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Title: The English Novel - And the Principle of its Development
Author: Lanier, Sidney, 1842-1881
Language: English
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                             ENGLISH NOVEL

                                AND THE

                      PRINCIPLE OF ITS DEVELOPMENT


                             SIDNEY LANIER

                     "THE SCIENCE OF ENGLISH VERSE"

                                NEW YORK
                        CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

                        GRANT, FAIRES & RODGERS,

       *       *       *       *       *


The following chapters were originally delivered as public lectures at
Johns Hopkins University, in the winter and spring of 1881. Had Mr.
Lanier lived to prepare them for the press, he would probably have
recast them to some extent; but the present editor has not felt free
to make any changes from the original manuscript, beyond the omission
of a few local and occasional allusions, and the curtailment of
several long extracts from well-known writers.

Although each is complete in itself, this work and its foregoer, _The
Science of English Verse_, were intended to be parts of a
comprehensive philosophy of formal and substantial beauty in
literature, which, unhappily, the author did not live to develop.

W. H. B.

       *       *       *       *       *





The series of lectures which I last had the pleasure of delivering in
this hall was devoted to the exposition of what is beyond doubt the
most remarkable, the most persistent, the most wide-spread, and the
most noble of all those methods of arranging words and ideas in
definite relations, which have acquired currency among men--namely,
the methods of verse, or Formal Poetry. That exposition began by
reducing all possible phenomena of verse to terms of vibration; and
having thus secured at once a solid physical basis for this science,
and a precise nomenclature in which we could talk intelligibly upon
this century-befogged subject, we advanced gradually from the most
minute to the largest possible considerations upon the matter in hand.

Now, wishing that such courses as I might give here should preserve a
certain coherence with each other, I have hoped that I could secure
that end by successively treating The Great Forms of Modern
Literature; and, wishing further to gain whatever advantage of
entertainment for you may lie in contrast and variety, I have thought
that inasmuch as we have already studied the Verse-Form in General, we
might now profitably study some great Prose-Forms in Particular, and
in still further contrast; that we might study that form not so much
_analytically_--as when we developed the _Science_ of Formal Poetry
from a single physical principle--but this time synthetically, from
the point of view of literary _art_ rather than of literary science.

I am further led to this general plan by the consideration that so far
as I know--but my reading in this direction is not wide, and I may be
in error--there is no book extant in any language which gives a
conspectus of all those well-marked and widely-varying literary forms
which have differentiated themselves in the course of time, and of the
curious and subtle needs of the modern civilized man which, under the
stress of that imperious demand for expression which all men's
emotions make, have respectively determined the modes of such
expression to be in one case _The Novel_, in another _The Sermon_, in
another _The Newspaper Leader_, in another _The Scientific Essay_, in
another _The Popular Magazine Article_, in another _The
Semi-Scientific Lecture_, and so on: each of these prose-forms, you
observe, having its own limitations and fitnesses quite as
well-defined as the Sonnet-Form, the Ballad-Form, the Drama-Form, and
the like in verse.

And, with this general plan, a great number of considerations which I
hope will satisfactorily emerge as we go on, lead me irresistibly to
select the Novel as the particular prose-form for our study.

It happens, indeed, that over and above the purely literary interest
which would easily give this form the first place in such a series as
the present, the question of the Novel has just at this time become
one of the most pressing and vital of all the practical problems
which beset our moral and social economy.

The novel,--what we call the novel--is a new invention. It is
customary to date the first English novel with Richardson in 1740; and
just as it has been impossible to confine other great inventions to
the service of virtue--for the thief can send a telegram to his pal as
easily as the sick man to his doctor, and the locomotive spins along
no less merrily because ten car-loads of rascals may be profiting by
its speed--so vice as well as virtue has availed itself of the
novel-form, and we have such spectacles as Scott, and Dickens, and
Eliot, and Macdonald, using this means to purify the air in one place,
while Zola, in another, applies the very same means to defiling the
whole earth and slandering all humanity under the sacred names of
"naturalism," of "science," of "physiology." Now I need not waste time
in descanting before this audience upon the spread of the novel among
all classes of modern readers: while I have been writing this, a
well-considered paper on "Fiction in our Public Libraries," has
appeared in the current _International Review_, which, among many
suggestive statements, declares that out of pretty nearly five
millions (4,872,595) of volumes circulated in five years by the Boston
Public Library, nearly four millions (3,824,938), that is about
four-fifths, were classed as "Juveniles and Fiction;" and merely
mentioning the strength which these figures gain when considered along
with the fact that they represent the reading of a people supposed to
be more "solid" in literary matter than any other in the country--if
we inquire into the proportion at Baltimore, I fancy I have only to
hold up this copy of James's _The American_, which I borrowed the
other day from the Mercantile Library, and which I think I may say,
after considerable rummaging about the books of that institution,
certainly bears more marks of "circulation" than any solid book in it.
In short, as a people, the novel is educating us. Thus we cannot take
any final or secure solace in the discipline and system of our schools
and universities until we have also learned to regulate this
fascinating universal teacher which has taken such hold upon all
minds, from the gravest scholar down to the boot-black shivering on
the windy street corner over his dime-novel,--this educator whose
principles are fastening themselves upon your boy's mind, so that long
after he has forgotten his _amo_ and his _tupto_, they will be
controlling his relations to his fellow-man, and determining his
happiness for life.

But we can take no really effective action upon this matter until we
understand precisely what the novel is and means; and it is,
therefore, with the additional pleasure of stimulating you to
systematize and extend your views upon a living issue which demands
your opinion, that I now invite you to enter with me, without further
preliminary, upon a series of studies in which it is proposed, first,
to inquire what is that special relation of the novel to the modern
man, by virtue of which it has become a paramount literary form; and,
secondly, to illustrate this abstract inquiry, when completed, by some
concrete readings in the greatest of modern English novelists.

In the course of this inquiry I shall be called on to bring before you
some of the very largest conceptions of which the mind is capable; and
inasmuch as several of the minor demonstrations will begin somewhat
remotely from the Novel, it will save me many details which would be
otherwise necessary, if I indicate in a dozen words the four special
lines of development along one or other of which I shall be always

My first line will concern itself with the enormous growth in the
personality of man which our time reveals when compared, for instance,
with the time of Æschylus.

I shall insist with the utmost reverence that between every human
being and every other human being exists a radical, unaccountable,
inevitable difference from birth; this sacred Difference between man
and man, by virtue of which I am I, and you are you; this marvellous
separation which we express by the terms "personal identity,"
"self-hood," "me,"--it is the unfolding of this, I shall insist, which
since the time of Æschylus (say) has wrought all those stupendous
changes in the relation of man to God, to physical nature, and to his
fellow, which have culminated in the modern cultus. I can best bring
upon you the length and breadth of this idea of modern personality as
I conceive it, by stating it in terms which have recently been made
prominent and familiar by the discussion as to the evolution of
genius; a phase of which appears in a very agreeable paper by Mr. John
Fiske in a recent _Atlantic Monthly_ on "Sociology and Hero Worship."
Says Mr. Fiske, in a certain part of this article, "Every species of
animals or plants consists of a great number of individuals which are
nearly, but not exactly alike. Each individual varies slightly in one
characteristic or another from a certain type which expresses the
average among all the individuals of the species.... Now the moth with
his proboscis twice as long as the average ... is what we call a
spontaneous variation; and the Darwin or the Helmholtz is what we call
a 'genius'; and the analogy between the two kinds of variation is
obvious enough." He proceeds in another place: "We cannot tell why a
given moth has a proboscis exactly an inch and a quarter in length,
any more than we can tell why Shakspeare was a great dramatist,"
there being absolutely no precedent conditions by which the most
ardent evolutionist could evolve William Shakspeare, for example, from
old John Shakspeare and his wife. "The social philosopher must simply
accept geniuses as data, just as Darwin accepts his spontaneous

But now if we reflect upon this prodigious series of spontaneous
variations which I have called the sacred difference between man and
man,--this personality which every father and mother are astonished at
anew every day, when out of six children they perceive that each one
of the six, from the very earliest moment of activity, has shown his
own distinct individuality, differing wholly from either parent; the
child who most resembles the parent physically, often having a
personality which crosses that of the parent at the sharpest angles;
this radical, indestructible, universal personality which entitles
every "me" to its privacy, which has in course of time made the
Englishman's house his castle, which has developed the Rights of Man,
the American Republic, the supreme prerogative of the woman to say
whom she will love, what man she shall marry; this personality, so
precious that not even the miserablest wretch with no other possession
_but_ his personality has ever been brought to say he would be willing
to exchange it entire for that of the happiest being; this personality
which has brought about that, whereas in the time of Æschylus the
common man was simply a creation of the State, like a modern
corporation with rights and powers strictly limited by the State's
charter, now he is a genuine sovereign who makes the State, a king as
to every minutest particle of his individuality so long as that
kinghood does not cross the kinghood of his fellow,--when we reflect
upon _this_ awful spontaneous variation of personality, this "mystery
in us which calls itself _I_" (as Thomas Carlyle has somewhere called
it), which makes every man scientifically a human atom, yet an atom
endowed above all other atoms with the power to choose its own mode of
motion, its own combining equivalent,--when farther we reflect upon
the relation of each human atom to each other human atom, and to the
great Giver of personalities to these atoms,--how each is indissolubly
bound to each, and to Him, and yet how each is discretely parted and
impassably separated from each and from Him by a gulf which is simply
no less deep than the width between the finite and the infinite,--when
we reflect, finally, that it is this simple, indivisible, radical,
indestructible, new force which each child brings into the world under
the name of its _self_; which controls the whole life of that child,
so that its path is always a resultant of its own individual force on
the one hand, and of the force of its surrounding circumstances on the
other,--we are bound to confess, it seems to me, that such spontaneous
variations carry us upon a plane of mystery very far above those
merely unessential variations of the offspring from the parental type
in physique, and even above those rare abnormal variations which we
call genius.

In meditating upon this matter, I found a short time ago a poem of
Tennyson's floating about the newspapers, which so beautifully and
reverently chants this very sense of personality, that I must read you
a line or two from it. I have since observed that much fun has been
made of this piece, and I have seen elaborate burlesques upon it. But
I think such an attitude could be possible only to one who had not
passed along this line of thought. At any rate the poem seemed to me a
very noble and rapturous hymn to the great Personality above us,
acknowledging the mystery of our own personalities as finitely
dependent upon, and yet so infinitely divided from His Personality.

This poem is called _De Profundis--Two Greetings_, and is addressed to
a new-born child. I have time to read only a line or two here and
there; you will find the whole poem much more satisfactory. Please
observe, however, the ample, comforting phrases and summaries with
which Tennyson expresses the poetic idea of that personality which I
have just tried to express from the point of view of science, of the

    Out of the deep, my child, out of the deep,
    When all that was to be in all that was
    Whirl'd for a million æons thro' the vast
    Waste dawn of multitudinous-eddying light--

           *       *       *       *       *

    Thro' all this changing world of changeless law.
    And every phase of ever-heightening life,
    Thou comest.

           *       *       *       *       *

                        O, dear Spirit, half-lost
    In thine own shadows and this fleshly sign
    That thou art thou--who wailest, being born
    And banish'd into mystery and the pain
    Of this divisible-indivisible world.

           *       *       *       *       *

                                  Our mortal veil
    And shatter'd phantom of that infinite One
    Who made thee inconceivably thyself
    Out of his whole world--self and all in all--
    Live thou, and of the grain and husk, the grape
    And ivy berry choose; and still depart
    From death to death thro' life and life, and find--

           *       *       *       *       *

    This main miracle, that thou art thou,
    With power on thy own act and on the world.
    We feel we are nothing--for all is Thou and in Thee;
    We feel we are something--that also has come from Thee;
    We are nothing, O Thou--but Thou wilt help us to be;
    Hallowed be Thy name--Hallelujah!

I find some expressions here which give me great satisfaction: The
Infinite One who made thee inconceivably thyself; this divisible,
indivisible world, this main miracle that thou art thou, etc.

Now it is with this "main miracle," that I am I, and you, you--with
this personality, that my first train of thought will busy itself; and
I shall try to show by several concrete illustrations from the lines
and between the lines of Æschylus and Plato and the like writers,
compared with several modern writers, how feeble the sense and
influence of it is in their time as contrasted with ours.

In my second line of development, I shall call your attention to what
seems to me a very remarkable and suggestive fact: to-wit, that
Physical Science, Music, and the Novel, all take their rise at the
same time; of course, I mean what we moderns call science, music, and
the novel. For example, if we select, for the sake of well-known
representative names, Sir Isaac Newton (1642), John Sebastian Bach
(1685), and Samuel Richardson (1689), the first standing for the rise
of modern science, the second for the rise of modern music, the third
for the rise of the modern novel, and observe that these three men are
born within fifty years of each other, we cannot fail to find
ourselves in the midst of a thousand surprising suggestions and
inferences. For in our sweeping arc from Æschylus to the present time,
fifty years subtend scarcely any space; we may say then these men are
born together. And here the word accident has no meaning. Time,
progress, then, have no accident.

Now in this second train of thought I shall endeavor to connect these
phenomena with the principle of personality developed in the first
train, and shall try to show that this science, music, and the novel,
are flowerings-out of that principle in various directions; for
instance, each man in this growth of personality feeling himself in
direct and personal relations with physical nature (not in relations
obscured by the vague intermediary, hamadryads and forms of the Greek
system), a general desire to know the exact truth about nature arises;
and this desire carried to a certain enthusiasm in the nature of given
men--behold the man of science; a similar feeling of direct personal
relation to the Unknown, acting similarly upon particular men,--behold
the musician, and the ever-increasing tendency of the modern to
worship God in terms of music; likewise, a similar feeling of direct
personal relation to each individual member of humanity, high or low,
rich or poor, acting similarly, gives us such a novel as the _Mill on
the Floss_, for instance, when for a long time we find ourselves
interested in two mere children--Tom and Maggie Tulliver--or such
novels as those of Dickens and his fellow-host who have called upon
our human relation to poor, unheroic people.

In my third train of thought, I shall attempt to show that the
increase of personalities thus going on has brought about such
complexities of relation that the older forms of expression were
inadequate to them; and that the resulting necessity has developed the
wonderfully free and elastic form of the modern novel out of the more
rigid Greek drama, through the transition form of the Elizabethan

And, fourthly, I shall offer copious readings from some of the most
characteristic modern novels, in illustration of the general
principles thus brought forward.

Here,--as the old preacher Hugh Latimer grimly said in closing one of
his powerful descriptions of future punishment,--you see your fare.

Permit me, then, to begin the execution of this plan by bringing
before you two matters which will be conveniently disposed of in the
outset, because they affect all these four lines of thought in
general, and because I find the very vaguest ideas prevailing about
them among those whose special attention happens not to have been
called this way.

As to the first point; permit me to remind you how lately these prose
forms have been developed in our literature as compared with the forms
of verse. Indeed, abandoning the thought of any particular forms of
prose, consider for how long a time good English poetry was written
before any good English prose appears. It is historical that as far
back as the seventh century Cædmon is writing a strong English poem in
an elaborate form of verse. Well-founded conjecture carries us back
much farther than this; but without relying upon that, we have clear
knowledge that all along the time when _Beowulf_ and _The
Wanderer_--to me one of the most artistic and affecting of English
poems--and _The Battle of Maldon_ are being written, all along the
time when Cædmon and Aldhelm and the somewhat mythical Cynewulf are
singing, formal poetry or verse has reached a high stage of artistic
development. But not only so; after the Norman change is consummated,
and our language has fairly assimilated that tributary stock of words
and ideas and influences; the _poetic_ advance, the development of
verse, goes steadily on.

If you examine the remains of our lyric poetry written along in the
twelfth and thirteenth centuries--short and unstudied little songs as
many of them are, songs which come upon us out of that obscure period
like brief little bird-calls from a thick-leaved wood--if, I say, we
examine these songs, written as many of them are by nobody in
particular, it is impossible not to believe that a great mass of
poetry, some of which must have been very beautiful, was written in
the two hundred years just before Chaucer, and that an extremely small
proportion of it can have come down to us.

But, in all this period, where is the piece of English prose that
corresponds with _The Wanderer_, or with the daintier Cuckoo-Song of
the early twelfth century? In point of fact, we cannot say that even
the conception of an artistic prose has occurred to English literary
endeavor until long after Chaucer. King Alfred's Translations, the
English Chronicle, the Homilies of Ælfric, are simple and clear
enough; and, coming down later, the English Bible set forth by Wyclif
and his contemporaries. Wyclif's sermons and tracts, and Mandeville's
account of his travels are effective enough, each to its own end. But
in all these the form is so far overridden by the direct pressing
purpose, either didactic or educational, that--with exceptions I
cannot now specify in favor of the Wyclif Bible--I can find none of
them in which the prose seems controlled by considerations of beauty.
Perhaps the most curious and interesting proof I could adduce of the
obliviousness of even the most artistic Englishman in this time to the
possibility of a melodious and uncloying English prose, is the prose
work of Chaucer. While, so far as concerns the mere music of verse, I
cannot call Chaucer a great artist, yet he was the greatest of his
time; from him, therefore, we have the right to expect the best
craftsmanship in words; for all fine prose depends as much upon its
rhythms and correlated proportions as fine verse; and, _now_, since we
have an art of prose, it is a perfect test of the real excellence of
a poet in verse to try his corresponding excellence in prose. But in
Chaucer's time there is no art of English prose. Listen, for example,
to the first lines of that one of Chaucer's Canterbury series which he
calls _The Parson's Tale_, and which is in prose throughout. It
happens very pertinently to my present discussion that in the prologue
to this tale some conversation occurs which reveals to us quite
clearly a current idea of Chaucer's time as to the proper distinction
between prose and verse--or "rym"--and as to the functions and
subject-matter peculiarly belonging to each of these forms; and, for
that reason, let me preface my quotation from the _Parson's Tale_ with
a bit of it. As the Canterbury Pilgrims are jogging merrily along,
presently it appears that but one more tale is needed to carry out the
original proposition, and so the ever-important Host calls on the
Parson for it, as follows:

    As we were entryng at a thropes ende,
    For while our Hoost, as he was wont to gye,
    As in this caas, our joly compaignye,
    Seyde in this wise: "Lordyngs, everichoon,
    Now lakketh us no tales moo than oon," etc.,

and turning to the Parson,

    "Sir Prest," quod he, "artow a vicary?
    Or arte a persoun? Say soth, by thy fey,
    Be what thou be, _ne_ breke _thou_ nat oure pley;
    For every man, save thou, hath told his tale.
    Unbokele and schew us what is in thy male.
    Tel us a fable anoon, for cokkes boones!"

