and given," Professor Richardson announces that the
department of fiction will be considered later. In this "department,"
Mark Twain is not mentioned at all, although Julian Hawthorne receives
over three pages!

I have quoted Professor Richardson at length, because he is a deservedly
high authority, and well represents an attitude toward Mark Twain that
was common all during the eighties. Another college professor, who is
to-day one of the best living American critics, says, in his _Initial
Studies in American Letters_ (1895), "Though it would be ridiculous to
maintain that either of these writers [Artemus Ward and Mark Twain]
takes rank with Lowell and Holmes, ... still it will not do to ignore
them as mere buffoons, or even to predict that their humours will soon
be forgotten." There is no allusion in his book to _Tom Sawyer_ or
_Huckleberry Finn_, nor does the critic seem to regard their creator as
in any sense a novelist. Still another writer, in a passing allusion to
Mark Twain, says, "Only a very small portion of his writing has any
place as literature."

Literary opinions change as time progresses; and no one could have
observed the remarkable demonstration at the seventieth birthday of our
great national humorist without feeling that most of his contemporaries
regarded him, not as their peer, but as their Chief. Without wishing to
make any invidious comparisons, I cannot refrain from commenting on the
statement that it would be "ridiculous" to maintain that Mark Twain
takes rank with Oliver Wendell Holmes. It is, of course, absolutely
impossible to predict the future; the only real test of the value of a
book is Time. Who now reads Cowley? Time has laughed at so many
contemporary judgements that it would be foolhardy to make positive
assertions about literary stock quotations one hundred years from now.
Still, guesses are not prohibited; and I think it not unlikely that the
name of Mark Twain will outlast the name of Holmes. American Literature
would surely be the poorer if the great Boston Brahmin had not enlivened
it with his rich humour, his lambent wit, and his sincere pathos; but
the whole content of his work seems slighter than the big American prose
epics of the man of our day.

Indeed, it seems to me that Mark Twain is our foremost living American
writer. He has not the subtlety of Henry James or the wonderful charm of
Mr. Howells; he could not have written _Daisy Miller_, or _A Modern
Instance_, or _Indian Summer_, or _The Kentons_--books which exhibit
literary quality of an exceedingly high order. I have read them over and
over again, with constantly increasing profit and delight. I wish that
Mr. Howells might live for ever, and give to every generation the pure
intellectual joy that he has given to ours. But the natural endowment of
Mark Twain is still greater. Mr. Howells has made the most of himself;
God has done it all for Mark Twain. If there be a living American writer
touched with true genius, whose books glow with the divine fire, it is
he. He has always been a conscientious artist; but no amount of industry
could ever have produced a _Huckleberry Finn_.

When I was a child at the West Middle Grammar School of Hartford, on one
memorable April day, Mark Twain addressed the graduating-class. I was
thirteen years old, but I have found it impossible to forget what he
said. The subject of his "remarks" was Methuselah. He informed us that
Methuselah lived to the ripe old age of nine hundred and sixty-nine. But
he might as well have lived to be several thousand--nothing happened.
The speaker told us that we should all live longer than Methuselah.
Fifty years of Europe are better than a cycle of Cathay, and twenty
years of modern American life are longer and richer in content than the
old patriarch's thousand. Ours will be the true age in which to live,
when more will happen in a day than in a year of the flat existence of
our ancestors. I cannot remember his words; but what a fine thing it is
to hear a speech, and carry away an idea!

I have since observed that this idea runs through much of his literary
work. His philosophy of life underlies his broadest burlesque--for _A
Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court_ is simply an exposure of the
"good old times." Mark Twain believes in the Present, in human progress.
Too often do we apprehend the Middle Ages through the glowing pages of
Spenser and Walter Scott; we see only glittering processions of ladies
dead and lovely knights. Mark Twain shows us the wretched condition of
the common people, their utter ignorance and degradation, the coarseness
and immorality of technical chivalry, the cruel and unscrupulous
ecclesiastical tyranny, and the capricious insolence of the barons. One
may regret that he has reversed the dynamics in so glorious a book as
Malory's _Morte d'Arthur_, but, through all the buffoonery and roaring
mirth with which the knights in armour are buried, the artistic and
moral purpose of the satirist is clear. If I understand him rightly, he
would have us believe that _our_ age, not theirs, is the "good time";
nay, ours is the age of magic and wonder. We need not regret in
melancholy sentimentality the picturesqueness of bygone days, for we
ourselves live, not in a material and commonplace generation, but in the
very midst of miracles and romance. Merlin and the Fay Morgana would
have given all their petty skill to have been able to use a telephone or
a phonograph, or to see a moving picture. The sleeping princess and her
castle were awakened by a kiss; but in the twentieth century a man in
Washington touches a button, and hundreds of miles away tons of
machinery begin to move, fountains begin to play, and the air resounds
with the whir of wheels. In comparison with to-day, the age of chivalry
seems dull and poor. Even in chivalry itself our author is more knightly
than Lancelot; for was there ever a more truly chivalrous performance
than Mark Twain's essay on Harriet Shelley, or his literary monument to
Joan of Arc? In these earnest pages, our national humorist appears as
the true knight.

Mark Twain's humour is purely American. It is not the humour of
Washington Irving, which resembles that of Addison and Thackeray; it is
not delicate and indirect. It is genial, sometimes outrageous,
mirth--laughter holding both his sides. I have found it difficult to
read him in a library or on a street-car, for explosions of pent-up
mirth or a distorted face are apt to attract unpleasant attention in
such public places. Mark Twain's humour is boisterous, uproarious,
colossal, overwhelming. As has often been remarked, the Americans are
not naturally a gay people, like the French; nor are we light-hearted
and careless, like the Irish and the Negro. At heart, we are intensely
serious, nervous, melancholy. For humour, therefore, we naturally turn
to buffoonery and burlesque, as a reaction against the strain and
tension of life. Our attitude is something like that of the lonely
author of the _Anatomy of Melancholy_, who used to lean over the
parapet of Magdalen Bridge, and shake with mirth at the obscene jokes of
the bargemen. We like Mark Twain's humour, not because we are frivolous,
but because we are just the reverse. I have never known a frivolous
person who really enjoyed or appreciated Mark Twain.

The essence of Mark Twain's humour is Incongruity. The jumping frog is
named Daniel Webster; and, indeed, the intense gravity of a frog's face,
with the droop at the corners of the mouth, might well be envied by many
an American Senator. When the shotted frog vainly attempted to leave the
earth, he shrugged his shoulders "like a Frenchman." Bilgewater and the
Dolphin on the raft are grotesquely incongruous figures. The rescuing of
Jim from his prison cell is full of the most incongruous ideas, his
common-sense attitude toward the whole transaction contrasting strangely
with that of the romantic Tom. Along with the constant incongruity goes
the element of surprise--which Professor Beers has well pointed out.
When one begins a sentence, in an apparently serious discussion, one
never knows how it will end. In discussing the peace that accompanies
religious faith, Mark Twain says that he has often been impressed
with the calm confidence of a Christian with four aces.
Exaggeration--deliberate, enormous hyperbole--is another feature.
Rudyard Kipling, who has been profoundly influenced by Mark Twain, and
has learned much from him, often employs the same device, as in
_Brugglesmith_. Irreverence is also a noteworthy quality. In his
travel-books, we are given the attitude of the typical American
Philistine toward the wonders and sacred relics of the Old World, the
whole thing being a gigantic burlesque on the sentimental guide-books
which were so much in vogue before the era of Baedeker. With such
continuous fun and mirth, satire and burlesque, it is no wonder that
Mark Twain should not always be at his best. He is doubtless sometimes
flat, sometimes coarse, as all humorists since Rabelais have been. The
wonder is that his level has been so high. I remember, just before the
appearance of _Following the Equator_, I had been told that Mark Twain's
inspiration was finally gone, and that he could not be funny if he
tried. To test this, I opened the new book, and this is what I found on
the first page:--

     "We sailed for America, and there made certain preparations. This
     took but little time. Two members of my family elected to go with
     me. Also a carbuncle. The dictionary says a carbuncle is a kind of
     jewel. Humour is out of place in a dictionary."

Although Mark Twain has the great qualities of the true humorist--common
sense, human sympathy, and an accurate eye for proportion--he is much
more than a humorist. His work shows high literary quality, the quality
that appears in first-rate novels. He has shown himself to be a genuine
artist. He has done something which many popular novelists have signally
failed to accomplish--he has created real characters. His two wonderful
boys, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, are wonderful in quite different
ways. The creator of Tom exhibited remarkable observation; the creator
of Huck showed the divine touch of imagination. Tom is the American
boy--he is "smart." In having his fence whitewashed, in controlling a
pool of Sabbath-school tickets at the precise psychological moment, he
displays abundant promise of future success in business. Huck, on the
other hand, is the child of nature, harmless, sincere, and crudely
imaginative. His reasonings with Jim about nature and God belong to the
same department of natural theology as that illustrated in Browning's
_Caliban_. The night on the raft with Jim, when these two creatures look
aloft at the stars, and Jim reckons the moon _laid_ them, is a case in

     "We had the sky up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to
     lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether
     they was made or just happened. Jim he allowed they was made, but I
     allowed they happened; I judged it would have took too long to
     _make_ so many. Jim said the moon could a _laid_ them; well, that
     looked kind of reasonable, so I didn't say nothing against it,
     because I've seen a frog lay most as many, so of course it could be
     done. We used to watch the stars that fell, too, and see them
     streak down. Jim allowed they'd got spoiled and was hove out of the

Again, Mark Twain has so much dramatic power that, were his literary
career beginning instead of closing, he might write for us the great
American play that we are still awaiting. The story of the feud between
the Grangerfords and the Shepherdsons is thrillingly dramatic, and the
tragic climax seizes the heart. The shooting of the drunken Boggs, the
gathering of the mob, and its control by one masterful personality,
belong essentially to true drama, and are written with power and
insight. The pathos of these scenes is never false, never mawkish or
overdone; it is the pathos of life itself. Mark Twain's extraordinary
skill in descriptive passages shows, not merely keen observation, but
the instinct for the specific word--the one word that is always better
than any of its synonyms, for it makes the picture real--it creates the
illusion, which is the essence of all literary art. The storm, for

     "It was my watch below till twelve, but I wouldn't a turned in
     anyway if I'd had a bed, because a body don't see such a storm as
     that every day in the week, not by a long sight. My souls, how the
     wind did scream along! And every second or two there'd come a glare
     that lit up the white-caps for a half a mile around, and you'd see
     the islands looking dusty through the rain, and the trees thrashing
     around in the wind; then comes a _h-wach_!--bum! bum!
     bumble-umble-umbum-bum-bum-bum--and the thunder would go rumbling
     and grumbling away, and quit--and then _rip_ comes another flash
     and another sockdolager. The waves 'most washed me off the raft
     sometimes, but I hadn't any clothes on, and didn't mind. We didn't
     have no trouble about snags; the lightning was glaring and
     flittering around so constant that we could see them plenty soon
     enough to throw her head this way or that and miss them."

_Tom Sawyer_ and _Huckleberry Finn_ are prose epics of American life.
The former is one of those books--of which _The Pilgrim's Progress_,
_Gulliver's Travels_, and _Robinson Crusoe_ are supreme examples--that
are read at different periods of one's life from very different points
of view; so that it is not easy to say when one enjoys them the
most--before one understands their real significance or after. Nearly
all healthy boys enjoy reading _Tom Sawyer_, because the intrinsic
interest of the story is so great, and the various adventures of the
hero are portrayed with such gusto. Yet it is impossible to outgrow the
book. The eternal Boy is there, and one cannot appreciate the nature of
boyhood properly until one has ceased to be a boy. The other
masterpiece, _Huckleberry Finn_, is really not a child's book at all.
Children devour it, but they do not digest it. It is a permanent picture
of a certain period of American history, and this picture is made
complete, not so much by the striking portraits of individuals placed on
the huge canvas, as by the vital unity of the whole composition. If one
wishes to know what life on the Mississippi really was, to know and
understand the peculiar social conditions of that highly exciting time,
one has merely to read through this powerful narrative, and a definite,
coherent, vivid impression remains.

By those who have lived there, and whose minds are comparatively free
from prejudice, Mark Twain's pictures of life in the South before the
war are regarded as, on the whole, nearer the truth than those supplied
by any other artist. One reason for this is the aim of the author; he
was not trying to support or to defend any particular theory--no, his
aim was purely and wholly artistic. In _Uncle Tom's Cabin_, a book by no
means devoid of literary art, the red-hot indignation of the author
largely nullified her evident desire to tell the truth. If one succeeds
in telling the truth about anything whatever, one must have something
more than the _desire_ to tell the truth; one must know how to do it.
False impressions do not always, probably do not commonly, come from
deliberate liars. Mrs. Stowe's astonishing work is not really the
history of slavery; it is the history of abolition sentiment. On the
other hand, writers so graceful, talented, and clever as Mr. Page and
Mr. Hopkinson Smith do not always give us pictures that correctly
represent, except locally, the actual situation before the war; for
these gentlemen seem to have _Uncle Tom's Cabin_ in mind. Mark Twain
gives us both points of view; he shows us the beautiful side of
slavery,--for it had a wonderfully beautiful, patriarchal side,--and he
also shows us the horror of it. The living dread of the Negro that he
would be sold down the river, has never been more vividly represented
than when the poor woman in _Pudd'nhead Wilson_ sees the water swirling
against the snag, and realises that she is bound the wrong way. That one
scene makes an indelible impression on the reader's mind, and
counteracts tons of polemics. The peculiar harmlessness of Jim is
beautiful to contemplate. Although he and Huck really own the raft, and
have taken all the risk, they obey implicitly the orders of the two
tramps who call themselves Duke and King. Had that been a raft on the
Connecticut River, and had Huck and Jim been Yankees, they would have
said to the intruders, "Whose raft is this, anyway?"

Mark Twain may be trusted to tell the truth; for the eye of the born
caricature artist always sees the salient point. Caricatures often give
us a better idea of their object than a photograph; for the things that
are exaggerated, be it a large nose, or a long neck, are, after all,
the things that differentiate this particular individual from the mass.
Everybody remembers how Tweed was caught by one of Nast's cartoons.

Mark Twain is through and through American. If foreigners really wish to
know the American spirit, let them read Mark Twain. He is far more
American than their favourite specimen, Walt Whitman. The essentially
American qualities of common sense, energy, enterprise, good-humour, and
Philistinism fairly shriek from his pages. He reveals us in our
limitations, in our lack of appreciation of certain beautiful things,
fully as well as he pictures us in coarser but more triumphant aspects.
It is, of course, preposterous to say that Americans are totally
different from other humans; we have no monopoly of common sense and
good-humour, nor are we all hide-bound Philistines. But there is
something pronounced in the American character, and the books of Mark
Twain reveal it. He has also more than once been a valuable and
efficient champion. Without being an offensive and blatant Jingo, I
think he is content to be an American.

Mark Twain is our great Democrat. Democracy is his political, social,
and moral creed. His hatred of snobbery, affectation, and assumed
superiority is total. His democracy has no limits; it is bottom-less and
far-reaching. Nothing seems really sacred to him except the sacred
right of every individual to do exactly as he pleases; which means, of
course, that no one can interfere with another's right, for then
democracy would be the privilege of a few, and would stultify itself.
Not only does the spirit of democracy breathe out from all his greater
books, but it is shown in specific instances, such as _Travelling with a
Reformer_; and Mark Twain has more than once given testimony for his
creed, without recourse to the pen.

At the head of all American novelists, living and dead, stands Nathaniel
Hawthorne, unapproached, possibly unapproachable. His fine and subtle
art is an altogether different thing from the art of our mighty,
democratic, national humorist. But Literature is wonderfully diverse in
its content; and the historian of American Letters, in the far future,
will probably find it impossible to omit the name of Mark Twain.



In a private letter to a friend, written in 1896, the late Mr. Charles
Dudley Warner remarked: "I am just reading _Children of the Soil_, which
I got in London before I sailed. It confirms me in my very high opinion
of him. I said the other day that I think him at the head of living
novelists, both in range, grasp of a historical situation, intuition and
knowledge of human nature. Comparisons are always dangerous, but I know
no historical novelist who is his superior, or who is more successful in
creating characters. His canvas is very large, and in the beginning of
his historical romances the reader needs patience, but the picture
finally comes out vividly, and the episodes in the grand story are
perfectly enthralling. Of his novels of modern life I cannot speak too
highly. The subtlety of his analysis is wonderful, and the shades of
character are delineated by slight but always telling strokes. There is
the same reality in them that is in his romances. As to the secret of
his power, who can say? It is genius (I still believe in that word) but
re-enforced by very hard labour and study, by much reading, and by acute

This letter may serve as an excellent summary of the opinions of many
intelligent American critics concerning a writer whose name was unknown
to us in 1890, and of whom the whole world was talking in 1895.[5] One
reason--apart from their intrinsic excellence--for the Byronic
suddenness of the fame of the Polish Trilogy, was the psychological
opportuneness of its appearance. In England and in America the recent
Romantic Revival was at its flood; we were all reading historical
romances, and were hungry for more. Sienkiewicz satisfied us by
providing exactly what we were looking for. In his own country he was
idolised, for his single pen had done more than many years of tumultuous
discussion, to put Poland back on the map of Europe. At the exercises
commemorating the five hundredth anniversary of the University of
Cracow, the late President Gilman, who had the well-deserved honour of
speaking for the universities of America, said: "America thanks Poland
for three great names: Copernicus, to whom all the world is indebted;
Kosciuszko, who spilled his blood for American independence; and
Sienkiewicz, whose name is a household word in thousands of American
homes, and who has introduced Poland to the American people."[6]

[5] His name does not appear in standard English biographical
dictionaries or literary reference books for 1893 or 1894.

[6] See an interesting article in the _Outlook_ for 3 August, 1901, _A
Visit to Sienkiewicz_, by L. E. Van Norman.

Sienkiewicz was born in 1845. After student days at Warsaw, he came over
in 1876-1877 to California, in a party that included Madame Modjeska.
They attempted to establish a kind of socialistic community, which bears
in the retrospect a certain resemblance to Brook Farm. Fortunately for
the cause of art, which the world needs more than it does socialism, the
enterprise was a failure. Sienkiewicz returned to Poland, and began his
literary career; Madame Modjeska became one of the chief ornaments of
the English stage for a quarter of a century. Her ashes now rest in the
ancient Polish city where President Gilman uttered his fine tribute to
the friend of her youth.

The three great Polish romances were all written in the eighties; and at
about the same time the author was also engaged in the composition of
purely realistic work, which displays his powers in a quite different
form of art, and constitutes the most original--though not the most
popular--part of his literary production. The _Children of the Soil_,
which some of the elect in Poland consider his masterpiece, is a novel,
constructed and executed in the strictest style of realism; _Without
Dogma_ is still farther removed from the Romantic manner, for it is a
story of psychological analytical introspection. Sienkiewicz himself
regards _Children of the Soil_ as his favourite, although he is "not
prepared to say just why." And _Without Dogma_ he thinks to be "in many
respects my strongest work." It is evident that he does not consider
himself primarily a maker of stirring historical romance. But in the
nineties he returned to this form of fiction, producing his Roman
panorama called _Quo Vadis_, which, although it has made the biggest
noise of all his books, is perhaps the least valuable. Like _Ben Hur_,
it was warmed over into a tremendously successful melodrama, and
received the final compliment of parody.[7] Toward the close of the
century, Sienkiewicz completed another massive historical romance, _The
Knights of the Cross_, which, in its abundant action, striking
characterisation, and charming humour, recalled the Trilogy; this was
followed by _On the Field of Glory_, and we may confidently expect more,
though never too much; he simply could not be dull if he tried.

[7] One of the most grotesque and laughable burlesques ever seen on the
American stage was the travesty of _Quo Vadis_, with the heroine Lithia,
who drew a lobster on the sand: the strong man, Zero, wrenched the neck
off a wild borax.

In a time like ours, when literary tabloids take the place of wholesome
mental food, when many successful novels can be read at a sitting or a
lying--requiring no exertion either of soul or body--the portentous size
of these Polish stories is a magnificent challenge. If some books are to
be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and
digested, what shall we do with Sienkiewicz? In Mr. Curtin's admirable
translation, the Trilogy covers over twenty-five hundred closely printed
pages; the _Knights of the Cross_ over seven hundred and fifty,
_Children of the Soil_ over six hundred and fifty; _Without Dogma_
(Englished by another hand) has been silently so much abridged in
translation that we do not know what its actual length may be. We do not
rebel, because the next chapter is invariably not a task, but a
temptation; but when we wake up with a start at the call _Finis_, which
magic word transfers us from the seventeenth to the twentieth century,
and contemplate the vast fabric of our dream, we cannot help asking if
there is any law in the construction that requires so much material.
Gogol, in his astonishing romance, _Taras Bulba_, which every lover of
Sienkiewicz should read, gives us the same impression of Vastness, in a
book Lilliputian in size. Nor is there any apparent reason why the
Polish narratives should stop on the last page, nor indeed stop at all.
Combat succeeds combat, when in the midst of the hurly-burly, the Master
of the Show calls time. It is his arbitrary will, rather than any
inevitable succession of events, that shuts off the scene: the men might
be fighting yet. This passion for mere detail mars the first part of
_With Fire and Sword_; one cannot see the forest for the trees.

One reason for this immensity is the author's desire to be historically
accurate, the besetting sin of many recent dramas and novels. Before
beginning to write, Sienkiewicz reads all the authorities and
documentary evidence he can find. The result is plainly seen in the
early pages of _With Fire and Sword_, which read far more like a history
than like a work of fiction--note the striking contrast in _Pan
Michael_! The _Knights of the Cross_ appeared with maps. The topography
of _Quo Vadis_ was so carefully prepared that it almost serves as a
guide-book to ancient Rome. Now the relation of History to Fiction has
never been better stated than by Lessing: "The dramatist uses history,
not because it has happened, but because it has so happened that he
could scarcely find anything else better adapted to his purpose." No
work of fiction has ever gained immortality by its historical accuracy.

Everyone notices that the works of Sienkiewicz are Epics rather than
Novels. Even bearing Fielding clearly in mind, there is no better
illustration to be found in literary history. The Trilogy bears the same
relation to the wars of Poland that the Iliad bears to the struggle at
Troy. The scope and flow of the narrative, the power of the scenes, the
vast perspective, the portraits of individual heroes, the impassioned
poetry of the style--all these qualities are of the Epic. The intense
patriotism is thrilling, and makes one envy the sensations of native
readers. And yet the reasons for the downfall of Poland are made
perfectly clear.

Is the _romanticist_ Sienkiewicz an original writer? In the narrow and
strict sense of the word, I think not. He is eclectic rather than
original. He is a skilful fuser of material, like Shakespeare. At any
rate, his most conspicuous virtue is not originality. He has enormous
force, a glorious imagination, astonishing facility, and a remarkable
power of making pictures, both in panorama and in miniature; but his
work shows constantly the inspiration not only of his historical
authorities, but of previous poets and novelists. Those who are really
familiar with the writings of Homer, Shakespeare, Scott, and Dumas, will
not require further comment on this point. The influence of Homer is
seen in the constant similes, the epithets like "incomparable bowman,"
and the stress laid on the deeds of individual heroes; a thing quite
natural in Homeric warfare, but rather disquieting in the days of
villainous saltpetre. The three swordsmen in _With Fire and Sword_--Pan
Yan, Pan Podbienta, and Pan Michael--infallibly remind us of Dumas's
three guardsmen; and the great duel scenes in the same story, and in the
_Knights of the Cross_, are quite in the manner of the Frenchman. Would
that other writers could employ their reminiscences to such advantage!
In the high colouring, in the management of historical events, and in
patriotic enthusiasm, we cannot help thinking of Scott. But be the debt
to Dumas and to Scott as great as one pleases to estimate, I am free to
acknowledge that I find the romances of the Pole more enthralling than
those of either or both of his two great predecessors.

With reference to the much-discussed character of Zagloba, I confess I
cannot join in the common verdict that pronounces him a "new creation in
literature." Those who believe this delightful person to be something
new and original have simply forgotten Falstaff. If one will begin all
over again, and read the two parts of _Henry IV_, and then take a look
at Zagloba, the author of his being is immediately apparent. Zagloba is
a Polish Falstaff, an astonishingly clever imitation of the real thing.
He is old, white-haired, fat, a resourceful wit and humorist, better at
bottles than at battles, and yet bold when policy requires: in every
essential feature of body and mind he resembles the immortal creation of
Shakespeare. Sienkiewicz _develops_ him with subtle skill and
affectionate solicitude, even as Dickens developed Mr. Pickwick; the
Zagloba of _Pan Michael_ is far sweeter and more mellow than when we
make his acquaintance in the first volume of the Trilogy; but the last
word for this character is the word "original." The real triumph of
Sienkiewicz in the portrayal of the jester is in the fact that he could
imitate Falstaff without spoiling him, for no other living writer could
have done it. A copy that can safely be placed alongside the original
implies art of a very high class. To see Zagloba is to realise the truth
of Falstaff's remark, "I am not only witty in myself, but the cause that
wit is in other men."

Sienkiewicz himself perhaps does not appreciate how much he owes to
Shakespeare, or possibly he is a bit sensitive on the subject, for he
explains, "If I may be permitted to make a comparison, I think that
Zagloba is a better character than Falstaff. At heart the old noble was
a good fellow. He would fight bravely when it became necessary, whereas
Shakespeare makes Falstaff a coward and a poltroon."[8] If the last two
epithets were really an accurate description of Falstaff, he would never
have conquered so many millions of readers.[9]

[8] See Mr. Van Norman's article.

[9] It would be well for Sienkiewicz (and others) to read the brilliant
essay that appeared, "by another hand," in the First Series of Mr.
Birrell's _Obiter Dicta_.

In power of description on a large scale, Sienkiewicz seems to take a
place among the world's great masters of fiction. The bigger the canvas,
the more impressive he becomes. His pictures of the boundless steppes by
day and night, and in the varying seasons of the year, leave permanent
images in the mind. Especially in huge battle scenes is his genius
resplendent. It is as if we viewed the whole drama of blood from a
convenient mountain peak. The awful tumult gathers and breaks like some
hideous storm. So far as I know no writer has ever excelled this
Verestchagin of the pen except Tolstoi--and Tolstoi's power lies more in
the subjective side of the horrors of war. The Russian's skill is more
intellectual, more psychological, of a really higher order of art. For
in the endeavour to make the picture vivid, Sienkiewicz becomes at times
merely sensational. There is no excuse for his frequent descent into
loathsome and horrible detail. The employment of human entrails as a
necklace may be historically accurate, but it is out of place in a work
of art. The minute description of the use of the stake is another
instance of the same tendency, and the unspeakably horrid torture of
Azya in _Pan Michael_ is a sad blot on an otherwise splendid romance.
The love of the physically horrible is an unfortunate characteristic of
our Polish novelist, for it appears in _Quo Vadis_ as well as in the
Trilogy. The greatest works appeal to the mind rather than the senses.
_Pan Michael_ is a great book, not because it reeks with blood and
abounds in hell's ingenuity of pain, but because it presents the
character of a hero made perfect through suffering; every sword-stroke
develops his spirit as well as his arm. Superfluous events, so frequent
in the other works, are here omitted; the story progresses steadily; it
is the most condensed and the most human book in the Trilogy. Again, in
_The Deluge_, the author's highest skill is shown not in the portrayal
of moving accidents by flood and field, but in the regeneration of
Kmita. He passes through a long period of slow moral gestation, which
ultimately brings him from darkness to light.

To non-Slavonic readers, who became acquainted with Sienkiewicz through
the Trilogy, it was a surprise to discover that at home he was equally
distinguished as an exponent of modern realism. The acute demand for
anything and everything from his pen led to the translation of _The
Family of Polanyetski_, rechristened in English (one hardly knows why)
_Children of the Soil_; this was preceded by the curious psychological
study, _Without Dogma_. It is extremely fortunate that these two works
have been made accessible to English readers, for they display powers
that would not otherwise be suspected. It is true that English novelists
have shone in both realism and romance: we need remember only Defoe,
Dickens, and Thackeray. But at the very moment when we were all thinking
of Sienkiewicz as a reincarnation of Scott or Dumas, we were compelled
to revise previous estimates of his position and abilities. Genius
always refuses to be classified, ticketed, or inventoried; just as you
have got your man "placed," or, to change the figure, have solemnly and
definitely ushered him to a seat in the second row on the upper tier,
you discover that he is much bigger than or quite different from your
definition of him. Sienkiewicz is undoubtedly one of the greatest living
masters of the realistic novel. In the two stories just mentioned above,
the most minute trivialities in human intercourse are set forth in a
style that never becomes trivial. He is as good at external description
as he is at psychological analysis. He takes all human nature for his
province. He belongs not only to the "feel" school of novelists, with
Zola, but to the "thought" school, with Turgenev. The workings of the
human mind, as impelled by all sorts of motives, ambitions, and
passions, make the subject for his examination. In the Trilogy, he took
an enormous canvas, and splashed on myriads of figures; in _Without
Dogma_, he puts the soul of one man under the microscope. The events in
this man's life are mainly "transitions from one state of spiritual
experience to another." Naturally the mirror selected is a diary, for
_Without Dogma_ belongs to a school of literature illustrated by such
examples as the _Sorrows of Werther_ and _Amiel's Journal_. It must be
remembered that we have here a study primarily of the Slav character.
The hero cleverly diagnoses his own symptoms as _Slave Improductivité_.
He is perhaps puzzling to the practical Philistine Anglo-Saxon: but not
if one has read Turgenev, Dostoievsky, or Gorky. Turgenev's brilliant
analysis of Rudin must stand for all time as a perfect portrait of the
educated Slav, a person who fulfils the witty definition of a Mugwump,
"one who is educated beyond his capacity." We have a similar character
here, the conventional conception of Hamlet, a man whose power of
reasoning overbalances his strength of will. He can talk brilliantly on
all kinds of intellectual topics, but he cannot bring things to pass. He
has a bad case of _slave improductivité_. The very title, _Without
Dogma_, reveals the lack of conviction that ultimately destroys the
hero. He has absolutely no driving power; as he expresses it, _he does
not know_. If one wishes to examine this sort of mind, extremely common
among the upper classes of Poles and Russians, one cannot do better than
read attentively this book. Every futile impulse, every vain longing,
every idle day-dream, is clearly reflected. It is a melancholy
spectacle, but fascinating and highly instructive. For it is not merely
an individual, but the national Slavonic character that is revealed.