Whereupon the steadfast parson proceeds to assure the company that
whatever he may have in his male [wallet] there is none of your
light-minded and fictitious verse in it; nothing but grave and
reverend prose.

    This Persoun him answerede al at oones:
    Thou getest fable noon i-told for me.

(And you will presently observe that "fable" in the parson's mind
means very much the same with verse or poetry, and that the whole
business of fiction--that same fiction which has now come to occupy
such a commanding place with us moderns, and which we are to study
with such reverence under its form of the novel--implies downright
lying and wickedness.)

    Thou getist fable noon i-told for me;
    For Paul, that writeth unto Timothe,
    Repreveth hem that weyveth soothfastnesse.
    And tellen fables and such wrecchednesse, etc.,

    For which I say, if that yow list to heere
    Moralite and virtuous mateere,

(That is--as we shall presently see--_prose_).

    And thanne that ye will geve me audience,
    I wol ful fayne at Cristes reverence,
    Do you pleasaunce leful, as I can;
    But trusteth wel, I am a Suthern man,
    I can nat geste, rum, ram, ruf, by letter,
    Ne, God wot, rym hold I but litel better;
    And therfor, if yow list, I wol not glose,
    I wol yow telle a mery tale in prose.

Here our honest parson, (and he was honest;) I am frightfully tempted
to go clean away from my path and read that heart-filling description
of him which Chaucer gives in the general Prologue to the _Canterbury
Tales_ sweeps away the whole literature of verse and of fiction with
the one contemptuous word "glose"--by which he seems to mean a sort of
shame-faced lying all the more pitiful because done in verse--and sets
up prose as the proper vehicle for "moralite and virtuous mateere."

With this idea of the function of prose, you will not be surprised to
find, as I read these opening sentences of the pastor's so-called
tale, that the style is rigidly sententious, and that the movement of
the whole is like that of a long string of proverbs, which, of course,
presently becomes intolerably droning and wearisome. The parson

"Many ben the weyes espirituels that leden folk to our Lord Ihesu
Crist, and to the regne of glorie; of whiche weyes ther is a ful noble
wey, which may not faile to no man ne to womman, that thurgh synne
hath mysgon fro the right wey of Jerusalem celestial; and this wey is
cleped penitence. Of which men schulden gladly herken and enquere with
al here herte, to wyte, what is penitence, and whens is cleped
penitence? And in what maner and in how many maneres been the acciones
or workynge of penitence, and how many speces ben of penitence, and
which thinges apperteynen and byhoven to penitence and whiche thinges
destourben penitence."

In reading page after page of this bagpipe-bass, one has to remember
strenuously all the moral beauty of the Parson's character in order to
forgive the droning ugliness of his prose. Nothing could better
realize the description which Tennyson's _Northern Farmer_ gives of
_his_ parson's manner of preaching and the effect thereof:

    An' I hallus comed to t' choorch afoor my Sally wur deäd,
    An' 'eerd un a bummin' awaäy loike a buzzard-clock ower my yeäd;
    An' I niver knaw'd what a meäned, but I thowt a 'ad summut to saäy,
    An' I thowt a said what a owt to 'a said, an' I comed awaäy.

It must be said, however, in justice to Chaucer, that he writes better
prose than this when he really sets about telling a tale. What the
Parson calls his "tale" turns out, to the huge disgust, I suspect, of
several other pilgrims besides the host, to be nothing more than a
homily or sermon, in which the propositions about penitence, with many
minor heads and sub-divisions, are unsparingly developed to the bitter
end. But in the _Tale of Melibœus_ his inimitable faculty of
story-telling comes to his aid, and determines his sentences to a
little more variety and picturesqueness, though the sententious still
predominates. Here, for example, is a bit of dialogue between
Melibœus and his wife, which I selected because, over and above its
application here as early prose, we will find it particularly
suggestive presently when we come to compare it with some dialogue in
George Eliot's _Adam Bede_, where the conversation is very much upon
the same topic.

It seems that Melibœus, being still a young man, goes away into the
fields, leaving his wife Prudence and his daughter--whose name some of
the texts give in its Greek form as Sophia, while others, quaintly
enough, call her Sapience, translating the Greek into Latin--in the
house. Thereupon "three of his olde foos" (says Chaucer) "have it
espyed, and setten laddres to the walles of his hous, and by the
wyndowes ben entred, and beetyn his wyf, and wounded his daughter with
fyve mortal woundes, in fyve sondry places, that is to sayn, in here
feet, in her handes, in here eres, in her nose, and in here mouth; and
lafte her for deed, and went away." Melibœus assembles a great
counsel of his friends, and these advise him to make war, with an
interminable dull succession of sententious maxims and quotations
which would merely have maddened a modern person to such a degree that
he would have incontinently levied war upon his friends as well as his
enemies. But after awhile Dame Prudence modestly advises against the
war. "This Melibœus answerde unto his wyf Prudence: 'I purpose
not,' quod he, 'to werke by this counseil, for many causes and
resouns; for certes every wight wolde holde me thanne a fool, this is
to sayn, if I for thy counseil wolde chaunge things that affirmed ben
by somany wise.

Secondly, I say that alle wommen be wikked, and noon good of hem alle.
For of a thousand men, saith Solomon, I find oon good man; but certes
of alle wommen good womman find I never noon. And also certes, if I
governede am by thy counseil, it schulde seme that I hadde given to
the over me the maistry; and God forbid er it so were. For Ihesus
Syrac saith,'" etc., etc. You observe here, although this is dialogue
between man and wife, the prose nevertheless tends to the sententious,
and every remark must be supported with some dry old maxim or
epigrammatic saw. Observe too, by the way,--and we shall find this
point most suggestive in studying the modern dialogue in George
Eliot's novels, etc.,--that there is absolutely no individuality or
personality in the talk; Melibœus drones along exactly as his
friends do, and his wife quotes old authoritative saws, just as he
does. But Dame Prudence replies,--and all those who are acquainted
with the pungent Mrs. Poyser in George Eliot's _Adam Bede_ will
congratulate Melibœus that his foregoing sentiments concerning
woman were uttered five hundred years before that lady's tongue began
to wag,--"When Dame Prudence, ful debonerly and with gret pacience,
hadde herd al that her housbande liked for to saye, thanne axede sche
of him license for to speke, and sayde in this wise: 'My Lord,' quod
sche, 'as to your firste resoun, certes it may lightly be answered;
for I say it is no foly to chaunge counsel when the thing is
chaungid, or elles when the thing semeth otherwise than it was
bifoore.'" This very wise position she supports with argument and
authority, and then goes on boldly to attack not exactly Solomon's
wisdom, but the number of data from which he drew it. "'And though
that Solomon say _he_ fond never good womman, it folwith nought
therfore that alle wommen ben wicked; for though that he fonde noone
goode wommen, certes many another man hath founden many a womman ful
goode and trewe.'" (Insinuating, what is doubtless true, that the
finding of a good woman depends largely on the kind of man who is
looking for her.)

After many other quite logical replies to all of Melibœus'
positions, Dame Prudence closes with the following argument: "And
moreover, whan oure Lord hadde creat Adam oure forme fader, he sayde
in this wise, Hit is not goode to be a man alone; makes we to him an
help semblable to himself. Here may ye se that, if that a womman were
not good, and hir counseil good and profytable, oure Lord God of heven
would neither have wrought hem, ne called hem help of man, but rather
confusion of man. And ther sayde oones a clerk in two versus, What is
better than gold? Jasper. And what is better than jasper? Wisdom. And
what is better than wisdom? Womman. And what is better than a good
womman? No thing."

When we presently come to contrast this little scene between man and
wife in what may fairly be called the nearest approach to the modern
novel that can be found before the fifteenth century, we shall find a
surprising number of particulars, besides the unmusical tendency to
run into the sententious or proverbial form, in which the modern mode
of thought differs from that of the old writers from whom Chaucer got
his Melibœus.

This sententious monotune (if I may coin a word) of the prose, when
falling upon a modern ear, gives almost a comical tang, even to the
gravest utterances of the period. For example, here are the opening
lines of a fragment of prose from a MS. in the Cambridge University
Library, reprinted by the early English Text Society in the issue for
1870. It is good, pithy reading, too. It is called "The Six Wise
Masters' Speech of Tribulation."

Observe that the first sentence, though purely in the way of
narrative, is just as sententious in form as the graver proverbs of
each master that follow.

It begins:

     Here begynyth A shorte extracte, and tellyth how þar ware sex
     masterys assemblede, ande eche one askede oþer quhat thing þai
     sholde spek of gode, and all þei war acordet to spek of

     The fyrste master seyde, þat if ony thing hade bene mor better to
     ony man lewynge in this werlde þan tribulacoun, god wald haue
     gewyne it to his sone. But he sey wyell that thar was no better,
     and tharfor he gawe it hum, and mayde hume to soffer moste in
     this wrechede worlde than euer dyde ony man, or euermore shall.

     The secunde master seyde, þat if þar wer ony man þat mycht be
     wyth-out spote of sine, as god was, and mycht levyn bodely þirty
     yheris wyth-out mete, ande also were dewote in preyinge þat he
     mycht speke wyth angele in þe erth, as dyde mary magdalene, yit
     mycht he not deserve in þat lyffe so gret meyde as A man
     deservith in suffring of A lytyll tribulacoun.

     The threde master seyde, þat if the moder of gode and all the
     halowys of hewyn preyd for a man, þei should not get so gret
     meyde as he should hymselfe be meknes and suffryng of

Now asking you, as I pass, to remember that I have selected this
extract, like the others, with the further purpose of presently
contrasting the _substance_ of it with modern utterances, as well as
the _form_ which we are now mainly concerned--if we cut short this
search after artistic prose in our earlier literature, and come down
at once to the very earliest sign of a true feeling for the musical
movement of prose sentences, we are met by the fact, which I hope to
show is full of fruitful suggestions upon our present studies, that
the art of English prose is at least eight hundred years younger than
the art of English verse. For, in coming down our literature from
Cædmon--whom, in some conflict of dates, we can safely place at
670--the very first writer I find who shows a sense of the rhythmical
flow and gracious music of which our prose is so richly capable, is
Sir Thomas Malory; and his one work, _The History of King Arthur and
His Knights of the Round Table_, dates 1469-70, exactly eight hundred
years after Cædmon's poetic outburst.

Recalling our extracts just read, and remembering how ungainly and
awkward was the sport of their sentences, listen for a moment to a few
lines from Sir Thomas Malory. I think the most unmusical ear, the most
cursory attention, cannot fail to discern immediately how much more
flowing and smooth is the movement of this. I read from the fifth
chapter of King Arthur.

     "And King Arthur was passing wrath for the hurt of Sir Griflet.
     And by and by he commanded a man of his chamber that his best
     horse and armor be without the city on to-morrow-day. Right so in
     the morning he met with his man and his horse, and so mounted up
     and dressed his shield, and took his spear, and bade his
     chamberlain tarry there till he came again." Presently he meets
     Merlin and they go on together.

     "So as they went thus talking, they came to the fountain and the
     rich pavilion by it. Then King Arthur was ware where a knight sat
     all armed in a chair. 'Sir Knight,' said King Arthur, 'for what
     cause abidest thou here? that there may no knight ride this way
     but if he do joust with thee?' said the King. 'I rede thee leave
     that custom,' said King Arthur.

     'This custom,' said the knight, 'have I used and will use, maugre
     who saith nay; and who is grieved with my custom, let him amend
     it that will.'

     'I will amend it,' said King Arthur, 'And I shall defend it,'
     said the knight." (Observe _will_ and _shall_ here).

Here, you observe not only is there musical flow of single sentences,
but one sentence remembers another and proportions itself thereto--if
the last was long, this, is shorter or longer, and if one calls for a
certain tune, the most calls for a different tune--and we have not
only grace but variety. In this variety may be found an easy test of
artistic prose. If you try to read two hundred lines of Chaucer's
_Melibœus_ or his _Parson's Tale_ aloud, you are presently
oppressed with a sense of bagpipishness in your own voice which
becomes intolerable; but you can read Malory's _King Arthur_ aloud
from beginning to end with a never-cloying sense of proportion and
rhythmic flow.

I wish I had time to demonstrate minutely how much of the relish of
all fine prose is due to the arrangement of the sentences in such a
way that consecutive sentences do not call for the same tune; for
example, if one sentence is sharp antithesis--you know the well-marked
speech tune of an antithesis, "do you mean _this_ book, or do you mean
_that_ book?" you must be careful in the next sentence to vary the
tune from that of the antithesis.

In the prose I read you from Chaucer and from the old manuscript, a
large part of the intolerableness is due to the fact that nearly every
sentence involves the tune of an aphorism or proverb, and the
iteration of the same pitch-successions in the voice presently becomes
wearisome. This fault--of the succession of antithetic ideas so that
the voice becomes weary of repeating the same contrariety of
accents--I can illustrate very strikingly in a letter which I happen
to remember of Queen Elizabeth, whom I have found to be a great sinner
against good prose in this particular.

Here is part of a letter from her to King Edward VI. concerning a
portrait of herself which it seems the king had desired. (Italicised
words represent antithetic accents.)

     "Like as the rich man that daily gathereth _riches_ to _riches_,
     and to _one_ bag of money layeth a great sort till it come to
     _infinite_; so methinks your majesty, not being sufficed with so
     many benefits and gentleness shewed to me afore this time, doth
     now increase them in _asking_ and _desiring_ where you may _bid_
     and _command_, requiring a thing not worthy the desiring for
     _itself_, but _made_ worthy for your highness' _request_. My
     picture I mean; in which, if the _inward_ good mind toward your
     grace might as well be _declared_, as the _outward_ face and
     countenance shall be _seen_, I would not have _tarried_ the
     commandment but _prevented_ it, nor have been the _last_ to
     _grant_, but the _first_ to _offer_ it."

And so on. You observe here into what a sing-song the voice must fall;
if you abstract the words, and say over the tune, it is continually;
tum-ty-ty tum-ty-ty, tum-ty-ty tum-ty-ty.

I wish also that it lay within my province to pass on and show the
gradual development of English prose, through Sir Thomas More, Lord
Berners, and Roger Ascham, whom we may assign to the earlier half of
the 16th Century, until it reaches a great and beautiful artistic
stage in the prose of Fuller, of Hooker, and of Jeremy Taylor.

But the fact which I propose to use as throwing light on the novel, is
simply the lateness of English prose as compared with English verse;
and we have already sufficiently seen that the rise of our prose must
be dated at least eight centuries after that of our formal poetry.

But having established the fact that English prose is so much later in
development than English verse, the point that I wish to make in this
connection now requires me to go and ask the question why is this so.

Without the time to adduce supporting facts from other literature, and
indeed wholly unable to go into elaborate proof, let me say at once
that upon examining the matter it seems probable that the whole
earlier speech of man must have been rhythmical, and that in point of
fact we began with verse which is much simpler in rhythm than any
prose; and that we departed from this regular rhythmic utterance into
more and more complex utterance just according as the advance of
complexity in language and feeling required the freer forms of prose.

To adduce a single consideration leading toward this view: reflect for
a moment that the very breath of every man necessarily divides off his
words into rhythmic periods; the average rate of a man's breath being
17 to 20 respirations in a minute. Taking the faster rate as the more
probable one in speaking, the man would, from the periodic necessity
of refilling the lungs, divide his words into twenty groups, equal in
time, every minute, and if these syllables were equally pronounced at,
say, about the rate of 200 a minute, we should have ten syllables in
each group, each ten syllables occupying (in the aggregate at least)
the same time with any other ten syllables, that is, the time of our

But this is just the rhythm of our English blank verse, in essential
type; ten syllables to the line or group; and our primitive talker is
speaking in the true English heroic rhythm. Thus it may be that our
dear friend M. Jourdain was not so far wrong after all in his
astonishment at finding that he had been speaking prose all his life.


Perhaps I ought here carefully to state that in propounding the idea
that the whole common speech of early man may have been rhythmical
through the operation of uniformity of syllables and periodicity of
breath, and that for this reason prose, which is practically verse of
a very complex rhythm, was naturally a later development; in
propounding this idea, I say, I do not mean to declare that the
prehistoric man, after a hard day's work on a flint arrow-head at his
stone-quarry would dance back to his dwelling in the most beautiful
rhythmic figures, would lay down his palæolithic axe to a slow song,
and, striking an operatic attitude, would call out to his wife to
leave off fishing in the stream and bring him a stone mug of water,
all in a most sublime and impassioned flight of poetry. What I do mean
to say is that if the prehistoric man's syllables were uniform, and
his breath periodic, then the rhythmical results described would
follow. Here let me at once illustrate this, and advance a step
towards my final point in this connection, by reminding you how easily
the most commonplace utterances in modern English, particularly when
couched mainly in words of one syllable, fall into quite respectable
verse rhythms. I might illustrate this, but Dr. Samuel Johnson has
already done it for me:--"I put my hat upon my head and walked into
the Strand, and there I met another man whose hat was in his hand." We
have only to arrange this in proper form in order to see that it is a
stanza of verse quite perfect as to all technical requirement:--

    "I put my hat upon my head,
      And walked into the Strand,
    And there I met another man,
      Whose hat was in his hand."

Now let me ask you to observe precisely what happens, when by adding
words here and there in this verse we more and more obscure its verse
form and bring out its prose form. Suppose, for example, we here write
"hastily," and here "rushed forth," and here "encountered," and here
"hanging," so as to make it read:

    "I hastily put my hat upon my head,
      And rushed forth into the Strand,
    And there I encountered another man,
      Whose hat was hanging in his hand."

Here we have made unmitigated prose, but how? Remembering that
original verse was in iambic 4's and 3's,

  ___      ___      __      ____
I put | my hat | up-on | my head |[**Diacritical marks]

--by putting in the word "hastily" in the first line, we have not
_destroyed_ the rhythm; we still have the rhythmic sequence, "my hat
upon my head," unchanged; but we have merely _added_ brief rhythms,
namely that of the word "hastily," which we may call a modern or
logaœdic dactyl (hastily)[**Symbols above hastily]; that is to say,
instead now of leaving our first line _all_ iambic, we have varied
that rhythmus with another; and in so doing have converted our verse
into prose. Similarly, in the second line, "rushed forth," which an
English tongue would here deliver as a spondee--rūshed
fōrth--_varies_ the rhythm by this spondaic intervention, but still
leaves us the original rhythmic cluster, "into the Strand." So, of the
other introduced words, "encountered" and "hanging," each has its own
rhythm--for an English tongue always gives these words with definite
time-relations between the syllables, that is, in rhythm. Therefore,
in order to make prose out of this verse, we have not destroyed the
rhythms, we have added to them. We have not made it _formless_, we
have made it contain _more forms_.