Sienkiewicz is not only a Romanticist and a Realist--he is also a
Moralist. The foundations of his art are set deep in the bed-rock of
moral ideas. As Tolstoi would say, he has the right attitude toward his
characters. He believes that the Novel should strengthen life, not
undermine it; ennoble, not defile it; for it is good tidings, not evil.
"I care not whether the word that I say pleases or not, since I believe
that I reflect the great urgent need of the soul of humanity, which is
crying for a change. People must think according to the laws of logic.
And because they must also live, they want some consolation on the road
of life. Masters after the manner of Zola give them only dissolution,
chaos, a disgust for life, and despair."[10] This is the signal of a
strong and healthy soul. The fact is, that at heart Sienkiewicz is as
stout a moralist as Tolstoi, and with equal ardour recognises
Christianity as the world's best standard and greatest need. The basis
of the novel _Children of the Soil_ is purely Christian. The
simple-hearted Marynia is married to a man far superior to her in mental
endowment and training, as so often happens in Slavonic fiction; she
cannot follow his intellectual flights, and does not even understand the
processes of his mind. She has no talent for metaphysical discussion,
and no knowledge of modern science. But although her education does not
compare with that of her husband, she has, without suspecting it,
completely mastered the art of life; for she is a devout and sincere
Christian, meek and lowly in heart. He finally recognises that while he
has more learning, she has more wisdom; and when the book closes, we see
him a pupil at her feet. All his vain speculations are overthrown by the
power of religion manifested in the purity, peace, and contentment of
his wife's daily life. And now he too--

    "Leads it companioned by the woman there.
     To live, and see her learn, and learn by her,
     Out of the low obscure and petty world....
     To have to do with nothing but the true,
     The good, the eternal--and these, not alone,
     In the main current of the general life,
     But small experiences of every day,
     Concerns of the particular hearth and home:
     To learn not only by a comet's rush
     But a rose's birth,--not by the grandeur, God--
     But the comfort, Christ."

This idea is revealed positively in _Children of the Soil_, and
negatively in _Without Dogma_. The two women, Marynia and Aniela, are
very similar. Aniela's intellect is elementary compared with that of her
brilliant lover, Leon Ploszowski. But her Christian faith turns out to
be a much better guide to conduct than his flux of metaphysics. She is a
good woman, and knows the difference between right and wrong without
having to look it up in a book. When he urges her to a _liaison_, and
overwhelms her objections with a fine display of modern dialectic, she
concludes the debate by saying, "I cannot argue with you, because you
are so much cleverer than I; but I know that what you want me to do is
wrong, and I will not do it."

[10] Taken here and there from his essay on Zola.

We find exactly the same emphasis when we turn to the historical romance
_Quo Vadis_. The whole story is a glorification of Christianity, of
Christian ethics and Christian belief. The despised Christians have
discovered the secret of life, which the culture of Petronius sought in
vain. It was hidden from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto babes.
The influence of Lygia on Vinicius is, with a totally different
environment, precisely the same as the influence of Marynia on Pan

Sienkiewicz seems to have much the same Christian conception of Love as
that shown in so many ways by Browning. Love is the _summum bonum_, and
every manifestation of it has something divine. Love in all its forms
appears in these Polish novels, as it does in Browning, from the basest
sensual desire to the purest self-sacrifice. There is indeed a streak of
animalism in Sienkiewicz, which shows in all his works; but, if we may
believe him, it is merely one representation of the great passion, which
so largely controls life and conduct. Love, says Sienkiewicz, with
perhaps more force than clearness, should be the foundation of all
literature. "L'amour--c'est un droit éternel, une force vitale, c'est le
génie--bienfaiteur de notre globe: l'harmonie. Sienkiewicz croit que
l'amour, ainsi compris, est le fondement de la littérature polonaise--et
que cet amour devrait l'être pour toute la littérature."[11] Some light
may be thrown on this statement by a careful reading of _Pan Michael_.

[11] Sent to me by Dr. Glabisz.

Sienkiewicz is indeed a mighty man--someone has ironically called him a
literary blacksmith. There is nothing decadent in his nature. Compared
with many English, German, and French writers, who seem at times to
express an anæmic and played-out civilisation, he has the very
exuberance of power and an endless wealth of material. It is as if the
world were fresh and new. And he has not only delighted us with the
pageantry of chivalry, and with the depiction of our complex modern
civilisation, he has for us also the stimulating influence of a great
moral force.



Walking along Michigan Avenue in Chicago one fine day, I stopped in
front of the recently completed hall devoted to music. On the façade of
this building had been placed five names, supposed to represent the five
greatest composers that the world has thus far seen. It was worth while
to pause a moment and to reflect that those five men were all Germans.
Germany's contribution to music is not only greater than that of any
other nation, it is probably greater than that of all the other
countries of the earth put together, and multiplied several times. In
many forms of literary art,--especially perhaps in drama and in lyrical
poetry,--Germany has been eminent; and she has produced the greatest
literary genius since Shakespeare. To-day the Fatherland remains the
intellectual workshop of the world; men and women flock thither to study
subjects as varied as Theology, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Music. All
this splendid achievement in science and in culture makes poverty in the
field of prose fiction all the more remarkable. For the fact is, that
the total number of truly great world-novels written in the German
language, throughout its entire history, can be counted on the fingers
of one hand.

In the making of fiction, from the point of view solely of quality,
Germany cannot stand an instant's comparison with Russia, whose four
great novelists have immensely enriched the world; nor with Great
Britain, where masterpieces have been produced for nearly two hundred
years; nor with France, where the names of notable novels crowd into the
memory; and even America, so poor in literature and in genuine culture,
can show at least one romance that stands higher than anything which has
come from beyond the Rhine. Germany has no reason to feel ashamed of her
barrenness in fiction, so pre-eminent is she in many other and perhaps
nobler forms of art. But it is interesting to enquire for a moment into
possible causes of this phenomenon, and to see if we can discover why
Teutonic fiction is, relatively speaking, so bad.

One dominant fault in most German novels is a lack of true proportion.
The principle of selection, which differentiates a painting from a
photograph, and makes the artist an Interpreter instead of a Recorder,
has been forgotten or overlooked. The high and holy virtue of Omission
should be cultivated more sedulously. The art of leaving out is the art
that produces the real illusion--where, by the omission of unessential
details, things that are salient can be properly emphasised. And what
German novels lack is emphasis. This cannot be obtained by merely
spacing the letters in descriptions and in conversations; it can be
reached only by remembering that prose fiction is as truly an art form
as a Sonata. Instead of novels, the weary reader gets long and tiresome
biographies of rather unimportant persons; people whom we should not in
the least care to know in real life. We follow them dejectedly from the
cradle to the grave. Matters of no earthly consequence either to the
reader, to the hero, or to the course of the plot, are given as much
prominence as great events. In _Jörn Uhl_, to take a recent
illustration, the novel is positively choked by trivial detail. Despite
the enormous vogue of this story, it does not seem destined to live. It
will fall by its own weight.

Another great fault is an excess of sentimentality. For the Germans, who
delight in destroying old faiths of humanity, and who remorselessly
hammer away at the shrines where we worship in history and religion,
are, notwithstanding their iconoclasm, the most sentimental people in
the world. Many second-and third-rate German novels are ruined for an
Anglo-Saxon reader by a lush streak of sentimental gush, a curious
blemish in so intellectual and sceptical a race. This excess of soft
material appears in a variety of forms; but to take one common
manifestation of it, I should say that the one single object that has
done more than anything else to weaken and to destroy German fiction, is
the Moon. The Germans are, by nature and by training, scientific; and
what their novels need is not the examination of literary critics, but
the thoughtful attention of astronomers. The Moon is overworked, and
needs a long rest. An immense number of pages are illumined by its
chaste beams, for this satellite is both active and ubiquitous. It
behaves, it must be confessed, in a dramatic manner, but in a way
hopelessly at variance with its methodical and orderly self. In other
words, the Moon, in German fiction, is not astronomical, but decorative.
I have read some stories where it seems to rise on almost every page,
and is invariably full. When Stevenson came to grief on the Moon in
_Prince Otto_, he declared that the next time he wrote a novel, he
should use an almanac. He unwittingly laid his finger on a weak spot in
German fiction. The almanac is, after all, what is most sorely needed.
Even Herr Sudermann, for whom we entertain the highest respect, places
in _Es War_ a young crescent Moon in the eastern sky! But it is in his
story, _Der Katzensteg_, that the lunar orb plays its heaviest rôle. It
rises so constantly that after a time the very words "_der Mond_" get
on one's nerves. At the climax, when the lover looks down on the stream,
he there beholds the dead body of his sweetheart. By some scientific
process, "unknown to me and which 'twere well to know," she is floating
on her back in the water, while the Moon illumines her face, leaving the
rest of her remains in darkness. This constitutes a striking picture;
and is also of material assistance to the man in locating the
whereabouts of the girl. He descends, rescues her from the flood, and
digs a grave in which to bury her. The Moon actively and dramatically
takes part in this labour. Finally, he has lowered the corpse into the
bottom of the cavity. The Moon now shines into the grave in such a
manner that the dead woman's face is bright with its rays, whereas the
rest of her body and the walls of the tomb are in obscurity. This
phenomenon naturally makes a powerful impression on the mourner's mind.

If such things can happen in the works of a writer like Sudermann, one
can easily imagine the reckless behaviour of the Moon in the common run
of German fiction. The Moon, in fact, is in German novels what the
calcium light is in American melodrama. If one "assists" at a
performance of, let us say, _No Wedding Bells for Her_, and can take his
eye a moment from the stage, he may observe up in the back gallery a
person working the calcium light, and directing its powerful beams in
such a fashion that no matter where the heroine moves, they dwell
exclusively on her face, so that we may contemplate her features
convulsed with emotion. Now in _Der Katzensteg_, the patient Moon
follows the heroine about with much the same assiduity, and accuracy of
aim. Possibly Herr Sudermann, since the composition of that work, has
really consulted an almanac; for in _Das hohe Lied_, the Moon is
practically ignored, and never gets a fair start. Toward the end, I felt
sure that it would appear, and finally, when I came to the words, "The
weary disk of the full moon (_matte Vollmondscheibe_) hung somewhere in
the dark sky," I exclaimed, "Art thou there, truepenny?"--but the next
sentence showed that the author was playing fast and loose with his old
friend. "It was the illuminated clock of a railway-station." Can
Sudermann have purposely set a trap for his moon-struck constituency?

From the astronomical point of view, I have seldom read a novel that
contained so much moonlight as _Der Katzensteg_, and I have never read
one that contained so little as _Das hohe Lied_. Perhaps Sudermann is
now quietly protesting against what he himself may regard as a national
calamity, for it is little less than that. Be this as it may, the lack
of proportion and the excess of sentimentality are two great evils that
have militated against the final success of German fiction.

Hermann Sudermann was born at a little village in East Prussia, near the
Russian frontier. The natal landscape is dull, depressing, gloomy, and
the skies are low and threatening. The clouds return after the rain.
Dame Care has spread her grey wings over the flat earth, and neither the
scenery nor the quality of the air are such as to inspire hope and
vigour. The boy's parents were desperately poor, and the bitter
struggles with poverty so frequently described in his novels are
reminiscent of early experiences. In the beautiful and affectionate
verses, which constitute the dedication to his father and mother, and
which are placed at the beginning of _Frau Sorge_, these privations of
the Sudermann household are dwelt on with loving tenderness. At the age
of fourteen, the child was forced to leave school, and was apprenticed
to a chemist--something that recalls chapters in the lives of Keats and
of Ibsen. But, like most boys who really long for a good education,
Sudermann obtained it; he continued his studies in private, and later
returned to school at Tilsit. In 1875 he attended the University at
Königsberg, and in 1877 migrated to the University of Berlin. His first
impulse was to become a teacher, and he spent several years in a wide
range of studies in philosophy and literature. Then he turned to
journalism, and edited a political weekly. He finally forsook journalism
for literature, and for the last twenty years he has been known in every
part of the intellectual world.

Like Mr. J. M. Barrie, Signor D'Annunzio, and other contemporaries,
Sudermann has achieved high distinction both as a novelist and as a
dramatist. Indeed, one of the signs of the times is the recruiting of
playwrights from the ranks of trained experts in prose fiction. It may
perhaps be regarded as one more evidence of the approaching supremacy of
the Drama, which many literary prophets have foretold. After he had
published a small collection of "Zwanglose Geschichten," called _Im
Zwielicht_, Sudermann issued his first real novel, _Dame Care_ (_Frau
Sorge_). This was followed by two tales bound together under the heading
_Geschwister_, one of them being the morbidly powerful story, _The Wish_
(_Der Wunsch_). Soon after came _Der Katzensteg_, translated into
English with the title, _Regina_. Then, after a surprisingly short
interval, came his first play, _Die Ehre_ (1889), which appeared in the
same year as his rival Hauptmann's first drama, _Vor Sonnenaufgang_.
_Die Ehre_ created a tremendous sensation, and Sudermann was excitedly
read and discussed far beyond the limits of his native land. He reached
a wild climax of popularity a few years later with his play _Heimat_
(English version _Magda_), which has been presented by the greatest
actresses in the world, and is familiar to everybody. With the exception
of the long novel, _Es War_ (English translation, _The Undying Past_),
which appeared in 1894, Sudermann devoted himself exclusively to the
stage for almost twenty years, and most of us believed he had definitely
abandoned novel-writing. From 1889 to 1909, he produced nineteen plays,
nearly every one of them successful. Then last year he astonished
everybody by publishing a novel of over six hundred closely printed
pages, called _Das hohe Lied_, translated into English as _The Song of
Songs_. This has had an enormous success, and for 1908-1909, is the best
selling work of fiction in the large cities of Germany.

The immense vogue of his early plays had much to do with the wide
circulation of his previously published novels. Despite the now
universally acknowledged excellence of _Frau Sorge_, it attracted, at
the time of its appearance, very little attention. It is going beyond
the facts to say with one German critic that "it dropped stillborn from
the press"; but it did not give the author anything like the fame he
deserved. After the first night of _Die Ehre_, the public became
inquisitive. A search was made for everything the new author had
written, and the two novels _Frau Sorge_, and the very recent
_Katzensteg_, were fairly pounced upon. The small stock on hand was
immediately exhausted, and the presses poured forth edition after
edition. At first _Der Katzensteg_ received the louder tribute of
praise; it was hailed by many otherwise sane critics as the greatest
work of fiction that Germany had ever produced. But after the tumult and
the shouting died, the people recognised the superiority of the former
novel. To-day _Der Katzensteg_ is, comparatively speaking, little read,
and one seldom hears it mentioned. _Frau Sorge_, on the other hand, has
not only attained more editions than any other work, either play or
novel, by its author, but it bears the signs that mark a classic. It is
one of the very few truly great German novels, and it is possible that
this early written story will survive everything that Sudermann has
since produced, which is saying a good deal. It looks like a fixed star.

Sudermann's four novels, _Frau Sorge_, _Der Katzensteg_, _Es War_, and
_Das hohe Lied_, show a steady progression in Space as well as in Time.
The first is the shortest; the second is larger; the third is a long
book; the fourth is a leviathan. If novelists were heard for their much
speaking, the order of merit in this output would need no comment. But
the first of these is almost as superior in quality as it is inferior in
size. When the author prepared it for the press, he was an absolutely
unknown man. Possibly he put more work on it than went into the other
books, for it apparently bears the marks of careful revision. It is a
great exception to the ordinary run of German novels in its complete
freedom from superfluous and clogging detail. Turgenev used to write his
stories originally at great length, and then reduce them to a small
fraction of their original bulk, before offering them to the public. We
thus receive the quintessence of his thought and of his art. Now _Frau
Sorge_ has apparently been subjected to some such process. Much of the
huge and varied cargo of ideas, reflections, comments, and speculations
carried by the regulation German freight-novel of heavy draught, has
here been jettisoned. Then the craft itself has been completely
remodelled, and the final result is a thing of grace and beauty.

_Frau Sorge_ is an admirable story in its absolute unity, in its
harmonious development, and in its natural conclusion. I do not know of
any other German novel that has a more attractive outline. It ought to
serve as an example to its author's countrymen.

It is in a way an anatomy of melancholy. It is written throughout in the
minor key, and the atmosphere of melancholy envelops it with as much
natural charm as though it were a beautiful piece of music. The book is
profoundly sad, without any false sentiment and without any revolting
coarseness. It is as far removed from the silly sentimentality so
common in Teutonic fiction, as it is from the filth of Zola or of Gorky.
The deep melancholy of the story is as natural to it as a cloudy sky.
The characters live and move and have their being in this grey medium,
which fits them like a garment; just as in the early tales of Björnson
we feel the strong sunshine and the sharp air. The early environment of
the young author, the depressing landscape of his boyhood days, the
daily fight with grim want in his father's house--all these elements are
faithfully reflected here, and lend their colour to the narrative. And
this surrounding melancholy, though it overshadows the whole book, is
made to serve an artistic purpose. It contrasts favourably with Ibsen's
harsh bitterness, with Gorky's maudlin dreariness, and with the
hysterical outbursts of pessimism from the manikins who try to see life
from the mighty shoulders of Schopenhauer. At the very heart of the work
we find no sentiment of revolt against life, and no cry of despair, but
true tenderness and broad sympathy. It is the clear expression of a
rich, warm nature.

The story is realistic, with a veil of Romanticism. The various scenes
of the tale seem almost photographically real. The daily life on the
farm, the struggles with the agricultural machine, the peat-bogs, the
childish experiences at school, the brutality of the boys, the graphic
picture of the funeral,--these would not be out of place in a genuine
experimental novel. But we see everything through an imaginative medium,
like the impalpable silver-grey mist on the paintings of Andrea del
Sarto. The way in which the difficult conception of _Frau Sorge_--part
woman, part vague abstraction--is managed, reminds one in its shadowy
nature of Nathaniel Hawthorne. This might have been done clumsily, as in
a crude fairy-tale, but it exhibits the most subtle art. The first
description of Frau Sorge by the mother, the boy's first glimpse of the
supernatural woman, his father's overcoat, the Magdalene in church, the
flutter of Frau Sorge's wings,--all this gives us a realistic story, and
yet takes us into the borderland between the actual and the unknown.
From one point of view we have a plain narrative of fact; from another
an imaginative poem, and at the end we feel that both have been
marvellously blended.

The simplicity of the style gives the novel a high rank in German prose.
It has that naïve quality wherein the Germans so greatly excel writers
in other languages. It is a surprising fact that this tongue, so full of
difficulties for foreigners, and which seems often so confused and
involved, can, in the hands of a master, be made to speak like a little
child. The literary style of _Frau Sorge_ is naïve without ever being
trivial or absurd. It is pleasant to observe, by the way, that to some
extent this book is filling the place in American educational programmes
of German that _L'Abbé Constantin_ has for so long a time occupied in
early studies of French. Both novels are masterpieces of simplicity.

But what we remember the most vividly, years after we have finished this
story, is not its scenic background, nor its unearthly charm, nor the
grace of its style; it is the character and temperament of the boy-hero.
It is the first, and possibly the best, of Sudermann's remarkable
psychological studies. The whole interest is centred in young Paul. He
is not exactly the normal type of growing boy,--compare him with Tom
Sawyer!--but because he is not ordinary, it does not follow that he is
unnatural. To many thoroughly respectable Philistine readers, he may
appear not only abnormal, but impossible; but the book was not intended
for Philistines. I believe that this boy is absolutely true to life,
though I do not recall at this moment any other novel where this
particular kind of youth occupies the centre of the stage.

For _Frau Sorge_ is a careful study and analysis of _bashfulness_, a
characteristic that causes more exquisite torture to many boys and girls
than is commonly recognised. Many of us, when we laugh at a boy's
bashfulness, are brutal, when we mean to be merely jocular. Paul is
intensely self-conscious. He is not at all like a healthy, practical,
objective child, brought up in a large family, and surrounded by the
noisy progeny of neighbours. His life is perforcedly largely subjective.
He would give anything could he associate with schoolmates with the ease
that makes a popular boy sure of his welcome. His accursed timidity
makes him invariably show his most awkward and unattractive side. He is
not in the least a _Weltkind_. He has none of the coarseness and none of
the clever shirking of work and study so characteristic of the perfectly
normal small boy. He does his duty _without any reservations_, and
without understanding why. The narrative of his mental life is deeply
pathetic. It is impossible to read the book without a lump in the

Paul is finally saved from himself by the redeeming power of love. The
little heroine Elsbeth is shadowy,--a merely conventional picture of
hair, complexion, and eyes,--but she is, after all, _das Ewigweibliche_,
and draws Paul upward and onward. She rescues him from the Slough of
Despond. There is no touch of cynicism here. Sudermann shows us the
healing power of a good woman's heart.

The next novel, _Der Katzensteg_, is more pretentious than _Frau Sorge_,
but not nearly so fine a book. It abounds in dramatic scenes, and glows
with fierce passion. It seems more like a melodrama than a story, and
it is not surprising that its author immediately discovered--perhaps in
the very composition of this romance--his genius for the stage. It is a
historical novel, but the chief interest, as always in Sudermann, is
psychological. The element of Contrast--so essential to true drama, and
which is so strikingly employed in _Die Ehre_, _Sodoms Ende_, _Heimat_,
and _Johannes_--is the mainspring of _Der Katzensteg_. We have here the
irrepressible conflict between the artificial and the natural. The
heroine of the story is a veritable child of nature, with absolutely
elemental passions, as completely removed from civilisation as a wild
beast. She was formerly the mistress of the hero's father, and for a
long time is naturally regarded with loathing by the son. But she
transfers her dog-like fidelity from the dead parent to the morbid scion
of the house. The more cruelly the young man treats her, the deeper
becomes her love for him. Nor does he at first suspect the hold she has
on his heart. He imagines himself to be in love with the pastor's
daughter in the village, who has been brought up like a hothouse plant.
This simpering, affected girl, who has had all the advantages of careful
nurture and education, is throughout the story contrasted with the wild
flower, Regina. The contrast is thorough--mental, moral, physical. The
educated girl has no real mind; she has only accomplishments. Her
morality has nothing to do with the heart; it is a bundle of
conventions. And finally, while Regina has a magnificent, voluptuous
physique, the hero discovers--by the light of the moon--that the lady of
his dreams is too thin! This is unendurable. He rushes away from the
town to the heights where stands his lonely dwelling, cursing himself
for his folly in being so long blind to the wonderful charm and devotion
of the passionate girl who, he feels sure, is waiting for him. He
hastens on the very wings of love, wild with his new-found happiness.
But the very fidelity of the child of nature has caused her death. She
stood out on the bridge--_der Katzensteg_--to warn her lover of his
danger. There she is shot by her drunken father, and the impatient lover
sees her dead body in the stream below.

Now he has leisure to reflect on what a fool he has been. He sees how
much nobler are natural passions than artificial conventions. Regina had
lived "on the other side of good and evil," knowing and caring nothing
for the standards of society. The entire significance of the novel is
summed up in this paragraph:--

     "And as he thought and pondered, it seemed to him as if the clouds
     which separate the foundations of human being from human
     consciousness" (that is, things as they are from our conceptions of
     them,--_den Boden des menschlichen Seins vom menschlichen
     Bewusstsein_) "were dispersed, and he saw a space deeper than men
     commonly see, into the depths of the unconscious. That which men
     call Good and Bad, moved restless in the clouds around the surface;
     below, in dreaming strength, lay the _Natural_ (_das Natürliche_).
     'Whom Nature has blessed,' he said to himself, 'him she lets safely
     grow in her dark depths and allows him to struggle boldly toward
     the light, without the clouds of Wisdom and Error surrounding and
     bewildering him.'"

But there is nothing new or original in this doctrine, however daring it
may be. One can find it all in Nietzsche and in Rousseau. The best thing
about the novel is that it once more illustrates Sudermann's sympathy
for the outcast and the despised.

An extraordinarily powerful study in morbid psychology is shown in one
of his short stories, called _Der Wunsch_. The tale is told backward. It
begins with the discovery of a horrible suicide, the explanation of
which is furnished to the prostrated lover by the dead woman's
manuscript. A man and his wife, at first happily married, encounter the
dreadful obstacles of poverty and disease; the fatal illness of his wife
plunges the husband into a hard, bitter melancholy. From this he is
partially saved by the appearance of his wife's younger sister on the
scene, who comes to take care of the sick woman. The close companionship
of the two, previously fond of each other, and now united daily by their
care of the invalid, results in love; but both are absolutely loyal to
the suffering wife. They cannot help thinking, however, of the wonderful
happiness that might be theirs, were the man free; nevertheless, they do
everything possible to solace the last hours of the woman for whom they
feel an immense compassion. One night, as the sister watches at the
bedside, and gazes on the face of her sister, she suddenly feels the
uncontrollable and fatal _wish_--"Would that she might die!" She is so
smitten with remorse that after the death of the invalid she commits
suicide. For although her wish had nothing to do with this event, she
nevertheless regards herself as a murderer, and goes to self-execution.
The physician remarks that this psychological _wish_ is not uncommon;
that during his professional services he has often seen it legibly
written on the faces of relatives by the bedside--sometimes actuated by
avarice, sometimes by other forms of personal greed.

The next regular novel, _Es War_, is the study of a past sin on a man's
character, temperament, and conduct. The hero, Leo, has committed
adultery with the wife of a disagreeable husband, and, being challenged
by the latter to a duel, has killed him. Thus having broken two of the
commandments, he departs for South America, where for four years he
lives a joyous, care-free, savage existence, with murder and sensuality
a regular part of the day's work. It is perhaps a little hard on South
America that Leo could live there in such liberty and return to Germany
unscathed by the arm of the law; but this is essential to the story. He
returns a kind of Superman, rejoicing in his magnificent health and
absolutely determined to repent nothing. He will not allow the past to
obscure his happiness. But unfortunately his friend Ulrich, whom he has
loved since childhood with an affection passing the love of women, has
married the guilty widow, in blissful unconsciousness of his friend's
guilt. And here the story opens. It is a long, depressing, but intensely
interesting tale. At the very close, when it seems that wholesale
tragedy is inevitable, the clouds lift, and Leo, who has found the Past
stronger than he, regains something of the cheerfulness that
characterises his first appearance in the narrative. Nevertheless _es
war_; the Past cannot be lightly tossed aside or forgotten. It comes
near wrecking the lives of every important character in the novel. Yet
the idea at the end seems to be that although sin entails fearful
punishment, and the scars can never be obliterated, it is possible to
triumph over it and find happiness once more. The most beautiful and
impressive thing in _Es War_ is the friendship between the two men--so
different in temperament and so passionately devoted to each other. A
large group of characters is splendidly kept in hand, and each is
individual and clearly drawn. One can never forget the gluttonous,
wine-bibbing Parson, who comes eating and drinking, but who is a terror
to publicans and sinners.

Last year appeared _Das hohe Lied_, which, although it lacks the morbid
horror of much of Sudermann's work, is the most pessimistic book he has
ever written. The irony of the title is the motive of the whole novel.
Between the covers of this thick volume we find the entire detailed
life-history of a woman. She passes through much debauchery, and we
follow her into many places where we should hesitate to penetrate in
real life. But the steps in her degradation are not put in, as they so
often are in Guy de Maupassant, merely to lend spice to the narrative;
every event has a definite influence on the heroine's character. The
story, although very long, is strikingly similar to that in a recent
successful American play, _The Easiest Way_. Lilly Czepanek is not
naturally base or depraved. The manuscript roll of her father's musical
composition, _Das hohe Lied_, which she carries with her from childhood
until her final submission to circumstances, and which saves her body
from suicide but not her soul from death, is emblematic of the _élan_
which she has in her heart. With the best intentions in the world, with
noble, romantic sentiments, with a passionate desire to be a rescuing
angel to the men and women whom she meets, she gradually sinks in the
mire, until, at the end, her case is hopeless. She struggles
desperately, but each struggle finds her stock of resistance reduced.
She always ends by taking the easiest way. Like a person in a quicksand,
every effort to escape sinks the body deeper; or, like a drowning man,
the more he raises his hands to heaven, the more speedy is his
destruction. Much of Lilly's degradation is caused by what she believes
to be an elevating altruistic impulse. And when she finally meets the
only man in her whole career who respects her in his heart, who really
means well by her, and whose salvation she can accomplish along with her
own,--one single evening, where she begins with the best of intentions
and with a sincere effort toward a higher plane, results in complete
damnation. Then, like the heroine in _The Easiest Way_, she determines
to commit suicide, and really means to do it. But the same weakness that
has made it hitherto impossible for her to triumph over serious
obstacles, prevents her from taking this last decisive step. As she
hears the splash of her talisman in the cold, dark water, she realises
that she is not the stuff of which heroines are made, either in life or
in death.

     "And as she heard that sound, then she knew instantly that she
     would _never_ do it.--No indeed! Lilly Czepanek was _no_ Heroine.
     _No_ martyr of her love was Lilly Czepanek. No Isolde, who in the
     determination not to be, sees the highest self-assertion. She was
     only a poor brittle, crushed, broken thing, who must drag along
     through her days as best she can."

And with this realisation she goes wearily back to a rich lover she had
definitely forsaken, knowing that in saving her life she has now lost it
for ever.

This is the last page of the story, but unfortunately it does not end
here. Herr Sudermann has chosen to add one paragraph after the word
"_Schluss_." By this we learn that in the spring of the following year
the aforesaid rich lover _marries_ Lilly, and takes her on a bridal trip
to Italy, which all her life had been in her dreams the celestial
country. She is thus saved from the awful fate of the streets, which
during the whole book had loomed threatening in the distance. But this
ending leaves us completely bewildered and depressed. It seems to imply
that, after all, these successive steps in moral decline do not make
much difference, one way or the other; for at the very beginning of her
career she could not possibly have hoped for any better material fate
than this. The reader not only feels cheated; he feels that the moral
element in the story, which through all the scenes of vice has been made
clear, is now laughed at by the author. This is why I call the book the
most pessimistic of all Sudermann's writings. A novel may take us
through woe and sin, and yet not produce any impression of cynicism;
but one that makes a careful, serious study of subtle moral decay
through over six hundred pages, and then implies at the end that the
distinction between vice and virtue is, after all, a matter of no
consequence, leaves an impression for which the proverbial "bad taste in
the mouth" is utterly inadequate to describe. Some years ago, Professor
Heller, in an admirable book on Modern German Literature, remarked, in a
comparison between Hauptmann and Sudermann, that the former has no
working theory of life, which the latter possessed. That Hauptmann's
dramas offer no solution, merely giving sordid wretchedness; while
Sudermann shows the conquest of environment by character. Or, as Mr.
Heller puts it, there is the contrast between the "driving and the
drifting." I think this distinction in the main will justify itself to
anyone who makes a thoughtful comparison of the work of these two
remarkable men. Despite the depreciation of Sudermann and the idolatry
of Hauptmann, an attitude so fashionable among German critics at
present, I believe that the works of the former have shown a stronger
grasp of life. But the final paragraph of _Das hohe Lied_ is a
staggering blow to those of us who have felt that Sudermann had some
kind of a _Weltanschauung_. It is like Chopin's final movement in his
great Sonata; mocking laughter follows the solemn tones of the Funeral

Up to this last bad business, _Das hohe Lied_ exhibits that
extraordinary power of psychological analysis that we have come to
expect from Sudermann. Lilly, apart from her personal beauty, is not,
after all, an interesting girl; her mind is thoroughly shallow and
commonplace. Nor are the numerous adventures through which she passes
particularly interesting. And yet the long book is by no means dull, and
one reads it with steady attention. The reason for this becomes clear,
after some reflexion. Not only are we absorbed by the contemplation of
so masterly a piece of mental analysis, but what interests us most is
the constant attempt of Lilly to analyse herself. We often wonder how
people appear to themselves. The unspoken dialogues between Lilly and
her own soul are amazingly well done. She is constantly surprised by
herself, constantly bewildered by the fact that what she thought was one
set of motives, turns out to be quite otherwise. All this comes to a
great climax in the scene late at night when she writes first one
letter, then another--each one meaning to be genuinely confessional.
Each letter is to give an absolutely faithful account of her life, with
a perfectly truthful depiction of her real character. Now the two
letters are so different that in one she appears to be a low-lived
adventuress, and in the other a noble woman, deceived through what is
noblest in her. Finally she tears both up, for she realises that
although each letter gives the facts, neither tells the truth. And then
she sees that the truth cannot be told; that life is far too complex to
be put into language.

In the attempts of German critics years ago to "classify" Sudermann, he
was commonly placed in one of the three following groups. Many insisted
that he was merely a Decadent, whose pleasure it was to deal in
unhealthy social problems. That his interest in humanity was
pathological. Others held that he was a fierce social Reformer, a kind
of John the Baptist, who wished to reconstruct modern society along
better lines, and who was therefore determined to make society realise
its own rottenness. He was primarily a Satirist, not a Decadent.
Professor Calvin Thomas quoted (without approbation) Professor Litzmann
of Bonn, who said that Sudermann was "a born satirist, not one of the
tame sort who only tickle and scratch, but one of the stamp of Juvenal,
who swings his scourge with fierce satisfaction so that the blood starts
from the soft, voluptuous flesh." A reading of _Das hohe Lied_ will
convince anyone that Sudermann, wherever he is, is not among the
prophets. Finally, there were many critics who at the very start
recognised Sudermann as primarily an artist, who chooses to paint the
aspects of life that interest him. This is undoubtedly the true
viewpoint. We may regret that he prefers to analyse human characters in
morbid and abnormal development, but that, after all, is his affair, and
we do not have to read him unless we wish to. Professor Thomas, in an
admirable article on _Das Glück im Winkel_, contributed in 1895 to the
New York _Nation_, said, "Sudermann is a man of the world, a
psychologist, and an artist, not a voice crying in the wilderness. The
immortality of Juvenal or Jeremiah would not be to his taste." It is
vain to quarrel with the direction taken by genius; however much we may
deplore its course. Sudermann is one of the greatest, if not the
greatest, of Germany's living writers, and every play or novel from his
pen contains much material for serious thought.



In the month of September, 1898, there appeared in America a novel with
the attractive title, _Bob, Son of Battle_. Unheralded by author's fame
or by the blare of advertisement, it was at first unnoticed; but in
about a twelvemonth everybody was talking about it. It became one of the
"best sellers"; unlike its companions, it has not vanished with the
snows of yesteryear. At this moment it is being read and reread all over
the United States. I do not believe there is a single large town in our
country where the book is unknown, or where a reference to it fails to
bring to the faces of intelligent people that glow of reminiscent
delight aroused by the memory of happy hours passed in the world of
imagination. It seemed so immensely superior to the ordinary run of new
novels, that we gazed with pardonable curiosity at the unfamiliar
signature on the title-page. Who was this writer who knew so much of the
nature of dogs and men? Where had he found that extraordinarily vivid
style, and what experiences had he passed through that gave him his
subtle insight into character? But all that we could then discover was
that Alfred Ollivant was an Englishman, and that _Bob_ was his first
novel. We decided that he must have lived long, observed all kinds of
dogs, and a large variety of men, women, and children; and that for some
reason best known to himself he had chosen to print nothing until he had
descended into the vale of years. For only the other day we were not
surprised to find that _Joseph Vance_ was the winter fruit of a man
nearly seventy; that book at any rate was the expression of a man who
had had life, and had it abundantly.

Our astonishment was keen indeed when we learned that the author of
_Bob_ was a boy just out of his teens, who had written his wonderful
book in horizontal pain and weakness. He had entered the army, receiving
his commission as a cavalry officer in 1893, at the age of nineteen; a
few weeks after this event, a fall from his horse injured his spine,
previously affected by some mysterious malady; this accident abruptly
checked his chosen military career, and made him a man of letters.
Literature owes a great deal to enforced idleness, whether the writer be
sick or in prison. The wind bloweth where it listeth; and we perceived
once more that genius does not always accompany good health, or
maturity, or ambition; it seems to select with absolute caprice the
individuals through whom it speaks. And so this first-born child of the
brain was delivered, like human infants, on a bed of suffering; being,
to complete the analogy, none the less healthy on that account. The book
was begun in 1894, when the author was twenty years old; during
intervals of physical capacity in 1895 and 1896, it was continued, and
was submitted to the publishers in 1897.

It was to have been published in the autumn, but the London firm decided
to postpone its appearance one year. The author employed these months in
completely rewriting the story, which he had named _Owd Bob_. Meanwhile,
the New York publishers, who had a copy of the original manuscript,
fearing that the title _Owd Bob_ lacked magnetism, wisely rechristened
it _Bob, Son of Battle_. And so, in September, 1898, the novel in its
first form, but with a new name, was printed in America; simultaneously
in England it appeared in a new form, but with the old name. In other
words, the London first edition, _Owd Bob_, is a thoroughly revised
version of the American first edition, _Bob, Son of Battle_, although
they were published at the same time. It does not seem as though the
author could have improved a book that so completely satisfies us as it
stands; and Americans, to whom _Owd Bob_ is unknown, may not believe
that it can be superior to _Bob, Son of Battle_. Nevertheless it is. The
two versions are of course alike in general features of the plot and in
outline; but no one who has read both can hesitate an instant. One has
only to compare the manner in which Red Wull made his _début_ in America
with the chapter where he first appears (in a totally different way) in
the English edition, to see how clearly second thoughts were best.

And yet, despite the enormous popularity of _Bob, Son of Battle_ in the
United States, and despite the fact that Englishmen had the opportunity
to read the story in a still finer form, it has not until very recently
made any impression on British readers or on London critics. Is it
possible that a book, like a dog, may be killed by a bad name? The novel
was written by an Englishman, the scenes were laid in Britain, it dealt
with manners and customs peculiarly English, and it was aimed directly
at an English public. And yet, for nearly ten years after its
publication, _Owd Bob_ remained in obscurity.[12] But its day is coming,
and the prophet will yet receive honour in his own country. In 1908 it
was reprinted in a seven-pence edition, of which fifty thousand copies
have already seen the light. This is nothing to the American
circulation; but it is promising. Bearing in mind the futility of
literary prophecy, I still believe that the day will come when _Owd Bob_
will be generally recognised as belonging to English literature.

[12] A year or two ago I asked one of the foremost English dramatists,
one of the foremost English novelists, and one of the foremost English
critics, men whose names are known everywhere in America, if they had
read _Bob_; not one of them had ever heard of the book.

The splendid fidelity and devotion of the dog to his master have
certainly been in part repaid by men of letters in all stages of the
world's history. A valuable essay might be written on the dog's
contributions to literature; in the poetry of the East, hundreds of
years before Christ, the poor Indian insisted that his four-footed
friend should accompany him into eternity. We know that this bit of
Oriental pathos impressed Pope:--

    "But thinks, admitted to that equal sky,
     His faithful dog shall bear him company."

One of the most profoundly affecting incidents in the _Odyssey_ is the
recognition of the ragged Ulysses by the noble old dog, who dies of joy.
During the last half-century, since the publication of Dr. John Brown's
_Rab and his Friends_ (1858), the dog has approached an apotheosis.
Among innumerable sketches and stories with canine heroes may be
mentioned Bret Harte's brilliant portrait of _Boonder_; Maeterlinck's
essay on dogs; Richard Harding Davis's _The Bar Sinister_; Stevenson's
whimsical comments on _The Character of Dogs_; Kipling's _Garm_; and
Jack London's initial success, _The Call of the Wild_.[13] But all these
latter-day pamphlets, good as they are, fail to reach the excellence of
_Bob, Son of Battle_. It is the best dog story ever written, and it
inspires regret that dogs cannot read.

[13] One may fairly class with this literature the remarkable speech on
dogs delivered in his youth in a courtroom by the late Senator Vest. The
speech won the case against the evidence.

No one who knows Mr. Ollivant's tale can by any possibility forget the
Grey Dog of Kenmuir--the perfect, gentle knight--or the thrilling
excitement of his successful struggles for the cup. He is indeed a noble
and beautiful character, with the Christian combination of serpent and
dove. But Owd Bob in a slight degree shares the fate of all beings who
approach moral perfection. He reminds us at times of Tennyson's Arthur
in the _Idylls of the King_, though he fortunately delivers no lectures.
Lancelot was wicked, and Arthur was good; but Lancelot has the touch of
earth that makes him interesting, and Arthur has more than a touch of
boredom. In _Paradise Lost_ the spotless Raphael does not compare in
charm with the picturesque Foe of God and Man. The real hero in Milton,
as I suspect the poet very well knew, is the Devil; and if Mr. Ollivant
had ignored both English and American godfathers, and called his novel
_The Tailless Tyke_, no reader could have objected. Red Wull is the
Satan of this canine epic; he has for us a fascination at once horrible
and irresistible. The author seems to have felt that the Grey Dog was
overshadowed; and he has saved our active sympathy for him by the clever
device of making him at one time dangerously ill, when we realise how
much we love him; and finally by throwing him under awful suspicion,
that we may experience--as we certainly do--the enormous relief of
beholding him guiltless. But in spite of our best instincts, Red Wull is
the protagonist. Dog and master have never been matched in a more
sinister manner than Adam McAdam and the Tailless Tyke. Bill Sikes and
his companion are nothing to it, and we cannot help remembering that to
the eternal disgrace of dogs, Bill Sikes's last friend forsook him.
Compared with Red Wull, the Hound of the Baskervilles is a pet lapdog.
When Adam and Wullie appear upon the scene, we look alive, even as their
virtuous enemies were forced to do, for we know something is bound to
happen. When the little man is greeted with a concert of hoots and
jeers, we cannot repress some sympathy for him, akin to our feeling
toward the would-be murderer Shylock, silent and solitary under the
noisy taunts of the feather-headed Gratiano. This bitter and lonely
wretch is a real character, and his strange personality is presented
with extraordinary skill. There is not a single false touch from first
to last; and the little man with the big dog abides in our memory. Red
Wull is the hero of a hundred fights; his tremendous and terrible
exploits are the very essence of piratical romance. After he has slain
the two huge beasts of the showman, McAdam exclaims with a sob of
paternal pride, "Ye play so rough, Wullie!"

And the death of the Tailless Tyke is positively Homeric. The other
dogs, all his ruthless enemies, whisper to each other and silently steal
from the room. They know that the hour has struck, and that this will be
the last fight. The whole pack set upon him, each one goaded by the
remembrance of some murdered relative, or by some humiliating scar. Red
Wull asks nothing better than meeting them all; and the unequal combat
becomes a frightful carnage. At the very end, as much exhausted by the
labour of killing as by his own wounds, the great dog--now red
indeed--hears his master's familiar cry, "Wullie, to me!" and with a
super-canine effort he raises his dying form from the bottom of the
writhing mass, shakes off the surviving foes, and slowly staggers to
McAdam's feet. Like Samson, the dead which he slew at his death were
more than they which he slew in his life.

Mr. Ollivant's next book, _Danny_, also a dog story, was not nearly so
effective. The human characters command the most attention, though the
old man with the weeping eye becomes a bit wearisome. The passages of
pure nature description are often exquisitely written, and prove that at
heart the author is a poet. But in the narrative portions there is an
unfortunate attempt to conceal the slightness of the story by preciosity
and affectation in the style. For the simple truth is that in _Danny_
there is no story worth the telling. We recall distinctly the lovely
young wife and her grim ironclad of a husband, but just what happened
between the covers of the book escapes us. Although Mr. Ollivant
believes in _Danny_, in spite of or because of its lack of popularity,
he was so dissatisfied with the American edition that he suppressed it.
Such an act is an indication of the high artistic standard that he has
set for himself; ambitious as he is, he would rather merit fame than
have it.

While the readers of _Bob_ and of _Danny_ were guessing what kind of a
dog the young author would select for his next novel, he surprised us
all by writing an uncaninical work. This story, adorned with happy
illustrations, and printed in big type, as though for the eyes of
children, was called _Red-Coat Captain_, and was enigmatically located
in "That Country." Every American publisher to whom the manuscript was
offered, rejected it, saying emphatically that it was nonsense; and if
there had not been a strain of idealism in the Head of the firm that
reconsidered and finally printed it, the book would probably never have
felt the press. Mr. Ollivant was sure that the story would appeal at
first only to a very few, and he requested the publisher not only to
refrain from issuing any advertisement, but to make the entire first
edition consist of only three copies--one for the archives of the House,
one for the author, and one for a believing friend. The children of this
world are wiser in their generation than the children of light; and the
shrewd man of business did not take the petition very seriously. The
verdict Nonsense has been loudly ratified by many reviewers and readers;
to the few it has been wisdom, to the many foolishness. For, as was said
years ago of a certain poem, "The capacity to understand such a work
must be spiritual." It matters not how clever one may be, how well read,
how sensitive to artistic beauties and defects; qualities of a totally
different nature must be present, and even then the time and place must
be right, if one is to seize the inner meaning of _Red-Coat Captain_. I
was about to say, the inner meaning of a story _like_ _Red-Coat
Captain_, but I was stopped by the thought that no story like it has
ever been published, and perhaps never will be. Both conception and
expression are profoundly original, and, in spite of some failure of
articulation, the work is strongly marked with genius. It is an allegory
based on the eleventh and twelfth commandments, which we have good
authority for believing are worth all the ten put together. From one
point of view it is a book for children; the mysterious setting of the
tale is sure to appeal to certain imaginative boys and girls. But the
early chapters, dealing with the pretty courtship and the honeymoon,
will be fully appreciated only by those who have some years to their
credit or otherwise. There is in this story the ineffable charm and
fragrance of purity. It is the lily in its author's garden.

Mr. Ollivant's latest novel is the most conventional of the four, and
wholly unlike any of its predecessors. It is a rattling, riotous
romance, placed in the troublous times of the Napoleonic wars. The
mighty shadow of Nelson falls darkly across the narrative, but the
author has not committed the sin--so common in historical romances--of
making a historical character the chief of the _dramatis personæ_. The
title rôle is played by _The Gentleman_, and he is a hero worthy of
Cooper or of Stevenson. Marked by reckless audacity, brilliant in
swordplay and in horsemanship, clever in turn of speech, gifted with the
manner of a pre-Revolution Duke--what more in the heroic line can a
reader desire? The architecture of the novel and the staccato paragraphs
infallibly remind one of Victor Hugo, whom, however, Mr. Ollivant does
not know. Nor, outside of the works of Stevenson, have we ever seen a
story minus love so steadily interesting. It is an amphibious book, and
those who like fighting on land and sea may have their fill. The
percentage of mortality is high; soldiers and sailors die numerously,
and the hideous details of death are worthy of _La Débâcle_; there is a
welter of gore. If this were all that could be said, if the fascination
of this romance depended wholly on the crowded action, it would simply
be one more exciting tale added to the hundreds published every year;
good to read on train and turbine, but not worth serious attention or
criticism. But the incidents, while frequent and thrilling, are not, at
least to the discriminating reader, the main thing, as the Germans say.
Nor is the construction, clever enough, nor the characters, real as they
are; the main thing is the style, which, quite different from that in
his former books, is yet all his own. The style, in the best sense of
the word, is pictorial; it transforms the past into the present. The
succession of events rolls off like a glowing panorama. It is perhaps
natural that many reviewers should have praised _The Gentleman_ more
highly than all the rest of Mr. Ollivant's work put together; but,
notwithstanding its wider appeal, it lacks the permanent qualities of
_Bob_, and (I believe) of _Red-Coat Captain_, for they are original.

That Mr. Ollivant is now on the road to physical health will be good
news. He has already done work that no one else can do, and we cannot
spare him. His four novels indicate versatility as well as much greater
gifts; and he should be watched by all who take an interest in
contemporary literature and who believe that the future is as rich as
the past. _Bob_ looks like the best English novel that has appeared
between _Tess of the D'Urbervilles_ in 1891, and _Joseph Vance_ in 1906.
Nothing but bodily obstacles can prevent its author from going far.



Stevenson spent his life, like an only and lonely child, in playing
games with himself. Most boys who read romances have the dramatic
instinct; they must forthwith incarnate the memories of their reading,
and anything will do for a _mise en scene_. The mudpuddle becomes an
ocean, where the pirate ship is launched; a scrubby apple tree has
infinite possibilities. Armed with a wooden sword, the child sallies
forth in the rain, and fiercely cuts down the mulleins; could we only
see him without being seen, we should observe the wild light in his eye,
and the frown of battle on his brow. He walks cautiously in the
underbrush, to surprise the ambushed foe; and it is with rapture that he
goes to sleep in a tent, pitched six yards from the kitchen door. This
spirit of adventure remains in some men's hearts, even after the hair
has grown grey or gone; they hear the call of the wild, lock up the
desk, go into the woods, and there rejoice in a process of

In order to enjoy life, one must love it; and nobody ever loved life
more than Stevenson. "It is better to be a fool than to be dead," said
he. To him the world was always picturesque, whether he saw it through
the mists of Edinburgh, or amid the snows of Davos, or in the tropical
heat of Samoa. "Where is Samoa?" asked a friend. "Go out of the Golden
Gate," replied Stevenson, "and take the first turn to the left." This
counsel makes up in joyous imagination what it lacks in latitude and
longitude. Everything in Stevenson's bodily and mental life was an
adventure, to be begun in a spirit of reckless enthusiasm. In his
travels with a donkey, he was a beloved vagabond, whose wayside
acquaintances are to be envied; in compulsory expeditions in search of
health, he set out with as much zest as though he were after buried
treasure; everything was an adventure, and his marriage was the greatest
adventure of all. He read books with the same enthusiasm with which he
tramped, or paddled in a canoe; every new novel he opened with the
spirit of an explorer, for who knows in its pages what people one may
meet? William Archer sent him a copy of Bernard Shaw's story, _Cashel
Byron's Profession_, and Stevenson wrote in reply from Saranac Lake,
"Over Bashville the footman I howled with derision and delight; I dote
on Bashville--I could read of him for ever; _de Bashville je suis le
fervent_--there is only one Bashville, and I am his devoted slave....
It is all mad, mad and deliriously delightful.... It is HORRID FUN....
(I say, Archer, my God, what women!)" What would authors give for a
reading public like that?

Prone in bed, when his attention was not diverted by a hemorrhage, he
lived amid the pageantry of gorgeous day-dreams, presented on the stage
of his brain. We know that Ben Jonson saw the Romans and Carthaginians
fighting, marching and countermarching, across his great toe. Stevenson
would have understood this perfectly. No pain or sickness ever daunted
him, or held him captive; his mind was always in some picturesque or
immensely interesting place. In composition, he seemed to have a double
consciousness; he moulded his sentences with the fastidious care of a
great artist; at the same moment he felt the growing sea-breeze, and
knew that his hero would very soon have to shorten sail.

It is pleasant to remember that a man who had such genius for
friendship, who so generously admired the literary work of his
contemporaries, and who loved the whole world of saints and sinners,
received such widespread homage in return. His career as a man of
letters extended over twenty years; and during the last eight his name
was actually a household word. To be sure, he published much work of a
high order without getting even a hearing; his _Inland Voyage_,
_Travels with a Donkey_, _Virginibus Puerisque_, _Familiar Studies_,
_New Arabian Nights_, and even _Treasure Island_, attracted very little
attention; he remained in obscurity. But when, in the year 1886,
appeared the _Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde_, he found himself
famous; the thrilling excitement of the story, combined with its
powerful moral appeal, simply conquered the world. And although his own
plays were failures, he had the satisfaction of knowing that thousands
of people in theatres were spellbound by the modern Morality made out of
his novel. Few writers have become "classics" in so short a time; during
the years that remained to him, he was compelled to prepare a superb
edition of his _Complete Works_. Without ever appealing to the animal
nature of humanity, he had the keen satisfaction of reigning in the
hearts of uncultivated readers, and of receiving the almost universal
tribute of refined critics. There are authors who are the delight of a
bookish few, and there are authors with an enormous public and no
reputation. There are poets like Donne, and prose-masters like Browne,
precious to the men and women of patrician taste; and there are some
familiar examples of the other kind, needless to call by name. Stevenson
pleases us all; for he always has a good story, and the subtlety of his
art gives to his narrative imperishable beauty.

Stevenson's appearance as a novelist was in itself an adventure. He
seemed at first as obsolete as a soldier of fortune. He was as
unexpected and as picturesque among contemporary writers of fiction as
an Elizabethan knight in a modern drawing-room. When he placed _Treasure
Island_ on the literary map, Realism was at its height in some
localities, and at its depth in others. But it was everywhere the
standard form, in which young writers strove to embody their visions.
Zola had just made an address in which he remarked that Walter Scott was
dead, and that the fashion of his style had passed away. The
experimental novel would go hand in hand with the advance of scientific
thought. And there were many who believed that Zola spoke the truth.
This state of affairs was a tremendous challenge to Stevenson, and he
accepted it in the spirit of chivalry. The very name of his first novel,
_Treasure Island_, was like the flying of a flag. Those critics who saw
it must have smiled, and shaken their wise heads, for had not the time
for such follies gone by? Stevenson was fully aware of what he was
doing; in the midst of contemporary fiction he felt as impatient and as
ill at ease as a boy, imprisoned in a circle of elders, whose
conversation does not in the least interest him. His sentiments are
clearly shown in a letter to the late Mr. Henley, written shortly after
the appearance of _Treasure Island_, and which is important enough to
quote somewhat fully:--

     "I do desire a book of adventure--a romance--and no man will get or
     write me one. Dumas I have read and reread too often; Scott, too,
     and I am short. I want to hear swords clash. I want a book to begin
     in a good way; a book, I guess, like _Treasure Island_, alas! which
     I have never read, and cannot though I live to ninety. I would God
     that someone else had written it! By all that I can learn, it is
     the very book for my complaint. I like the way I hear it opens; and
     they tell me John Silver is good fun. And to me it is, and must
     ever be, a dream unrealised, a book unwritten. O my sighings after
     romance, or even Skeltery, and O! the weary age which will produce
     me neither!


     The night was damp and cloudy, the ways foul. The single horseman,
     cloaked and booted, who pursued his way across Willesden Common,
     had not met a traveller, when the sound of wheels--


     'Yes, sir,' said the old pilot, 'she must have dropped into the bay
     a little afore dawn. A queer craft she looks.'

     'She shows no colours,' returned the young gentleman, musingly.

     'They're a-lowering of a quarter-boat, Mr. Mark,' resumed the old
     salt. 'We shall soon know more of her.'

     'Ay,' replied the young gentleman called Mark, 'and here, Mr.
     Seadrift, comes your sweet daughter Nancy tripping down the cliff.'

     'God bless her kind heart, sir,' ejaculated old Seadrift.


     The notary, Jean Rossignol, had been summoned to the top of a great
     house in the Isle St. Louis to make a will; and now, his duties
     finished, wrapped in a warm roquelaure and with a lantern swinging
     from one hand, he issued from the mansion on his homeward way.
     Little did he think what strange adventures were to befall him!--

     That is how stories should begin. And I am offered HUSKS instead.

    What should be:          What is:
    The Filibuster's Cache.  Aunt Anne's Tea Cosy.
    Jerry Abershaw.          Mrs. Brierly's Niece.
    Blood Money: A Tale.     Society: A Novel."

The time was out of joint; but Stevenson was born to set it right. Not
seven years after the posting of this letter, the recent Romantic
Revival had begun. In the year of his death, 1894, it was in full swing;
everybody was reading not only Stevenson, but _The Prisoner of Zenda_,
_A Gentleman of France_, _Under the Red Robe_, etc. Whatever we may
think of the literary quality of some of these then popular stories,
there is no doubt that the change was in many ways beneficial, and that
the influence of Stevenson was more responsible for it than that of any
other one man. This was everywhere recognised: in the _Athenæum_ for 22
December, 1894, a critic remarked, "The Romantic Revival in the English
novel of to-day had in him its leader.... But for him they might have
been Howells and James young men." As a germinal writer, Stevenson will
always occupy an important place in the history of English prose
fiction. And seldom has a man been more conscious of his mission.