Now, in this analysis, which I have tried to bring to its very
simplest terms, I have presented what seems to me the true genesis of
prose; and have set up a distinction, which, though it may appear
abstract and insignificant at present, we shall presently see lies at
the bottom of some most remarkable and pernicious fallacies concerning
literature. That distinction is, that the relation of prose to verse
is _not_ the relation of the _formless_ to the _formal_: it is the
relation of _more forms_ to _fewer forms_. It is this relation which
makes prose a _freer_ form than verse.

When we are writing in verse, if we have the line with an iambus (say)
then our next words or syllables must make an iambus, and we are
confined to that form; but if in prose, our next word need not be an
iambus because the first was, but may be any one of several possible
rhythmic forms; thus, while in verse we _must_ use _one_ form, in
prose we _may_ use _many_ forms; and just to the extent of these
possible forms is prose freer than verse. We shall find occasion
presently to remember that prose is freer than verse, _not_ because
prose is formless while verse is formal, but because any given
sequence of prose has _more forms_ in it than a sequence of verse.

Here, reserving to a later place the special application of all this
to the novel, I have brought my first general point to a stage where
it constitutes the basis of the second one. You have already heard
much of "forms"--of the verse-form, the prose-form, of form in art,
and the like. Now, in the course of a considerable experience in what
Shakspeare sadly calls "public means," I have found no matter upon
which wider or more harmful misconceptions exist among people of
culture, and particularly among us Americans, than this matter of the
true functions of forms in art, of the true relation of science--which
we may call the knowledge of forms--to art, and most especially of
these functions and relations in literary art. These misconceptions
have flowered out into widely different shapes.

In one direction, for example, we find a large number of timorous
souls, who believe that science, in explaining everything as they
singularly fancy, will destroy the possibility of poetry, of the
novel, in short of all works of the imagination; the idea seeming to
be that the imagination always requires the hall of life to be
darkened before it displays its magic, like the modern spiritualistic
séance-givers who can do nothing with the rope-tying and the guitars
unless the lights are put out.

Another form of the same misconception goes precisely to the opposite
extreme, and declares that the advance of science with its incidents
is going to give a great new revolutionized democratic literature,
which will wear a slouch hat and have its shirt open at the bosom, and
generally riot in a complete independence of form.

And finally--to mention no more than a third phase--we may consider
the original misconception to have reached a climax which is at once
absurd and infernal, in a professedly philosophical work called _Le
Roman Expérimentale_, recently published by M. Emile Zola, gravely
defending his peculiar novels as the records of scientific
experiments, and declaring that the whole field of imaginative effort
must follow his lead.

Now, if any of these beliefs are true, we are wickedly wasting our
time here in studying the novel--at least any other novels except M.
Zola's, and we ought to look to ourselves. Seriously, I do not believe
I could render you a greater service than by here arraying such
contribution as I can make towards some firm, clear and pious
conceptions as to this matter of form, of science, in art, before
briefly considering these three concrete errors I have enumerated--to
wit, the belief (1) that science will destroy all poetry, all
novel-writing and all imaginative work generally; (2) that science
will simply destroy the _old_ imaginative products and build up a new
formless sort of imaginative product in its stead; and (3) that
science will absorb into _itself_ all imaginative effort, so that
every novel will be merely the plain, unvarnished record of a
scientific experiment in passion. Let me submit two or three
principles whose steady light will leave, it seems to me, but little
space for perplexity as to these diverse claims.

Start, then, in the first place, with a definite recalling to yourself
of the province of form throughout our whole daily life. Here we find
a striking consensus, at least in spirit, between the deliverances of
the sternest science and of the straitest orthodoxy. The latter, on
the one hand, tells us that in the beginning the earth was without
form and void; and it is only after the earth is formulated--after the
various forms of the lights, of land and water, bird, fish and man
appear--it is only then that life and use and art and relation and
religion become possible. What we call the creation, therefore, is not
the making something out of nothing, but it is the giving of _form_ to
a something which, though existing, existed to no purpose because it
had no form.

On the other hand, the widest generalizations of science bring us
practically to the same view. Science would seem fairly to have
reduced all this host of phenomena which we call the world into a
congeries of motions in many forms. What we know by our senses is
simply such forms of these motions as our senses have a correlated
capacity for. The atoms of this substance, moving in orbits too narrow
for human vision, impress my sense with a certain property which I
call hardness or resistance, this "hardness" being simply our name for
one form of atom-motion when impressing itself on the human sense. So
color, shape, &c.; these are our names representing a correlation
between certain other forms of motion and our senses. Regarding the
whole universe thus as a great congeries of forms of motion, we may
now go farther and make for ourselves a scientific and useful
generalization, reducing a great number of facts to a convenient
common denominator, by considering that Science is the knowledge of
these forms; that Art is the creation of beautiful forms; that
Religion is the faith in the infinite Form-giver and in that infinity
of forms which many things lead us to believe as existing, but
existing beyond any present correlative capacities of our senses; and
finally that Life is the control of all these forms to the
satisfaction of our human needs.

And now advancing a step: when we remember how all accounts, the
scientific, the religious, the historical, agree that the progress of
things is _from_ chaos or formlessness _to_ form, and, as we saw in
the case of verse and prose, afterwards from the one-formed to the
many-formed, we are not disturbed by any shouts, however stentorian,
of a progress that professes to be winning freedom by substituting
formlessness for form; we know that the ages are rolling the other
way,--who shall stop those wheels? We know that what they really do
who profess to substitute formlessness for form is to substitute a
bad form for a good one, or an ugly form for a beautiful one. Do not
dream of getting rid of form; your most cutting stroke at it but gives
us two forms for one. For, in a sense which adds additional reverence
to the original meaning of those words, we may devoutly say that in
form we live and move and have our being. How strange, then, the
furtive apprehension of danger lying behind too much knowledge of
form, too much technic, which one is amazed to find prevailing so
greatly in our own country.

But, advancing a further step from the particular consideration of
science as the knowledge of forms, let us come to the fact that as all
art is a congeries of forms, each art must have its own peculiar
science; and always we have, in a true sense, the art of an art and
the science of that art. For example, correlative to the art of music,
we have the general science of music, which indeed consists of several
quite separate sciences. If a man desire to become a musical composer,
he is absolutely obliged to learn (1) the science of Musical Form, (2)
the science of Harmony, and (3) the science of Orchestration or

The science of musical form, concerns this sort of matter, for
instance. A symphony has generally four great divisions, called
movements, separated usually from each other by a considerable pause.
Each of these movements has a law of formation: it consists of two
main subjects, or melodies, and a modulation-part. The sequence of
these subjects, the method of varying them by causing now one and now
another of the instruments to come forward and play the subject in
hand while subordinate parts are assigned to the others, the interplay
of the two subjects in the modulation-part,--all this is the
subject-matter of a science which every composer must laboriously

But again: he must learn the great science of harmony, and of that
wonderful tonality which has caused our music to be practically a
different art from what preceding ages called music; this science of
harmony having its own body of classifications and formulated laws
just as the science of Geology has, and a voluminous literature of its
own. Again, he must painfully learn the range and capacities of each
orchestral instrument, lest he write passages for the violin which no
violin can play, &c., and further, the particular ideas which seem to
associate themselves with the tone-color of each instrument, as the
idea of women's voices with the clarionet, the idea of tenderness and
childlikeness with the oboe, &c. This is not all; the musical composer
may indeed write a symphony if he has these three sciences of music
well in hand; but a fourth science of music, namely, the physics of
music, or musical acoustics, has now grown to such an extent that
every composer will find himself lame without a knowledge of it.

And so the art of painting has its correlative science of painting,
involving laws of optics, and of form; the art of sculpture, its
correlative science of sculpture, involving the science of human
anatomy, &c.; and each one of the literary arts has its correlative
science--the art of verse its science of verse, the art of prose its
science of prose. Lastly, we all know that no amount of genius will
supply the lack of science in art. Phidias may be all afire with the
conception of Jove, but unless he is a scientific man to the extent of
a knowledge of anatomy, he is no better artist than Strephon who
cannot mould the handle of a goblet. What is Beethoven's genius until
Beethoven has become a scientific man to the extent of knowing the
sciences of Musical Form, of Orchestration, and of Harmony?

But now if I go on and ask what would be the worth of Shakspeare's
genius unless he were a scientific man to the extent of knowing the
science of English verse, or what would be George Eliot's genius
unless she knew the science of English prose or the science of
novel-writing, a sort of doubtful stir arises, and it would seem as if
a suspicion of some vague esoteric difference between the relation of
the literary arts to their correlative sciences and the relation of
other arts to _their_ correlative sciences influenced the general

I am so unwilling you should think me here fighting a mere man of
straw who has been arranged with a view to the convenience of knocking
him down, and I find such mournful evidences of the complete
misconception of form, of literary science in our literature, that,
with a reluctance which every one will understand, I am going to draw
upon a personal experience, to show the extent of that misconception.

Some of you may remember that a part of the course of lectures which
your present lecturer delivered here last year were afterwards
published in book-form, under the title of _The Science of English
Verse_. Happening in the publisher's office some time afterwards, I
was asked if I would care to see the newspaper notices and criticisms
of the book, whereof the publishers had collected a great bundle. Most
curious to see if some previous ideas I had formed as to the general
relation between literary art and science would be confirmed, I read
these notices with great interest. Not only were my suspicions
confirmed: but it is perfectly fair to say that nine out of ten, even
of those which most generously treated the book in hand, treated it
upon the general theory that a work on the science of verse must
necessarily be a collection of rules for making verses. Now, not one
of these writers would have treated a work on the science of geology
as a collection of rules for making rocks; or a work on the science of
anatomy as a collection of rules for making bones or for procuring
cadavers. In point of fact, a book of rules for making verses might
very well be written; but then it would be a hand-book of the art of
verse, and would take the whole science of verse for granted,--like an
instruction-book for the piano, or the like.

If we should find the whole critical body of a continent treating
(say) Prof. Huxley's late work on the crayfish as really a
cookery-book, intended to spread intelligent ideas upon the best
methods of preparing shell-fish for the table, we should certainly
suspect something wrong; but this is precisely parallel with the
mistake already mentioned.

But even when the functions of form, of science, in literary art have
been comprehended, one is amazed to find among literary artists
themselves a certain apprehension of danger in knowing too much of the
forms of art. A valued friend who has won a considerable place in
contemporary authorship in writing me not long ago said, after much
abstract and impersonal admission of a possible science of verse--in
the way that one admits there may be griffins, but feels no great
concern about it--"_as for me I would rather continue to write verse
from pure instinct_."

This fallacy--of supposing that we do a thing by instinct simply because
we _learned_ to do it unsystematically and without formal teaching--seems a
curious enough climax to the misconceptions of literary science. You have
only to reflect a moment in order to see that not a single line of verse
was ever written by instinct alone since the world began. For--to go no
farther--the most poetically instinctive child is obliged at least to learn
the science of language--the practical relation of noun and verb and
connective--before the crudest line of verse can be written; and since no
child talks by instinct, since every child has to learn from others every
word it uses,--with an amount of diligence and of study which is really
stupendous when we think of it--what wild absurdity to forget these years
passed by the child in learning even the rudiments of the science of
language which must be well in hand, mind you, before even the rudiments of
the science of verse can be learned--what wild absurdity to fancy that one
is writing verse by instinct when even the language of verse, far from
being instinctive, had to be painfully, if unsystematically, learned as a

Once, for all, remembering the dignity of form as we have traced it,
remembering the relations of Science as the knowledge of forms, of Art
as the creator of beautiful forms, of Religion as the aspiration
towards unknown forms and the unknown Form-giver, let us abandon this
unworthy attitude towards form, towards science, towards technic, in
literary art, which has so long sapped our literary endeavor.

The writer of verse is afraid of having too much form, of having too
much technic; he dreads it will interfere with his spontaneity.

No more decisive confession of weakness can be made. It is only
cleverness and small talent which is afraid of its spontaneity; the
genius, the great artist, is forever ravenous after new forms, after
technic; he will follow you to the ends of the earth if you will
enlarge his artistic science, if you will give him a fresh form. For
indeed genius, the great artist, never works in the frantic vein
vulgarly supposed; a large part of the work of the poet, for example,
is reflective; a dozen ideas in a dozen forms throng to his brain at
once; he must choose the best; even in the extremest heat and
sublimity of his raptus, he must preserve a god-like calm, and order
thus and so, and keep the rule so that he shall to the end be master
of his art and not be mastered by his art.

Charlotte Cushman used often to tell me that when she was, as the
phrase is, carried out of herself, she never acted well: she must have
her inspiration, she must be in a true _raptus_, but the _raptus_ must
be well in hand, and she must retain the consciousness, at once
sublime and practical, of every act.

There is an old aphorism--it is twelve hundred years old--which covers
all this ground of the importance of technic, of science, in the
literary art, with such completeness and compactness that it always
affects one like a poem. It was uttered, indeed, by a poet--and a rare
one he must have been--an old Armorican named Hervé, of whom all
manner of beautiful stories have survived. This aphorism is, "He who
will not answer to the rudder, must answer to the rocks." If any of
you have read that wonderful description of shipwreck on these same
Armorican rocks which occurs in the autobiography of Millet, the
painter, and which was recently quoted in a number of _Scribner's
Magazine_, you can realize that one who lived in that old
Armorica--the modern Brittany from which Millet comes--knew full well
what it meant to answer to the rocks.

Now, it is precisely this form, this science, this technic, which is
the rudder of the literary artist, whether he work at verse or novels.
I wish it were everywhere written, even in the souls of all our young
American writers, that he who will not answer to the rudder shall
answer to the rocks. This was the belief of the greatest literary
artist our language has ever produced.

We have direct contemporary testimony that Shakspeare was supremely
solicitous in this matter of form. Ben Jonson, in that hearty
testimonial, "To the Memory of My Beloved, the Author, Mr. William
Shakspeare, and What He Hath Left Us," which was prefixed to the
edition of 1623, says, after praises which are lavish even for an
Elizabethan eulogy:

    Yet must I not give Nature all: thy art,

(Meaning here thy technic, thy care of form, thy science),

    My gentle Shakspeare, must enjoy a part;
      For though the poet's matter Nature be,
    His art doth give the fashion; and that he
      Who casts to write a living line must sweat,
    (Such as thine are) and strike the second heat
      Upon the Muses' anvil; turn the same
    (And himself with it) that he thinks to frame;
      Or for the laurel he may gain a scorn,
    _For a good poet's made as well as born,
      And such wert thou._ Look how the father's face
    Lives in his issue, even so the race.
      Of Shakespeare's mind and manners brightly shines
    _In his well-turned and true-filed lines,
      In each of which he seems to shake a lance_,
    As brandished at the eyes of Ignorance.

No fear with Shakspeare of damaging his spontaneity; he shakes a lance
at the eyes of Ignorance in every line.

With these views of the progress of forms in general, of the relations
of Science--or the _knowledge_ of all forms--to Art, or the creation
of beautiful forms, we are prepared, I think, to maintain much
equilibrium in the midst of the discordant cries, already mentioned,
(1) of those who believe that Science will destroy all literary art;
(2) of those who believe that art is to advance by becoming democratic
and formless; (3) and lastly, of those who think that the future
novelist is to enter the service of science as a police-reporter in
ordinary for the information of current sociology.

Let us, therefore, inquire if it is really true--as I am told is much
believed in Germany, and as I have seen not unfrequently hinted in the
way of timorous apprehension in our own country--that science is to
abolish the poet and the novel-writer and all imaginative literature.
It is surprising that in all the discussions upon this subject the
matter has been treated as belonging solely to the future. But surely
life is too short for the folly of arguing from prophecy when we can
argue from history; and it seems to me this question is determined. As
matter of fact, science (to confine our view to English science) has
been already advancing with prodigious strides for two hundred and
fifty years, and side by side with it English poetry has been
advancing for the same period. Surely, whatever effect science has
upon poetry can be traced during this long companionship. While Hooke
and Wilkins and Newton and Horrox and the Herschels and Franklin and
Davy and Faraday and the Darwins and Dalton and Huxley and many more
have been penetrating into physical nature, Dryden, Pope, Byron,
Burns, Wordsworth, Keats, Tennyson, Longfellow, have been singing;
while gravitation, oxygen, electro-magnetism, the atomic theory, the
spectroscope, the siren, are being evolved, the _Ode to St. Cecilia_,
the _Essay on Man_, _Manfred_, _A man's a man for a' that_, the _Ode
on Immortality_, _In Memoriam_, the _Ode to a Nightingale_, _The Psalm
of Life_, are being written. If indeed we go over into Germany, there
is Goethe, at once pursuing science and poetry.

Now, if we examine the course and progress of this poetry, born thus
within the very grasp and maw of this terrible science, it seems to me
that we find--as to the _substance_ of poetry--a steadily increasing
confidence and joy in the mission of the poet, in the sacredness of
faith and love and duty and friendship and marriage, and in the
sovereign fact of man's personality; while as to the _form_ of the
poetry, we find that just as science has pruned our faith (to make it
more faithful), so it has pruned our poetic form and technic, cutting
away much unproductive wood and efflorescence and creating finer
reserves and richer yields. Since it would be simply impossible, in
the space of these lectures, to illustrate this by any detailed view
of all the poets mentioned, let us confine ourselves to one, Alfred
Tennyson, and let us inquire how it fares with him. Certainly no more
favorable selection could be made for those who believe in the
destructiveness of science. Here is a man born in the midst of
scientific activity, brought up and intimate with the freest thinkers
of his time, himself a notable scientific pursuer of botany, and
saturated by his reading with all the scientific conceptions of his
age. If science is to sweep away the silliness of faith and love, to
destroy the whole field of the imagination and make poetry folly, it
is a miracle if Tennyson escape. But if we look into his own words,
this miracle beautifully transacts itself before our eyes. Suppose we
inquire, Has science cooled this poet's love? We are answered in No.
60 of _In Memoriam_:

    If in thy second state sublime,
          Thy ransomed reason change replies
          With all the circle of the wise,
    The perfect flower of human time;
    And if thou cast thine eyes below,
        How dimly character'd and slight,
        How dwarf'd a growth of cold and night,
    How blanch'd with darkness must I grow!

    Yet turn thee to the doubtful shore,
        Where thy first form was made a man,
        I loved thee, Spirit, and love, nor can
    The soul of Shakspeare love thee more.

Here is precisely the same loving gospel that Shakspeare himself used
to preach, in that series of Sonnets which we may call _his_ In
Memoriam to his friend; the same loving tenacity, unchanged by three
hundred years of science. It is interesting to compare this No. 60 of
Tennyson's poem with Sonnet 32 of Shakspeare's series, and note how
both preach the supremacy of love over style or fashion.

    If thou survive my well-contented day,
    When that churl Death my bones with dust shall cover,
    And shalt by fortune once more re-survey
    These poor rude lines of thy deceased lover,
    Compare them with the bettering of the time;
    And though they be outstripped by every pen,
    Reserve them for my love, not for their rhyme,
    Exceeded by the height of happier men.
    O then vouchsafe me but this loving thought:
      "Had my friend's muse grown with this growing age,
    A dearer birth than this his love had bought,
    To march in ranks of better equipage;
    But since he died, and poets better prove,
    Theirs for their style I'll read, his for his love."

Returning to Tennyson: has science cooled his yearning for human
friendship? We are answered in No. 90 of _In Memoriam_. Where was ever
such an invocation to a dead friend to return!

    When rosy plumelets tuft the larch,
        And rarely pipes the mounted thrush;
        Or underneath the barren bush
    Flits by the sea-blue bird of March;

    Come, wear the form by which I know
        Thy spirit in time among thy peers;
        The hope of unaccomplish'd years
    Be large and lucid round thy brow.

    When summer's hourly mellowing change
        May breathe, with many roses sweet,
        Upon the thousand waves of wheat,
    That ripple round the lonely grange;

    Come; not in watches of the night,
        But where the sunbeam broodeth warm,
        Come, beauteous in thine after-form,
    And like a finer light in light.

Or still more touchingly, in No. 49, for here he writes from the
depths of a sick despondency, from all the darkness of a bad quarter
of an hour.

    Be near me when my light is low,
        When the blood creeps, and the nerves prick
        And tingle; and the heart is sick,
    And all the wheels of being slow.

    Be near me when the sensuous frame
        Is racked with pains that conquer trust;
        And Time, a maniac scattering dust,
    And Life, a fury, slinging flame.

    Be near me when my faith is dry,
        And men the flies of latter spring,
        That lay their eggs, and sting and sing,
    And weave their petty cells and die.

    Be near me when I fade away,
        To point the term of human strife,
        And on the low dark verge of life
    The twilight of eternal day.

Has it diminished his tender care for the weakness of others? We are
wonderfully answered in No. 33.

    O thou that after toil and storm
          Mayst seem to have reach'd a purer air,
          Whose faith has centre everywhere,
    Nor cares to fix itself to form.

    Leave thou thy sister when she prays,
          Her early Heaven, her happy views;
          Nor then with shadow'd hint confuse
    A life that leads melodious days.

    Her faith thro' form is pure as thine,
          Her hands are quicker unto good.
          Oh, sacred be the flesh and blood
    To which she links a truth divine!

    See thou, that countest reason ripe
          In holding by the law within,
          Thou fail not in a world of sin,
    And ev'n for want of such a type.

Has it crushed out his pure sense of poetic beauty? Here in No. 84 we
have a poem which, for what I can only call absolute beauty, is simply

    Sweet after showers, ambrosial air,
          That rollest from the gorgeous gloom
          Of evening over brake and bloom
    And meadow, slowly breathing bare

    The round of space, and rapt below
          Thro' all the dewy-tassell'd wood,
          And shadowing down the horned flood
    In ripples, fan my brows, and blow

    The fever from my cheek, and sigh
          The full new life that feeds thy breath
          Throughout my frame, till Doubt and Death
    Ill brethren, let the fancy fly

    From belt to belt of crimson seas
          On leagues of odor streaming far
          To where in yonder orient star
    A hundred spirits whisper 'Peace.'

And finally we are able to see from his own words that he is not
ignorantly resisting the influences of science, but that he knows
science, reveres it and understands its precise place and function.
What he terms in the following poem (113 of _In Memoriam_) _Knowledge_
and _Wisdom_ are what we have been speaking of as Science and Poetry.

    Who loves not Knowledge? Who shall rail
          Against her beauty? May she mix
          With men and prosper! Who shall fix
    Her pillars? Let her work prevail.

       *       *       *       *       *

                              Let her know her place;
    She is the second, not the first.

    A higher hand must make her mild,
          If all be not in vain; and guide
          Her footsteps, moving side by side
    With wisdom, like the younger child:

    For she is earthly of the mind,
          But Wisdom heavenly of the Soul.
          O friend, who camest to thy goal
    So early, leaving me behind,

    I would the great world grew like thee
          Who grewest not alone in power
          And knowledge, but by year and hour
    In reverence and in charity.

If then, regarding Tennyson as fairly a representative victim of
Science, we find him still preaching the poet's gospel of beauty, as
comprehending the evangel of faith, hope and charity, only preaching
it in those newer and finer forms with which science itself has
endowed him; if we find his poetry just so much stronger and richer
and riper by as much as he has been trained and beaten and disciplined
with the stern questions which scientific speculation has
put--questions which you will find presented in their most sombre
terribleness in Tennyson's _Two Voices_; if finally we find him
steadily regarding science as _knowledge_ which only the true poet can
vivify into _wisdom_:--then I say, life is too short to waste any of
it in listening to those who, in the face of this history, still
prophesy that Science is to destroy Poetry.

Nothing, indeed, would be easier than to answer all this argument upon
_a priori_ grounds: this argument is, in brief, that wonder and
mystery are the imagination's _material_, and that science is to
explain away all mystery. But what a crude view is this of
explanation! The moment you examine the process, you find that at
bottom explanation is simply the reduction of unfamiliar mysteries to
terms of familiar mysteries. For simplest example: here is a mass of
conglomerate: science explains that it is composed of a great number
of pebbles which have become fastened together by a natural cement.
But after all, is not one pebble as great a mystery as a mountain of
conglomerate? though we are familiar with the pebble, and unfamiliar
with the other. Now to the wise man, the poet, familiarity with a
mystery brings no contempt; to explanation of science, supremely
fascinating as it is, but opens up a new world of wonders, but adds to
old mysteries. Indeed, the wise searcher into nature always finds, as
a poet has declared, that

    ... "In seeking to undo
    One riddle, and to find the true
    I knit a hundred others new."

And so, away with this folly. Science, instead of being the enemy of
poetry, is its quartermaster and commissary--it forever purveys for
poetry, and just so much more as it shall bring man into contact with
nature, just so much more large and intense and rich will be the
poetry of the future and more abundant in its forms.

And here we may advance to our second class, who believe that the
poetry of the future is to be democratic and formless.

I need quote but a few scraps from characteristic sentences here and
there in a recent paper of Whitman's, in order to present a perfectly
fair view of his whole doctrine. When, for instance, he declares that
Tennyson's poetry is not the poetry of the future because, although it
is "the highest order of verbal melody, exquisitely clean and pure and
almost always perfumed like the tuberose to an extreme of sweetness,"
yet it has "never one democratic page," and is "never free, naïve
poetry, but involved, labored, quite sophisticated;" when we find him
bragging of "the measureless viciousness of the great radical
republic" (the United States of course) "with its ruffianly
nominations and elections; its loud, ill-pitched voice, utterly
regardless whether the verb agrees with the nominative; its fights,
errors, eructations, repulsions, dishonesties, audacities; those
fearful and varied, long and continued storm-and-stress stages (so
offensive to the well-regulated, college-bred mind), wherewith nature,
history and time block out nationalities more powerful than the past;"
and when finally we hear him tenderly declaring that "meanwhile
democracy waits the coming of its bards in silence and in
twilight--but 'tis the twilight of dawn;"--we are in sufficient
possession of the distinctive catch-words which summarize his

In examining it, a circumstance occurs to me at the outset which
throws a strange but effective light upon the whole argument. It seems
curious to reflect that the two poets who have most avowedly written
for the _people_, who have professed most distinctively to represent
and embody the thought of the people, and to be bone of the people's
bone, and flesh of the people's flesh, are precisely the two who have
most signally failed of all popular acceptance and who have most
exclusively found audience at the other extreme of culture. These are
Wordsworth and Whitman. We all know how strenuously and faithfully
Wordsworth believed that in using the simplest words and treating the
lowliest themes, he was bringing poetry back near to the popular
heart; yet Wordsworth's greatest admirer is Mr. Matthew Arnold, the
apostle of culture, the farthest remove from anything that could be
called popular; and in point of fact it is probable that many a
peasant who would feel his blood stir in hearing _A man's a man for a'
that_, would grin and guffaw if you should read him Wordsworth's
_Lambs_ and _Peter Grays_.

And a precisely similar fate has met Whitman. Professing to be a
mudsill and glorying in it, chanting democracy and the shirt-sleeves
and equal rights, declaring that he is nothing if not one of the
people; nevertheless the people, the democracy, will yet have nothing
to do with him, and it is safe to say that his sole audience has lain
among such representatives of the highest culture as Emerson and the
English _illuminated_.

The truth is, that if closely examined, Whitman, instead of being a
true democrat, is simply the most incorrigible of aristocrats masquing
in a peasant's costume; and his poetry, instead of being the natural
outcome of a fresh young democracy, is a product which would be
impossible except in a highly civilized society.


At our last meeting we endeavored to secure some solid basis for our
ideas of form in general, and to develop thereupon some conceptions of
form in art, and especially of literary form, which would enable us to
see our way clear among misconceptions of this subject which prevail.
We there addressed ourselves towards considering particularly three of
these misconceptions. The first we examined was that which predicts
the total death of imaginative literature--poetry, novels and all--in
consequence of a certain supposed quality of imagination by virtue of
which, like some ruin-haunting animals, it cannot live in the light;
so that the destructive explanations of advancing science, it was
apprehended, would gradually force all our imaginative energies back
into the dark crevices of old fable and ruined romance, until finally,
penetrating these also, it would exterminate the species. We first
tested this case by laying it alongside the historic facts in the
case: confining our view to England, we found that science and poetry
had been developing alongside of each other ever since early in the
seventeenth century; inquiring into the general effect of this long
contact, we could only find that it was to make our general poetry
greatly richer in substance and finer in form; and upon testing this
abstract conclusion by a concrete examination of Tennyson--as a poet
most likely to show the influence of science, because himself most
exposed to it, indeed most saturated with it--we found from several
readings in _In Memoriam_ that whether as to love or friendship, or
the sacredness of marriage, or the pure sense of beauty, or the true
relation of knowledge to wisdom, or faith in God, the effect of
science had been on the whole to broaden the conceptions and to
clarify the forms in which they were expressed by this great poet.

And having thus appealed to facts, we found further that in the nature
of things no such destruction could follow; that what we call
explanation in science is at bottom only a reduction of unfamiliar
mysteries to terms of familiar mysteries, and that, since to the true
imaginative mind, whether of poet or novelist, the mysteries of this
world grow all the greater as they grow more familiar, the necessary
effect of scientific explanations is at last the indefinite increase
of food for the imagination. The modern imagination, indeed, shall
still love mystery; but it is not the shallow mystery of those small
darks which are enclosed by caves and crumbling dungeons, it is the
unfathomable mystery of the sunlight and the sun; it is this
inexplicable contradictory shadow of the infinite which is projected
upon the finite; it is this multitudinous flickering of all the other
_ego's_ upon the tissue of my _ego_: these are the lights and shades
and vaguenesses of mystery in which the modern imaginative effort
delights. And here I cannot help adding to what was said on this
subject in the last lecture, by declaring to every young man who may
entertain the hope of poethood, that at this stage of the world you
need not dream of winning the attention of sober people with your
poetry unless that poetry, and your soul behind it, are informed and
saturated at least with the largest final conceptions of current
science. I do not mean that you are to write "Loves of the Plants;" I
do not mean that you are to versify Biology; but I mean that you must
be so far instinct with the scientific thought of the time that your
poetic conceptions will rush as it were from under these pure, cold
facts of science like those Alpine torrents which flow out of
glaciers. Or,--to change the figure for the better--just as the
chemist, in causing chlorine and hydrogen to form hydrochloric acid,
finds that he must not only put the chlorine and hydrogen together,
but he must put them together in the presence of light in order to
make them combine; so the poet of our time will find that his poetic
combinations, his grandest syntheses of wisdom, own this law; and
they, too, must be effected in the presence of the awful light of

Returning to our outline of the last lecture: After we had discussed
this matter, we advanced to the second of the great misconceptions of
the function of form in art--that which holds that the imaginative
effort of the future will be better than that of the present, and that
this improvement will come through a progress towards formlessness.
After quoting several sentences from Whitman which seemed to contain
the substantial argument--to-wit, that the poetry of the future is to
be signalized by independence of form, and is, by virtue of this
independence, to gain strength, and become a democratic poetry, as
contrasted with the supposed weak and aristocratic poetry of the
present--I called your attention to a notable circumstance which seems
to throw a curious light along this inquiry: that circumstance being
that the two English poets who have most exclusively laid claim to
represent the people in poetry, to express nothing but the people's
heart in the people's words, namely Wordsworth and Whitman, are
precisely the two whose audience has been most exclusively confined to
the other extreme of culture. Wordsworth, instead of appealing to
Hodge, Nokes, and Stiles; instead of being found in penny editions on
the collier's shelves; is most cherished by Mr. Matthew Arnold, the
high-priest of culture. And so with Whitman: we may say with safety
that no preacher was ever so decisively rejected by his own:
continually crying democracy in the market-place, and crying it in
forms or no-forms professing to be nothing but products of the
democratic spirit; nevertheless the democracy everywhere have turned a
deaf ear, and it is only with a few of the most retired thinkers of
our time that Whitman has found even a partial acceptance.

And finally, by way of showing a reason for this state of things in
Whitman's case, the last lecture closed with the assertion that
Whitman's poetry, in spite of his belief that it is democratic, is
really aristocratic to the last degree; and instead of belonging, as
he asserts to an early and fresh-thoughted stage of a republic, is
really poetry which would be impossible except in a highly civilized
state of society.

Here, then, let us take up the thread of that argument. In the
quotations which were given from Whitman's paper, we have really the
ideal democracy and democrat of this school. It is curious to reflect
in the first place that in point of fact no such democracy, no such
democrat, has ever existed in this country. For example: when Whitman
tells us of "the measureless viciousness of the great radical
republic, with its ruffianly nominations and elections; its loud
ill-pitched voice; its fights, errors, eructations, dishonesties,
audacities;" _et cetera_: when he tells us this, with a sort of
caressing touch upon all the bad adjectives, rolling the "errors" and
the "audacities" and the "viciousness" under his tongue and faithfully
believing that the strength which recommends his future poetry is to
come out of viciousness and ruffianly elections and the like; let us
inquire, to what representative facts in our history does this
picture correspond; what great democrat who has helped to "block out"
this present republic, sat for this portrait? Is it George Washington,
that beautiful, broad tranquil spirit whom, I sometimes think, even we
Americans have never yet held quite at his true value,--is it
Washington who was vicious, dishonest, audacious, combative? But
Washington had some hand in blocking out this republic. Or what would
our courtly and philosophic Thomas Jefferson look like, if you should
put this slouch hat on him, and open his shirt-front at the bosom, and
set him to presiding over a ruffianly nomination? Yet he had some hand
in blocking out this republic. In one of Whitman's poems I find him
crying out to Americans, in this same strain: "O lands! would you be
freer than all that has ever been before? If you would be freer than
all that has been before, come listen to me." And this is the

    "Fear grace--fear elegance, civilization, delicatesse,
    Fear the mellow sweet, the sucking of honey-juice;
    Beware the advancing mortal ripening of nature,
    Beware what precedes the decay of the ruggedness of States and men."

And in another line, he rejoices in America because--"Here are the
roughs, beards, ... combativeness, and the like".

But where are these roughs, these beards, and this combativeness? Were
the Adamses and Benjamin Franklin roughs? was it these who taught us
to make ruffianly nominations? But they had some hand in blocking out
this republic. In short, leaving each one to extend this list of names
for himself, it may be fairly said that nowhere in history can one
find less of that ruggedness which Whitman regards as the essential
of democracy; nowhere more of that grace which he considers fatal to
it, than among the very representative democrats who blocked out this
republic. In truth, when Whitman cries "fear the mellow sweet," and
"beware the mortal ripening of nature", we have an instructive
instance of the extreme folly into which a man may be led by mistaking
a metaphor for an argument. The argument here is, you observe, that
because an apple in the course of nature rots soon after it mellows,
_argal_ a man cannot mellow his spirit with culture without decaying
soon afterwards. Of course it is sufficient only to reflect _non
sequitur_; for it is precisely the difference between the man and the
apple, that, whereas every apple must rot after ripeness, no man is
bound to.

If therefore after an inquiry ranging from Washington and Jefferson
down to William Cullen Bryant (that surely unrugged and graceful
figure who was so often called the finest American gentleman) and
Lowell, and Longfellow, and the rest who are really the men that are
blocking out our republic, if we find not a single representative
American democrat to whom any of these pet adjectives apply,--not one
who is measurelessly vicious, or ruffianly, or audacious, or purposely
rugged, or contemptuous towards the graces of life,--then we are
obliged to affirm that the whole ideal drawn by Whitman is a fancy
picture with no counterpart in nature. It is perfectly true that we
have ruffianly nominations; but we have them because the real
democrats who govern our republic, who represent our democracy, stay
away from nominating conventions and leave them to the ruffians.
Surely no one can look with the most cursory eye upon our everyday
American life without seeing that the real advance of our society goes
on not only without, but largely in spite of that ostensible
apparatus, legislative, executive, judicial which we call the
Government, &c.; that really the most effective legislation in our
country is that which is enacted in the breasts of the individual
democrats who compose it. And this is true democratic growth, every
day; more and more, each man perceives that the shortest and most
effectual method of securing his own rights is to respect the rights
of others; and so every day do we less and less need outside
interference in our individual relations; so that every day we
approach nearer and nearer towards that ideal government in which each
man is, mainly, his own legislator, his own governor or president, and
his own judge, and in which the public government is mainly a concert
of measures for the common sanitation and police.