Stevenson's high standing as an English classic depends very largely on
the excellence of his literary style, although Scott and Cooper won
immortality without it. (One wonders if they could to-day.) When some
fifteen years ago a few critics had the temerity to suggest that he was
equal, if not superior, to these worthies, it sounded like blasphemy;
but such an opinion is not uncommon now, and may be reasonably defended.
Stevenson lacked in some degree the virility and the astonishing
fertility of invention possessed by Scott; but he exhibited a technical
skill undreamed of by his great predecessor. From the prefatory verses
to _Treasure Island_, we know that he admired Cooper; and he loved Sir
Walter, without being in the least blind to his faults. "It is
undeniable that the love of the slap-dash and the shoddy grew upon Scott
with success." He "had not only splendid romantic, but splendid tragic,
gifts. How comes it, then, that he could so often fob us off with
languid, inarticulate twaddle?... He was a great day-dreamer, a seer of
fit and beautiful and humorous visions, but hardly a great artist;
hardly, in the manful sense, an artist at all." Stevenson seems to have
felt that Scott's deficiencies in style were not merely artistic, but
moral; he lacked the patience and the particular kind of industry
required. Scott loved to tell a good story, but he loved the story
better than he did the telling of it; Stevenson, on the other hand, was
fully as much absorbed by the manner of narration as by the narration
itself. Stevenson was keenly alive to the fact that writers of romances
did not seem to feel the necessity of style; whereas those who wrote
novels wherein nothing happened, felt that a good style atoned for both
the lack of incident and the lack of ideas. Stevenson's articles of
literary faith apparently included the dogma that a mysterious,
blood-curdling romance had fully as much dignity as a minute examination
of the dreary, commonplace life of the submerged; and that the former
made just as high a demand on the endowment and industry of a
master-artist. If he had had not an idea in his head, he could not have
written with more elegance.

There is, of course, some truth in the charge that Stevenson was not
only a master of style, but a stylist. He is indeed something of a
macaroni in words; occasionally he struts a bit, and he loves to show
his brilliant plumes. He performed dexterous tricks with language, like
a musician with a difficult instrument. He liked style for its own sake,
and was not averse to exhibiting his technique. In a slight degree, his
attitude and his influence in mere composition are somewhat similar to
those of John Lyly three hundred years before. Lyly delighted his
readers with unexpected quips and quiddities, with a fantastic display
of rhetoric; he showed, as no one had before him, the possible
flexibility of English prose. There is more than a touch of Euphuism in
Stevenson; he was never insincere, but he was consciously fine. Many
have swallowed without salt his statement that he learned to write by
imitation; that by the "sedulous ape" method, employed with unwearying
study of great models, he himself became a successful author. Men of
genius are never to be trusted when they discuss the origin and
development of their powers; it is no more to be believed that Stevenson
learned to be a great writer by imitating Browne, than that _The Raven_
really reached its perfection in the manner so minutely described by
Poe. The faithful practice of composition will doubtless help any
ambitious young man or woman. But Stevensons are not made in that
fashion. If they were, anyone with plenty of time and patience could
become a great author. This "ape" remark by Stevenson has had one
interesting effect; if he imitated others, he has been strenuously
imitated himself. Probably no recent English writer has been more
constantly employed for rhetorical purposes, and there is none whose
influence on style is more evident in the work of contemporary aspirants
in fiction.

The stories of Stevenson exhibit a double union, as admirable as it is
rare. They exhibit the union of splendid material with the most delicate
skill in language; and they exhibit the union of thrilling events with a
remarkable power of psychological analysis. Every thoughtful reader has
noticed these combinations; but we sometimes forget that Silver, Alan,
Henry, and the Master are just as fine examples of character-portrayal
as can be found in the works of Henry James. It is from this point of
view that Stevenson is so vastly superior to Fenimore Cooper; just as in
literary style he so far surpasses Scott. _Treasure Island_ is much
better than _The Red Rover_ or _The Pirate_; its author actually beat
Scott and Cooper at their own game. With the exception of _Henry
Esmond_, Stevenson may perhaps be said to have written the best romances
in the English language; the undoubted inferiority of any of his books
to that masterpiece would make an interesting subject for reflexion.

The one thing in which Scott really excelled Stevenson was in the
depiction of women. The latter has given us no Diana Vernon or Jeannie
Deans. For the most part, Stevenson's romances are Paradise before the
creation of Eve. The snake is there, but not the woman. This
extraordinary absence of sex-interest is a notable feature, and many
have been the reasons assigned for it. If he had not tried at all, we
should be safe in saying that, like a small boy, he felt that girls were
in the way, and he did not want them mussing up his games. There is
perhaps some truth in this; for the presence of a girl might have ruined
_Treasure Island_, as it ruined the _Sea Wolf_. Her fuss and feathers
bring in all sorts of bothersome problems to distract a novelist, bent
on having a good time with pirates, murders, and hidden treasure.
Unfortunately for the complete satisfaction of this explanation,
Stevenson wrote _Prince Otto_, and tried to draw a real woman. The
result did not add anything to his fame, and, indeed, the whole book
missed fire. He was unquestionably more successful in _David Balfour_,
but, when all is said, the presence of women in a few of Stevenson's
romances is not so impressive as their absence in most. It is only in
that unfinished work, _Weir of Hermiston_, which gave every promise of
being one of the greatest novels in English literature, that he seemed
to have reached full maturity of power in dealing with the master
passion. The best reason for Stevenson's reserve on matters of sex was
probably his delicacy; he did not wish to represent this particular
animal impulse with the same vivid reality he pictured avarice,
ambition, courage, cowardice, and pride; and thus hampered by
conscience, he thought it best in the main to omit it altogether. At
least, this is the way he felt about it, as we may learn from the
_Vailima Letters_:--

     "This is a poison bad world for the romancer, this Anglo-Saxon
     world; I usually get out of it by not having any women in it at
     all." (February, 1892.)

     "I am afraid my touch is a little broad in a love story; I can't
     mean one thing and write another. As for women, I am no more in any
     fear of them; I can do a sort all right; age makes me less afraid
     of a petticoat, but I am a little in fear of grossness. However,
     this David Balfour's love affair, that's all right--might be read
     out to a mothers' meeting--or a daughters' meeting. The difficulty
     in a love yarn, which dwells at all on love, is the dwelling on one
     string; it is manifold, I grant, but the root fact is there
     unchanged, and the sentiment being very intense, and already very
     much handled in letters, positively calls for a little pawing and
     gracing. With a writer of my prosaic literalness and pertinency of
     point of view, this all shoves toward grossness--positively even
     towards the far more damnable _closeness_. This has kept me off the
     sentiment hitherto, and now I am to try: Lord! Of course Meredith
     can do it, and so could Shakespeare; but with all my romance, I am
     a realist and a prosaist, and a most fanatical lover of plain
     physical sensations plainly and expressly rendered; hence my
     perils. To do love in the same spirit as I did (for instance) D.
     Balfour's fatigue in the heather; my dear sir, there were
     grossness--ready made! And hence, how to sugar?" (May, 1892.)

On the whole, I am inclined to think, that with the omission of the
fragment, _Weir of Hermiston_, Stevenson's best novel is his
first--_Treasure Island_. He wrote this with peculiar zest; first of
all, in spite of the playful dedication, to please himself; second, to
see if the public appetite for Romance could once more be stimulated. He
never did anything later quite so off-hand, quite so spontaneous. His
maturer books, brilliant as they are, lack the peculiar _brightness_ of
_Treasure Island_. It has more unity than _The Master of Ballantræ_; and
it has a greater group of characters than _Kidnapped_.

Stevenson told this story in the first person, but, by a clever device,
he avoided the chief difficulty of that method of narration. The speaker
is not one of the principal characters in the story, though he shares in
the most thrilling adventures. We thus have all the advantages of direct
discourse, all the gain in reality--without a hint as to what will be
the fate of the leading actors. Stevenson said, in one of the _Vailima
Letters_, that first-person tales were more in accord with his
temperament. The purely objective character of this novel is noteworthy,
and entirely proper, coming from a perfectly normal boy. The _Essays_
show that Stevenson could be sufficiently introspective if he chose, and
_Dr. Jekyll_ is really an introspective novel, differing in every way
from _Treasure Island_. But here we have romantic adventures seen
through the fresh eyes of boyhood, producing their unconscious reflex
action on the soul of the narrator, who daily grows in courage and
self-reliance by grappling with danger. In Henry James's fine and
penetrating essay on Stevenson, he says of this book, "What we see in it
is not only the ideal fable, but the young reader himself and his state
of mind: we seem to read it over his shoulder, with an arm around his
neck." This particular remark has been much praised; but it seems in a
way to half-apologise for a man's interest in the story, and to explain
it like an affectionate uncle's sympathetic interest in a child's game,
who mainly enjoys the child's enthusiasm. Now I venture to say that no
one can any more outgrow _Treasure Island_ than he can outgrow _Robinson
Crusoe_. The events in the story delight children; but it is a book that
in mature years can be read and reread with ever increasing satisfaction
and profit. No one needs to regret or to explain his interest in this
novel; it is nothing to be sorry for, nor does it indicate a low order
of literary taste. Many serious persons have felt somewhat alarmed by
their pleasure in reading _Treasure Island_, and have hesitated to
assign it a high place in fiction. Some have said that, after all, it is
only a pirate story, differing from the Sleuths and Harkaways merely in
being better written. But this is exactly the point, and a very
important point, in criticism. In art, the subject is of comparatively
little importance, whereas the treatment is the absolute distinguishing
feature. To insist that there is little difference between _Treasure
Island_ and any cheap tale of blood-and-thunder, is equivalent to saying
that there is little difference between the Sistine Madonna and a
cottage chromo of the Virgin.

Pew is a fearsome personage, and a notable example of the triumph of
mind over the most serious of all physical disabilities. Theoretically,
it seems strange that able-bodied individuals should be afraid of a man
who is stone blind. But the appearance of Pew is enough to make anybody
take to his heels. He is the very essence of authority and leadership.
The tap-tapping of his stick in the moonlight makes one's blood run
cold. We are apt to think of blind people as gentle, sweet, pure, and
holy; made submissive and tender by misfortune, dependent on the
kindness of others. Old Pew has lost his eyes, but not his nerve. To see
so black-hearted and unscrupulous a villain, his sight taken away as it
were by the hand of God, and yet intent only on desperate wickedness,
upsets the moral order; he becomes an uncanny monstrosity; he takes on
the hue of a supernatural fiend. John Silver has lost a leg, but he
circumvents others by the speed of his mind; amazingly quick in
perception, a most astute politician, arrested from no treachery or
murder by any moral principle or touch of pity, he has the dark
splendour of unflinching depravity. He is no Laodicean. He never lets I
dare not wait upon I would. His course seems fickle and changeable, but
he is really steering steadily by the compass of self-interest. He can
be witty, affectionate, sympathetic, friendly, submissive, flattering,
and also a devilish beast. He is the very chameleon of crime. Stevenson
simply had not the heart to kill so consummate an artist in villainy. It
was no mean achievement to create two heroes so sinister as Pew and
Silver, while depriving one of his sight and the other of a leg. One
wearies of the common run of romances, where the chief character is a
man of colossal size and beautifully proportioned, so that his victories
over various rascals are really only athletic records. In _Treasure
Island_, the emphasis is laid in the right place, whence leadership
comes; everybody is afraid of Long John, and nobody minds Ben Gunn, dead
or alive.[14]

[14] It is interesting to remember that the crippled poet, W. E. Henley,
was the original of Silver. Writing to Henley, May, 1883, Stevenson
said, "I will now make a confession. It was the sight of your maimed
strength and masterfulness that begot John Silver."

There are scenes in this story, presented with such dramatic power, and
with such astonishing felicity of diction, that, once read, they can
never pass from the reader's mind. The expression in Silver's face, as
he talks with Tom in the marsh, first ingratiatingly friendly, then
suspicious, then as implacable as malignant fate. The hurling of the
crutch; the two terrific stabs of the knife. "I could hear him pant
aloud as he struck the blows." The boy's struggle on the schooner with
Israel Hands; the awful moment in the little boat, while Flint's gunner
is training the "long nine" on her, and the passengers can do nothing
but await the result of the enemy's skill; the death of the faithful old
servant, Redruth, who said he thought somebody might read a prayer.

Much has been written in both prose and verse of the fascination of
Stevenson's personality. He was so different in different moods that no
two of his friends have ever agreed as to what manner of man he really
was. As he chose to express his genius mainly in objective romances,
future generations will find in the majority of his works no hint as to
the character of the author. From this point of view, compare for a
moment _The Master of Ballantræ_ with _Joseph Vance_! But fortunately,
Stevenson elected to write personal essays; and still more fortunately,
hundreds of his most intimate letters are preserved in type. Some think
that these _Letters_ form his greatest literary work, and that they will
outlast his novels, plays, poems, and essays. For they will have a
profound interest long after the last person who saw Stevenson on earth
has passed away. They are the revelation of a man even more interesting
than any of the wonderful characters he created; they show that men like
Philip Sidney were as possible in the nineteenth century as in the
brilliant age of Elizabeth. The life of Stevenson has added immensely to
our happiness and enjoyment of the world, and no literary figure in
recent times had more radiance and wholesome charm. His optimism was
based on a chronic experience of physical pain and weakness; to him it
was a good world, and he made it distinctly better by his presence. He
was a combination of the Bohemian and the Covenanter; he had all the
graces of one, and the bed-rock moral earnestness of the other. "The
world must return some day to the word 'duty,'" said he, "and be done
with the word 'reward.'" He was the incarnation of the happy union of
virtue and vivacity.



It is high time that somebody spoke out his mind about Mrs. Humphry
Ward. Her prodigious vogue is one of the most extraordinary literary
phenomena of our day. A roar of approval greets the publication of every
new novel from her active pen, and it is almost pathetic to contemplate
the reverent awe of her army of worshippers when they behold the solemn
announcement that she is "collecting material" for another masterpiece.
Even professional reviewers lose all sense of proportion when they
discuss her books, and their so-called criticisms sound like publishers'
advertisements. Sceptics are warned to remain silent, lest they become
unpleasantly conspicuous. When _Lady Rose's Daughter_ appeared, the
critic of a great metropolitan daily remarked that whoever did not
immediately recognise the work as a masterpiece thereby proclaimed
himself as a person incapable of judgement, taste, and appreciation.
This is a fair example of the attitude taken by thousands of her
readers, and it is this attitude, rather than the value of her work,
that we must, first of all, consider.

In the year 1905 an entirely respectable journal said of Mrs. Ward,
"There is no more interesting and important figure in the literary world
to-day." In comparing this superlative with the actual state of affairs,
we find that we were asked to believe that Mrs. Ward was a literary
personage not second in importance to Tolstoi, Ibsen, Björnson, Heyse,
Sudermann, Hauptmann, Anatole France, Jules Lemaître, Rostand,
Swinburne, Thomas Hardy, Meredith, Kipling, and Mark Twain. At about the
same time a work appeared intended as a text-book for the young, which
declared Mrs. Ward to be "the greatest living writer of fiction in
English literature," and misspelled her name--an excellent illustration
of carelessness in adjectives with inaccuracy in facts. Over and over
again we have heard the statement that the "mantle" of George Eliot has
fallen on Mrs. Ward. Is it really true that her stories are equal in
value to _Adam Bede_, _The Mill on the Floss_, and _Middlemarch_?

The object of this essay is not primarily to attack a dignified and
successful author; it is rather to enquire, in a proper spirit of
humility, and with a full realisation of the danger incurred, whether or
not the actual output justifies so enormous a reputation. For in some
respects I believe the vogue of Mrs. Ward to be more unfortunate than
the vogue of the late lamented Duchess, of Laura Jean Libbey, of Mrs. E.
D. E. N. Southworth, of Marie Corelli, and of Hall Caine. When we are
asked to note that 300,000 copies of the latest novel by any of these
have been sold before the book is published, there is no cause for
alarm. We know perfectly well what that means. It is what is called a
"business proposition"; it has nothing to do with literature. It simply
proves that it is possible to make as splendid a fortune out of the
trade of book-making, and by equally respectable methods, as is made in
other legitimate avenues of business. But the case is quite different
with Mrs. Ward. Whatever she is, she is not vulgar, sensational, or
cheap; she has never made the least compromise with her moral ideals,
nor has she ever attempted to play to the gallery. Her constituency is
made up largely of serious-minded, highly respectable people, who live
in good homes, who are fairly well read, and who ought to know the
difference between ordinary and extraordinary literature. Her books have
had a bad effect in blurring this distinction in the popular mind; for
while she has never written a positively bad book,--with the possible
exception of _Bessie Costrell_,--I feel confident that she has never
written supremely well; that, compared with the great masters of
fiction, she becomes immediately insignificant. If there ever was a
successful writer whose work shows industry and talent rather than
genius, that writer is Mrs. Ward. If there ever was a successful writer
whose work is ordinary rather than extraordinary, it is Mrs. Ward.

To those of us who delight in getting some enjoyment even out of the
most depressing facts, the growth of Mrs. Ward's reputation has its
humorous aspect. The same individuals (mostly feminine) who in 1888 read
_Robert Elsmere_ with dismay, who thought the sale of the work should be
prohibited, and the copies already purchased removed from circulating
libraries, are the very same ones who now worship what they once
denounced. She was then regarded as a destroyer of Christian faith.
Well, if she was Satan then, she is Satan still (one Western clergyman,
in advocating at that time the suppression of the work, said he believed
in hitting the devil right between the eyes). She has given no sign of
recantation, or even of penitence. I remember one fond mother, who,
fearful of the effect of the book on her daughter's growing mind, marked
all the worst passages, and then told Alice she might read it, provided
she skipped all the blazed places! That indicated not only a fine
literary sense, but a remarkable knowledge of human nature. I wonder
what the poor girl did when she came to the danger signals! And, as a
matter of fact, how valuable or vital would a Christian faith be that
could be destroyed by the perusal of _Robert Elsmere_? It is almost
difficult now to bring to distinct recollection the tremendous
excitement caused by Mrs. Ward's first successful novel, for it is a
long time since I heard its name mentioned. The last public notice of it
that I can recall was a large sign which appeared some fifteen years ago
in a New Haven apothecary's window to the effect that one copy of
_Robert Elsmere_ would be presented free to each purchaser of a cake of

Although _Robert Elsmere_ was an immediate and prodigious success, and
made it certain that whatever its author chose to write next would be
eagerly bought, it is wholly untrue to say that her subsequent novels
have depended in any way on _Elsmere_ for their reputation. There are
many instances in professional literary careers where one immensely
successful book--_Lorna Doone_, for example--has floated a long
succession of works that could not of themselves stay above water; many
an author has succeeded in attaching a life-preserver to literary
children who cannot swim. Far otherwise is the case with Mrs. Ward. It
is probable that over half the readers of _Diana Mallory_ have never
seen a copy of _Robert Elsmere_, for which, incidentally, they are to be
congratulated. But many of us can easily recollect with what intense
eagerness the novel that followed that sensation was awaited. Every one
wondered if it would be equally good; and many confidently predicted
that she had shot her bolt. As a matter of fact, not only was _David
Grieve_ a better novel than _Robert Elsmere_, but, in my judgement, it
is the best book its author has ever written. Oscar Wilde said that
_Robert Elsmere_ was _Literature and Dogma_ with the literature left
out. Now, _David Grieve_ has no dogma at all, but in a certain sense it
does belong to literature. It has some actual dynamic quality. The
character of David, and its development in a strange environment, are
well analysed; and altogether the best thing in the work, taken as a
whole, is the perspective. It is a difficult thing to follow a character
from childhood up, within the pages of one volume, and have anything
like the proper perspective. It requires for one thing, hard,
painstaking industry; but Mrs. Ward has never been afraid of work. She
cannot be accused of laziness or carelessness. The ending of this book
is, of course, weak, like the conclusion of all her books, for she has
never learned the fine art of saying farewell, either to her characters
or to the reader.

It was in the year 1894--a year made memorable by the appearance of
_Trilby_, the _Prisoner of Zenda_, _The Jungle Book_, _Lord Ormont and
his Aminta_, _Esther Waters_, and other notable novels--that Mrs. Ward
greatly increased her reputation and widened her circle of
readers by the publication of _Marcella_. Here she gave us a
political-didactic-realistic novel, which she has continued to publish
steadily ever since under different titles. It was gravely announced
that this new book would deal with socialism and the labour question.
Many readers, who felt that she had said the last word on agnosticism in
_Elsmere_, now looked forward with reverent anticipation not only to the
final solution of socialistic problems, but to some coherent arrangement
of their own vague and confused ideas. Naturally, they got just what
they deserved--a voluminous statement of various aspects of the problem,
with no solution at all. It is curious how many persons suppose that
their favourite author or orator has done something toward settling
questions, when, as a matter of fact, all he has done is to _state_
them, and then state them again. This is especially true of
philosophical and metaphysical difficulties. Think how eagerly readers
took up Professor James's exceedingly clever book on Pragmatism, hoping
at last to find rest in some definite principle. And if there ever was a
blind alley in philosophy, it is Pragmatism--the very essence of

Now, _Marcella_, as a document, is both radical and reactionary. There
is an immense amount of radical talk; but the heroine's schemes fail,
the Labour party is torn by dissension, Wharton proves to be a
scoundrel, and the rebel Marcella marries a respectable nobleman. There
is not a single page in the book, with all its wilderness of words, that
can be said to be in any sense a serious contribution to the greatest of
all purely political problems. And, as a work of art, it is painfully
limited; but since it has the same virtues and defects of all her
subsequent literary output, we may consider what these virtues and
defects are.

In the first place, Mrs. Ward is totally lacking in one almost
fundamental quality of the great novelist--a keen sense of humour. Who
are the English novelists of the first class? They are Defoe,
Richardson, Fielding, Scott, Jane Austen, Dickens, Thackeray, George
Eliot, Stevenson, and perhaps Hardy. Every one of these shows humour
enough and to spare, with the single exception of Richardson, and he
atoned for the deficiency by a terrible intensity that has seldom, if
ever, been equalled in English fiction. Now, the absence of humour in a
book is not only a positive loss to the reader, in that it robs him of
the fun which is an essential part of the true history of any human
life, and thereby makes the history to that extent inaccurate and
unreal, but the writer who has no humour seldom gets the right point of
view. There is infinitely more in the temperament of the humorist than
mere laughter. Just as the poet sees life through the medium of a
splendid imagination, so the humorist has the almost infallible guide of
sympathy. The humorist sees life in a large, tolerant, kindly way; he
knows that life is a tragi-comedy, and he makes the reader feel it in
that fashion.

Again, the lack of humour in a writer destroys the sense of proportion.
The humorist sees the salient points--the merely serious writer gives us
a mass of details. In looking back over the thousands of pages of
fiction that Mrs. Ward has published, how few great scenes stand out
bright in the memory! The principle of selection--so important a part of
all true art--is conspicuous only by its absence. This is one reason for
the sameness of her books. All that we can remember is an immense number
of social functions and an immense amount of political gossip--a long,
sad level of mediocrity. This perhaps helps to explain why German
fiction is so markedly inferior to the French. The German, in his
scientific endeavour to get in the whole of life, gives us a mass of
unrelated detail. A French writer by a few phrases makes us see a
character more clearly than a German presents him after many painful
pages of wearisome description.

Mrs. Ward is not too much in earnest in following her ideals of art; no
one can be. But she is too sadly serious. There is a mental tension in
her books, like the tension of overwork and mental exhaustion, like the
tension of overwrought nerves; her books are, in fact, filled with tired
and overworked men and women, jaded and gone stale. How many of her
characters seem to need a change--what they want is rest and sleep! Many
of them ought to be in a sanatorium.

Her books are devoid of charm. One does not have to compare her with the
great masters to feel this deficiency; it would not be fair to compare
her with Thackeray. But if we select among all the novelists of real
distinction the one whom, perhaps, she most closely approaches,--Anthony
Trollope,--the enormous distance between _Diana Mallory_ and _Framley
Parsonage_ is instantly manifest. We think of Trollope with a glow of
reminiscent delight; but although Trollope and Mrs. Ward talk endlessly
on much the same range of subject-matter, how far apart they really are!
Mrs. Ward's books are crammed with politicians and clergymen, who keep
the patient reader informed on modern aspects of political and religious
thought; but the difficulty is that they substitute phrases for ideas.
Mrs. Ward knows all the political and religious cant of the day; she is
familiar with the catch-words that divide men into hostile camps; but in
all these dreary pages of serious conversation there is no real
illumination. She completely lacks the art that Trollope possessed, of
making ordinary people attractive. But to find out the real distance
that separates her productions from literature, one should read, let us
say, _The Marriage of William Ashe_ and then take up _Pride and
Prejudice_. The novels of Mrs. Ward bear about the same relation to
first-class fiction that maps and atlases bear to great paintings.

This lack of charm that I always feel in reading Mrs. Ward's books (and
I have read them all) is owing not merely to the lack of humour. It is
partly due to what seems to be an almost total absence of freshness,
spontaneity, and originality. Mrs. Ward works like a well-trained and
high-class graduate student, who is engaged in the preparation of a
doctor's thesis. Her discussions of socialism, her scenes in the House
of Commons and on the Terrace, her excursions to Italy, her references
to political history, her remarks on the army, her disquisitions on
theology, her pictures of campaign riots, her studies of defective
drainage, her representations of the labouring classes,--all these are
"worked up" in a scholarly and scientific manner; there is the modern
passion for accuracy, there is the German completeness of detail,--there
is, in fact, everything except the breath of life. She works in the
descriptive manner, from the outside in--not in the inspired manner
which goes with imagination, sympathy, and genius. She is not only a
student, she is a journalist; she is a special correspondent on
politics and theology; but she is not a creative writer. For she has the
critical, not the creative, temperament.

The monotonous sameness of her books, which has been mentioned above, is
largely owing to the sameness of her characters. She changes the frames,
but not the portraits. First of all, in almost any of her books we are
sure to meet the studious, intellectual young man. He always has a
special library on some particular subject, with the books all
annotated. One wearies of this perpetual character's perpetual library,
crowded, as it always is, with the latest French and German monographs.
Her heroes smell of books and dusty dissertations, and the conversations
of these heroes are plentifully lacking in native wit and
originality--they are the mere echoes of their reading. Let us pass in
review a few of these serious students--Robert Elsmere, Langham, Aldous
Reyburn (who changes into Lord Maxwell, but who remains a prig), the
melancholy Helbeck, the insufferable Manisty, Jacob Delafield, William
Ashe, Oliver Marsham--all, all essentially the same, tiresome, dull,
heavy men--what a pity they were not intended as satires! Second, as a
foil to this man, we have the Byronic, clever, romantic, sentimental,
insincere man--who always degenerates or dies in a manner that exalts
the dull and superior virtues of his antagonist. Such a man is Wharton,
or Sir George Tressady, or Captain Warkworth, or Cliffe--they have
different names in different novels, but they are the same character.
Curiously enough, the only convincing men that appear in her pages are
_old_ men--men like Lord Maxwell or Sir James Chide. In portraying this
type she achieves success.

What shall we say of her heroines? They have the same suspicious
resemblance so characteristic of her heroes; they are represented as
physically beautiful, intensely eager for morality and justice, with an
extraordinary fund of information, and an almost insane desire to impart
it. Her heroine is likely to be or to become a power in politics; even
at a tender age she rules society by the brilliancy of her conversation;
in a crowded drawing-room the Prime Minister hangs upon her words;
diplomats are amazed at her intimate knowledge of foreign relations, and
of the resources of the British Empire; and she can entertain a whole
ring of statesmen and publicists by giving to each exactly the right
word at the right moment. Men who are making history come to her not
only for inspiration but for guidance, for she can discourse fluently on
all phases of the troublesome labour question. And yet, if we may judge
of this marvellous creature not by the attitude of the other characters
in the book, but by the actual words that fall from her lips, we are
reminded of the woman whom Herbert Spencer's friends selected as his
potential spouse. They shut him up with her, and awaited the result with
eagerness, for they told him she had a great mind; but on emerging from
the trial interview Spencer remarked that she would not do at all: "The
young lady is, in my opinion, too highly intellectual; or, I should
rather say--morbidly intellectual. A small brain in a state of intense
activity." Was there ever a better formula for Mrs. Ward's constantly
recurring heroine? Now, as a foil to Marcella, Diana Mallory, and the
others, Mrs. Ward gives us the frivolous, mischief-making, would-be
brilliant, and actually vulgar woman, who makes much trouble for the
heroine and ultimately more for herself--the wife of Sir George
Tressady, the young upstart in _Diana Mallory_, and all the rest of
them. By the introduction of these characters there is an attempt to
lend colour to the dull pages of the novels. These women are at heart
adventuresses, but they are apt to lack the courage of their
convictions; instead of being brilliant and terrible,--like the great
adventuresses of fiction,--they are as dull in sin as their antagonists
are dull in virtue. Mrs. Ward cannot make them real; compare any one of
them with Thackeray's Beatrix or with Becky Sharp--to say nothing of the
long list of sinister women in French and Russian fiction.

There are no "supreme moments" in Mrs. Ward's books; no great dramatic
situations; she has tried hard to manage this, for she has had
repeatedly one eye on the stage. When _The Marriage of William Ashe_ and
_Lady Rose's Daughter_ appeared, one could almost feel the strain for
dramatic effect. It was as though she had realised that her previous
books were treatises rather than novels, and had gathered all her
energies together to make a severe effort for real drama. But,
unfortunately, the scholarly and critical temperament is not primarily
adapted for dramatic masterpieces. In the endeavour to recall thrilling
scenes in her novels, scenes that brand themselves for ever on the
memory, one has only to compare her works with such stories as _Far From
the Madding Crowd_ or _The Return of the Native_, and her painful
deficiency is immediately apparent.