But again: it is true as Whitman says that we have dishonesties; but
we punish them, they are not representative, they have no more
relation to democracy than the English thief has to English

From what spirit of blindness is it alleged that these things are
peculiar to our democracy? Whitman here explicitly declares that the
over-dainty Englishman "can not stomach the high-life below stairs of
our social status so far;" this high-life consisting of the
measureless viciousness, the dishonesty, and the like. Cannot stomach
it, no; who could? But how absurd to come down to this republic, to
American society for these things! Alas, I know an Englishman, who,
three hundred years ago, found these same things in that aristocracy
there; and he too, thank heaven, could not stomach them, for he has
condemned them in a sonnet which is the solace of all sober-thoughted
ages. I mean Shakspeare, and his sonnet


    Tired with all these, for restful death I cry,--
    As, to behold desert a beggar born,
    And needy nothing trimmed in jollity,
    And purest faith unhappily foresworn,
    And gilded honor shamefully misplaced,
    And maiden virtue rudely strumpeted,
    And right perfection wrongfully disgraced,
    And strength by limping sway disabled,
    And art made tongue-tied by authority,
    And folly (doctor-like) controlling skill,
    And simple truth miscalled simplicity,
    And captive good attending captain ill:
      Tired of all these, from these would I be gone,
      Save that, to die, I leave my love alone.

It is true that we have bad manners; yet among the crowds at the
Centennial Exposition it was universally remarked that in no country
in the world could such vast multitudes of people have assembled day
after day with so few arrests by the police, with so little disorder,
and with such an apparent universal and effective sentiment of respect
for the law.

Now if we carry the result of this inquiry over into art; if we are
presented with a poetry which professes to be democratic because
it--the poetry--is measurelessly vicious, purposely eructant, striving
after ruggedness, despising grace, like the democracy described by
Whitman; then we reply that as matter of fact there never was any such
American democracy and that the poetry which represents it has no
constituency. And herein seems a most abundant solution of the fact
just now brought to your notice, that the actually existing democracy
have never accepted Whitman. But here we are met with the cry of
strength and manfulness. Everywhere throughout Whitman's poetry the
"rude muscle," the brawn, the physical bigness of the American
prairie, the sinew of the Western backwoodsman, are apotheosized, and
all these, as Whitman asserts, are fitly chanted in his "savage song."

Here, then, is a great stalwart man, in perfect health, all brawn and
rude muscle, set up before us as the ideal of strength. Let us examine
this strength a little. For one, I declare that I do not find it
impressive. Yonder, in a counting-room--alas, in how many
counting-rooms!--a young man with weak eyes bends over a ledger, and
painfully casts up the figures day by day, on pitiful wages, to
support his mother, or to send his younger brother to school, or some
such matter. If we watch the young man when he takes down his hat,
lays off his ink-splotched office-coat, and starts home for dinner, we
perceive that he is in every respect the opposite of the stalwart
Whitman ideal; his chest is not huge, his legs are inclined to be
pipe-stems, and his dress is like that of any other book-keeper. Yet
the weak-eyed pipe-stem-legged young man impresses me as more of a
man, more of a democratic man, than the tallest of Whitman's roughs;
to the eye of my spirit there is more strength in this man's daily
endurance of petty care and small weariness for love; more of the sort
of stuff which makes a real democracy and a sound republic, than in an
army of Whitman's unshaven loafers.

I know--and count it among the privileges of my life that I do--a
woman who has spent her whole life in bed for twenty years past,
confined by a curious form of spinal disease which prevents locomotion
and which in spite of constant pain and disturbance leaves the system
long unworn. Day by day she lies helpless, at the mercy of all those
tyrannical small needs which become so large under such circumstances;
every meal must be brought to her, a drink of water must be handed;
and she is not rich, to command service. Withal her nature is of the
brightest and most energetic sort. Yet, surrounded by these
unspeakable pettinesses, enclosed in this cage of contradictions, the
woman has made herself the centre of an adoring circle of the
brightest people; her room is called "Sunnyside;" when brawny men are
tired they go to her for rest, when people in the rudest physical
health are sick of life they go to her for the curative virtue of her
smiles. Now this woman has not so much rude muscle in her whole body
as Whitman's man has in his little finger: she is so fragile that long
ago some one called her "White Flower," and by this name she is much
known; it costs her as much labor to press a friend's hand as it costs
Whitman's rough to fell a tree; regarded from the point of view of
brawn and sinew, she is simply absurd; yet to the eye of my spirit
there is more manfulness in one moment of her loving and
self-sacrificing existence than in an æon of muscle-growth and
sinew-breeding; and hers is the manfulness which is the only solution
of a true democrat, hers is the manfulness of which only can a
republic be built. A republic is the government of the spirit; a
republic depends upon the self-control of each member: you cannot make
a republic out of muscles and prairies and Rocky mountains; republics
are made of the spirit.

Nay, when we think of it, how little is it a matter of the future, how
entirely is it a matter of the past, when people come running at us
with rude muscle and great mountain, and such matters of purely
physical bigness to shake our souls? How long ago is it that they
began to put great bearskin caps on soldiers with a view to make them
look grisly and formidable when advancing on the enemy? It is so long
ago that the practice has survived mainly as ceremonial, and the
little boys on the streets now laugh at this ferociousness when the
sappers and miners come by who affect this costume.

Yet, here in the nineteenth century we behold artists purposely
setting bearskin caps upon their poetry to make it effective. This
sort of thing never yet succeeded as against Anglo-Saxon people. I
cannot help thinking here of old Lord Berners' account translated from
Froissart, of how the Genoese cross-bowmen attempted to frighten the
English warriors at the battle of Crécy. "Whan the Genowayes were
assembled togayder, and beganne to aproche, they made a great leape
and crye, to abasshe thenglysshmen, but they stode styll, and styredde
not for all that; thane the Genowayes agayne the seconde tyme made
another leape, and a fell crye, and stepped forward a lytell, and
thenglysshmen remeved not one fote; thirdly, agayne they leapt and
cryed, and went forthe tyll they come within shotte; thane shot
feersley with their crosbowes; than thenglysshe archers stept forthe
one pase, and lette fly their arowes so hotly, and so thycke, that it
semed snowe; when the Genowayes felt the arowes persynge through
heedes, armes, and brestes, many of them cast downe their crosbowes,
and dyde cutte their strynges, and retourned dysconfited."

And so the Poetry of the Future has advanced upon us with a great leap
and a fell cry, relying upon its loud, ill-pitched voice, but the
democracy has stirred not for all that. Perhaps we may fairly say,
gentlemen, it is five hundred years too late to attempt to capture
Englishmen with a yell.

I think it interesting to compare Whitman's often expressed contempt
for poetic beauty--he taunts the young magazine writers of the present
time with having the beauty disease--with some utterances of one who
praised the true function of ruggedness in works the world will not
soon forget. I mean Thomas Carlyle, who has so recently passed into
the Place where the strong and the virtuous and the beautiful souls
assemble themselves. In one of Carlyle's essays he speaks as follows
of Poetic Beauty. These words scarcely sound as if they came from the
lover of Danton and Mirabeau:

"It dwells and is born in the inmost Spirit of Man, united to all love
of Virtue, to all true belief in God; or rather, it is one with this
love and this belief, another phase of the same highest principle in
the mysterious infinitude of the human Soul. To apprehend this beauty
of poetry, in its full and purest brightness, is not easy, but
difficult; thousands on thousands eagerly read poems, and attain not
the smallest taste of it; yet to all uncorrupted hearts, some
effulgences of this heavenly glory are here and there revealed; and to
apprehend it clearly and wholly, to require and maintain a sense of
heart that sees and worships it, is the last perfection of all humane

In the name of all really manful democracy, in the name of the true
strength that only can make our republic reputable among the nations,
let us repudiate the strength that is no stronger than a human biceps;
let us repudiate the manfulness that averages no more than six feet
high. My democrat, the democrat whom I contemplate with pleasure; the
democrat who is to write or to read the poetry of the future, may have
a mere thread for his biceps, yet he shall be strong enough to handle
hell, he shall play ball with the earth, and albeit his stature may be
no more than a boy's, he shall still be taller than the great redwoods
of California; his height shall be the height of great resolution, and
love and faith and beauty and knowledge and subtle meditation; his
head shall be forever among the stars.

But here we are met with the cry of freedom. This poetry is free, it
is asserted, because it is independent of form. But this claim is also
too late. It should have been made at least before the French
Revolution. We all know what that freedom means in politics which is
independent of form, of law. It means myriad-fold slavery to a mob. As
in politics, so in art. Once for all, in art, to be free is not to be
independent of any form, it is to be master of many forms. Does the
young versifier of the Whitman school fancy that he is free because
under the fond belief that he is yielding himself to nature, stopping
not the words lest he may fail to make what Whitman proudly calls "a
savage song," he allows himself to be blown about by every wind of
passion? Is a ship free because, without rudder or sail, it is turned
loose to the winds, and has no master but nature? Nature is the tyrant
of tyrants. Now, just as that freedom of the ship on the sea means
shipwreck, so independence of form in art means death. Here one recurs
with pleasure to the aphorism cited in the last lecture; in art, as
elsewhere, "he who will not answer to the rudder shall answer to the
rocks." I find all the great artists of time striving after this same
freedom; but it is not by destroying, it is by extending the forms of
art, that all sane and sober souls hope to attain. In a letter of
Beethoven's to the Arch-duke Rudolph, written in 1819, I find him
declaring "But freedom and progress are our true aim in the world of
art, just as in the great creation at large."

We have seen how in the creation at large progress is effected by the
continual multiplication of new forms. It was this advance which
Beethoven wished: to become master of new and more beautiful forms,
not to abolish form. In a letter of his to Matthisson, as early as
1800 accompanying a copy of _Adelaide_, we may instructively gather
what he thought of this matter: "Indeed even now I send you _Adelaide_
with a feeling of timidity. You know yourself what changes the lapse
of some years brings forth in an artist who continues to make
progress; the greater the advances we make in art the less we are
satisfied with our works of an early date." This unstudied declaration
becomes full of significance when we remember that this same
_Adelaide_ is still held, by the common consent of all musicians, to
be the most perfect song-form in music; and it is given to young
composers as a type and model from which all other forms are to be
developed. We may sum up the whole matter by applying to these persons
who desire formlessness, words which were written of those who have
been said to desire death:

    Whatever crazy Sorrow saith,
    No life that breathes with human breath
    Has ever truly longed for death.

    'Tis life whereof our nerves are scant,
    O life, not death, for which we pant;
    More life, and fuller, that I want.

In art, form and chaos are so nearly what life and death are in
nature, that we do not greatly change this stanza if we read:

    'Tis form whereof our art is scant,
    O form, not chaos, for which we pant,
    More form, and fuller, that I want.

I find some deliverances in Epictetus which speak so closely to more
than one of the points just discussed that I must quote a sentence or
two. "What then", he says--in the chapter "About Freedom" "is that
which makes a man free from hindrance and makes him his own master?
For wealth does not do it, nor consulship, nor provincial government,
nor royal power; but something else must be discovered. What then is
that which when we write makes us free from hindrance and unimpeded.
The knowledge of the art of writing. What then is it (which gives
freedom) in playing the lute? The science of playing the lute." If
Whitman's doctrine is true, the proper method of acquiring freedom on
the lute is to bring lute-music to that point where the loud jangling
chord produced by a big hand sweeping at random across the strings is
to take the place of the finical tunes and harmonies now held in
esteem. "Therefore" continues Epictetus, "in life, also, it is the
science of life.... When you wish the body to be sound, is it in your
power or not?--It is not. When you wish it to be healthy? Neither is
this in my power." (I complain of Whitman's democracy that it has no
provision for sick, or small, or puny, or plain-featured, or
hump-backed, or any deformed people, and that his democracy is really
the worst kind of aristocracy, being an aristocracy of nature's
favorites in the matter of muscle.) And so of estate, house, horses,
life and death, Epictetus continues; these are not in our power, they
cannot make us free. So that, in another chapter, he cries: This is
the true athlete, the man who exercises himself against such
appearances. Stay, wretch, do not be carried away. Great is the
combat, divine is the work: it is for kingship, for freedom, for

And lastly, the Poetry of the Future holds that all modern poetry,
Tennyson particularly, is dainty and over-perfumed, and Whitman speaks
of it with that contempt which he everywhere affects for the dandy.
But what age of time ever yielded such a dandy as the founder of this
school, Whitman himself? The simpering beau who is the product of the
tailor's art is certainly absurd enough; but what difference is there
between that and the other dandy-upside-down who from equal motives of
affectation throws away coat and vest, dons a slouch hat, opens his
shirt so as to expose his breast, and industriously circulates his
portrait, thus taken, in his own books. And this dandyism--the
dandyism of the roustabout--I find in Whitman's poetry from beginning
to end. Everywhere it is conscious of itself, everywhere it is
analysing itself, everywhere it is posing to see if it cannot assume a
naive and striking attitude, everywhere it is screwing up its eyes,
not into an eyeglass like the conventional dandy, but into an
expression supposed to be fearsomely rough and barbaric and frightful
to the terror-stricken reader; and it is almost safe to say that one
half of Whitman's poetic work has consisted of a detailed description
of the song he is going to sing. It is the extreme of sophistication
in writing.

But if we must have dandyism in our art, surely the softer sort, which
at least leans toward decorum and gentility, is preferable; for that
at worst becomes only laughable, while the rude dandyism, when it does
acquire a factitious interest by being a blasphemy against real
manhood, is simply tiresome.

I have thus dwelt upon these claims of the Whitman school, not so much
because of any intrinsic weight they possess, as because they are
advanced in such taking and sacred names,--of democracy, of manhood,
of freedom, of progress. Upon the most earnest examination, I can find
it nothing but wholly undemocratic; not manful, but dandy; not free,
because the slave of nature; not progressive, because its whole
momentum is derived from the physically-large which ceased to astonish
the world ages ago, in comparison with spiritual greatness.

Indeed, this matter has been pushed so far, with the apparent, but
wholly unreal sanction of so many influential names, that in speaking
to those who may be poets of the future, I cannot close these hasty
words upon the Whitman school without a fervent protest, in the name
of all art and all artists, against a poetry which has painted a great
scrawling picture of the human body, and has written under it: "_This
is the soul_;" which shouts a profession of religion in every line,
but of a religion that, when examined, reveals no tenet, no rubric,
save that a man must be natural, must abandon himself to every
passion; and which constantly roars its belief in God, but with a
camerado air as if it were patting the Deity on the back, and bidding
Him, _Cheer up_, and hope for further encouragement.

We are here arrived at a very fitting point to pass on and consider
that third misconception of the relation between science and art,
which has been recently formulated by M. Emile Zola in his work called
_Le Roman Expérimental_. Zola's name has been so widely associated
with a certain class of novels, that I am fortunately under no
necessity to describe them, and I need only say that the work in
question is a formal reply to a great number of objections which have
come from many quarters as to the characters and events which Zola's
novels have brought before the public.

His book, though a considerable volume, may be said to consist of two
sentences which the author has varied with great adroitness into many
forms. These two sentences I may sum up, as follows: (1) every novel
must hereafter be the entirely unimaginative record of an experiment
in human passion; and (2) every writer of the romantic school in
France, particularly Victor Hugo, is an ass.

You are not to suppose that in this last sentiment I have strengthened
Zola's expressions. A single quotation will show sufficient authority.
As, for example, where M. Zola cries out to those who are criticizing
him: "Every one says: 'Ah yes, the naturalists! they are those men
with dirty hands who want all novels to be written in slang, and
choose the most disgusting subjects.' Not at all! you lie!... Do not
say that I am idiot enough to wish to paint nothing but the gutter."

But with this quarrel we are not here concerned; I simply wish to
examine in the briefest way Zola's proposition to convert the novel
into a work of science. His entire doctrine may be fairly, indeed
amply gathered in the following quotations:

     "We continue by our observations and experiments the work of the
     physiologist, who has himself employed that of the physicist and
     the chemist. We after a fashion pursue scientific psychology in
     order to complete scientific physiology; and in order to complete
     the evolution, we need only carry to the study of nature and man
     the invaluable tool of the experimental method. In a word, we
     should work upon characters, passions, human and social facts, as
     the physicist and chemist work with inorganic bodies, as the
     physiologist works with living organisms. Determinism controls

     "This, then, is what constitutes the experimental novel,--to
     understand the mechanism of human phenomena, to show the
     machinery of intellectual and emotional manifestations as
     physiology shall explain them to us under the influence of
     heredity and surrounding circumstances; then to show man living
     in the social _milieu_ which he has himself produced, and which
     he modifies every day, while at the same time experiencing in his
     turn a continual transformation. So we rest on physiology; we
     take man isolated from the hands of the physiologist to continue
     the solution of the problem and to solve scientifically the
     question, How men live as members of society.--We are, in a word,
     experimental philosophers, showing by experiment how a passion
     exhibits itself in certain social surroundings. The day when we
     shall understand the mechanism of this passion, it may be
     treated, reduced, made as inoffensive as possible."

These propositions need not detain us long. In the first place, let us
leave the vagueness of abstract assertions and, coming down to the
concrete, let us ask who is to make the experiment recorded in the
novel? Zola says, "We (the novelists) are experimental philosophers,
showing by experiment how a passion exhibits itself in certain social
surroundings." Very well; in one of Zola's most popular novels, the
heroine Nana, after a remarkable career, dies of small-pox; and a
great naturalistic ado is made over this death. A correspondent of the
_Herald_, writing from Paris, says: "In a very few days we are to be
treated to the stage version of _Nana_, at the Ambigu. Nana, it will
be remembered, dies at the end of the story of small-pox. We are to be
given every incident of the agony, every mark of the small-pox. Pretty
Mlle. Massin (who is to play this death-scene) is to be the crowning
attraction of this new play.... We shall be shown a real death of
small-pox, or the nearest possible approach to it. Mlle. Massin, who
is to sustain the pleasing part of the "heroine," will make her pretty
face hideous for the occasion. At half past 11 every evening she will
issue from behind the drapery of a bed, clad only in the most
indispensable of nightly raiment--and that "in most admired
disorder"--her neck, cheeks and forehead disfigured, changed and
unrecognizable for simulated pustules. At twenty minutes to 12 the
pustules will be too much for her, and she will expire. At a quarter
to 12 the deafening applause of the public will call her to life
again, and she will bow her acknowledgments."