In view of what I believe to be the standard mediocrity of her novels,
how shall we account for their enormous vogue? The fact is, whether we
like it or not, that she is one of the most widely read of all living
novelists. Well, in the first place, she is absolutely respectable and
safe. It is assuredly to her credit that she has never stooped for
popularity. She has never descended to melodrama, clap-trap, or
indecency. She is never spectacular and declamatory like Marie Corelli,
and she is never morally offensive like some popular writers who might
be mentioned. She writes for a certain class of readers whom she
thoroughly understands: they are the readers who abhor both vulgarity
and pruriency, and who like to enter vicariously, as they certainly do
in her novels, into the best English society. In her social functions
her readers can have the pleasure of meeting prime ministers, lords, and
all the dwellers in Mayfair, and they know that nothing will be said
that is shocking or improper. Her books can safely be recommended to
young people, and they reflect the current movement of English thought
as well as could be done by a standard English review. She has a
well-furnished and highly developed intellect; she is deeply read; she
makes her readers think that they are thinking. She tries to make up for
artistic deficiencies by an immense amount of information. Fifty years
ago it is probable that she would not have written novels at all, but
rather thoughtful and intellectual critical essays, for which her mind
is admirably fitted. She unconsciously chose the novel simply because
the novel has been, during the last thirty years, the chief channel of
literary expression. But in spite of her popularity, it should never be
forgotten that the novel is an art-form, not a medium for doctrinaires.

Then, with her sure hand on the pulse of the public, she is always
intensely modern, intensely contemporary; again like a well-trained
journalist. She knows exactly what Society is talking about, for she
emphatically belongs to it. This is once more a reason why so many
people believe that she holds the key to great problems of social life,
and that her next book will give the solution. Many hoped that her novel
on America, carefully worked up during her visit here, would give the
final word on American social life. Both England and the United States
were to find out what the word "American" really means.

Mrs. Ward is an exceedingly talented, scholarly, and thoughtful woman,
of lofty aims and actuated only by noble motives; she is hungry for
intellectual food, reading both old texts and the daily papers with
avidity. She has a highly trained, sensitive, critical mind,--but she is
destitute of the divine spark of genius. Her books are the books of
to-day, not of to-morrow; for while the political and religious
questions of to-day are of temporary interest, the themes of the world's
great novels are what Richardson called "love and nonsense, men and
women"--and these are eternal.



Mr. Rudyard Kipling is in the anomalous and fortunate position of having
enjoyed a prodigious reputation for twenty years, and being still a
young man. Few writers in the world to-day are better known than he; and
it is to be hoped and expected that he has before him over thirty years
of active production. He has not yet attained the age of forty-five; but
his numerous stories, novels, and poems have reached the unquestioned
dignity of "works," and in uniform binding they make on my library
shelves a formidable and gallant display. Foreigners read them in their
own tongues; critical essays in various languages are steadily
accumulating; and he has received the honour of being himself the hero
of a strange French novel.[15] His popularity with the general mass of
readers has been sufficient to satisfy the wildest dreams of an author's
ambition; and his fame is, in a way, officially sanctioned by the
receipt of honorary degrees from McGill University, from Durham, from
Oxford, and from Cambridge; and in 1907 he was given the Nobel Prize,
with the ratifying applause of the whole world. There is no indication
that either the shouts of the mob or the hoods of Doctorates have turned
his head; he remains to-day what he always has been--a hard,
conscientious workman, trying to do his best every time.

[15] A curious and ironical book, _Dingley_, by Tharaud.

Although Mr. Kipling is British to the core, there is nothing insular
about his experience; he is as much-travelled as Ulysses.

    "For always roaming with a hungry heart
     Much have I seen and known: cities of men,
     And manners, climates, councils, governments,
     Myself not least, but honour'd of them all."

Born in India, educated at an English school, circumnavigator of the
globe, he is equally at home in the snows of the Canadian Rockies, or in
the fierce heat east of Suez; in the fogs of the Channel, or under the
Southern Cross at Capetown. Nor is he a mere sojourner on the earth: he
has lived for years in his own house, in England, in Vermont, and in
India, and has had abundant opportunity to compare the climate of
Brattleboro with that of Bombay.

A born journalist and reporter, his publications first saw the light in
ephemeral Indian sheets. In the late eighties he began to amuse himself
with the composition of squibs of verse, which he printed in the local
newspaper; these became popular, and were cited and sung with
enthusiasm. Emboldened by this first taste of success, he put together a
little volume bound like a Government report; he then sent around reply
post-cards for cash orders, in the fashion already made famous by Walt
Whitman. It is needless to say that copies of this book command a fancy
price to-day. He immediately contracted what Holmes used to call
"lead-poisoning," and the sight of his work in type made a literary
career certain. He produced volume after volume, in both prose and
verse, with amazing rapidity, and his fame overflowed the world. A
London periodical prophesied in 1888, "The book gives hope of a new
literary star of no mean magnitude rising in the East." The amount and
excellence of his output may be judged when we remember that in the
three years from 1886 to 1889 he published _Departmental Ditties_,
_Plain Tales from the Hills_, _Soldiers Three_, _In Black and White_,
_The Story of the Gadsbys_, _The Man Who Would Be King_, _The Phantom
'Rickshaw_, _Wee Willie Winkie_, and other narratives.

The originality, freshness, and power of all this work made Europe stare
and gasp. For some years he had as much notoriety as reputation. We used
to hear of the Kipling "craze," the Kipling "boom," the Kipling "fad,"
and Kipling clubs sprang up like mushrooms. It was difficult to read
him in cool blood, because he was discussed pro and con with so much
passion. He was fashionable, in the manner of ping-pong; and there were
not wanting pessimistic prophets who looked upon him as a comet rather
than a fixed star. So late as 1895 a well-known American journal said of
him: "Rudyard Kipling is supposed to be the cleverest man now handling
the pen. The magazines accept everything he writes, and pay him fabulous
prices. Kipling is now printing a series of Jungle Stories that are so
weak and foolish that we have never been able to read them. They are not
fables: they are stories of animals talking, and they are pointless, so
far as the average reader is able to judge. We have asked a good many
magazine editors about Kipling's Jungle Stories; they all express the
same astonishment that the magazine editors accept them. Kipling will
soon be dropped by the magazine editors; they will inevitably discover
that his stories are not admired by the people. Robert Louis Stevenson
died just in time to save him from the same fate."

Many honestly believed that Mr. Kipling could write only in flashes;
that he was incapable of producing a complete novel. His answer to this
was _The Light that Failed_, which, although he made the mistake of
giving it a reversible ending, indicated that his own lamp had yet
sufficient oil. In 1895 he added immensely to the solidity of his fame
by printing _The Brushwood Boy_, the scenes of which he announced
previously would be laid in "England, India, and the world of dreams."
Here he temporarily forsook the land of mysterious horror for the land
of mysterious beauty, and many were grateful, and said so. In 1896 the
appearance of _The Seven Seas_ proved beyond cavil that he was something
more than a music-hall rimester--that he was really among the English
poets. The very next year _The Recessional_ stirred the religious
consciousness of the whole English-speaking race. And although much of
his subsequent career seems to be a nullification of the sentiment of
that poem, it will remain imperishable when the absent-minded beggars
and the flannelled fools have reached the oblivion they so richly

In 1897 he tried his hand for the second time at a complete novel,
_Captains Courageous_, and the result might safely be called a success.
The moral of this story will be worth a word or two later on. The next
year an important volume came from his pen, _The Day's Work_--important
because it is in this volume that the new Kipling is first plainly seen,
and the mechanical engineer takes the place of the literary artist. Such
curiosities as _The Ship that Found Herself_, _The Bridge-Builders_,
_.007_, became anything but curiosities in his later work. This
collection was sadly marred by the inclusion of such wretched stuff as
_My Sunday at Home_, and _An Error in the Fourth Dimension_; but it was
glorified by one of the most exquisitely tender and beautiful of all Mr.
Kipling's tales, _William the Conqueror_. And it should not be forgotten
that the author saw fit to close this volume with the previously printed
and universally popular _Brushwood Boy_. Then, at the very height of his
ten years' fame, Mr. Kipling came closer to death than almost any other
individual has safely done. As he lay sick with pneumonia in New York,
the American people, whom he has so frequently ridiculed, were more
generally and profoundly affected than they have been at the bedside of
a dying President. The year 1899 marked the great physical crisis of his
life, and seems also to indicate a turning-point in his literary career.

Whatever may be thought of the relative merits of Mr. Kipling's early
and later style, it is fortunate for him that the two decades of
composition were not transposed. We all read the early work because we
could not help it; we read his twentieth-century compositions because he
wrote them. It is lucky that the _Plain Tales from the Hills_ preceded
_Puck of Pook's Hill_, and that _The Light that Failed_ came before
_Stalky and Co._ Whether these later productions could have got into
print without the tremendous prestige of their author's name, is a
question that has all the fascination and all the insolubility of
speculative philosophy. The suddenness of his early popularity may be
perhaps partly accounted for by the fact that he was working a new
field. The two authors who have most influenced Mr. Kipling's style are
both Americans--Bret Harte and Mark Twain; and the analogy between the
sudden fame of Harte and the sudden fame of Mr. Kipling is too obvious
to escape notice. Bret Harte found in California ore of a different kind
than his maddened contemporaries sought; his early tales had all the
charm of something new and strange. What Bret Harte made out of
California Mr. Kipling made out of India; at the beginning he was a
"sectional writer," who, with the instinct of genius, made his literary
opportunity out of his environment. The material was at hand, the time
was ripe, and the man was on the spot. It was the strong "local colour"
in these powerful Indian tales that captivated readers--who, in far-away
centres of culture and comfort, delighted to read of primitive passions
in savage surroundings. We had all the rest and change of air that we
could have obtained in a journey to the Orient, without any of the
expense, discomfort, and peril.

But after the spell of the wizard's imagination has left us, we cannot
help asking, after the manner of the small boy, Is it true? Are these
pictures of English and native life in India faithful reflexions of
fact? Can we depend on Mr. Kipling for India, as we can depend (let us
say) on Daudet for a picture of the _Rue de la Paix_? Now it is a
notable fact that local colour seems most genuine to those who are
unable to verify it. It is a melancholy truth that the community
portrayed by a novelist not only almost invariably deny the likeness of
the portrait, but that they emphatically resent the liberty taken.
Stories of college life are laughed to scorn by the young gentlemen
described therein, no matter how fine the local colour may seem to
outsiders. The same is true of social strata in society, of provincial
towns, and Heaven only knows what the Slums would say to their depiction
in novels, if only the Slums could read. One reason for this is that a
novel or a short story must have a beginning and an end, and some kind
of a plot; whereas life has no such thing, nor anything remotely
resembling it. When honest people see their daily lives, made up of
thousands of unrelated incidents, served up to remote readers in the
form of an orderly progression of events, leading up to a proper climax,
the whole thing seems monstrously unreal and untrue. "Why, we are not in
the least like that!" they cry. And I have purposely omitted the factor
of exaggeration, absolutely essential to the realistic novelist or

In a notice of the _Plain Tales from the Hills_, the London _Saturday
Review_ remarked, "Mr. Kipling knows and appreciates the English in
India." But it is more interesting and profitable to see how his stories
were regarded in the country he described. In the _Calcutta Times_, for
14 September, 1895, there was a long editorial which is valuable, at any
rate, for the point of view. After mentioning the _Plain Tales_,
_Soldiers Three_, _Barrack-room Ballads_, etc., the _Times_ critic

     "Except in a few instances which might easily be numbered on the
     fingers of one hand, nothing in the books we have named is at all
     likely to live or deserves to live.... It will probably be answered
     that this sweeping condemnation is not of much value against the
     emphatic approval of the British public and the aforesaid chorus of
     critics in praise of the new Genius.... And the English critics
     have this to plead in excuse of their hyperbolical appreciation of
     the Stronger Dickens, that his first work came to them fathered
     with responsible guarantee from men who should have known better,
     that it was in the way of a revelation of Anglo-Indian society,
     a-letting in the light of truth on places which had been very dark

     "Now the average English critic knows very little of the
     intricacies of social life in India, and in the enthusiasm which
     Mrs. Hauksbee and kindred creations inspired he accepted too
     readily as true types what are, in fact, caricatures, or distorted
     presentments, of some of the more poisonous social characteristics
     to be found in Anglo-Indian as well as in every other civilised
     society.... Do not let us be understood as recklessly running down
     Kipling and all his works.... He possesses in a high degree the
     power of describing a certain class of emotions, and the flights of
     his imagination in some directions are extremely bold and original.
     In such tales, for instance, as 'The Man who would be a King'
     (_sic_) and 'The Ride of Morrowby Jukes' (_sic_) there are
     qualities of the imagination which equal, if they do not surpass,
     anything in the same line with which we are acquainted.... The
     capital charge, in the opinion of many, the head and front of his
     offending, is that he has traduced a whole society, and has spread
     libels broadcast. Anglo-Indian society may in some respects be
     below the average level of the best society in the Western world,
     where the rush and stir of life and the collision of intellects
     combine to keep the atmosphere clearer and more bracing than in
     this land of tennis, office boxes, frontier wars, and enervation.
     But as far as it falls below what many would wish it to be, so far
     it rises above the description of it which now passes current at
     home under the sanction of Kipling's name.... For whether Kipling
     is treating of Indian subjects pure and simple, of Anglo-Indian
     subjects, or is attempting a Western theme, the personality of the
     writer is pervasive and intrusive everywhere, with all its
     limitations of vision and information, as well as with its eternal
     panoply of cheap smartness and spiced vulgarity.... Smartness is
     always first with him, and Truth may shift for herself."

Although the writer of the above article is somewhat blinded by
prejudice and wrath, it is, nevertheless, interesting testimony from the
particular section of our planet which Mr. Kipling was at that time
supposed to know best. And out in San Francisco they are still talking
of Mr. Kipling's visit there, and the "abominable libel" of California
life and customs he chose to publish in _From Sea to Sea_.

Apart from Mr. Kipling's good fortune in having fresh material to deal
with, the success of his early work lay chiefly in its dominant
quality--Force. For the last thirty years, the world has been full of
literary experts, professional story-writers, to whom the pen is a means
of livelihood. Our magazines are crowded with tales which are well
written, and nothing else. They say nothing, because their writers have
nothing to say. The impression left on the mind by the great majority of
handsomely bound novels is like that of a man who beholds his natural
face in a glass. The thing we miss is the thing we unconsciously
demand--Vitality. In the rare instances where vitality is the
ground-quality, readers forgive all kinds of excrescences and defects,
as they did twenty years ago in Mr. Kipling, and later, for example, in
Jack London. The original vigour and strength of Mr. Kipling's stories
were to the jaded reader a keen, refreshing breeze; like Marlowe in
Elizabethan days he seemed a towering, robust, masculine personality,
who had at his command an inexhaustible supply of material absolutely
new. This undoubted vigour was naturally unaccompanied by moderation and
good taste; Mr. Kipling's sins against artistic proportion and the law
of subtle suggestion were black indeed. He simply had no reserve. In
_The Man Who Would Be King_, which I have always regarded as his
masterpiece, the subject was so big that no reserve in handling it was
necessary. The whole thing was an inspiration, of imagination all
compact. But in many other instances his style was altogether too loud
for his subject. One wearies of eternal fortissimo. Many of his tales
should have been printed throughout in italics. In examples of this
nature, which are all too frequent in the "Complete Works" of Mr.
Kipling, the tragedy becomes melodrama; the humour becomes buffoonery;
the picturesque becomes bizarre; the terrible becomes horrible; and
vulgarity reigns supreme.

He is far better in depicting action than in portraying character. This
is one reason why his short stories are better than his novels. In _The
Light that Failed_, with all its merits, he never realised the character
of Maisie; but in his tales of violent action, we feel the vividness of
the scene, time and again. His work here is effective, because Mr.
Kipling has an acute sense of the value of words, just as a great
musician has a correct ear for the value of pitch. When one takes the
trouble to analyse his style in his most striking passages, it all comes
down to skill in the use of the specific word--the word that makes the
picture clear, sometimes intolerably clear. Look at the nouns and
adjectives in this selection from _The Drums of the Fore and Aft_:

     "They then selected their men, and slew them with deep gasps and
     short hacking coughs, and groanings of leather belts against
     strained bodies, and realised for the first time that an Afghan
     attacked is far less formidable than an Afghan attacking; which
     fact old soldiers might have told them.

     "But they had no old soldiers in their ranks."

There are two defects in Mr. Kipling's earlier work that might perhaps
be classed as moral deficiencies. One is the almost ever present
coarseness, which the author mistook for vigour. Now the tendency to
coarseness is inseparable from force, and needs to be held in check.
Coarseness is the inevitable excrescence of superabundant vitality, just
as effeminacy is the danger limit of delicacy and refinement. Swift and
Rabelais had the coarseness of a robust English sailor; at their worst
they are simply abominable, just as Tennyson at his worst is effeminate
and silly. Mr. Kipling has that natural delight in coarseness that all
strong natures have, whether they are willing to admit it or not. A
large proportion of his scenes of humour are devoted to drunkenness:
"gloriously drunk" is a favourite phrase with him. The time may come
when this sort of humour will be obsolete. We laugh at drunkenness, as
the Elizabethans laughed at insanity, but we are only somewhat nearer
real civilisation than they. At any rate, even those who delight in
scenes of intoxication must find the theme rather overworked in Mr.
Kipling. This same defect in him leads to indulgence in his passion for
ghastly detail. This is where he ceases to be a man of letters, and
becomes downright journalistic. It is easier to excite momentary
attention by physical horror than by any other device; and Mr. Kipling
is determined to leave nothing to the imagination. Many instances might
be cited; we need only recall the gouging out of a man's eye in _The
Light that Failed_, and the human brains on the boot in _Badalia

The other moral defect in this early work was its world-weary cynicism,
which was simply foolish in so young a writer. His treatment of women,
for example, compares unfavourably with that shown in the frankest tales
of Bret Harte. His attitude toward women in these youthful books has
been well described as "disillusioned gallantry." The author continually
gives the reader a "knowing wink," which, after a time, gets on one's
nerves. These books, after all, were probably not meant for women to
read, and perhaps no one was more surprised than Mr. Kipling himself at
the rapturous exclamations of the thousands of his feminine adorers. A
woman rejoicing in the perusal of these Indian tales seems as much out
of place as she does in the office of a cheap country hotel, reeking
with the fumes of whiskey and stale tobacco, and adorned with men who
spit with astonishing accuracy into distant receptacles.

Mr. Kipling doubtless knows more about his own faults than any of the
critics; and if after one has read _The Light that Failed_ for the sake
of the story, one rereads it attentively as an _Apologia Pro Vita Sua_,
one will be surprised to see how many ideas about his art he has put
into the mouth of Dick. "Under any circumstances, remember, four-fifths
of everybody's work must be bad. But the remnant is worth the trouble
for its own sake." "One must do something always. You hang your canvas
up in a palm-tree and let the parrots criticise." "If we sit down
quietly to work out notions that are sent to us, we may or we may not do
something that isn't bad. A great deal depends on being master of the
bricks and mortar of the trade. But the instant we begin to think about
success and the effect of our work--to play with one eye on the
gallery--we lose power and touch and everything else.... I was told that
all the world was interested in my work, and everybody at Kami's talked
turpentine, and I honestly believed that the world needed elevating and
influencing, and all manner of impertinences, by my brushes. By Jove, I
actually believed that!... And when it's done it's such a tiny thing,
and the world's so big, and all but a millionth part of it doesn't

Fortunately, four-fifths of Kipling's work isn't bad. We are safe in
ascribing genius to the man who wrote _The Phantom 'Rickshaw_, _The
Strange Ride_, _The Man Who Would Be King_, _William the Conqueror_,
_The Brushwood Boy_, and _The Jungle Book_. These, and many other tales,
to say nothing of his poetry, constitute an astounding achievement for a
writer under thirty-five.

But the Kipling of the last ten years is an Imperialist and a Mechanic,
rather than a literary man. We need not classify _Stalky and Co._,
except to say that it is probably the worst novel ever written by a man
of genius. It is on a false pitch throughout, and the most rasping book
of recent times. The only good things in it are the quotations from
Browning. The Jingo in Mr. Kipling was released by the outbreak of the
South African War, and the author of _The Recessional_ forgot everything
he had prayed God to remember. He became the voice of the British
Empire, and the man who had always ridiculed Americans for bunkum
oratory, out-screamed us all. In this imperialistic verse and prose
there is not much literature, but there is a great deal of noise, which
has occasionally deceived the public; just as an orator is sure of a
round of applause if his peroration is shouted at the top of his voice.
His recent book, _Puck of Pook's Hill_, is written against the grain;
painful effort has supplied the place of the old inspiration, and the
simplicity of true art is conspicuous by its absence. Of this volume,
_The Athenæum_, in general friendly to Kipling, remarks: "In his new
part--the missionary of empire--Mr. Kipling is living the strenuous
life. He has frankly abandoned story-telling, and is using his complete
and powerful armory in the interest of patriotic zeal." On the other
hand, Mr. Owen Wister, whose opinion is valuable, thinks _Puck_ "the
highest plane that he has ever reached"--a judgement that I record with
respect, though to me it is incomprehensible.

Kipling the Mechanic is less useful than an encyclopædia, and not any
more interesting. A comic paper describes him as "now a technical
expert; at one time a popular writer. This young man was born in India,
came to his promise in America, and lost himself in England. His _Plain
Tales of the Hills_ (_sic_) has been succeeded by _Enigmatical
Expositions from the Dark Valleys_.... Mr. Kipling has declared that the
Americans have never forgiven him for not dying in their country. On the
contrary, they have never forgiven him for not having written anything
better since he was here than he did before. But while there's Kipling,
there's hope." It is to be earnestly hoped that he will cease
describing the machinery of automobiles, ships, locomotives, and flying
air-vessels, and once more look in his heart and write. His worst enemy
is himself. He seems to be in terror lest he should say something
ordinary and commonplace. He has been so praised for his originality and
powerful imagination, that his later books give one the impression of a
man writing in the sweat of his face, with the grim determination to
make every sentence a literary event. Such a tale as _Wireless_ shows
that the zeal for originality has eaten him up. One can feel on every
page the straining for effect, and it is as exhausting to read as it is
to watch a wrestling-match, and not nearly so entertaining. If Mr.
Kipling goes on in the vein of these later years, he may ultimately
survive his reputation, as many a good man has done before him. I should
think even now, when the author of _Puck of Pook's Hill_ turns over the
pages of _The Man Who Would Be King_, he would say with Swift, "Good
God! what a genius I had when I wrote that book!"

His latest collection of tales, with the significant title, _Actions and
Reactions_, is a particularly welcome volume to those of us who prefer
the nineteenth century Kipling to the twentieth. To be sure, the story
_With the Night Mail_, shows the new mechanical cleverness rather than
the old inspiration; it is both ingenious and ephemeral, and should
have remained within the covers of the magazine where it first appeared.
Furthermore, _A Deal in Cotton_, _The Puzzler_, and _Little Foxes_ are
neither clever nor literary; they are merely irritating, and remind us
of a book we would gladly forget, called _Traffics and Discoveries_. But
the first narrative in this new volume, with the caption, _An Habitation
Enforced_, is one of the most subtle, charming, and altogether
delightful things that Mr. Kipling has ever given us; nor has he ever
brought English and American people in conjunction with so much charity
and good feeling. I do not think he has previously shown greater
psychological power than in this beautiful story. In the second tale,
_Garm--A Hostage_, Mr. Kipling joins the ranks of the dog worshippers;
the exploits of this astonishing canine will please all dog-owners, and
many others as well. Naturally he has to exaggerate; instead of making
his four-footed hero merely intelligent, he makes him noble in reason,
infinite in faculty, in apprehension like a god, the paragon of animals.
But it is a brilliant piece of work. The last story, _The House
Surgeon_, takes us into the world of spirit, whither Mr. Kipling has
successfully conducted his readers before. This mysterious domain seems
to have a constantly increasing attraction for modern realistic writers,
and has enormously enlarged the stock of material for contemporary
novelists. The field is the world, yes; but the world is bigger than it
used to be, bigger than any boundaries indicated by maps or globes. It
would be interesting to speculate just what the influence of all these
transcendental excursions will be on modern fiction as an educational
force. Mr. Kipling apparently writes with sincere conviction, and in a
powerfully impressive manner. The poetic interludes in this volume, like
those in _Puck of Pook's Hill_, show that the author's skill in verse
has not in the least abated; the lines on _The Power of the Dog_ are
simply irresistible. It is safe to say that _Actions and Reactions_ will
react favourably on all unprejudiced readers; and for this relief much
thanks. If one wishes to observe the difference between the inspired and
the ingenious Mr. Kipling, one has only to read this collection straight

[16] I have not discussed a new collection of Mr. Kipling's stories,
called _Abaft the Funnel_, consisting of reprints of early fugitive
pieces; because there is not the slightest indication that this book is
in any way authorised, or that its publication has the approval of the
man who wrote it. Perhaps an authorised edition of it may now become

Like almost all Anglo-Saxon writers, Mr. Kipling is a moralist, and his
gospel is Work. He believes in the strenuous life as a cure-all. He
apparently does not agree with Goethe that To Be is greater than To Do.
The moral of _Captains Courageous_ is the same moral contained in the
ingenious bee-hive story. The unpardonable sin is Idleness. But
although Work is good for humanity, it is rather limited as an ideal,
and we cannot rate Mr. Kipling very high as a spiritual teacher. God is
not always in the wind, or in the earthquake, or in the fire. The
day-dreams of men like Stevenson and Thackeray sometimes bear more fruit
than the furious energy of Mr. Kipling.

But the consuming ambition of this man, and his honest desire to do his
best, will, let us hope, spare him the humiliation of being beaten by
his own past. After all, Genius is the rarest article in the world, and
one who undoubtedly has it is far more likely to reach the top of the
hill than he is to take the road to Danger, which leads into a great
wood; or the road to Destruction, which leads into a wide field, full of
dark mountains.



The air of Devon and Somerset is full of literary germs. The best advice
a London hack could give to a Gigadibs would be _Go west, young man_.
The essential thing is to establish a residence south of Bristol, grow
old along with Wessex, and inhale the atmosphere. Thousands of reverent
pilgrims, on foot, on bicycle, and in automobile, are yearly following
the tragic trails of Mr. Hardy's heroines; to a constantly increasing
circle of interested observers, Mr. Eden Phillpotts is making the
topography of Devon clearer than an ordnance map; if Mrs. Willcocks
writes a few more novels like _The Wingless Victory_ and _A Man of
Genius_, we shall soon all be talking about her--just wait and see; and
in the summer season, when soft is the sun, the tops of coaches in North
Devon and Somerset are packed with excited Americans, carrying Lornas
instead of Baedekers. To the book-loving tourists, every inch of this
territory is holy ground.

Yet the author of our favourite romance was not by birth a Wessex man.
Mr. Richard D. Blackmore (for, like the creator of _Robinson Crusoe_,
his name is not nearly so well known as his work) first "saw the light"
in Berkshire, the year being 1825. But he was exposed to the Wessex
germs at the critical period of boyhood, actually going to Blundell's
School at Tiverton, a small town in the heart of Devonshire, fourteen
miles north of Exeter, at the union of Exe and Lowman rivers. To this
same school he sent John Ridd, as we learn in the second paragraph of
the novel:--

     "John Ridd, the elder, churchwarden, and overseer, being a great
     admirer of learning, and well able to write his name, sent me, his
     only son, to be schooled at Tiverton, in the County of Devon. For
     the chief boast of that ancient town (next to its woolen staple) is
     a worthy grammar-school, the largest in the west of England,
     founded and handsomely endowed in the year 1604 by Master Peter
     Blundell, of that same place, clothier."

From this institution young Blackmore proceeded to Exeter College,
Oxford, where he laid the foundations of his English style by taking
high rank in the classics. Like many potential poets and novelists, he
studied law, and was called to the bar in 1852. But he cared little for
the dusty purlieus of the Middle Temple, and not at all for city life:
his father was a country parson, as it is the fashion for English
fathers of men of letters to be, and the young man loved the peace and
quiet of rural scenery. He finally made a home at Teddington, in
Middlesex, and devoted himself to the avocation of fruit-growing. On
this subject he became an authority, and his articles on gardening were
widely read. Here he died in January, 1900.

His death was mourned by many thousand persons who never saw him, and
who knew nothing about his life. The public always loves the makers of
its favourite books; but in the case of Mr. Blackmore, every reader of
his masterpiece felt a peculiarly intimate relation with the man who
wrote it. The story is so full of the milk of human kindness, its hero
and heroine are so irresistibly attractive, and it radiates so wholesome
and romantic a charm, that one cannot read it without feeling on the
best possible terms with the author--as if both were intimate friends of
long standing. For _Lorna Doone_ is a book we think we have always been
reading; we can hardly recall the time when it had not become a part of
our literary experience; just as it takes an effort to remember that
there were days and years when we were not even aware of the existence
of persons who are now indissolubly close. They have since become so
necessary that we imagine life before we knew them must really have been
more barren than it seemed.