Applying Zola's theory, sociology is to find here a very instructive
record of how a woman such as Nana would comport herself when dying of
small-pox; and furthermore, his description of it must be an exact
record of an experiment in death from small-pox conducted by M. Zola
in person. But now recurring to our question, let us ask, how could M.
Zola conduct this experiment? It would certainly be inconvenient for
him to catch the small-pox and die, with a view to recording his
sensations; and yet it is perfectly apparent that the conditions of
scientific experiment could not be satisfied in any other way. M. Zola
would probably reply with effusion, that he had taken pains to go to a
small-pox hospital and to study with great care the behavior of a
patient dying with that disease. But, we immediately rejoin, this is
very far from what his theory bound him to show us; his theory bound
him to show us not some person, any person, dying of small-pox, but
Nana with all her individuality derived from heredity and from her own
spontaneous variation--it was Nana dying of small-pox that he must set
before us; one person dies one way and another person dies another
way, even of the same disease; Smith, a very tragic person, would make
a death-scene full of tragic message and gesture; Brown might close
his eyes and pass without a word; Nana, particularly, with her
peculiar career and striking individuality, would naturally make a
peculiar and striking death. Now since Nana is purely a creation of
Zola, (unless indeed the novel is a biography, which is not pretended)
Zola is the only person in the world who understands Nana's feelings
in death or on any occasion; and this being so, it is simply
impossible that Zola could make a scientific experiment of Nana's
death from small-pox without dying himself. This seems so absurd that
one goes back to _Le Roman Expérimental_ to see if Zola's idea of a
scientific experiment has not something peculiar about it; and one
quickly finds that it has. It is in fact interesting to observe that
though Zola has this word experiment continually on his lips, yet he
never means that the novelist is to conduct a real, gross, downright,
actual brute of an experiment; and the word with him is wholly
Pickwickian, signifying no more than that the novelist, availing
himself of such realistic helps as he can find in hospitals and the
like, is to evolve therefrom something which he believes to be the
natural course of things. Examine the book wherever you may, the
boasted experiment, the pivot of the whole system, fades into this.

The experiment of Zola is as if a professor of chemistry, knowing
something of the properties of given substances desiring to see how a
certain molecule would behave itself in the presence of a certain
other molecule, hitherto untried in this connection, instead of going
into his laboratory and bringing the molecules together and observing
what they actually did, should quietly sit before his desk and write
off a comfortable account of how he thought these molecules would
behave, judging from his previous knowledge of their properties. It is
still more interesting to find that Zola is apparently unconscious of
the difference between these two modes of experiment. About this
unconsciousness I have my own theory. I think it entirely probable
that if these two kinds of experiment were described to Zola he would
maintain with perfect good faith that they were exactly the same.
There is a phase of error--perhaps we may call it hallucination--in
which certain sorts of minds come to believe that two things which
have been habitually associated are always the same. For instance, a
friend of mine has told me that a certain estimable teacher of the
French language, who, after carrying on his vocation for many years,
during which English and French became equally instinctive tongues to
him, was accustomed to maintain that English and French were
absolutely one and the same language. "When you say _water_," he was
accustomed to argue to my friend, "you mean water; when I say _l'eau_
I mean water; _water--l'eau_, _l'eau--water_; do you not see? We mean
the same thing; it is the same language."

However this may be, nothing is clearer than that Zola's conception of
an experiment is what I have described it--namely, an evolving from
the inner consciousness of what the author _thinks_ the experimental
subjects would do under given circumstances. Here are some of Zola's
own words: and surely nothing more naïve was ever uttered: "The
writer" (of the novel) "employs both observation and experiment. The
observer gives the facts as he has observed them ... and establishes
the solid ground on which his characters shall march, and the
phenomena shall develop themselves. _Then the experimenter appears and
conducts the experiment; that is to say_" (I am quoting from M. Zola)
"_he moves the characters in a particular story to show that the
sequence of facts will be such as is determined in the study of
phenomena_." That is to say, to carry Zola's "experiment" into
chemistry: knowing something of chlorine and something of hydrogen
separately, a chemist who wishes to know their behavior under each
other's influence may "experiment" upon that behavior by giving his
opinion as to what chlorine and hydrogen would likely do under given

It seems incredible, but it is logically beyond question, that by this
short process we have got to the bottom of this whole elaborate system
of the Experimental Novel, and have found that it is nothing but a
repetition of the old, old trick of the hand of Jacob and the voice of
Esau. Think how much self-sacrifice and labor, of how many noble and
brave spirits, from Horrox and Hooke in the seventeenth century down
to the hundreds of scientific men who at this moment are living
obscure and laborious lives in the search of truth,--think, I say, how
much fervent and pious labor has gone to invest the mere name of
scientific experiment with that sacredness under which the Zola school
is now claiming the rights and privileges of science, for what we have
seen is _not_ science, and what, we might easily see if it were worth
showing, _is_ mere corruption. The hand is the hand of science; but
the voice is the voice of a beast.

To many this animal voice has seemed a portentous sound. But if we
think what kind of beast it is, we cease to fear. George Eliot,
somewhere in _Adam Bede_, has a _mot_: when a donkey sets out to sing,
everybody knows beforehand what the tune will be. This voice has been
heard many times before. Long before Zola came on the stage, I find
Schiller crying in his sweet silver tones to some who were likewise
misusing both art and science: "Unhappy mortal, that, with science and
art, the noblest of all instruments, effectest and attemptest nothing
more than the day-drudge with the meanest; that in the domain of
perfect Freedom bearest about in thee the spirit of a slave."

In these words, Schiller has at once prophesied and punished The
Experimental Romance.

But there is another view of Zola's claims which leads us into some
thoughts particularly instructive at the present time, and which will
carry us very directly to the more special studies which will engage
our attention.

After the views of form which have been presented to you, it will not
be necessary for me to argue that even if Zola's Experimental Novel
were a physical possibility, it would be an artistic absurdity. If you
_could_ make a scientific record of actual experiment in human
passion, very well: but why should we call that record a novel, if we
do not call Professor Huxley's late work on the crayfish a novel, or
if we do not call any physician's report of some specially interesting
clinical experience to the _Medical and Surgical Journal_ a novel?

Here we are put upon securing for ourselves perfectly clear
conceptions as to certain relations between that so-called _poetic_
activity and _scientific_ activity of the human mind which find
themselves in a singularly interesting contact in the true and worthy
novel which we are going to study. Merely reminding you of the
distinction with which every one is more or less familiar
theoretically, that that activity which we variously call "poetic,"
"imaginative," or "creative," _is_ essentially synthetic, is a process
of putting together, while the scientific process seems distinctively
analytic, or a tearing apart; let us pass from this idea to those
applications of the poetic faculty which are made whenever a
scientific searcher goes further than the mere collection of facts, to
classify them and to effect generalizations. This is an activity of
what is well called the scientific imagination. Now what is the
difference between a work of the scientific imagination and a work of
the poetic imagination? Without going into subtleties, I think the
shortest way to gain a perfectly clear working idea of this difference
is to confine our attention to the differing results of these
activities: the scientific imagination results in a formula, whose
paramount purpose is to be as _short_ and as comprehensive as
possible; the poetic imagination results in a created form of forms,
whose paramount purpose is to be as _beautiful_ and as comprehensive
as possible. For example, the well-known formula of evolution: that
evolution is a process from the uniform and indefinite to the
multiform and definite; that is a result of long efforts of the
scientific imagination; while on the other hand Tennyson's _In
Memoriam_, in which we have deep matters discussed in the most
beautiful words and the most musical forms of verse, is a poetic work.

And now if we pass one step farther and consider what would happen if
the true scientific activity and the true poetic activity should
engage themselves upon one and the same set of facts, we arrive at the

The great modern novelist is at once scientific and poetic: and here,
it seems to me, in the novel, we have the meeting, the reconciliation,
the kiss, of science and poetry. For example: George Eliot, having
with those keen eyes of hers collected and analyzed and sorted many
facts of British life, binds them together into a true poetic
synthesis, in, for instance, _Daniel Deronda_, when instead of giving
us the ultimate relations of all her facts in the shape of a formula,
like that of evolution, she gives them to us in the beautiful creation
of Gwendolen Harleth and all the other striking forms which move
through the book as embodiments in flesh and blood of the scientific
relations between all her facts.

Perhaps we will find it convenient here, too, to base perfectly clear
ideas of the three existing schools of novel-writing upon these
foregoing principles. It has been common for some time to hear of the
Romantic and the Realistic school, and lately a third term has been
brought into use by the Zola section who call themselves the
Naturalistic school. It is easy to see that these terms have arisen
from the greater or less prominence given now to the poetic activity,
now to the scientific activity, in novel writing; those who most rely
on the poetic being the Romantic, those on a combination of the poetic
and scientific the Realistic, and those who entirely reject the
imagination (as Zola professes to do) the Naturalistic school. At all
events, then, not troubling ourselves with the Naturalists who, as we
have seen, call that an experiment which is only an imaginative
product; we are prepared to study the Novel as a work in which science
is carried over into the region of art. We are not to regard the novel
therefore as ought else but a work of art, and the novelist as an

One rejoices to find Emerson discussing the novel in this light
purely, in his very suggestive essay on "Books":--

"Whilst the prudential and economical tone of society starves the
imagination, affronted Nature gets such indemnity as she may. The
novel is that allowance and frolic the imagination finds. Everything
else pins it down, and men flee for redress to Byron, Scott, Disraeli,
Dumas, Sand, Balzac, Dickens, Thackeray and Reade.

"The imagination infuses a certain volatility and intoxication. It has
a flute which sets the atoms of our frame in a dance, like planets;
and, once so liberated, the whole man reeling drunk to the music, they
never quite subside to their old stony state."

Nay, we have such beautiful novels in the world, novels far from the
experimental romances by which we are not _perfected_ but _infected_
(_non perficitur_, _inficitur_), as old Burton quotes in the
_Anatomy_; novels in which scientific harmony has passed into its
heavenly after-life of wisdom, novels in which the pure sense of
poetic beauty is so tenderly drawn out, that I love to think of them
in the terms which our most beauty-loving of modern poets has applied
to beauty, in the opening of _Endymion_:

    A thing of beauty is a joy forever;
    Its loveliness increases; it will never
    Pass into nothingness, but still will keep
    A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
    Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing;
    Therefore on every morrow, are we wreathing
    A flowery band to bind us to the earth,
    Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
    Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,
    Of all the unhealthy and o'erdarkened ways
    Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,
    Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
    From our dark spirits. Such the sun, the moon,
    Trees old and young, sprouting a shady boon
    For simple sheep; and such are daffodils
    With the green world they live in; and clear rills
    That for themselves a cooling covert make
    'Gainst the hot season; the mid-forest brake,
    Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms;
    And such too is the grandeur of the dooms
    We have imagined for the mighty dead;
    All lovely tales that we have heard or read:
    An endless fountain of immortal drink,
    Pouring unto us from the heaven's brink.


The points discussed at our last meeting were mainly of such a nature
that I need not occupy your time with the detailed review which has
seemed advisable heretofore.

You will remember, in a general way, that we finished examining the
claims of the poetry of the future, as presented by Whitman, and found
reason to believe, from several trains of argument, that its alleged
democratic spirit was based on a political misconception; that its
religious spirit was no more than that general feeling of good
fellowship and _cameraderie_ which every man of the world knows to be
the commonest of virtues among certain classes; its strength rested
upon purely physical qualifications which have long ago practically
ceased to be strength; its contempt for dandyism was itself only a
cruder dandyism, and its proposed substitution of power for beauty not
only an artistic blindness but a historical error as to the general
progress of this world, which has been _from_ strength _to_ beauty
ever since the ponderous old gods Oceanus and Gæa--representatives of
rude strength--gave way to the more orderly (that is, more beautiful)
reign of Saturn, and he in turn to the still more orderly and
beauty-representing Jupiter, whom Chaucer has called the "fadyr of

Passing thus from the Whitman school, we attacked that third
misconception of literary form which had taken the shape of the
so-called naturalistic school, as led by Zola in his novels and
defended by him in his recent work, _The Experimental Romance_. Here
we quickly discovered that if the term "experiment" were used by this
school in its ordinary and scientific sense, it would, in a large
number of cases, involve conditions which would exterminate the
authors of the projected experimental romances often at an early stage
of the plot; but that secondly, this inconvenience was avoided through
the very peculiar meaning which was attached to the word by this
school, and which reveals that they make no more use of experiment, in
point of fact, than any one of the numerous novelists who have for
years been in the habit of studying real life and nature as the basis
of their work.

In short, it appeared that to support the propriety of circulating
such books by calling them experimental romances, was as if a man
should sell profitable poison under the name of scientific milk, and
claim therefor both the gratitude of society and the privileges of
science. Finally, supplying ourselves with clear ideas as to the
difference between what has become so well known in modern times as
the scientific imagination and the poetic imagination, we determined
to regard the novel as a true work of art, and the novelist as an
artist, by reason of the _created forms_ in the novel which were shown
to be the distinctive outcome of the poetical imagination as opposed
to _the formula_ which is the distinctive outcome of the scientific
imagination. Nevertheless, in view of the circumstance that the facts
embodied in these forms are facts which must have been collected by a
genuine exercise of the true scientific faculty of observing and
classifying, we were compelled to regard the novel as a joint product
of science and art, ranking as art by virtue of its final purely
artistic outcome in the shape of beautiful created forms.

It is with a sense of relief that one turns away from what I fear has
seemed the personal and truculent tone of the last lecture--an
appearance almost inseparable from the fact that certain schools of
writing have become represented by the names of their living founders,
and which would, indeed, have prevented your present lecturer from
engaging in the discussion had not his reluctance been overwhelmed by
the sacred duty of protesting against all this forcible occupation of
the temple of art by those who have come certainly not for worship; it
is with a sense of relief that one turns from this to pursue the more
gracious and general studies which will now occupy us.

According to the plan already sketched: having now acquired some clear
fundamental conceptions of the correlations among form, science, art,
and the like notions often so vaguely used, we are next to inquire, as
our first main line of research: Is it really true that what was
explained as the growth in human personality is the continuing single
principle of human progress; is it really true that the difference
between the time of Æschylus and the time of (say) George Eliot is the
difference in the strength with which the average man feels the scope
and sovereignty of his age? For upon this fundamental point
necessarily depends our final proposition that the modern novel is
itself the expression of this intensified personality and an
expression which could only be made by greatly extending the form of
the Greek drama. Pursuing our custom of leaving the abstract and
plunging into the concrete as soon as possible, let us determine this
question by endeavoring to find some special notable works of antique
and of modern times in which substantially the same subject matter has
been treated; let us then compare the difference in treatment, let us
summarize the picture of things evidently existing in the old, as
contrasted with the modern author's and reader's minds; and finally
let us see whether the differences thus emerging will not force
themselves upon us as differences growing out of personality. For the
purposes of this comparison I have thought that the _Prometheus Bound_
of Æschylus, the _Prometheus Unbound_ of Shelley, and the _Prince
Deukalion_ of Bayard Taylor offered inviting resources as works which
treat substantially the same story, although the first was written
some two thousand three hundred years before the last two. Permit me
then, in beginning this comparison, to set before you these three
works in the broadest possible sketch by reading from each, here and
there a line such as may bring the action freshly before you and at
the same time elucidate specially the differences in treatment we are
in search of. As I now run rapidly through the _Prometheus_ of
Æschylus, I ask you to bear along in mind the precise nature of this
spontaneous variation between man and man which I was at some pains to
define in my first lecture; and perhaps I may extend profitably the
partial idea there given by adopting a pretty fancy which I find in
No. 44 of Tennyson's _In Memoriam_, and carrying it to a larger sphere
than there intended. The poet is here expressing the conception that
perhaps the main use of this present life of ours is for each one to
learn _himself_,--possibly as preparatory to learning other things
hereafter. He says:

    The baby new to earth and sky
        What time his tender palm is prest
        Against the circle of the breast,
    Has never thought that 'this is I:'

    But as he grows he gathers much,
        And learns the use of 'I' and 'me,'
        And finds, 'I am not what I see,
    And other than the things I touch.'

    So rounds he to a separate mind
        From whence clear memory may begin,
        As thro' the frame that binds him in
    His isolation grows defined.

    This use may lie in blood and breath,
        Which else were fruitless of their due,
        Had man to learn himself anew
    Beyond the second birth of Death.

Now if we extend the process of growth here described as of a single
child passing through a single life to the collective process of
growth effected by humanity from age to age, we have quite clearly the
principle whose light I wish to shed upon our comparison of the works
I have named. Just as the child learns to know himself--"that I am
I"--so man comes in the course of time to feel more and more
distinctly I am I; and the growth of this feeling continually uproots
his old relations to things and brings about new relations with new
forms to clothe them in.

One may say indeed that this recognition of the supreme finality of
the _ego_ feeling among modern men seems a curious and not unrelated
counterpart of the theory by which the modern physicist, in order to
explain his physical world, divides it into atoms which atoms are
themselves indivisible. We have here the perplexing problem which in
the poem _De Profundis_, partially read to you, was poetically called
"the pain of this divisible, indivisible world." To explain the world,
whether the moral or the physical world, we must suppose it divisible
into atoms; to explain the atom, we must suppose that indivisible. Let
us see then in what form this "pain of the divisible, indivisible
world" with all its attendant pains of contradiction between fate and
free will,--between the Infinite Personality, which should seem
boundless, and the finite personality which nevertheless seems to
bound it,--let us see, I say under what explicit forms this pain
appears in the _Prometheus Bound_, for alas it was an old grief when
Æschylus was a baby. Here, then, in the centre of the stage lies the
gigantic figure of Prometheus, (let us fancy) stark, prostrate, proud,
unmoving throughout the whole action. Two ministers of Jove, Might and
Force, have him in charge and Hephæstus--the god more commonly known
as Vulcan--stands by with chain, hammer and bolt. Might acquaints us
at once with what is toward.

    At length the utmost bound of earth we've reached,
    This Scythian soil, this wild untrodden waste.
    Hephæstus, now Jove's high behests demand
    Thy care; to these steep, cliffy rocks bind down
    With close-linked chains of during adamant
    This daring wretch. For he the bright rayed fire,
    Mother of arts....
    Filched from the gods and gave to mortals. Here
    Let his pride learn to bow to Jove supreme;
    And love men well but love them not too much.