Like many successful novelists, Mr. Blackmore began his literary career
by the publication of verse, several volumes of poems appearing from
his pen during the years 1854-1860. Although he never entirely abandoned
verse composition, which it was only too apparent that he wrote with his
left hand, the coolness with which his Muse was received may have been a
cause of his attempting the quite different art of the novel. It is
pleasant to remember, however, that in these early years he translated
Vergil's _Georgics_; combining his threefold love of the classics, of
poetry, and of gardening. Of how much practical agricultural value he
found the Mantuan bard, we shall never know.

Contrary to a common supposition, _Lorna Doone_ was not his first story.
He launched two ventures before his masterpiece--_Clara Vaughan_ in
1864, and _Cradock Nowell_ in 1866. These won no applause, and have not
emerged from the congenial oblivion in which they speedily foundered.
After these false starts, the great book came out in 1869, with no blare
of publisher's trumpet, with scanty notice from the critics, and with no
notice of any kind from the public. In the preface to the twentieth
edition, and his various prefaces are well worth reading, the author

     "What a lucky maid you are, my Lorna! When first you came from the
     Western Moors nobody cared to look at you; the 'leaders of the
     public taste' led none of it to make test of you. Having struggled
     to the light of day, through obstruction and repulses, for a year
     and a half you shivered in a cold corner, without a sun-ray. Your
     native land disdained your voice, and America answered, 'No child
     of mine'; knowing how small your value was, you were glad to get
     your fare paid to any distant colony."

The _Saturday Review_ for 5 November, 1870, uttered a few patronising
words of praise. The book was called "a work of real excellence," but
the reviewer timidly added, "We do not pretend to rank it with the
acknowledged masterpieces of fiction." On the whole, there is good
ground for gratitude that the public was so slow to see the "real
excellence" of _Lorna_. A sudden blaze of popularity is sometimes so
fierce as to consume its cause. Let us spend a few moments in devout
meditation, while we recall the ashes of "the book of the year." The
gradual dawn of Lorna's fame has assured her of a long and fair day.

Possibly one of the reasons why this great romance made so small an
impression was because it appeared at an unpropitious time. The sower
sowed the seed; but the thorns of Reade and Trollope sprang up and
choked them. These two novelists were in full action; and they kept the
public busy. Realism was strong in the market; people did not know then,
as we do now, that The _Cloister and the Hearth_ was worth all the rest
of Charles Reade put together. Had _Lorna Doone_ appeared toward the
end of the century, when the Romantic Revival was in full swing, it
would have received a royal welcome. But how many would have recognised
its superiority to the tinsel stuff of those recent days, full of
galvanised knights and stuffed chatelaines? For _Lorna_ belongs to a
class of fiction with which we were flooded in the nineties, though,
compared with the ordinary representative of its kind, it is as a star
to a glow-worm. Readers then enjoyed impossible characters, whose talk
was mainly of "gramercy" and similar curiosities, for they had the
opportunity to "revel in the glamour of a bogus antiquity." But an
abundance of counterfeits does not lower the value of the real metal;
and _Lorna_ is a genuine coin struck from the mint of historical
romance. In the original preface its author modestly said:--

     "This work is called a 'romance,' because the incidents,
     characters, time, and scenery are alike romantic. And in shaping
     this old tale, the writer neither dares, nor desires, to claim for
     it the dignity or cumber it with the difficulty of an historic

In warmth and colour, in correct visualisation, and in successful
imitation of the prose of a bygone day (which no one has ever perfectly
accomplished), it ranks not very far below the greatest of all English
historical romances, _Henry Esmond_.

_Lorna Doone_ is practically one more illustration of Single-Speech
Hamilton. After its appearance, its author wrote and published steadily
for thirty years; but the fact remains that not only is _Lorna_ his
best-known work, but that his entire reputation hangs upon it. Many of
his other stories are good, notably _Cripps the Carrier_ and
_Perlycross_; the latter has a most ingenious plot; but these two now
peacefully repose with their mates in undisturbed slumber at dusty
library corners. They had an initial sale because they came from the
hand that created _Lorna_; then they were lost in the welter of
ephemeral literature. Mr. Blackmore offered his buyers all sorts of
wares, but, after a momentary examination, they declined what was "just
as good," and returned to their favourite, which, by the way, was never
his; he ranked it third among his productions.

For this novel is not only one of the best-loved books in English
fiction, and stands magnificently the severe test of rereading, it is
bound to have even more admirers in the future than it has ever yet
enjoyed; it is visibly growing in reputation every year. It may be
interesting to analyse some of its elements, in order to understand what
has given it so assured a place. The main plot is simplicity itself. It
is a history, however, that the world has always found entertaining, the
history of the love of a strong man for a beautiful girl. They meet, he
falls in love, he rescues her from peril, she goes up to London, becomes
a great lady, returns, is dangerously wounded on her wedding-day,
recovers, and they live happily for ever after--_voilà tout_. A very
simple plot, yet the telling fills two stout volumes, with the reader's
interest maintained from first to last.

It is told in the first person--the approved method of the historical
romance. Professor Raleigh has admirably pointed out the virtues and
defects of the three ways of composing a novel,--direct discourse by the
chief actor, the exclusive employment of letters, and the "invisible and
omniscient" impersonal author.[17] It is interesting to note, in
passing, that our first English novelist, Defoe, adopted the first
method; Richardson, our second novelist, took the second; and Fielding,
our third novelist, took the third. Now, the great advantage of having
John Ridd speak throughout is the gain in reality and vividness; it is
as though we sat with him in the ingle, and obtained all our information
at first hand. What is lost by narrowness of experience is made up in
intensity; we follow him breathlessly, as Desdemona followed Othello,
and he has every moment our burning sympathy. We participate more fully
in his joys and sorrows, in the agony of his suspense; we share his
final triumph. He is talking directly to us, and John Ridd is a good
talker. He is the kind of man who appeals to all classes of listeners.
He has the gentleness and modesty that are so becoming to great physical
strength; the love of children, animals, and all helpless creatures;
reverence for God, purity of heart, and a noble slowness to wrath. Such
a man is simply irresistible, and we are sorry when he finishes his
tale. The defect in this method of narration, which Mr. Blackmore has
employed with such success, is the inevitable defect in all stories
written in this manner, as Professor Raleigh has observed: "It takes
from the novelist the privilege of killing his hero." When John Ridd is
securely bound, and the guns of hostile soldiers are levelled at his
huge bulk, with their fingers actually on the triggers, we laugh at
ourselves for our high-beating hearts; for of course he is unkillable,
else how could he be talking at this very moment?

[17] _The English Novel_, Chapter VI.

The plot of _Lorna Doone_, which, as we have observed, is very simple,
is, nevertheless, skilfully complicated. It is not a surprise plot, like
that of _A Pair of Blue Eyes_; we are not stunned by the last page. It
is a suspense plot; we have a well-founded hope that all will come right
in the end, and yet the author has introduced enough disturbing elements
to put us occasionally in a maze. This artistic suspense is attained
partly by the method of direct discourse; which, at the same time,
develops the character of the hero. Big John repeats incidents, dwells
lengthily on minute particulars, stops to enjoy the scenery, and makes
mountains of stories out of molehills of fact. The second complication
of the plot arises from the introduction of characters that apparently
divert the course of the story without really doing so. There are
nineteen important characters, all held well in hand; and a conspicuous
example of a complicating personage is little Ruth Huckaback. She
interferes in the main plot in an exceedingly clever way. The absorbing
question in every reader's mind is, of course, Will John marry Lorna?
Now Ruth's interviews with the hero are so skilfully managed, and with
such intervals of time between, that on some pages she seems destined to
be his bride. And, admirably drawn as her character is, when her
artistic purpose in the plot is fully accomplished, she quietly fades
out, with the significant tribute, "Ruth Huckaback is not married yet."

There is also a subsidiary plot, dovetailed neatly into the main
building. This is the story of the attractive highwayman, Tom Faggus,
and his love for John's sister, Annie. Many pages are taken up with the
adventures of this gentleman, who enters the novel on horseback (what a
horse!) at the moment when the old drake is fighting for his life.
Besides our interest in Tom himself, in his wild adventures, and in his
reformation, we are interested in the conflict of his two passions, one
for the bottle, and one for Annie, and we wonder which will win. This
subsidiary love story is still further complicated by the introduction
of young De Whichehalse; and in the struggle between John Ridd and the
Doones, both Tom Faggus and the De Whichehalse family play important
parts. It is interesting, too, to observe how events that seem at the
time to be of no particular importance, turn out later to be highly
significant; when, at the very beginning of the long story, the little
boy, on his way home from school, meets the lady's maid, and shortly
after sees the child borne away on the robber's saddle, we imagine all
this is put in to enliven the journey, that it is just "detail"; long
afterwards we find the artistic motive. In fact, one of the most notable
virtues of this admirable plot is the constant introduction of matters
apparently irrelevant and due to mere garrulity, such as the uncanny
sound, for example, which prove after all to be essential to the course
of the narrative.

As for the characters, they impress us differently in different moods.
For all John Ridd's prodigious strength, marvellous escapes, and
astounding feats, his personality is so intensely human that he seems
real. His _soul_, at any rate, is genuine, and wholly natural; his
bodily activity--the extraction of Carver's biceps, the wrenching of
the branch from the tree, the hurling of the cannon through the
door--makes him a dim giant in a fairy story. When we think of the
qualities of his mind and heart, he comes quite close; when we think of
his physical prowess, he almost vanishes in the land of Fable. I
remember the comment of an undergraduate--"John Ridd is as remote as
Achilles; he is like a Greek myth."

The women are all well drawn and individualised--except the heroine. I
venture to say that no one has ever seen Lorna in his mind's eye. She is
like a plate that will not develop. A very pretty girl with an
affectionate disposition,--what more can be said? But so long as a Queen
has beauty and dignity, she does not need to be interesting; and Lorna
is the queen of this romance. John's mother and his two sisters are as
like and unlike as members of the same family ought to be; they are real
women. Ruth Huckaback and Gwenny Carfax are great additions to our
literary acquaintances; each would make an excellent heroine for a
realistic novel. They have the indescribable puzzling characteristics
that we call feminine; sudden caprices, flashes of unexpected jealousy,
deep loyal tenderness, unlimited capacity for self-sacrifice, and in the
last analysis, Mystery.

The humour of the story is spontaneous, and of great variety, running
from broad mirth to whimsical subtlety. The first concerted attack on
the Doones is comic opera burlesque; but the scenes of humour that
delight us most are those describing friendly relations with beast and
bird. The eye of the old drake, as he stared wildly from his precarious
position, and the delight of the ducks as they welcomed his rescue;
above all, Annie's care of the wild birds in the bitter cold.

     "There was not a bird but knew her well, after one day of
     comforting; and some would come to her hand, and sit, and shut one
     eye, and look at her. Then she used to stroke their heads, and feel
     their breasts, and talk to them; and not a bird of them all was
     there but liked to have it done to him. And I do believe they would
     eat from her hand things unnatural to them, lest she should be
     grieved and hurt by not knowing what to do for them. One of them
     was a noble bird, such as I had never seen before, of very fine
     bright plumage, and larger than a missel-thrush. He was the hardest
     of all to please; and yet he tried to do his best."

Whatever may be the merits of Mr. Blackmore's published verse, there is
more poetry in _Lorna Doone_ than in many volumes of formal rime. The
wonderful descriptions of the country in shade and shine, in fog and
drought, the pictures of the sunrise and the falling water, the
"tumultuous privacy" of the snow-storms,--these are all descriptive
poems. Every reader has noticed the peculiar rhythm of the style, and
wondered if it were intentional. Hundreds of sentences here and there
are perfect English hexameters; one can find them by opening the book at
random, and reading aloud. But this peculiar element in the style goes
much farther than isolated phrases. There are solid passages of steady
rhythm, which might correctly be printed in verse form.[18]

[18] A writer in the _Atlantic Monthly_ notes especially the closing
paragraph of Chapter XXVIII, and parts of Chapter XXIX.

Mr. Blackmore's personal character was so modest, unassuming, and
lovable, that it is not difficult to guess the source of the purity,
sweetness, and sincerity of his great book. If he were somewhat
surprised at the utter coldness of its first reception, he never got
over his amazement at the size and extent of its ultimate triumph. In
the preface to the sixth edition, he said:--

     "Few things have surprised me more, and nothing has more pleased
     me, than the great success of this simple tale.... Therefore any
     son of Devon may imagine, and will not grudge, the writer's delight
     at hearing from a recent visitor to the west, that '_Lorna Doone_,
     to a Devonshire man, is as good as clotted cream, almost!'

     "Although not half so good as that, it has entered many a tranquil,
     happy, pure, and hospitable home; and the author, while deeply
     grateful for this genial reception, ascribes it partly to the fact
     that his story contains no word or thought disloyal to its
     birthright in the fairest county of England."

Mr. Blackmore lived long enough to see an entirely different kind of
"local colour" become conventional, where many a novelist, portraying
his native town or the community in which he dwelt, emphasised with what
skill he could command all its poverty, squalor, and meanness; the
disgusting vices and malignant selfishness of its inhabitants; and after
he had thus fouled his nest by representing it as a mass of filth,
degradation, and sin, he imagined he had created a work of art. The
author of _Lorna Doone_ had the satisfaction of knowing that he had
inspired hundreds of thousands of readers with the love of his favourite
west country, and with an intense desire to visit it. And being, like
John Ridd, of a forgiving nature, he forgave America for its early
neglect of his story; for being informed of the supremacy of _Lorna
Doone_ in the hearts of American undergraduates, he remarked, in a
letter to the present writer, "The good word of the young, who are at
once the most intelligent and the most highly educated of a vast
intellectual nation, augurs well for the continuance--at least for a
generation--of my fortunate production."



Some fourteen years ago, in the pamphlet of elective courses of study
open to the senior and junior classes of Yale College, I announced a new
course called "Modern Novels." The course and its teacher immediately
became the object of newspaper notoriety, which spells academic
damnation. From every State in the Union long newspaper clippings were
sent to me, in which my harmless little pedagogical scheme was
discussed--often under enormous headlines--as a revolutionary idea. It
was praised by some, denounced by others, but thoroughly advertised, so
that, for many months, I received letters from all parts of the Western
Hemisphere, asking for the list of novels read and the method pursued in
studying them. During six months these letters averaged three a day, and
they came from the north, south, east, and west, from Alaska, Hawaii,
Central and South America. The dust raised by all this hubbub crossed
the Atlantic. The course was gravely condemned in a column editorial in
the London _Daily Telegraph_, and finally received the crowning honour
of a parody in _Punch_.

Things have changed somewhat in the last ten years, and although I have
never repeated my one year's experiment, I believe that it would be
perfectly safe to do so. Not only does the production of new novels
continue at constantly accelerating speed, but critical books on the
novel have begun to increase and multiply in all directions. At least
twenty such works now stand on my shelves, the latest of which (by
Selden L. Whitcomb) is frankly called "The Study of a Novel," and boldly
begins: "This volume is the result of practical experience in teaching
the novel, and its aim is primarily pedagogical."

The objections usually formulated against novels as a university study
are about as follows: (_a_) the study of fiction is unacademic--that is,
lacking in dignity; (_b_) students will read too many novels anyway, and
the emphasis should therefore be thrown on other forms of literary art;
(_c_) most recent and contemporary fiction is worthless, and if novels
are to be taught at all, the titles selected should be confined entirely
to recognised classics; (_d_) many of the novels of to-day are immoral,
and the reading of them will corrupt rather than develop adolescent
minds; (_e_) they are too "easy," too interesting, and a course confined
to them is totally lacking in mental discipline. These objections, each
and all, contain some truth, and demand a serious answer.

That the study of fiction is unacademic is a weighty argument, but its
weight is the mass of custom and prejudice rather than solid thought. In
old times, the curriculum had little to do with real life, so that the
most scholarly professors and the most promising pupils were often
plentifully lacking in common sense. Students gifted with real
independence of mind, marked with an alert interest in the life and
thought about them, chafed irritably under the old-fashioned course of
study, and often treated it with neglect or open rebellion. What Thomas
Gray said of the Cambridge curriculum constitutes a true indictment
against eighteenth-century universities; and it was not until very
recent times that such studies as history, European literature, modern
languages, political economy, natural sciences, and the fine arts were
thought to have equal academic dignity with the trinity of Latin, Greek,
and mathematics. There are, indeed, many able and conscientious men who
still believe that this trinity cannot be successfully rivalled by any
other possible group of studies. Now the novel is the most prominent
form of modern literary art; and if modern literature is to be studied
at all, fiction cannot be overlooked. The profound change brought about
in university curricula, caused largely by the elective system, is
simply the bringing of college courses of study into closer contact
with human life, and the recognition that what young men need is a
general preparation to live a life of active usefulness in modern social

That students read too many novels anyway--that is, in proportion to
their reading in history and biography--is probably true. But the
primary object of a course in novel-reading is not to make the student
read more novels, instead of less, nor to substitute the reading of
fiction for the reading of other books. The real object is (after a
cheerful recognition of the fact that he will read novels anyway) to
persuade him to read them intelligently, to observe the difference
between good novels and bad, and so to become impatient and disgusted
with cheap, sensational, and counterfeit specimens of the novelist's

    "The common problem, yours, mine, everyone's,
     Is--not to fancy what were fair in life
     Provided it could be--but, finding first
     What may be, then find how to make it fair
     Up to our means: a very different thing!
     No abstract intellectual plan of life
     Quite irrespective of life's plainest laws,
     But one, a man, who is man and nothing more,
     May lead within a world which (by your leave)
     Is Rome or London, not Fool's Paradise."

That much of contemporary fiction is worthless, and that the novels
selected should be classics, is a twofold statement, of which the first
phrase is true and the second a _non sequitur_. Much ancient and
mediæval literature read in college is worthless in itself; it is read
because it illustrates the language, or represents some literary form,
or because it throws light on the customs and ideas of the time. The
fact that a certain obscure work was written in the year 1200 does not
necessarily prove that it is more valuable for study than one written in
1909. Now it so happens that the modern novel has become more and more
the mirror of modern ideas; and for a student who really wishes to know
what people are thinking about all over the world to-day, the novels of
Tolstoi, Björnson, Sudermann, and Thomas Hardy cannot wisely be
neglected. Why should the study of the contemporary novel and the
contemporary drama be tabooed when in other departments of research the
aim is to be as contemporary as possible? We have courses in social
conditions that actually investigate slums. I am not for a moment
pleading that the study of modern novels and modern art should supplant
the study of immortal masterpieces; but merely that they should have
their rightful place, and not be regarded either with contempt or as
unworthy of serious treatment. The two most beneficial ways to study a
novel are to regard it, first, as an art-form, and secondly as a
manifestation of intellectual life; from neither point of view should
the contemporary novel be wholly neglected.

That many of the novels of to-day are immoral is true, but it is still
more true of the classics. The proportion of really immoral books to the
total production is probably less to-day than it ever was before; in
fact, there are an immense number of excellent contemporary novels which
are spotless, something that cannot be said of the classics of antiquity
or of the great majority of literary works published prior to the
nineteenth century. If immorality be the cry, what shall we say about
Aristophanes or Ovid? How does the case stand with the comedies of
Dryden or with the novels of Henry Fielding? No, it is undoubtedly true
that the teacher who handles modern fiction can more easily find a
combination of literary excellence and purity of tone than he could in
any previous age.

That a course in novels lacks mental discipline and is too easy depends
mainly on the teacher and his method. As regards the time consumed in
preparation, it is probable that a student would expend three or four
times the number of hours on a course in novels than he would in ancient
languages, where, unfortunately, the use of a translation is all but
universal; and the translation is fatal to mental discipline. But it is
not merely a matter of hours; novels can be taught in such a way as to
produce the best kind of mental discipline, which consists, first, in
compelling a student to do his own thinking, and, secondly, to train him
properly in the expression of what ideas he has.



Two things must be admitted at the start--first, that no person is
qualified to judge the value of new books who is not well acquainted
with the old ones; second, that the only test of the real greatness of
any book is Time. It is, of course, vain to hope that any remarks made
on contemporary authors will not be misrepresented, but I have placed
two axioms at the beginning of this article in order to clear the
ground. I am not advocating the abandonment of the study of Homer and
Vergil, or proposing to substitute in their stead the study of Hall
Caine, Mrs. Ward, and Marie Corelli. I do not believe that Mr. Pinero is
a greater dramatist than Sophokles, or that the mental discipline gained
by reading _The Jungle_ is equivalent to that obtained in the mastery of

I am merely pleading that every thoughtful man who is alive in this year
of grace should not attempt to live his whole life in the year 400 B.C.,
even though he be so humble an individual as a teacher. The very word
"teacher" means something more than "scholar"; and scholarship means
something more than the knowledge of things that are dead. A good
teacher will remember that the boys and girls who come under his
instruction are not all going to spend their lives in the pursuit of
technical learning. It is his business to influence them; and he cannot
exert a powerful influence without some interest in the life and thought
of his own day, in the environment in which his pupils exist. I believe
that the cardinal error of a divinity-school education is that the
candidate for the ministry spends over half his time and energy in the
laborious study of Hebrew, whereas he should study the subjects that
primarily interest not his colleagues, but his audience.

    Should study passion; how else cure mankind,
    Who come for help in passionate extremes?"

A preacher who knows Hebrew, Greek, systematic theology, New Testament
interpretation, and who knows nothing about literature, history, art,
and human nature, is grotesquely unfitted for his noble profession.

In every age it has been the fashion to ridicule and decry the literary
production of that particular time. I suppose that the greatest creative
period that the world has ever known occurred in England during the
years 1590-1616, and here is what Ben Jonson said in 1607: "Now,
especially in dramatic, or, as they term it, stage-poetry, nothing but
ribaldry, profanation, blasphemy, all license of offence to God and man
is practised. I dare not deny a great part of this, and am sorry I dare
not." In 1610 he wrote, "Thou wert never more fair in the way to be
cozened, than in this age, in poetry, especially in plays; wherein, now
the concupiscence of dances and of antics so reigneth, as to run away
from nature and be afraid of her, is the only point of art that tickles
the spectators." And in 1611 he said, "In so thick and dark an ignorance
as now almost covers the age ... you dare, in these jig-given times, to
countenance a legitimate poem." And the age which he damned is now
regarded as the world's high-water mark!

A man who teaches physics and chemistry is supposed to be familiar not
only with the history of his subject, but its latest manifestations;
with the work of his contemporaries. A man who teaches political economy
and sociology must read the most recent books on these themes both in
Europe and America--nay, he must read the newspapers and study the
markets, or he will be outstripped by his own pupils. A man who teaches
drawing and painting should not only know the history of art, but its
latest developments. And yet, when the teacher of literature devotes a
small portion of the time of his pupils to the contemplation of
contemporary poets, novelists, and dramatists, he is not only blamed for
doing so, but some teachers who are ignorant of the writers of their own
day boast of their ignorance with true academic pride.

A teacher cannot read every book that appears; he cannot neglect the
study and teaching of the recognised classics; but his attitude toward
the writers of his own time should not be one of either indifference or
contempt. The teacher of English literature should not be the last man
in the world to discover the name of an author whom all the world is
talking about. And I believe that every great university should offer,
under proper restrictions, at least one course in the contemporary
drama, or in contemporary fiction, or in some form of contemporary
literary art. The Germans are generally regarded as the best scholars in
the world, and they never think it beneath their dignity to recognise
living authors of distinction. While the British public were condemning
in true British fashion an author whom they had not read--Henrik
Ibsen--German universities were offering courses exclusively devoted to
the study of his works. Imagine a course in Ibsen at Oxford!

But not only should the teacher take an intelligent interest in
contemporary authors who have already won a wide reputation, he should
be eternally watchful, eternally hopeful--ready to detect signs of
promise in the first books of writers whose names are wholly unknown.
This does not mean that he should exaggerate the merits of every fresh
work, nor beslobber with praise every ambitious quill-driver. On the
contrary,--if there be occasion to give an opinion at all,--he should
not hesitate to condemn what seems to him shallow, trivial, or
counterfeit, no matter how big a "seller" the object in his vision may
be. But his sympathies should be warm and keen, and his mind always
responsive, when a new planet swims into his ken. One of the most joyful
experiences of my life came to me some years ago when I read _Bob, Son
of Battle_ with the unknown name Alfred Ollivant on the title-page. It
was worth wading through tons of trash to find such a jewel.

And is the literature of our generation really slight and mean? By
"Contemporary Literature" we include perhaps authors who have written or
who are writing during the lifetime of those who are now, let us say,
thirty years old. Contemporary literature would then embrace, in the
drama, Ibsen, Björnson, Victor Hugo, Henri Becque, Rostand, Maeterlinck,
Sudermann, Hauptmann, Pinero, Jones, and others; in the novel, Turgenev,
Tolstoi, Dostoievsky, Björnson, Hugo, Daudet, Zola, Maupassant, Heyse,
Sudermann, Hardy, Meredith, Stevenson, Kipling, Howells, Mark Twain,
and many others; in poetry, to speak of English writers alone, Tennyson,
Browning, Arnold, Swinburne, Morris, Kipling, Phillips, Watson,
Thompson, and others. Those who live one hundred years from now will
know more about the permanent value of the works of these men than we
do; but are these names really of no importance to teachers whose
speciality is literature?



It is interesting to compare the two following poems, written by two
distinguished English novelists, both men of fine intelligence, noble
character, and absolute sincerity. Mr. Hardy's poem appeared in the
_Fortnightly Review_, for 1 January, 1907.



    "I have finished another year," said God,
       "In grey, green, white, and brown;
     I have strewn the leaf upon the sod,
     Sealed up the worm within the clod,
       And let the last sun down."

    "And what's the good of it?" I said,
       "What reasons made You call
     From formless void this earth I tread,
     When nine-and-ninety can be read
       Why nought should be at all?

    "Yea, Sire; why shaped You us, 'who in
       This tabernacle groan'?--
     If ever a joy be found herein,
     Such joy no man had wished to win
       If he had never known!"

     Then He: "My labours logicless
       You may explain; not I:
     Sense-sealed I have wrought, without a guess
     That I evolved a Consciousness
       To ask for reasons why!

    "Strange, that ephemeral creatures who
       By my own ordering are,
     Should see the shortness of my view,
     Use ethic tests I never knew,
       Or made provision for!"

     He sank to raptness as of yore,
       And opening New Year's Day
     Wove it by rote as theretofore,
     And went on working evermore
       In his unweeting way.




    In the hour of death, after this life's whim,
    When the heart beats low, and the eyes grow dim,
    And pain has exhausted every limb--
      The lover of the Lord shall trust in Him.


    When the will has forgotten the life-long aim,
    And the mind can only disgrace its fame,
    And a man is uncertain of his own name,
      The power of the Lord shall fill this frame.


    When the last sigh is heaved and the last tear shed,
    And the coffin is waiting beside the bed,
    And the widow and the child forsake the dead,
      The angel of the Lord shall lift this head.


    For even the purest delight may pall,
    The power must fail, and the pride must fall,
    And the love of the dearest friends grow small--
      But the glory of the Lord is all in all.

This poem, with the signature "R. D. B. in memoriam M. F. G." first
appeared in the _University Magazine_ in 1879. Although it has been
included in some anthologies, the author's name was kept an absolute
secret until July, 1909. In the _Athenæum_ for 3 July, 1909, was printed
an interesting letter from Agnes E. Cook, by which we learn that the
late Mr. Blackmore actually _dreamed_ this poem, in its exact language
and metre. The letter from the author which was published in the same
_Athenæum_ article, gives the facts connected with this extraordinary

     Teddn Jany 5th 1879.
     My Dear Sir.

     Having lately been at the funeral of a most dear relation I was
     there again (in a dream) last night, and heard the mourners sing
     the lines enclosed, which impressed me so that I was able to write
     them without change of a word this morning. I never heard or read
     them before to my knowledge. They do not look so well on paper as
     they sounded; but if you like to print them, here they are. Only
     please not to put my name beyond initials or send me money for
     them. With all good wishes to Mrs. Cook and yourself

     Very truly yours
     R. D. Blackmore.
     K Cook Esqre L.L.D.



[The twelve authors are in alphabetical order. The books of each are in
chronological order, the assigned dates being those of the publishers'
trade journals in which the fact of publication was first recorded.
Novels originally issued as serials have a note giving the name and date
of the original magazine.]


8 December 1832--

[Including only works that have been translated into English.]

   1857, Sept. 1. Synnöve Solbakken. Christiania. (_Illustreret
     Folkeblad_, 1857.)--Trust and Trial. [A translation by Mary
     Howitt.] London, Hurst, Sept. 15, 1858.--Love and Life in Norway.
     Tr. by the Hon. Augusta Bethell and A. Plesner. London, Cassell
     [1870].--Synnöve Solbakken. Tr. by R. B. Anderson. Boston,
     Houghton, 1881.--Synnöve Solbakken. Given in English by Julie
     Sutter. London, Macmillan, 1881.

   1858. Arne. Bergen, 1858 [1859].--Arne; or, Peasant Life in
     Norway. Tr. by a Norwegian. Bergen [1861].--Arne: a Sketch of
     Norwegian Country Life. Tr. by A. Plesner and S. Rugely-Powers.
     London, Strahan, Aug. 1, 1866.--Arne. Tr. by R. B. Anderson.
     Boston, Houghton, 1881.--Arne, and the Fisher Lassie. Tr. with an
     introd. by W. Low. London, Bell, 1890.