Hephæstus proceeds to chain him, but with many protests, not only
because Prometheus' act seems over-punished, but because he is
Prometheus' kinsman.

    Would that some other hand

(He cries)

    "Had drawn the lot
    To do this deed!"

To which Might replies

    All things may be, but this:
    To dictate to the gods. There's one that's free,
    One only--Jove.

And Hephæstus sullenly acquiesces, as he beats away at his task,

    "I know it, and am dumb."

--Amid similar talk--of protest from Vulcan and pitiless menace from
Might--the great blacksmith proceeds to force an adamantine bolt
through the breast of Prometheus, then to nail his feet to the rock,
and so at last cries, in relief,

    Let us away, He's fettered, limb and thew.

But Might must have his last pitiless speech.

    "There lie,

he exults,--

    And feed thy pride on this bare rock,
    Filching god's gifts for mortal men. What man
    Shall free thee from these woes? Thou hast been called
    In vain the Provident:

(_pro-vident_, same as pro-metheus, he who looks ahead, who provides,
the provident.)

                                    had thy soul possessed
    The virtue of thy name, thou had'st foreseen
    These cunning toils, and had'st unwound thee from them.

Here all depart but Prometheus. Up to this time the Titan has
maintained a proud silence. He now breaks into that large invocation
which seems still to assault our physical ears across the twenty odd

    O divine Æther, and swift-winged Winds,
    And Fountains of the rivers and multitudinous
    Laughter of ocean, and thou Earth,
    Born mother of us all, and thou bright round
    Of the all-seeing Sun, you I invoke!
    Behold what ignominy of causeless wrongs
    I suffer from the gods, myself a god!

(This, by the way, is one of those passages which our elder poets seem
to have regarded as somehow lying outside the pale of moral law--like
umbrellas--and which they have therefore appropriated without a
thought of blushing. Byron, in _Manfred_, and Shelley, in his
_Prometheus Unbound_, have quite fairly translated parts of it.)

Enter now a chorus of Oceanides, and these continue throughout the
play to perform the functions of exciting sympathy for the
Protagonist, and of calling upon him for information when it becomes
necessary that the audience should know this and that fact essential
to the intelligibility of the action.

For example, after the Oceanides have alighted from their wind-borne
car, and have condoled with the sufferer, Æschylus makes them the
medium of drawing from Prometheus the recital of his wrongs, and thus
of freshly placing that whole tremendous story before the minds of his

    Speak now,

say the chorus,

    "And let us know the whole offence
    Jove charges thee withal."

And Prometheus relates

    When first the gods their fatal strife began,
    And insurrection raged in heaven, some striving
    To cast old Kronos from his heavy throne
    That Jove might reign, and others to crush i' the bud
    His swelling mastery--I wise counsel gave
    To the Titans, sons of primal Heaven and Earth;
    But gave in vain.
    Thus baffled in my plans, I deemed it best,
    As things then were, leagued with my mother Themis,
    To accept Jove's proffered friendship. By my counsels.
    From his primeval throne was Kronos hurled
    Into the pit Tartarean, dark, profound,
    With all his troop of friends.

    Soon as he sat on his ancestral throne
    He called the gods together, and assigned
    To each his fair allotment and his sphere
    Of sway; but, ah! for wretched man!
    To him no portion fell: Jove vowed
    To blot his memory from the Earth, and mould
    The race anew. I only of the gods
    Thwarted his will; and, but for my strong aid,
    Hades had whelmed, and hopeless ruin swamped
    All men that breathe. Such were my crimes:

       *       *       *       *       *

    And here I lie, in cunning torment stretched,
    A spectacle inglorious to Jove.

Presently Ocean appears, and advises Prometheus to yield. Prometheus
scornfully refuses, and Ocean, fearful of being found in bad company,
prudently retires, whereupon, after a mournful hymn from the chorus,
reciting the sympathy of all nations and things with Prometheus, he
proceeds to relate in detail his ministry in behalf of mankind. The
account which he gives of the primal condition of the human race is
very instructive upon our present research, as embodying, or rather as
unconsciously revealing, the complete unconsciousness of
personality--of what we call personality--among Æschylus and his

Prometheus begins by calling the whole human race at that time a babe,
and goes on to declare that

                  ... Having eyes to see, they saw not,
    And hearing, heard not, but, like dreaming phantoms,
    A random life they led from year to year,
    All blindly floundering on. No craft they knew
        --to build--
    But in the dark earth burrowed....
    Numbers too I taught them ... and how
    To fix their shifting thoughts by marshalled signs.

He brings the ox, the ass, and the horse into service, launches the
first boat on the sea, teaches medicine, institutes divination, and

                                    ... I probed the earth
    To yield its hidden wealth ...
    Iron, copper, silver, gold; ...
    And thus, with one short word to sum the tale,
    Prometheus taught all arts to mortal men.


    Do good to men, but do it with discretion.
    Why shouldst thou harm thyself? Good hope I nurse
    To see thee soon from these harsh chains unbound,
    As free, as mighty, as great Jove himself.


    This may not be; the destined curse of things
    Fate must accomplish....
    Though art be strong, necessity is stronger.


    And who is lord of strong necessity?


    The triform Fates and the sure-memoried Furies.


    And mighty Jove himself must yield to them?


    No more than others Jove can 'scape his doom.


       *       *       *       *       *

    There's some dread mystery in thy speech


    *  *  *  * The truth thou'lt know
    In fitting season; now it lies concealed
    In deepest darkness; for relenting Jove
    Himself must woo this secret from my breast.

(This secret--so it is told in the old myths--is that Jove is to meet
his own downfall through an unfortunate marriage, and Prometheus is in
possession of the details which would enable Jove to avoid the doom.)

After a choral hymn, recommending submission to Jove, we have suddenly
the grotesque apparition of Io upon the stage. Io had been beloved by
Jove; but the jealousy of Hera, or Juno, had transformed her into a
cow, and had doomed her to wander over the world stung by an
inexpugnable gadfly, and watched by the hundred-eyed Argus. Thus,
suddenly, upon the spectacle of a man suffering from the hatred of
Jove, Æschylus brings the spectacle of a woman suffering from the love
of Jove. Io enters with this fine outburst:

    What land is this? What race of mortals
    Owns this desert? Who art thou,
    Rock-bound with these wintry fetters,
    And for what crime tortured thus?
    Worn and weary with far travel,
    Tell me where my feet have borne me!
    O pain! pain! pain! it stings and goads me again,
    The fateful gadfly!--save me, O Earth!--avaunt,
    Thou horrible shadow of the earth-born Argus!
    Could not the grave close up thy hundred eyes,
    But thou must come,
    Haunting my path with thy suspicious look,
    Unhoused from Hades?
    Avaunt! avaunt! why wilt thou hound my track,
    The famished wanderer on the waste sea-shore?

After much talk, Io now relates her mournful story, and, supported by
the Chorus, persuades Prometheus to prophesy the very eventful future
which awaits her when her wanderings are over. In this prophetic
account of her travels, Æschylus gives a soul-expanding review of land
after land according to the geographic and ethnic notions of his time;
and here Mr. Blackie, whose translation of the Prometheus I have been
partly quoting from, sometimes reproduces his author in very large and
musical measures. For example, Prometheus chants:

    When thou hast crossed the narrow stream that parts
    The continents, to the far flame-faced East
    Thou shalt proceed, the highway of the sun;
    Then cross the sounding ocean, till thou reach
    Cisthene and the Gorgon plains, where dwell
    Phorcys' three daughters, maids with frosty eld,
    White as the swan, with one eye and one tooth
    Shared by the three; them Phœbus, beamy-bright
    Beholds not, nor the nightly moon. Near them
    Their winged sisters dwell, the Gorgons dire,
    Man-hating monsters, snaky-locked, whom eye
    Of mortal ne'er might look upon and live.
    *  *  *  * One more sight remains
    That fills the eye with horror. * * *
    The sharp-beaked Griffins, hounds of Jove, avoid,
    Fell dogs that bark not; and the one-eyed host
    Of Arimaspian horsemen with swift hoofs
    Beating the banks of golden-rolling Pluto.
    A distant land, a swarthy people next
    Receives thee: near the fountains of the sun
    They dwell by Ethiop's wave. This river trace
    Until thy weary feet shall reach the pass
    Whence from the Bybline heights the sacred Nile
    Pours his salubrious flood. The winding wave
    Thence to triangled Egypt guides thee, where
    A distant home awaits thee, fated mother
    Of an unstoried race.

In this strain Prometheus continues to foretell the adventures of Io
until her son Epaphus, monarch of Egypt, is born, who will
be--through the fifty daughters celebrated in _The Suppliants_ of
Æschylus--the ancestor of Hercules, which Hercules is to be the
deliverer of Prometheus himself.

Then in a frenzy of pain, Io departs, while the Chorus bursts into a
hymn deploring such ill-matched unions as that of Io with Jove, and
extolling marriage between equals.

After the exit of Io--to finish our summary of the play--the action
hastens to the end; the chorus implores Prometheus to submit:
presently, Hermes or Mercury appears, and tauntingly counsels
surrender, only to be as tauntingly repulsed by Prometheus; and, after
a sharp passage of wits between these two, accompanied by indignant
outbursts from the Chorus at the pitilessness of Hermes, the play
ceases with a speech from Prometheus describing the new punishment of

    Now in deed and not in discourse,
    The firm earth quakes.
    Deep and loud the ambient thunder
    Bellows, and the flaring lightning
    Wreathes his fiery curls around me
    And the whirlwind rolls his dust,
    And the winds from rival regions
    Rush in elemental strife,
    And the sky is destroyed with the sea.
    Surely now the tyrant gathers
    All his hoarded wrath to whelm me.
    Mighty Mother, worshipped Themis,
    Circling Æther that diffusest
    Light, the common joy of all,
    Thou beholdest these my wrongs!

Thus in the crash of elements the play ends. Fortunately our purpose
with this huge old story thus treated by Æschylus, lays us under no
necessity to involve ourselves in endless discussions of the
Sun-myths, of the connection between ox-horned Io and the sacred
Egyptian cow Isis; of moral interpretations which vary with every
standpoint. The extent to which these _do_ vary is amusingly
illustrated in an interpretation of the true significance of
Prometheus, which I recently happened to light upon, made by a certain
Mr. Newton, who published an elaborate work a few years ago in defence
of the strictly vegetable diet. Mr. Newton would not have us misapply
fire to cookery; and in this line of thought he interprets the old
fable that Prometheus stole fire from heaven and was punished by being
chained to Caucasus with a vulture to gnaw his liver. The simple fact,
says our vegetarian, is that "Prometheus first taught the use of
animal food, and of fire with which to render it more pleasing, etc.,
to the taste. Jupiter, and the rest of the gods, foreseeing the
consequences of the inventions" (these consequences being all manner
of gastric and other diseases which Newton attributes to the use of
animal food), "were amused or irritated at the short-sighted devices
of the ... creature, and left him to experience the sad effects of
them." In short, the chaining to a rock, with a vulture to gnaw his
liver, is simply a very satisfactory symbol for dyspepsia.

Untroubled by these entanglements, which thus reach from Max Müller,
with his Sun-wanderings, to the dyspeptic theory of our vegetarian;
our present concern is less with what Æschylus or his fable meant than
with the frame of mind of the average man who sat in his audience, and
who listened to these matters with favor, who accepted this picture of
gods and men without rebellion. My argument is, that if this average
man's sense of personality had not been most feeble he could _not_
have accepted this picture at all. Permit me, then, to specify three
or four of the larger features of it before we go on to contrast the
treatment of this fable by Æschylus with that by Shelley and Taylor in
a later age.

In the first place, then, since we are mainly meditating upon the
growth of human personality, I beg you to observe the complete lack of
all provision for such growth, either among the gods or the men of
this presentation. Consider Hephæstus, for example, or Vulcan. Vulcan
may hammer away, immortal as he is, for a million æons upon the
thunderbolts of Jove; he may fashion and forge until he has exhausted
the whole science and art of offensive and defensive armament; but how
much better off is Vulcan for that? he can never step upon a higher
plane,--he is to all eternity simply Vulcan, armorer to Jove. And so
Hermes or Mercury may carry messages eternally, but no more; his
faculty and apparatus go to that end and no farther. But these
limitations are intolerable to the modern personality. The very
conception of personality seems to me to imply a conception of growth.
If I do one thing to-day, another to-morrow, I am twice as much
to-morrow as I was to-day, by virtue of the new thing; or, even if I
do only the same thing to-morrow that I did to-day, I do it
easier,--that is, with a less expenditure of force, which leaves me a
little surplus; and by as much as this surplus (which I can apply to
something else), I am more than I was yesterday. This "more"
represents the growth which I said was implied in the very conception
of personality, of the continuous individual.

Now the feeling of all this appears to be just as completely asleep in
Æschylus himself and in all his precedent old Greek theogonists as it
is in the most witless boor who gazes open-mouthed at the gigantic
Prometheus. But if we here descend from the gods, to the men, of this
picture, we find Prometheus almost in terms asserting this absence of
personality among the men whom he taught which we have just found by
implication among the gods who tortured him.

You will remember the lines I read from the first long speech of
Prometheus, in which he describes the utterly brutish, crawling
cave-dwellers to whom he communicated the first idea of every useful
art. The denial of all power in man himself, once he was created, of
originating these inventions--that is, of growing--that is, of
personality--is complete.

I find nothing so subtly and inconsolably mournful among all the
explicit miseries of the Greek mythology as this fixity of nature in
the god or the man, by which the being is suspended, as it were, at a
certain point of growth, there to hang forever. And in this view the
whole multitudinous people, divine and human, of the whole Greek
cyclics, seem to me as if sculptured in a half relief upon the black
marble wall of their fate--in half relief because but half gods and
half men, who in the lack of personality cannot grow, cannot move.

When Keats stands regarding the figures sculptured upon the Grecian
urn, it is only a cunning sign of the unspeakable misery of his own
life that he finds the youth happy because though he can never succeed
in his chase he can never fall any farther behind in it; to Keats'
teased aspiration a certain sense of rest comes out of the very fixity
of a man suspended in marble.

    "Fair youth beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
    Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
    Bold lover, never, never canst thou kiss
    Though winning near the goal! Yet do not grieve:
    She cannot fade though thou hast not thy bliss,
    Forever wilt thou love and she be fair."

A true old Greek despair fills these lines with a sorrow which is all
the more penetrating when we hear it surging out from among the keen
and energetic personalities of modern times,--personalities which will
not accept any youth's happiness of being howsoever near to his love
if that happiness be coupled with the condition that he is never to be
nearer,--personalities which find their whole summary in continuous
growth, increase, movement.

And if we remember that even when the condition of primal man is very
far from the miserable state depicted by Prometheus, the case grows
all the stronger of that Golden Age in which the antique imagination
took great delight, not all unshared, it must be confessed, by later
times, fails to please the modern personality. For example in
Chaucer's poem called _Aetas Prima_, that is, the first or Golden Age,
we have the most engaging picture of man in a pre-Promethean time,
drawn at a far different point of view from that of Prometheus in our

How taking seems this simplicity:

    "A blisful lyfe, a peseable and so swete,
    Leddyn the peplis in the former age;
    Thei helde them paied with the frutes they ete,
    Wich that the feldes gafe them by usage;

    Thei etyn most hawys and such pownage
    And dronken watyr of the colde welle.

    Yet was the ground not woundyd with the plough,
    But corne upsprange onsowe of mannes hand;

    No man yit knew the furous of hys land:
    No man yit fier owt of the flynt fand.

    No flesche ne wyst offence of hegge or spere;
    No coyne ne knew man whiche was false or trewe:
    No shyppe yit karfe the wawys grene and blewe:
    No marchand yit ne fet owtlandische ware.

    Yit were no palys chambris, ne no hallys;
    In cavys and in wodes soft and swete
    Sleptyn thys blessyd folk withowte wallys
    On grasse or levys in parfite joy and quiete.

    Unforgyd was the hauberke and the plate;
    The lambisshe pepyl, voyd of alle vice,
    Hadden noo fantasye to debate,
    But eche of hem wold oder well cheriche:
    No pride, none envy, none avarice,
    No lord, no taylage by no tyrannye,
    Humblesse, and pease, good fayth the emprise.

    Yit was not Jupiter the likerous,
    That first was fadyr of delicacye
    Come in thys world, ne Nembroth desirous
    To raygne hadde not made hys towrys hyghe.
    Alas! alas! now may men weep and crye,
    For in owre days is is not but covetyse,
    Doublenesse, treson, and envye,
    Poysonne, manslawtyr, mordre in sondri wyse."

Surely this is all soothing and enchanting enough; one cannot escape
the amiable complacencies which breathe out from this placid scene;
but what modern man would soberly agree to exchange a single moment of
this keen, breezy, energetic, growing existence of ours for a
Methusaleh's life in this golden land where nature does not offer
enough resistance to educe manhood or to furnish material for art, and
where there is absolutely no room, no chance, no need, no conception
of this personality that if rightly felt makes the humblest life one
long enchantment of the possible. The modern personality confronted
with these pictures, after the first glamour is gone, is much minded
to say, with the sharp-witted Glaucon, in Plato's _Republic_,
according to Jowett: "after all, a state of simplicity is a city of

But secondly, the cumbrous apparatus of power with which Æschylus
presents us in this play is a conception of people not acquainted with
that model of infinite compactness which every man finds in his own
_ego_. Jove, instead of speaking a word and instantly seeing the deed
result, must rely first upon his two ministers, Might and Force, who
in the first scene of our play have hauled in the Titan Prometheus;
these, however, do not suffice, but Hephæstus must be summoned in
order to nail him to the rocks; and Jove cannot even learn whether or
not his prisoner is repentant until Hermes, the messenger, visits
Prometheus and returns. The modern _ego_ which, though one
indivisible, impalpable unit, yet remembers, reasons, imagines, loves,
hates, fears and does a thousand more things all within its little
scope, without appliances or external apparatus--such an _ego_ regards
such a Jove much in the light of that old Spanish monarch in whose
court various duties were so minutely distributed and punctiliously
discharged, that upon a certain occasion (as is related), the monarch
being seated too near the fire, and the proper functionary for
removing him being out of call, his majesty was roasted to death in
the presence of the entire royal household.