   1860. En glad Gut. Christiania. (_Aftenbladet._)--Ovind. Tr. by S.
     and E. Hjerleid. London, 1869.--The Happy Boy. Tr. by Helen R.
     Gade. Boston, Sever, 1870.--A Happy Boy. Tr. by R. B. Anderson.
     Boston, Houghton, 1881.--The Happy Lad, and other Tales. London,
     Blackie, 1882.

   1862. Sigurd Slembe. Copenhagen.--Sigurd Slembe: a Dramatic
     Trilogy. Tr. by W. M. Payne. Boston, Houghton, Oct. 20, 1888.

   1865. De Nygifte. Copenhagen.--The Newly Married Couple. Tr. by S.
     and E. Hjerleid. London, Simpkin, 1870.

   1868, Apr. Fiskerjenten. Copenhagen.--The Fisher-Maiden: a
     Norwegian Tale. From the author's German edition by M. E. Niles.
     N.Y., Holt, 1869.--The Fishing Girl. Tr. by A. Plesner and F.
     Richardson. London, Cassell [1870].--The Fisher Girl. Tr. by S.
     and E. Hjerleid. London, Simpkin, 1871 [1870].--The Fisher Maiden.
     Tr. by R. B. Anderson. Boston, Houghton, 1882.--Arne and the
     Fisher Lassie. Tr. with an introd. by W. Low. London, Bell, 1890.

   1873. Brude-Slaatten: Fortælling. Copenhagen.--Life by the Fells
     and Fiords. A Norwegian Sketch-book [containing a translation of
     the Bridal March]. London, Strahan, 1879.--The Bridal March and
     other Stories. Tr. by R. B. Anderson. Boston, 1882.--The Wedding
     March. Tr. by M. Ford. N.Y., Munro, 1882.

   1877, Oct. Magnhild: en Fortælling. Copenhagen.--Magnhild. Tr. by
     R. B. Anderson. Boston, Houghton, 1883 [1882].

   1879, Aug. Kaptejn Mansana. Copenhagen.--Captain Mansana, and
     other Stories. Tr. by R. B. Anderson. Cambridge, Mass.,
     1882.--Captain Mansana. N.Y., Munro, 1882.--Captain Mansana,
     and Mother's Hands. N.Y., Macmillan, 1897.

   1883, Sept. En Hanske: Skuespil. Copenhagen.--A Glove: a Prose
     Play. (_Poet-Lore_, Jan.-July, 1892.)--A Gauntlet. Tr. by H. L.
     Braekstad. London, French [1890].--A Gauntlet. Tr. by Osman
     Edwards. London, Longmans, 1894.

     Nov. Over Ævne. Første Stykke. Copenhagen.--Pastor Sang: being the
     Norwegian drama Over Ævne [Part 1]. Tr. by W. Wilson. London,
     Longmans, 1893.

   1884, Oct. Det flager i Byen og på Havnen. Copenhagen.--The
     Heritage of the Kurts. Tr. by C. Fairfax. London, Heinemann, 1892.

   1887, Aug. Støv. (Originally published in 1882 in I. Hfte _Nyt
     Tidsskrift_.)--Magnhild and Dust. N.Y., Macmillan, 1897.

   1889, Oct. På Guds Veje. Copenhagen.--In God's Way. N.Y., Lovell,
     1889.--In God's way: a Novel. Tr. by E. Carmichael. London,
     Heinemann, 1890.

   1895, Dec. Over Ævne. Andet Stykke. Copenhagen.

   1898, Nov. Paul Lange og Tora Parsberg. Copenhagen.--Tr. by H. L.
     Braekstad. London, N.Y., Harper, Feb., 1899.

   1901, Apr. Laboremus. Copenhagen.--Laboremus. London, Chapman,
     June 8, 1901. (First published as literary supplement to the
     _Fortnightly Review_, May, 1901.)

   1906, Oct. Mary: Fortælling. Copenhagen.--Mary. Tr. by Mary
     Morison. N.Y., Macmillan, Sept. 4, 1909.

In addition to the works listed above, most of the tales and sketches in
Björnson's three collections (Smaastykker, Bergen, 1860; Fortællinger,
Copenhagen, 1872; Nye Fortællinger, Copenhagen, 1894) have appeared in
English in one or other of the collections listed below:--

   Life by the Fells and Fiords: a Norwegian Sketch-book. London, Strahan
     [1879]. _Contents_: Arne.--The Bridal March.--The Churchyard and the
     Railroad.--The Father.--Faithfulness.--Thrond.--Blakken.--A Life's
     Enigma.--Checked Imagination.--The Eagle's Nest.--A Dangerous
     Wooing.--The Brothers' Quarrel.--The Eagle and the Fir.--Poems.

   Works. American edition, translated by R. B. Anderson. 3 v. Boston,
     Houghton, 1884. _Contents_: v. 1. Synnöve Solbakken.--Arne.--Early
     Tales and Sketches: The Railroad and the Churchyard.--Thrond.--A
     Dangerous Wooing.--The Bear-Hunter.--The Eagle's Nest.--v. 2.
     A Happy Boy.--The Fisher Maiden.--Tales and Sketches:
     Blakken.--Fidelity.--A Problem of Life.--v. 3. The Bridal
     March.--Captain Mansana.--Magnhild.--Dust.

   Novels. Edited by Edmund Gosse. London, Heinemann; N.Y., Macmillan.
     13 v. 1894-1909. _Contents_: v. 1. Synnöve Solbakken. Given in
     English by Julie Sutter. A new ed.... 1895.--v. 2. Arne. Tr. by
     W. Low. 1895.--v. 3. A Happy Boy. Tr. by Mrs. W. Archer. 1896.--v. 4.
     The Fisher Lass. 1896.--v. 5. The Bridal March, and One Day.
     1896.--v. 6. Magnhild and Dust. 1897.--v. 7. Captain Mansana, and
     Mother's Hands. 1897.--v. 8. Absalom's Hair, and A Painful Memory.
     1898.--v. 9-10. In God's Way. Tr. by E. Carmichael. 1908.--v. 11-12.
     The Heritage of the Kurts. Tr. by Cecil Fairfax. 1908.--v. 13. Mary.
     Tr. by Mary Morison. 1909.

RICHARD DODDRIDGE BLACKMORE 7 June 1825-20 January 1900

   1854, May 1. Poems by Melanter. London, Saunders. July. Epullia,
     and other Poems. By the Author of Poems by Melanter. London, Hope.

   1855, Jan. 16. The Bugle of the Black Sea; or, The British in the
     East. By Melanter. London, Hardwicke.

   1860, Oct. 27. The Fate of Franklin. London, Hardwicke. 1862, July
     31. The Farm and Fruit of Old: a Translation in Verse of the first
     and second Georgics of Virgil. By a Market Gardener. London, Low.

   1864, Mar. 31. Clara Vaughan: a Novel. 3 vols. London, Macmillan.

   1866, Sept. 1. Cradock Nowell: A Tale of the New Forest. 3 vols.
     London, Chapman. (_Macmillan's Magazine_, May, 1865-Aug., 1866.)

   1869, Apr. 1. Lorna Doone: a Romance of Exmoor. 3 vols. London,

   1871, Apr. 1. The Georgics of Virgil, translated. London, Low.

   1872, Aug. 2. The Maid of Sker. 3 vols. London, Blackwood.
     (_Blackwood's Magazine_, Aug., 1871-July, 1872.)

   1875, May 1. Alice Lorraine: a Tale of the South Downs. 3 vols.
     London, Low. (_Blackwood's Magazine_, Mar., 1874-Apr., 1875.)

   1876, June 1. Cripps the Carrier: a Woodland Tale. 3 vols. London,

   1877, Nov. 16. Erema; or, My Father's Sin. 3 vols. London, Smith,
     Elder. (_Cornhill Magazine_, Nov., 1876-Nov., 1877.)

   1880, May 15. Mary Anerley: a Yorkshire Tale. 3 vols. London, Low.
     (_Fraser's Magazine_, July, 1879-Sept., 1880.)

   1881, Dec. 31. Christowell: a Dartmoor Tale. 3 vols. London, Low.
     (_Good Words_, Jan.-Dec., 1881.)

   1884, May 15. The Remarkable History of Sir Thomas Upmore. 2 vols.
     London, Low.

   1887, Mar. 1. Springhaven: a Tale of the Great War. 3 vols.
     London, Low. (_Harper's Magazine_, Apr., 1886-Apr., 1887.)

   1889, Dec. 31. Kit and Kitty: a Story of West Middlesex. 3 vols.
     London, Low, 1890 [1889].

   1894, Aug. 25. Perlycross: a Tale of the Western Hills. 3 vols.
     London, Low.

   1895, June 22. Fringilla: Some Tales in Verse. London, Mathews.

   1896, Mar. 21. Tales from the Telling-House. London, Low.

   1897, Nov. 27. Dariel: a Romance of Surrey. London, Blackwood.


30 November 1835-

   1867, May 1. The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and
     other Sketches. Edited by John Paul. N.Y., Amer. News Co.

   1869, Oct. 1. The Innocents Abroad; or, The New Pilgrim's Progress.
     Hartford, American Publ. Co.

   1871. Mark Twain's Autobiography and First Romance. N.Y., Sheldon.

   1872, Feb. 29. Roughing it. Hartford, American Publ. Co.

   1874, Jan. 3. The Gilded Age: a Tale of To-Day. By Mark Twain and
     Charles Dudley Warner. Hartford, American Publ. Co. Mark Twain's
     Sketches. [No. 1.] N.Y., American News Co.

   1875. Mark Twain's Sketches, new and old. Now first published in
     complete form. Hartford, American Publ. Co.

   1876, Dec. 23. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Hartford, American
     Publ. Co.

   1877, Sept. 22. A True Story, and The Recent Carnival of Crime.
     Boston, Osgood.

   1878, Mar. 23. Punch, Brothers, Punch! and other Sketches. N.Y.,

   1880, July 10. A Tramp Abroad. Hartford, American Publ. Co.

   1882, Jan. 21. The Prince and the Pauper. Boston, Osgood.

     June 17. The Stolen White Elephant, etc. Boston, Osgood.

   1883, July 7. Life on the Mississippi. Boston, Osgood.

   1884, Dec. 31. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer's
     Comrade. London, Chatto. (N.Y., Webster, Mar. 14, 1885.)

   1889, Dec. 28. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court: a
     Satire. N.Y., Webster.

   1892, Apr. 9. Merry Tales. N.Y., Webster.

   1893, Apr. 29. The £1,000,000 Bank-note, and other new stories.
     N.Y., Webster.

   1894, Mar. 2. The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson, and the comedy
     Those Extraordinary Twins. Hartford, American Publ. Co.

     Apr. 15. Tom Sawyer Abroad, by Huck Finn. Edited by Mark Twain.
     N.Y., Webster.

   1896, May 9. Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc. By the Sieur
     Louis de Conte (her page and secretary). Freely translated out of
     the ancient French into modern English from the original
     unpublished manuscript in the National Archives of France, by Jean
     François Alden. N.Y., Harper.

   1897, Apr. 3. The American Claimant, and other Stories and
     Sketches. N.Y., Harper.

     Apr. 17. How to tell a story, and other Essays. N.Y., Harper.

   1897, Dec. 11. Following the Equator: a Journey around the World.
     Hartford, American Publ. Co. (London, Chatto, under title "More
     Tramps Abroad.")

   1900, June 23. The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg, and other Stories
     and Essays. N.Y., Harper.

   1902, Apr. 19. A Double-barrelled Detective Story. N.Y., Harper.

   1904, Apr. 16. Extracts from Adam's Diary, translated from the
     Original Manuscript. N.Y., Harper.

     Oct. 1. A Dog's Tale. N.Y., Harper.

   1905, Oct. 7. Editorial Wild Oats. N.Y., Harper.

     Nov. 4. King Leopold's Soliloquy: a Defence of his Congo Rule.
     Boston, Warren.

   1906, June 16. Eve's Diary, translated from the Original
     Manuscript. N.Y., Harper.

     Oct. 13. The $30,000 Bequest, and other Stories. N.Y., Harper.

   1907, Feb. 16. Christian Science, with notes containing corrections
     to date. N.Y., Harper.

     Nov. 9. A Horse's Tale. N.Y., Harper.

   1909, Apr. 17. Is Shakespeare dead? From my Autobiography. N.Y.,

     Oct. 23. Extract from Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven. N.Y.,


16 November 1839-

   1906, July 28. Joseph Vance: an ill-written Autobiography. London,
     Heinemann. (N.Y., Holt, Sept. 22.)

   1907, June 15. Alice-for-Short: a Dichronism. N.Y., Holt. (London,
     Heinemann, June 29.)

   1908, Feb. 8. Somehow Good. N.Y., Holt. (London, Heinemann, Feb.

   1909, Nov. 16. It Never Can Happen Again. N.Y., Holt. (London,
     Heinemann, 2 v.)


2 June 1840-

   1871, Apr. 1. Desperate Remedies: a Novel. 3 vols. London, Tinsley.

   1872, Dec. 9. Under the Greenwood Tree: a Rural Painting of the
     Dutch School. 2 vols. London, Tinsley.

   1873, June 2. A Pair of Blue Eyes: a Novel. 3 vols. London,
     Tinsley. (_Tinsley's Magazine_, Sept., 1872-July, 1873.)

   1874, Dec. 8. Far from the Madding Crowd. 2 vols. London, Smith,
     Elder. (_Cornhill Magazine_, Jan.-Dec., 1874.)

   1876, Apr. 15. The Hand of Ethelberta: a Comedy in Chapters. 2
     vols. London, Smith, Elder. (_Cornhill Magazine_, July, 1875-May,

   1878, Nov. 16. The Return of the Native. 3 vols. London, Smith,
     Elder. (Belgravia, Jan.-Dec., 1878.)

   1880, Nov. 1. The Trumpet-Major: a Tale. 3 vols. London, Smith,
     Elder. (_Good Words_, Jan.-Dec., 1880.)

   1881, Dec. 31. A Laodicean; or, The Castle of the De Stancys: a
     Story of To-day. 3 vols, London, Low. (_Harper's Magazine_, Jan.,
     1881-Jan., 1882.)

   1882, Nov. 1. Two on a Tower: a Romance. 3 vols. London, Low.
     (_Atlantic Monthly_, May-Dec., 1882.)

   1884, Jan. 25. The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid: a Novel.
     N.Y., Munro. (_Graphic_, Summer No. for 1883.)

   1886, June 1. The Mayor of Casterbridge: the Life and Death of a
     Man of Character. 2 vols. London, Smith, Elder. (_Graphic_, Jan.
     2-May 15, 1886.)

   1887, Apr. 1. The Woodlanders. 3 vols. London, Macmillan.
     (_Macmillan's Magazine_, May, 1886-April, 1887.)

   1888, May 15. Wessex Tales, Strange, Lively, and Commonplace. 2
     vols. London, Macmillan.

   1891, June 6. A Group of Noble Dames. London, Osgood. (_Graphic_,
     Christmas No., 1890.)

     Dec. 12. Tess of the D'Urbervilles: a Pure Woman faithfully
     presented. 3 vols. London, Osgood, 1892 [1891]. (_Graphic_, July
     4-Dec. 26, 1891.)

   1894, Feb. 24. Life's Little Ironies: a Set of Tales. London,

   1895, Nov. 9. Jude the Obscure. London, Osgood. (_Harper's
     Magazine_, Dec., 1894-Nov., 1895. Began as "The Simpletons"; then
     changed its title to "Hearts Insurgent.")

   1897, Mar. 20. The Well-Beloved: A Sketch of a Temperament. London,
     Osgood. (The Pursuit of the Well-Beloved, _Illustrated London
     News_, Oct.-Dec. 1892.)

   1898, Dec. 24. Wessex Poems, and Other Verses. London, Harper.

   1901, Nov. 30. Poems of the Past and the Present. London, Harper.

   1904, Jan. 23. The Dynasts: a Drama of the Napoleonic Wars. Part 1.
     London, Macmillan.

   1906, Feb. 17. The Dynasts. Part 2. Macmillan.

   1908, Feb. 22. The Dynasts. Part 3. Macmillan.


1 March 1837-

   1860. Poems of Two Friends. By John James Piatt and W. D. Howells.
     Columbus, Follett.

     Lives and Speeches of Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin. N.Y.,
     Townsend. [The Biography of Hamlin is by J. L. Hayes.]

   1866, Aug. 15. Venetian Life. N.Y., Hurd.

   1867, Dec. 2. Italian Journeys. N.Y., Hurd.

   1868, Dec. 1. No Love lost: a romance of travel. N.Y. (_Putnam's
     Magazine_, Dec., 1868.)

   1871, Jan. 2. Suburban Sketches. N.Y., Hurd.

   1872, Jan. 1. Their Wedding Journey. Boston, Osgood. (_Atlantic
     Monthly_, July-Dec., 1871.)

   1873, May 10. A Chance Acquaintance. Boston, Osgood. (_Atlantic
     Monthly_, Jan.-June, 1873.)

     Sept. 27. Poems. Boston, Osgood.

   1874, Dec. 5. A Foregone Conclusion. Boston, Osgood, 1875 [1874].
     (_Atlantic Monthly_, July-Dec., 1874.)

   1876, Feb. 12. A Day's Pleasure. Boston, Osgood. (_Atlantic
     Monthly_, July-Sept., 1870.)

     Sept. 16. Sketch of the Life and Character of Rutherford B. Hayes.
     N.Y., Hurd.

     Dec. 9. The Parlor Car: Farce. Boston, Osgood. (_Atlantic Monthly_,
     Sept., 1876.)

   1877, Apr. 28. Out of the Question: a Comedy. Boston, Osgood.
     (_Atlantic Monthly_, Feb.-Apr., 1877.)

     Oct. 13. A Counterfeit Presentment: Comedy. Boston, Osgood
     (_Atlantic Monthly_, Aug.-Oct., 1877.)

   1879, Mar. 1. The Lady of the Aroostook. Boston, Houghton.
     (_Atlantic Monthly_, Nov., 1878-Mar., 1879.)

   1880, June 26. The Undiscovered Country. Boston, Houghton.
     (_Atlantic Monthly_, Jan.-July, 1880.)

   1881, Aug. 6. A Fearful Responsibility, and other Stories. Boston,

     Dec. 10. Doctor Breen's Practice: a Novel. Boston, Osgood.
     (_Atlantic Monthly_, Aug.-Dec., 1881.)

   1882, Oct. 14. A Modern Instance: a Novel. Boston, Osgood.
     (_Century Magazine_, Dec., 1881-Oct., 1882.)

   1883, Apr. 28. The Sleeping-Car: a Farce. Boston, Osgood.
     (_Harper's Christmas_, Dec., 1882.)

     Sept. 29. A Woman's Reason: a Novel. Boston, Osgood. (_Century_,
     Feb.-Oct., 1883.)

     Dec. 22. A Little Girl among the Old Masters, with Introduction and
     Comment by W. D. Howells. Boston, Osgood, 1884 [1883].

   1884, Mar. 22. The Register: Farce. Boston, Osgood. (_Harper's
     Magazine_, Dec., 1884.)

     May 24. Three Villages. Boston, Osgood. Niagara Revisited. Chicago,
     Dalziel. (Suppressed.) (_Atlantic Monthly_, May, 1883.)

   1885, Jan. 31. The Elevator: Farce. Boston, Osgood. (_Harper's
     Magazine_, Dec., 1884.)

     Aug. 22. The Rise of Silas Lapham. Boston, Ticknor. (_Century_,
     Nov., 1884-Aug., 1885.)

     Nov. 7. Tuscan Cities. Boston, Ticknor, 1886 [1885]. (_Century
     Magazine_, Oct., 1885.)

   1886, Jan. 2. The Garroters: Farce. N.Y., Harper. (_Harper's
     Magazine_, Dec., 1885.)

     Feb. 27. Indian Summer. Boston, Ticknor. (_Harper's Magazine_,
     July, 1885-Feb., 1886.)

     Dec. 18. The Minister's Charge; or, The Apprentice-ship of Lemuel
     Barker. Boston, Ticknor, 1887 [1886]. (_Century Magazine_,
     Feb.-Dec., 1886.)

   1887, Oct. 8. Modern Italian Poets: Essays and Versions. N.Y.,

     Dec. 17. April Hopes. N.Y., Harper, 1888 [1887]. (_Harper's
     Magazine_, Feb.-Nov., 1887.)

   1888, Aug. 11. A Sea-Change; or, Love's Stowaway: a lyricated
     Farce. Boston, Ticknor. (_Harper's Weekly_, July 14, 1888.)

     Dec. 22. Annie Kilburn: a Novel. N.Y., Harper, 1889 [1888].
     (_Harper's Magazine_, June-Nov., 1888.)

   1889, Apr. 20. The Mouse-Trap, and other Farces. N.Y., Harper. (The
     Mouse-Trap, _Harper's Magazine_, Dec., 1886.)

     Dec. 7. A Hazard of New Fortunes: a Novel. N.Y., Harper, 1890
     [1889]. (_Harper's Weekly_, Mar. 23-Nov. 16, 1889.)

   1890, June 7. The Shadow of a Dream: a Story. NY., Harper.
     (_Harper's Magazine_, Mar.-May, 1890.)

     Oct. 18. A Boy's Town, described for _Harper's Young People_. N.Y.,
     Harper. (_Harper's Young People_, Apr. 8-Aug. 26, 1890.)

   1891, May 16. Criticism and Fiction. N.Y., Harper. [Selections from
     the "Editor's Study" of _Harper's Magazine_.]

     Oct. 17. The Albany Depot. N.Y., Harper, 1892 [1891]. (_Harper's
     Weekly_, Dec. 14, 1889.)

     Dec. 5. An Imperative Duty: a Novel. N.Y., Harper, 1892 [1891].
     (_Harper's Magazine_, July-Oct., 1891.)

   1892, Apr. 9. The Quality of Mercy: a Novel. N.Y., Harper. (_New
     York_ (_Sunday_) _Sun._)

     Aug. 6. A Letter of Introduction: Farce. N.Y., Harper. (_Harper's
     Magazine_, Jan., 1892.)

     Oct. 8. A Little Swiss Sojourn. N.Y., Harper. (_Harper's Magazine_,
     Feb.-Mar., 1888.)

     Dec. 17. Christmas Every Day, and other Stories told for Children.
     N.Y., Harper, 1893 [1892].

   1893, Apr. 1. The World of Chance: a Novel. N.Y., Harper.
     (_Harper's Magazine_, Mar.-Nov., 1892.)

     May 20. The Unexpected Guests: a Farce. N.Y., Harper. (_Harper's
     Magazine_, Jan., 1893.)

     Oct. 14. My Year in a Log Cabin. N.Y., Harper. (_Youth's

     Nov. 4. Evening Dress: Farce. N.Y., Harper. (_Cosmopolitan
     Magazine_, May, 1892.)

     Nov. 11. The Coast of Bohemia: a Novel. N.Y., Harper. (_Ladies'
     Home Journal_, Dec., 1892-Oct., 1893.)

   1894, June 2. A Traveler from Altruria: Romance. N.Y., Harper.
     (_Cosmopolitan_, Nov., 1892-Oct., 1893.)

   1895, June 22. My Literary Passions. N.Y., Harper. (_Ladies' Home
     Journal_, Dec., 1892-Oct., 1893.)

     Nov. 2. Stops of Various Quills. N.Y., Harper. (Eleven of the poems
     appeared in _Harper's Magazine_, Dec., 1894.)

   1896, Feb. 22. The Day of their Wedding: a Novel. N.Y., Harper.
     (_Harper's Bazaar_, Oct. 5-Nov. 16, 1895.)

     Apr. 11. A Parting and a Meeting: Story. N.Y., Harper.
     (_Cosmopolitan Magazine_, Dec., 1894.)

     Oct. 31. Impressions and Experiences. N.Y., Harper.

   1897, Feb. 20. A Previous Engagement: Comedy. N.Y., Harper.
     (_Harper's Magazine_, Dec., 1895.)

     Apr. 17. The Landlord at Lion's Head: a Novel. N.Y., Harper.
     (_Harper's Weekly_, July 4-Dec. 5, 1896.)

     Sept. 11. An Open-Eyed Conspiracy: an Idyl of Saratoga. N.Y.,
     Harper. (_Century Magazine_, July-Oct., 1896.)

     Dec. 25. Stories of Ohio. N.Y., American Book Co.

   1898, June 25. The Story of a Play: a Novel. N.Y., Harper.
     (_Scribner's Magazine_, Mar.-July, 1897.)

   1899, Feb. 25. Ragged Lady: a Novel. N.Y., Harper.

     Dec. 16. Their Silver Wedding Journey. 2 vols. N.Y., Harper.
     (_Harper's Magazine_, Jan.-Dec., 1899.)

   1900, June 2. Bride Roses: a Scene. Boston, Houghton. June 2. Room
     Forty-five: a Farce. Boston, Houghton.

     Oct. 6. The Smoking Car: a Farce. Boston, Houghton.

     Oct. 6. An Indian Giver: a Comedy. Boston, Houghton. (_Harper's
     Magazine_, Jan., 1897.)

     Dec. 1. Literary Friends and Acquaintance: a Personal Retrospect of
     American Authorship. N.Y., Harper.

   1901, June 1. A Pair of Patient Lovers. N.Y., Harper. (_Harper's
     Magazine_, Nov., 1897.)

     Nov. 2. Heroines of Fiction. 2 vols. N.Y., Harper. (_Harper's
     Bazaar_, May 5, 1900-Oct., 1901.)

   1902, Apr. 26. The Kentons: a Novel. N.Y., Harper.

     Oct. 4. The Flight of Pony Baker: a Boy's Town Story. N.Y., Harper.

     Oct. 25. Literature and Life: Studies. N.Y., Harper.

   1903, June 6. Questionable Shapes. N.Y., Harper.

     Oct. 3. Letters Home. N.Y., Harper.

   1904, Oct. 15. The Son of Royal Langbrith: a Novel. N.Y., Harper.
     (_North American Review_, Jan.-Aug., 1904.)

   1905, June 17. Miss Bellard's Inspiration: a Novel. N.Y., Harper.

     Oct. 21. London Films. N.Y., Harper. (_Harper's Magazine_, Dec.,
     1904-Mar., 1905.)

   1906, Nov. 3. Certain delightful English Towns, with Glimpses of
     the pleasant country between. N.Y., Harper.

   1907, Apr. 27. Through the Eye of the Needle: a Romance. N.Y.,

     June 1. Mulberries in Pay's Garden. Cincinnati, Clarke.

     Nov. 9. Between the Dark and the Daylight: Romances. N.Y., Harper.

   1908, Mar. 21. Fennel and Rue: a Novel. N.Y., Harper.

     Dec. 12. Roman Holidays, and others. N.Y., Harper.

   1909, June 12. The Mother and the Father: Dramatic Passages. N.Y.,
     Harper. (The Mother, in _Harper's Magazine_, Dec., 1902.)

     Nov. 6. Seven English Cities. N.Y., Harper.


30 December 1865-

   1881. Schoolboy Lyrics. Lahore. (Printed for Private Circulation

   1884. Echoes. By Two Writers. Lahore.

   1885. Quartette. The Christmas Annual of the Civil and Military
     Gazette. By four Anglo-Indian Writers. Lahore.

   1886. Departmental Ditties. Lahore.

   1888. Plain Tales from the Hills. Calcutta, Thacker. Soldiers
     Three: a Collection of Stories. Allahabad, Wheeler. The Story of
     the Gadsbys: a Tale without a Plot. Allahabad, Wheeler. In Black
     and White. Allahabad, Wheeler. Under the Deodars. Allahabad,
     Wheeler. The Phantom 'Rickshaw, and other Tales. Allahabad,
     Wheeler. Wee Willie Winkie, and other Child Stories. Allahabad,

   1890, Sept. 6. The Courting of Dinah Shadd, and other Stories.
     N.Y., Harper. The City of Dreadful Night, and other Sketches.
     Allahabad, Wheeler.

   1891. The Smith Administration. Allahabad, Wheeler. Letters of
     Marque. Allahabad, Wheeler.

     Feb. 28. The Light that Failed. London, Macmillan. (_Lippincott's
     Magazine_, Jan., 1891.)

     Aug. 15. Life's Handicap: being stories of mine own people. London,

   1892, May 21. Barrack-Room Ballads, and other Verses. London,

     July 9. The Naulahka: a Story of West and East. By Rudyard Kipling
     and Wolcott Balestier. London, Heinemann. (_Century Magazine_,
     Nov., 1891-July, 1892.)

   1893, June 17. Many Inventions. London, Macmillan.

   1894, June 2. The Jungle Book. London, Macmillan.

   1895. Good Hunting. Pp. 16. London, _Pall Mall Gazette_ office.

     Oct. 26. Out of India: Things I saw, and failed to see, on certain
     Days and Nights at Jeypore and elsewhere. N.Y., Dillingham.

     Nov. 16. The Second Jungle Book. London, Macmillan.

   1896, Nov. 7. Soldier Tales. London, Macmillan.

     Nov. 14. The Seven Seas. London, Methuen.

   1897, Oct. 23. Captains Courageous: a Story of the Grand Banks.
     London, Macmillan.

     Dec. 4. An Almanac of Twelve Sports for 1898. By William Nicholson.
     With accompanying Rhymes by Rudyard Kipling. London, Heinemann.
     White Horses. Pp. 10. London, printed for Private Circulation.

   1898, May. The Destroyers: a new Poem. Pp. 6. London, Ward.

     Sept. 10. Collectanea: being certain reprinted Verses. Pp. 32.
     N.Y., Mansfield.

     Oct. 15. The Day's Work. London, Macmillan.

     Dec. 17. A Fleet in Being: Notes of two Trips with the Channel
     Squadron. London, Macmillan.

   1899, July 1. From Sea to Sea: Letters of Travel. 2 vols. N.Y.,
     Doubleday. (London, Macmillan, Feb. 24, 1900.)

     Oct. 6. Stalky and Co. London, Macmillan.

   1901, Oct. 19. Kim. London, Macmillan.

   1902, Oct. 11. Just So Stories for Little Children. London,

   1903, Oct. 10. The Five Nations. London, Methuen.

   1904, Oct. 15. Traffics and Discoveries. London, Macmillan.

   1909, Oct. 16. Actions and Reactions. N.Y., Doubleday.

     Oct. 16. Abaft the Funnel. N.Y., Dodge. Cuckoo Song. Pp. 3. N.Y.,



   1898, Oct. 8. Owd Bob, the Grey Dog of Kenmuir. London, Methuen.
     (N.Y., Doubleday, Oct. 29, under title "Bob, Son of Battle.")

   1902, Nov. 15. Danny. N.Y., Doubleday. (London, Murray, Feb. 28,
     1903, under title "Danny: Story of a Dandie Dinmont.")

   1907, Oct. 5. Redcoat Captain: A Story of That Country. N.Y.,
     Macmillan. (London, Murray, Oct. 19.)

   1908, Oct. 17. The Gentleman: A Romance of the Sea. N.Y.,
     Macmillan. (London, Murray, Oct. 24.)


4 May 1846-

[Including only works that have been translated into English.]

   1884, Nov. Ogniem i Mieczem. 4 vols. Warsaw.--With Fire and Sword.
     Tr. by Jeremiah Curtin. Boston, Little, Brown & Co., May 17,
     1890.--With Fire and Sword. Tr. by Samuel A. Binion. Phila., Altemus.

   1886. Potop. 6 vols. Warsaw--The Deluge. Tr. by J. Curtin. 2 vols.
     Boston, Little, Dec. 19, 1891.

   1887-1888. Pan Wolodyjowski. 3 vols. Warsaw.--Pan Michael. Tr. by
     J. Curtin. Boston, Little, Dec. 2, 1893.--Pan Michael. Tr. by S.
     A. Binion Phila., Altemus [1898].

   1891, Feb. Bez Dogmatu. 3 vols. Warsaw.--Without Dogma. Tr. by Iza
     Young. Boston, Little, Apr. 15, 1893.

   1895, Apr. Rodzina Polanieckich. 3 vols. Warsaw.--Children of the
     Soil. Tr. by J. Curtin. Boston, Little, June I, 1895.--The Irony
     of Life: the Polanetzki Family. Tr. by Nathan M. Babad. N.Y.,
     Fenno, Apr. 28, 1900.

   1896, Dec. Quo Vadis. 3 vols. Warsaw.--Quo Vadis. Tr. by J.
     Curtin. Boston, Little, Oct. 17, 1896.--Quo Vadis. Tr. by S. A.
     Binion and S. Malevsky. Phila., Altemus, Dec. 18, 1897.--Quo
     Vadis. Tr. by Wm. E. Smith. N. Y., Ogilvie, 1898.

   1900, Nov. Krzyzacy. 4 vols. Warsaw.--Knights of the Cross [Part 1
     only]. Tr. by S. C. de Soissons. N.Y., Fenno, 1897.--Knights of
     the Cross. Tr. by J. Curtin. 2 vols. Boston, Little, 1900. (Vol. 1,
     Jan. 13; Vol. 2, June 9.)--Knights of the Cross. Tr. by S. A.
     Binion. 3 vols. N.Y., Fenno, 1900. (Vols. 1-2, Jan. 20; Vol. 3,
     Dec. 15.)--Knights of the Cross. A special translation. 2 vols.
     N.Y., Street, 1900. (Vol. 1, Apr. 21; Vol. 2, Oct. 6.)--Knights of
     the Cross. Tr. by B. Dahl. N.Y., Ogilvie, Dec. 22, 1900.
     [Abridged.] Warsaw.

   1906, July. Na Polu Chwaly. Warsaw.--On the Field of Glory. Tr. by
     J. Curtin. Boston, Little, Feb. 3, 1906.--The Field of Glory. Tr.
     by Henry Britoff. N.Y., Ogilvie, Apr. 14, 1906.--Field of Glory.
     London, Lane, July 21, 1906.

In addition to the novels listed above, his tales and stories (_Pisma_)
have been collected and published in 41 vols. (Warsaw, 1880-1902.) The
following English translations have been published:--

     Yanko the Musician, and other Stories. Tr. by J. Curtin. Boston,
     Little, Oct. 21, 1893. (_Contents_: Yanko the Musician. The
     Light-house Keeper of Aspinwall. From the Diary of a Tutor in
     Poznan. Comedy of Errors: a Sketch of American Life. Bartek the

     Lillian Morris, and other Stories. Tr. by J. Curtin. Boston,
     Little, Oct. 27, 1894. (_Contents_: Lillian Morris. Sachem. Yamyol.
     The Bull-Fight.)

     Let us follow Him, and other Stories. Tr. by Vatslaf A. Hlasko and
     Thos. H. Bullick. N.Y., Fenno [copyrighted, 1897]. (_Contents_: Let
     us follow Him. Sielanka. Be Blessed. Light in Darkness. Orso.
     Memories of Mariposa.)

     Hania. Tr. by J. Curtin. Boston, Little, Dec. 11, 1897.
     (_Contents_: Prologue to Hania: The Old Servant. Hania. Tartar
     Captivity. Let us follow Him. Be thou Blessed. At the Source.
     Charcoal Sketches. The Organist of Ponikla. Lux in Tenebris Lucet.
     On the Bright Shore. That Third Woman.)

     So runs the World. Tr. by S. C. de Soissons. London and N.Y.,
     Neely, Mar. 19, 1898. (_Contents_: Henryk Sienkiewicz. Zola. Whose
     Fault? The Verdict. Win or Lose.)

     Sielanka, and other stories. From the Polish by J. Curtin. Boston,
     Little, Oct. 29, 1898. (_Contents_: Sielanka: a Forest Picture. For
     Bread. Orso. Whose Fault? The Decision of Zeus. On a Single Card.
     Yanko the Musician. Bartek the Victor. Across the Plains. From the
     Diary of a Tutor in Poznan. The Light-house Keeper of Aspinwall.
     Yamyol. The Bull-Fight. Sachem. A Comedy of Errors. A Journey to
     Athens. Zola.)

     Let us Follow Him, and other Stories. Tr. by S. C. Slupski and I.
     Young. Phila., Altemus [copyrighted, Oct. 24, 1898]. (_Contents_:
     Let us follow Him. Be Blessed. Bartek the Conqueror.)

     For Daily Bread, and other Stories. Tr. by Iza Young. Phila.,
     Altemus [1898]. (_Contents_: For Daily Bread. An Artist's End. A
     Comedy of Errors.)

     Tales from Sienkiewicz. Tr. by S. C. de Soissons. London, Allen,
     Dec. 23, 1899. (_Contents_: A Country Artist. In Bohemia. A Circus
     Hercules. The Decision of Zeus. Anthea. Be Blessed! Whose Fault?
     True to his Art. The Duel.)

     Life and Death, and other Legends and Stories. Tr. by J. Curtin.
     Boston, Little, Apr. 16, 1904. (_Contents_: Life and Death: a Hindu
     Legend. Is He the Dearest One? A Legend of the Sea. The Cranes. The
     Judgment of Peter and Paul on Olympus.)

The following stories have been published separately in English:--

     Let us follow Him. Tr. by J. Curtin. Boston, Little, Dec. 11, 1897.

     After Bread. Tr. by Vatslaf A. Hlasko and Thos. H. Bullick. N.Y.,
     Fenno, June 18, 1898.--Peasants in Exile (For Daily Bread). From
     the Polish by C. O'Conor-Eccles. Notre Dame, Ind., The Ave Maria

     In the New Promised Land. Tr. by S. C. de Soissons. London,
     Jarrold, 1900.

     On the Sunny Shore. Tr. by S. C. de Soissons. N.Y., Fenno.
     [1897].--On the Bright Shore. From the Polish by J. Curtin. Boston,
     Little, June 18, 1898.--On the Bright Shore. To which is added,
     That Third Woman. From the Polish by J. Curtin. Boston, Little,

     In Vain. Tr. by J. Curtin. Boston, Little, June 17, 1899.

     The Third Woman. Tr. by Nathan M. Babad. N.Y., Ogilvie, Apr. 23,

     The Fate of a Soldier. Tr. by J. C. Bay. N.Y., Ogilvie
     [copyrighted, Sept. 3, 1898].--The New Soldier. N.Y., Hurst.

     Hania. Tr. by Vatslaf A. Hlasco and Thos. H. Bullick. N.Y., Fenno.

     In Monte Carlo. Tr. by S. C. de Soissons. London, Greening, Sept.
     16, 1899.

     The Judgment of Peter and Paul on Olympus. To which is added: Be
     thou Blessed. Tr. by J. Curtin. Boston, Little, Nov. 3, 1900.

     Dust and Ashes. N.Y., Hurst.

     Her Tragic Fate. N.Y., Hurst.

     Where Worlds Meet. N.Y., Hurst.


13 November 1850-3 December 1894

   1866. The Pentland Rising: a Page of History, 1666. Pp. 22.
     Edinburgh, Elliot.

   1868. The Charity Bazaar: an allegorical Dialogue. Pp. 4. 4o.
     Edinburgh. (Privately Printed.)

   1871. Notice of a New Form of Intermittent Light for Lighthouses.
     (From the Transactions of the Royal Scottish Society of Arts, Vol.
     8, 1870-1871.) Edinburgh, Neill.

   1873. The Thermal Influence of Forests. (From the Proceedings of
     the Royal Society of Edinburgh.) Edinburgh, Neill.

   1875. An Appeal to the Clergy of the Church of Scotland. Edinburgh,

   1878, May 16. An Inland Voyage. London, Kegan Paul.

     Dec. 18. Edinburgh. Picturesque Notes. London, Seeley, 1879 [1878].

   1879, June 17. Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes. London, Kegan

   1880. Deacon Brodie; or, The Double Life: a Melodrama founded on
     Facts. By W. E. Henley and R. L. Stevenson. (Privately Printed.)

   1881, Apr. 16. Virginibus Puerisque, and other Papers. London,
     Kegan Paul.

     Not I, and other Poems. Pp. 8. Davos, Osbourne.

   1882. Moral Emblems: a second collection of Cuts and Verses. Davos,
     Osbourne. The Story of a Lie. Pp. 80. Haley and Jackson.

     Mar. 15. Familiar Studies of Men and Books. London, Chatto.

     Aug. 1. New Arabian Nights. 2 vols. London, Chatto.

   1883, Dec. 6. Treasure Island. London, Cassell. The Silverado
     Squatters. London, Chatto. (_Century Magazine_, Nov.-Dec., 1883.)

   1884. Admiral Guinea. By W. E. Henley and R. L. Stevenson.
     Edinburgh, Clark. (Printed for Private Circulation.) Beau Austin.
     By W. E. Henley and R. L. Stevenson. (Printed for Private

   1885, Apr. 1. A Child's Garden of Verses. London, Longmans.

     May 15. More New Arabian Nights. The Dynamiter. By R. L. Stevenson
     and Fanny Van de Grift Stevenson. London, Longmans.

     Nov. 16. Prince Otto: a Romance. London, Chatto. (_Longman's
     Magazine_, Apr.-Oct., 1885.) Macaire. By W. E. Henley and R. L.
     Stevenson. (Printed for Private Circulation.)

   1886, Jan. 15. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. London,

     Aug. 2. Kidnapped: being Memoirs of the Adventures of David Balfour
     in the year 1751. London, Cassell.

     Some College Memories. Edinburgh. (30 copies Privately Printed.)

   1887, Feb. 15. The Merry Men, and other Tales and Fables. London,

     Sept. 1. Underwoods. London, Chatto.

     Dec. 6. Memories and Portraits. London, Chatto. Ticonderoga.
     Edinburgh, Clark. (50 copies printed for the author.) Thomas
     Stevenson, Civil Engineer. (For Private Distribution.)

   1888, Jan. 16. Memoir of Fleeming Jenkin. (Prefixed to Papers of
     Fleeming Jenkin.) London, Longmans.

     Aug. 15. The Black Arrow: a Tale of the Two Roses. London, Cassell.
     (_Young Folks._)

   1889, July 1. The Wrong Box. By R. L. Stevenson and Lloyd Osbourne.
     London, Longmans.

     Sept. 16. The Master of Ballantrae: a Winter's Tale. London,
     Cassell. (_Scribner's Magazine_, Nov., 1888-Oct., 1889.)

   1890, Mar. Father Damien: an open Letter to the Reverend Dr. Hyde
     of Honolulu. Pp. 32. Sydney. (Privately Printed Edition of 25
     copies.) The South Seas. (Privately Printed.) Ballads. London,
     Chatto. (Large paper; 190 copies.)

   1892, April 16. Across the Plains; with other Memories and Essays.
     London, Chatto.

     July 9. The Wrecker. By R. L. Stevenson and Lloyd Osbourne. London,
     Cassell. (_Scribner's Magazine_, Aug., 1891-July, 1892.)

     Aug. 20. The Beach of Falesa, and The Bottle Imp. London, Cassell.

     Aug. 27. A Footnote to History: Eight Years of Trouble in Samoa.
     London, Cassell.

     Dec. 17. Three Plays. Deacon Brodie. Beau Austin. Admiral Guinea.
     By W. E. Henley and R. L. Stevenson. London, Nutt. An Object of
     Pity, or the Man Haggard. Imprinted at Amsterdam. [1892.] (For
     Private Distribution.)

   1893, Apr. 15. Island Nights' Entertainments. London, Cassell.

     Sept. 9. Catriona: a Sequel to "Kidnapped." London, Cassell.

     Sept. War in Samoa. Reprinted from the _Pall Mall Gazette_.

   1894, Sept. 22. The Ebb-Tide: a Trio and a Quartette. By R. L.
     Stevenson and Lloyd Osbourne. London, Heinemann. (_McClure's
     Magazine_, Feb.-July, 1894.)

     Nov. 10. The Suicide Club and The Rajah's Diamond. London, Chatto.

   1895, Mar. 2. The Amateur Emigrant from the Clyde to Sandy Hook.
     Chicago, Stone & Kimball.

     Nov. 9. Vailima Letters. Being Correspondence addressed by R. L.
     Stevenson to Sidney Colvin, Nov., 1890-Oct., 1894. London, Methuen.

   1896, May 23. Weir of Hermiston: an unfinished Romance. London,

     Sept. 5. Songs of Travel, and other Verses. London, Chatto.
     Familiar Epistles in Verse and Prose. Pp. 18. (Printed for Private

     A Mountain Town in France: a Fragment. Pp. 20. London, Lane.

   1897, Oct. 9. St. Ives: being the Adventures of a French Prisoner
     in England. London, Heinemann, 1898 [1897].

   1898, Feb. 26. Macaire: a melodramatic Farce. By W. E. Henley and
     R. L. Stevenson. London, Heinemann.

     Apr. 16. A Lowden Sabbath Morn. London, Chatto. Æs Triplex. Printed
     for the American Subscribers to the Stevenson Memorial.

   1899, Nov. 18. Letters to his Family and Friends, selected and
     edited by Sidney Colvin. 2 vols. London, Methuen.

   1900, Dec. 22. In the South Seas: Account of Experiences and
     Observations in the Marquesas, Paumotus, and Gilbert Islands during
     two cruises on the Yacht "Casco," 1888, and the Schooner "Equator,"
     1889. London, Chatto.


30 September 1857-

   1886, Im Zwielicht: Zwanglose Geschichten. Berlin.

   1887, Feb. 10. Frau Sorge: Roman. Berlin.--Dame Care. Tr. by
     Bertha Overbeck. London, Osgood, 1891; N.Y., Harper, 1891.

   1888, Jan. 19. Geschwister: Zwei Novellen. Berlin.--The Wish: a
     Novel. Tr. by Lily Henkel. London, Unwin, Nov. 3, 1894.

   1890, Jan. 9. Der Katzensteg: Roman. Berlin.--Regine. From the
     German by H. E. Miller. Chicago, Weeks, 1894.--Regina; or, The
     Sins of the Fathers. Tr. by Beatrice Marshall. London and N.Y.,
     Lane, 1898. Die Ehre: Schauspiel. Berlin.

   1891, Mar. 26. Sodoms Ende: Drama. Berlin.

   1892, June 2. Iolanthes Hochzeit: Erzählung. Stuttgart.

   1893, Mar. 23. Heimat: Schauspiel. Stuttgart.--Magda. Tr. by C. E.
     A. Winslow. Boston, Lamson, 1896.

   1894, Dec. 6. Es war: Roman. Stuttgart.--The Undying Past. Tr. by
     Beatrice Marshall. London, N.Y., Lane, 1906.

   1895, June 27. Die Schmetterlingschlacht: Komödie. Stuttgart.

   1896, Apr. 30. Das Glück im Winkel: Schauspiel. Stuttgart.

     Dec. 3. Morituri: Teja, Fritzchen, Das Ewigmännliche.
     Stuttgart.--Teias. Tr. by Mary Harned. (_Poet-Lore_, July-Sept.,

   1898, Jan. 27. Johannes: Tragödie. Stuttgart.--Johannes. Tr. by W.
     H. Harned and Mary Harned. (_Poet-Lore_, Apr.-June, 1899.)--John
     the Baptist. Tr. by Beatrice Marshall. London, N. Y., Lane, 1909

   1899, Feb. 9. Die drei Reiherfedern: ein dramatisches Gedicht.
     Stuttgart.--Three Heron's Feathers. Tr. by H. T. Porter.
     (_Poet-Lore_, Apr.-June, 1900.)

   1900, May 23. Drei Reden. Pp. 47. Stuttgart.

     Oct. 25. Johannisfeuer: Schauspiel. Stuttgart.--Fires of St. John.
     Tr. by Charlotte

     Porter and H. C. Porter. (_Poet-Lore_, Jan.-Mar., 1904.)--Fires of
     St. John. Tr. and adapted by Charles Swickard. Boston, Luce, Nov.
     19, 1904.--St. John's Fire. Tr. by Grace E. Polk. Minneapolis,
     Wilson, June 17, 1905.

   1902, Feb. 27. Es lebe das Leben: Drama. Stuttgart.--The Joy of
     Living. Tr. by Edith Wharton. N.Y., Scribner, Nov. 8, 1902.

     Dec. 25. Verrohung in der Theaterkritik: Zeitgemässe Betrachtungen.

   1903, Oct. 22. Der Sturmgeselle Sokrates: Komödie. Stuttgart.

     Nov. 12. Die Sturmgesellen: Ein Wort zur Abwehr. Pp. 27. Berlin.

   1905, Oct. 19. Stein unter Steinen: Schauspiel. Stuttgart.

     Nov. 16. Das Blumenboot: Schauspiel. Stuttgart.

   1907, Oct. 24. Rosen: Vier Einakter. Stuttgart.--Roses. Tr. by
     Grace Frank. N.Y., Scribner, Oct. 9, 1909.

   1908, Dec. 3. Das hohe Lied: Roman. Stuttgart.--The Song of Songs.
     Tr. by Thomas Seltzer. N.Y., Huebsch, Dec., 1909.


(Mary Augusta Arnold)

11 June 1851-

   1881, Dec. 17. Milly and Olly; or, A Holiday among the Mountains.
     London, Macmillan.

   1884, Dec. 15. Miss Bretherton. London, Macmillan.

   1885, Dec. 31. Amiel's Journal Intime, translated by Mrs. Humphry
     Ward. 2 vols. London, Macmillan.

   1888, Mar. 1. Robert Elsmere. 3 vols. London, Smith, Elder.

   1891, Mar. 14. University Hall: Opening Address. Pp. 45. London,
     Smith, Elder.

   1892, Jan. 23. The History of David Grieve. 3 vols. London, Smith,

   1894, Apr. 7. Marcella. 3 vols. London, Smith, Elder.

     Aug. 4. Unitarians and the Future: the Essex Hall Lecture, 1894.
     Pp. 72. London, Green.

   1895, July 6. The Story of Bessie Costrell. London, Smith, Elder.
     (_Cornhill Magazine_, May-July, 1895; _Scribner's Magazine_,
     May-July, 1895.)

   1896, Oct. 3. Sir George Tressady. London, Smith, Elder. (_Century
     Magazine_, Nov., 1895-Oct. 1896.)

   1898, June 11. Helbeck of Bannisdale. London, Smith, Elder.

   1900, Nov. 10. Eleanor. London, Smith, Elder. (_Harper's Magazine_,
     Jan.-Dec., 1900.)

   1903, Mar. 21. Lady Rose's Daughter. London, Smith, Elder.
     (_Harper's Magazine_, May, 1902-Apr., 1903.)

   1905, Mar. 18. The Marriage of William Ashe. London, Smith, Elder.
     (_Harper's Magazine_, June, 1904-May, 1905.)

   1906, Mar. 3. Play-Time of the Poor. Reprinted from the _Times_.
     London, Smith, Elder.

     May 12. Fenwick's Career. London, Smith, Elder.

   1907, Apr. 27. William Thomas Arnold, Journalist and Historian, by
     Mrs. Humphry Ward and C. E. Montague. Manchester, Sherratt.
     (Originally published on Feb. 23 as preface to W. T. Arnold's
     Fragmentary Studies on Roman Imperialism.)

   1908, Sept. 19. Diana Mallory. London, Smith, Elder. (The Testing
     of Diana Mallory, _Harper's Magazine_, Nov., 1907-Oct., 1908.)

   1909, May 29. Daphne; or, Marriage à la Mode. London, Cassell.
     (N.Y., Doubleday, June 5, under title "Marriage à la Mode.")
     (_McClure's Magazine_, Jan.-June, 1909.)


     A Certain Rich Man

     _Cloth, 12mo, $1.50_

     Dr. Washington Gladden considered this book of sufficient
     importance to take it and the text from which the title was drawn
     as his subject for an entire sermon, in the course of which he
     said: "In its ethical and social significance it is the most
     important piece of fiction that has lately appeared in America. I
     do not think that a more trenchant word has been spoken to this
     nation since 'Uncle Tom's Cabin.' And it is profoundly to be hoped
     that this book may do for the prevailing Mammonism what 'Uncle
     Tom's Cabin' did for slavery."

     "Mr. White has written a big and satisfying book made up of the
     elements of American life as we know them--the familiar humor,
     sorrows, ambitions, crimes, sacrifices--revealed to us with
     peculiar freshness and vigor in the multitude of human actions and
     by the crowd of delightful people who fill his four hundred odd
     pages.... It deserves a high place among the novels that deal with
     American life. No recent American novel save one has sought to
     cover so broad a canvas, or has created so strong an impression of
     ambition and of sincerity."--_Chicago Evening Post._


     Other People's Houses

     _Cloth, 12mo, $1.50_

     "'Other People's Houses' possesses that distinction of style in
     which most of our current American fiction is so lamentably
     deficient, and it has in addition the advantage of a theme which is
     a grateful relief from the usual saccharine love story admittedly
     designed to suit the caramel age.... Miss Dewing has a fine feeling
     for comedy and gives evidence of both genuine talent and a fresh
     and vivid outlook upon life."--_New York Times._

     "It is a story rich in atmosphere, in allusion, and in vistas....
     The story is full of action. The characters have virility and in
     certain instances charm, and the course of the story awakens no
     little concern on the part of the reader. An interesting, varied,
     and amusing group of persons is presented, and, ... take it for all
     in all, it is a work of taste, discrimination, and power.... Its
     publishers may congratulate themselves on having come upon another
     oasis in the present desert of American fiction."--_Chicago

     "If an unknown author is to keep an entire novel to this level,
     that author will be unknown no longer, but at a single bound has
     reached the height, not only of good American novelists, but of any
     novelist doing fiction in these days."--_Chicago Post._



  64-66 Fifth Avenue, New York




     _Illustrated, cloth, 12mo, $1.50,_

     "Schools of fiction have come and gone, but Mr. Crawford has always
     remained in favor. There are two reasons for his continued
     popularity; he always had a story to tell and he knew how to tell
     it. He was a born story teller, and what is more rare, a trained
     one."--_The Independent._

     The White Sister

     _Illustrated cloth, 12mo, $1.50_

     "Mr. Crawford tells his love story with plenty of that dramatic
     instinct which was ever one of his best gifts. We are, as always,
     absorbed and amused."--_New York Tribune._

     "Good stirring romance, simple and poignant."--_Chicago Record

     "His people are always vividly real, invariably
     individual."--_Boston Transcript._



     _Cloth, 12mo, $1.50_

     "An able book, remarkably so, and one which should find a place in
     the library of any woman who is not a fool."--_Editorial in the New
     York American._

     A Life for a Life

     _Cloth, 12mo, $1.50_

     Mr. W. D. Howells says in the _North American Review_: "What I
     should finally say of his work is that it is more broadly based
     than that of any other American novelist of his generation.... Mr.
     Herrick's fiction is a force for the higher civilization, which to
     be widely felt, needs only to be widely known."


     The Bride of the Mistletoe

     _Cloth, 12mo, $1.25_

     "He has achieved a work of art more complete in expression than
     anything that has yet come from him. It is like a cry of the soul,
     so intense one scarcely realizes whether it is put into words or


     Mr. Crewe's Career

     _Illustrated, cloth, 12mo, $1.50_

     "Mr. Churchill rises to a level he has never known before and gives
     us one of the best stories of American life ever written; ... it is
     written out of a sympathy that goes deep.... We go on to the end
     with growing appreciation.... It is good to have such a
     book."--_New York Tribune._

     "American realism, American romance, and American doctrine, all
     overtraced by the kindliest, most appealing American humor."--_New
     York World._


     The Romance of a Plain Man

     _Cloth, 12mo, $1.50_

     "To any one who has a genuine interest in American literature there
     is no pleasanter thing than to see the work of some good American
     writer strengthening and deepening year by year as has the work of
     Miss Ellen Glasgow. From the first she has had the power to tell a
     strong story, full of human interest, but as the years have passed
     and her work has continued it has shown an increasing mellowness
     and sympathy. This is particularly evident in 'The Romance of a
     Plain Man.'"--_Chicago Daily Tribune._


     Martin Eden

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     The stirring story of a man who rises by force of sheer ability and
     perseverance from the humblest beginning to a position of fame and
     influence. The elemental strength, the vigor and determination of
     Martin Eden, make him the most interesting character that Mr.
     London has ever created. The plan of the novel permits the author
     to cover a wide sweep of society, the contrasting types of his
     characters giving unfailing variety and interest to the story of
     Eden's love and fight.


     Friendship Village

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     "As charming as an April day, all showers and sunshine, and
     sometimes both together, so that the delighted reader hardly knows
     whether laughter or tears are fittest for his emotion.... The book
     will stir the feelings deeply."--_New York Times._

     To be followed by "Friendship Village Love Stories."


     A Gentle Knight of Old Brandenburg

     _Illustrated, cloth, 12mo, $1.50_

     Mr. Major has selected a period to the romance of which other
     historical novelists have been singularly blind. The boyhood of
     Frederick the Great and the strange wooing of his charming sister
     Wilhelmina have afforded a theme, rich in its revelation of human
     nature and full of romantic situations.


     Poppea of the Post Office

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     "A rainbow romance, ... tender yet bracing, cheerily stimulating
     ... its genial entirety refreshes like a cooling shower."--_Chicago
     Record Herald._

     "There cannot be too many of these books by 'Barbara.' Mrs. Wright
     knows good American stock through and through and presents it with
     effective simplicity."--_Boston Advertiser._



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     Whenever a father's ideals conflict with a mother's hopes for the
     son of their dreams, you meet the currents underlying the plot of
     "Sebastian." Its author's skill in making vividly real the types
     and conditions of London has never been shown to better advantage.


     The Three Brothers

     _Cloth, 12mo, $1.50_

     "'The Three Brothers' seems to us the best yet of the long series
     of these remarkable Dartmoor tales. If Shakespeare had written
     novels we can think that some of his pages would have been like
     some of these. Here certainly is language, turn of humor,
     philosophical play, vigor of incident, such as might have come
     straight from Elizabeth's day.... The book is full of a very moving
     interest and is agreeable and beautiful."--_The New York Sun._




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     3. Page 293: A closing parenthesis was added in the phrase (N.Y.,
     Doubleday, June 5, under title "Marriage à la Mode.")

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