And as the third feature of the unpersonality revealed in this play,
consider the fact that it is impossible for the modern reader to find
himself at all properly terror-stricken by the purely physical
paraphernalia of thunder, of storms, of chains, of sharp bolts, and
the like, which constitute the whole resources of Jove for the
punishment of Prometheus.

The modern direct way of looking at things--the perfectly natural
outcome of habit of every man's dealing with a thing for himself and
of first necessarily looking to see what the thing actually is--this
directness of vision cannot help seeing that Prometheus is a god,
that he is immortal, that thunder cannot kill him, that the bolt
through his breast makes no wound, but will repair itself with ease,
that he not only knows all this, but knows further that it is to end
(as Prometheus himself declares in the play), in his own triumph.
Under these circumstances the whole array of whirlwinds and lightnings
become a mere pin-scratch; the whole business is a matter of that
purely physical pain which every man is ashamed to make a noise of. We
can conceive a mere man fronting all these terrors of storm and
thunder with unbowed head and serene countenance, in the consciousness
that the whitest of these lightnings cannot singe an eyelash of his
immortal personality; how, then, can it be expected that we shall be
greatly impressed with the endurance of these ills by a god to whose
greater resistive endowment the whole system of this gross
thrust-and-smite of iron and fire is no more than the momentary tease
of a gnat! To the audience of Æschylus, not so; they shiver and groan;
they know not themselves.

I do not know how I can better show the grossness of this conception
of pain than by opposing to it a subtile modern conception thereof
whose contrast will fairly open out before us the truly prodigious
gulf between the average personality of the time of Æschylus and that
of ourselves. The modern conception, I refer to is Keats' Ode on
Melancholy; which, indeed, if one may say a word _obiter_, out of the
fullness of one's heart--I am often inclined to think for all-in-all,
that is, for thoughts most mortally compacted, for words which come
forth, each trembling and giving off light like a morning-star, and
for the pure beauty of the spirit and strength and height of the
spirit,--which, I say, for all-in-all, I am often inclined to think,
reaches the highest height yet touched in the lyric line.


    No, no, go not to Lethe, neither twist
      Wolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;
    Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kiss'd
      By night-shade, ruby grape of Proserpine;
    Make not your rosary of yew-berries,
      Nor let the beetle, nor the death-moth be
      Your mournful Psyche, nor the downy owl
    A partner in your sorrow's mysteries;
      For shade to shade will come too drowsily,
      And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul.

    But when the melancholy fit shall fall
      Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,
    That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,
      And hides the green hill in an April shroud;
    Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,
      Or on the rainbow of the salt-sand wave,
      Or in the wealth of globed peonies;
    Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
      Imprison her soft hand, and let her rave,
      And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.

    She dwells with Beauty--Beauty that must die;
      And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips
    Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,
      Turning to poison while the bee-moth sips:
    Ay, in the very temple of Delight
      Veiled Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
    Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
      Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine;
    His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,
      And be among her cloudy trophies hung.


The main direction of our studies has been indicated in the preceding
lectures to such an extent that from this point forward our customary
review may be omitted. In examining the _Prometheus_ of Æschylus we
have found three particulars, in which not only Æschylus, but his
entire contemporary time shows complete unconsciousness of the most
precious and essential belongings of personality. These particulars
were, (1), the absolute impossibility of growth, implicitly affirmed
of the gods and explicitly affirmed of men in the passages which were
read; (2) the awkwardness of Jove's apparatus of power which included
a minister for every kind of act--as contrasted with the elasticity
and much-in-little which each man must perceive in regarding the
action of his own mind; and (3) the gross and purely physical
character of the punishments used by Jove to break the spirit of
Prometheus. It was contended, you remember, that if the audience of
Æschylus had acquired that direct way of looking phenomena in the
face, which is one of the incidents of our modern personality, they
would have perceived such an inadequacy between the thunders and
earthquakes of Jove, on the one hand, and the immortal spirit of a
Titan and a god like Prometheus, on the other, that the play, instead
of being a religious and impressive spectacle to them, as it doubtless
was, would have been simply a matter of ridicule, or at best one of
those mere _dilettante_ entertainments where of our own free will we
forgive the grossest violations of common sense and propriety for the
sake of the music or the scenery with which they are associated, as
for example at the Italian opera, or the Christmas pantomime.

This last particular brings us directly upon Shelley's play of the
_Prometheus Unbound_.

We have seen that Æschylus had a fit audience for this fable, and was
working upon emotions which are as deep as religion; but now, when we
come down 2300 years to a time from which the Æschylean religious
beliefs have long exhaled, and when the enormous growth of personality
has quite rolled away the old lumpish terror that stood before the
cave of the physical and darkened it, in such a time it would, of
course, be truly amazing if a man like Shelley should have elaborated
this same old Prometheus fable into a lyrical drama in the expectation
of shaking the souls of men with this same old machinery of thunder,
whirlwind and earthquake.

Such a mistake--the mistake of tearing the old fable forcibly away
from its old surroundings, and of setting it in modern thoughts before
modern men, would be much the same with that which Emerson has noted
in his poem _Each and All_:

    "I thought of the sparrow's note from heaven,
    Singing at dawn on the alder bough;
    I brought him home in his nest at even;
    He sings the song, but it pleases not now,
    For I did not bring home the river and sky--
    He sang to my ear, they sang to my eye.
    The delicate shells lay on the shore;
    Bubbles of the latest wave
    Fresh pearls to their enamel gave;
    And the bellowing of the savage sea
    Greeted their safe escape to me.
    I wiped away the weeds and foam
    I fetched my sea-born treasures home;
    But the poor, unsightly, noisome things
    Had left their beauty on the shore
    With the sun and the sand and the wild sea-shore."

Accordingly, it is instructive, as we look into Shelley's work, to
observe how this inability of his to bring home the river and the sky
along with the sparrow--this inability to bring a Greek-hearted
audience to listen to his Greek fable--operated to infuse a certain
tang of insincerity, of dilettantism, whenever he attempts to
reproduce upon us the old terrors of thunder and lightning which
Æschylus found so effective. We--we moderns--cannot for our lives help
seeing the man in his shirt-sleeves who is turning the crank of the
thunder-mill behind the scenes; nay, we are inclined to ask with a
certain proud indignation, How is it that you wish us to tremble at
this mere resinous lightning, when we have seen a man (not a Titan nor
a god), one of ourselves go forth into a thunder-storm and send his
kite up into the very bosom thereof, and fairly entice the lightning
by his wit to come and perch upon his finger, and be the tame bird of
him and his fellows thereafter and forever? But, secondly, it is still
more conclusive upon our present point, of the different demands made
by the personality of our time from that of Æschylus, to observe how
Shelley's own sense of this difference, his own modern instinct, has
led him to make most material alterations of the old fable, not only
increasing the old list of physical torments with a number that are
purely spiritual and modern, but also by dignifying at once the
character of Prometheus and the catastrophe of the play with that
enormous motive of forgiveness which seems to be the largest outcome
of the developed personality. Many of you are aware of the scholastic
belief that the _Prometheus Bound_ of Æschylus was but the middle play
of a trilogy, and that the last showed us a compromise effected
between Prometheus and Jove, according to which Prometheus reveals the
fatal secret concerning Jove's marriage, and Jove makes a new league
of amity with the Titan. We have a note of this change in treatment in
the very opening lines of Shelley's play--which I now beg to set
before you in the briefest possible sketch. Scene I. of Act I. opens
according to the stage direction--upon _A ravine of icy rocks in the
Indian Caucasus: Prometheus is discovered bound to the precipice:
Panthea and Ione are seated at his feet: time, night: during the
scene, morning slowly breaks_. Prometheus begins to speak at once. I
read only here and there a line selected with special reference to
showing the change of treatment I have indicated as due to that
intenser instinct of personality which Shelley shared in common with
his contemporaries over Æschylus and his contemporaries.

Prometheus exclaims:

    "Monarch of gods and demons, and all spirits
    But one, who throng those bright and rolling worlds
    Which thou and I alone of living things
    Behold with sleepless eyes!...
    Three thousand years of sleep-unsheltered hours,
    And moments aye divided by keen pangs
    Till they seemed years, torture and solitude,
    Scorn and despair,--these are mine empire,
    More glorious far than that which thou surveyest
    From thine unenvied throne!"

Here we have the purely spiritual torments of "solitude, scorn and
despair" set before us; though Shelley retains and even multiplies the
physical torments of Æschylus. A few lines further on, in this same
long opening speech of Prometheus, we have them thus described:

    "Nailed to this wall of eagle-baffling mountain,
    Black, wintry, dead, unmeasured; without herb,
    Insect, or beast, or shape or sound of life.

    The crawling glaciers pierce me with the spears
    Of their moon-freezing crystals; the bright chains
    Eat with their burning cold into my bones.

    ... The earthquake fiends are charged
    To wrench the rivets from my quivering wounds
    When the rocks split and close again behind;
    While from their wild abysses howling throng
    The genii of the storm, urging the rage
    Of whirlwind, and afflict me with keen hail."

And presently, when after the repulse of Mercury Jove begins to stir
up new terrors, we hear Ione exclaiming:

    "O, sister, look! white fire
    Has cloven to the roots yon huge snow-loaded cedar;
    How fearfully God's thunder howls behind!"

But even in Shelley's array of these terrors we perceive a cunning
outcrop of modernness in a direction which I have not yet mentioned
but which we will have frequent occasion to notice when we come to
read the modern novel together; and that is in the detail of the
description Æschylus paints these conclusions with a big brush, and
three sweeps of it; Shelley itemizes them.

It is worth while observing too, that the same spirit of detail in
modern criticism forces us to convict Shelley here of an inconsistency
in his scene; for how could this "snow-loaded cedar" of Ione exist
with propriety in a scene which Prometheus himself has just described
as "without herb, insect, or beast, or sound of life?"

The same instinct of modernness both in the spirituality of the
torment and in the minuteness of its description displays itself a
little farther on in the curse of Prometheus. Prometheus tells us in
this same opening speech that long ago he uttered a certain awful
curse against Jove which he now desires to recall; but it would seem
that in order to recall it he wishes to hear the exact words of it.
"What was that curse?"--he exclaims at the end of the speech; "for ye
all heard me speak." To this question we have page after page of
replies from five voices--namely, the Voice of the Mountains, of the
Springs, of the Air, of the Whirlwinds and of the Earth--embodying
such a mass of falsetto sublimity that Shelley himself would surely
have drawn his pen through the whole, if he had lived into the term of

Finally the whole awkward device for getting the curse of Prometheus
before the reader is consummated by raising up the phantasm of Jupiter
which repeats the curse, word for word.

In truth, Shelley appears always to have labored under an essential
immaturity: it is very possible that if he had lived a hundred years
he would never have become a man: he was penetrated with modern ideas,
but penetrated as a boy would be, crudely, overmuch, and with a
constant tendency to the extravagant and illogical: so that I call him
the modern boy.

These considerations quite cover the remaining three acts of his
_Prometheus Unbound_ and render it unnecessary for me to quote from
them in support of the passages already cited.

The first act contains, indeed, nearly the substance of the whole
drama. Act II contains no important motive except the visit of Asia
and Panthea to Demogorgon under the earth. In the third act we have a
view of Jove surrounded by his ministers; but in the midst of a short
speech to them he is suddenly swept into hell for everlasting
punishment. Here, of course, Shelley makes a complete departure from
the old story of the compromise between Jove and Prometheus; Shelley
makes Prometheus scornfully reject such a compromise and allow Jove to
go down to his doom. Hercules then unbinds Prometheus who repairs to a
certain exquisite interlunar cave and there dwells in tranquillity
with his beloved Asia.

The rest of Act III. is filled with long descriptions of the change
which comes upon the world with the dethronement of Jove. Act IV. is
the most amazing piece of surplusage in literature; the catastrophe
has been reached long ago in the third act. Jove is in eternal duress,
Prometheus has been liberated and has gone with Asia and Panthea to
his eternal paradise above the earth, and a final radiant picture of
the reawakening of man and nature under the new régime has closed up
the whole with the effect of a transformation-scene. Yet, upon all
this, Shelley drags in Act IV. which is simply leaden in action and
color alongside of Act III. and in which the voices of unseen spirits,
the chorus of Hours, Jove, Panthea, Demogorgon, the Earth and the Moon
pelt each other with endless sweetish speeches that rain like
ineffectual comfits in a carnival of silliness. For example, a Voice
of Unseen Spirits cries:

    "Bright clouds float in heaven,
    Dew-stars gleam on earth,
    Waves assemble on ocean:
    They are gathered and driven
    By the storm of delight, by the panic of glee!
    They shake with emotion,
    They dance in their mirth.
    But where are ye?

    The pine boughs are singing
    Old songs with new gladness;
    The billows and fountains
    Fresh music are flinging
    Like the notes of a spirit from land and from sea;
    The storms mock the mountains
    With the thunder of gladness.
    But where are ye?"

The people thus inquired for, being the chorus of Hours, sleepily

    "The voice of the spirits of air and of earth
    Has drawn back the figured curtain of sleep
    Which covered our being and darkened our birth
    In the deep."


    In the deep?


    Oh, below the deep.



    We have heard the lute of Hope in sleep;
    We have known the voice of love in dreams,
    We have felt the wand of power come and leap--


    "As the billows leap in the morning beams,"


    "Weave the dance on the floor of the breeze,
    Pierce with song heaven's silent light,
    Enchant the day that too swiftly flees,
    To check its flight ere the cave of night.

    Once the hungry Hours were hounds
    Which chased the day like a bleeding deer,
    And it limped and stumbled with many wounds
    Through the nightly dells of the desert year.

    But now oh! weave the mystic measure
    Of music, and dance, and shapes of light;
    Let the Hours and the spirits of night and pleasure
      Like the clouds and sunbeams unite."


    "We join the throng
    Of the dance and the song,
    By the whirlwind of gladness borne along;
    As the flying-fish leap
    From the Indian deep
    And mix with the sea-birds half asleep."

This long lyric outburst, wholly unnecessary to an action which was
already complete, seems an instructive fact to place before young
writers in a time when many souls which might be poetic gardens if
they would compact all their energies into growing two roses and a
lily--three poems in all, for a lifetime--become instead mere wastes
of profuse weeds that grow and are cut down and cast into the oven
with each monthly magazine.

But it would not be fair to leave Shelley with this flat taste in our
mouths, and I will therefore beg to finish our examination of the
_Prometheus Unbound_ by three quotations from these last acts, in
which his modernness of detail and of subtlety,--being exercised upon
matters capable of such treatment--has made for us some strong and
beautiful poetry. Here for instance at the opening of Scene I. Act II.
we have a charming specimen of the modern poetic treatment of nature
and of landscape, full of spirituality and full of detail. The stage
direction is "Morning; A Lovely Vale in the Indian Caucasus. Asia,
alone." Asia, who is the lovely bride of Prometheus, is awaiting
Panthea who is to come with news of him. She begins with an invocation
of the Spring.


    "From all the blasts of heaven thou hast descended!
    Yea, like a spirit, like a thought, which makes
    Unwonted tears throng to the horny eyes,
    And beatings haunt the desolated heart
    Which should have learnt repose, thou hast descended
    Cradled in tempests; thou dost wake, O Spring!
    O child of many winds! As suddenly
    Thou comest as the memory of a dream,
    Which now is sad because it hath been sweet!
    Like genius, or like joy which riseth up ...
    As from the earth, clothing with golden clouds
    The desert of our life.
    This is the season, this the day, the hour;
    At sunrise thou shouldst come, sweet sister mine.
    Too long desired, too long delaying, come!
    How like death-worms the wingless moments crawl!
    The point of one white star is quivering still
    Deep in the orange light of widening morn
    Beyond the purple mountains: through a chasm
    Of wind-divided mist the darker lake
    Reflects it: now it wanes: it gleams again
    As the waves fade, and as the burning threads
    Of woven cloud unravel the pale air:
    'Tis lost! and through yon peaks of cloud-like snow
    The roseate sunlight quivers: hear I not
    The Æolian music of her sea-green plumes
    Winnowing the crimson dawn?"

And here we find some details of underwater life which are modern. Two
fauns are conversing: one inquires where live certain delicate spirits
whom they hear talking about the woods, but never meet. We are here in
an atmosphere very much like that of _The Midsummer-Night's Dream_. I
scarcely know anything more compact of pellucid beauty: it seems quite
worthy of Shakspeare.


                               'Tis hard to tell:
    I have heard those more skill'd in spirits say,
    The bubbles, which th' enchantment of the sun
    Sucks from the pale faint water-flowers that pave
    The oozy bottom of clear lakes and pools,
    Are the pavilions where such dwell and float
    Under the green and golden atmosphere
    Which noontide kindles through the woven leaves;
    And when these burst, and the thin fiery air,
    The which they breathed within those lucent domes,
    Ascends to flow like meteors through the night,
    They ride in them, and rein their headlong speed,
    And bow their burning crests, and glide in fire
    Under the waters of the earth again."

Here again, in my third extract, we have poetry which is as strong as
the other is dainty, and which is as modern as geology. Asia is
describing a vision in which the successive deposits in the crust of
the earth are revealed to her. The whole treatment is detailed,
modern, vivid, powerful.

    "... The beams flash on
    And make appear the melancholy ruins
    Of cancell'd cycles: anchors, beaks of ships;
    Planks turn'd to marble; quivers, helms, and spears;
    And gorgon-headed targes, and the wheels
    Of scythed chariots, and the emblazonry
    Of trophies, standards, and armorial beasts,
    Round which death laugh'd, sepulchred emblems
    Of dread destruction, ruin within ruin!
    Whose population which the earth grew over
    Was mortal, but not human; see, they lie,
    Their monstrous works and uncouth skeletons,
    Their statues, domes, and fanes, prodigious shapes
    Huddled in gray annihilation, split,
    Jamm'd in the hard, black deep; and over these
    The anatomies of unknown winged things,
    And fishes which were isles of living scale,
    And serpents, bony chains, twisted around
    The iron crags, or within heaps of dust
    To which the torturous strength of their last pangs
    Had crushed the iron crags; and over these
    The jagged alligator, and the might
    Of earth-convulsing behemoth, which once
    Were monarch beasts, and on the slimy shores,
    And weed-overgrown continents of earth,
    Increased and multiplied like summer worms
    On an abandoned corpse till the blue globe
    Wrapt deluge round it like a cloak, and they
    Yelled, gasped, and were abolished; or some God,
    Whose throne was in a comet, past, and cried
    Be not! And like my words they were no more."

Shelley appears not to have been completely satisfied with the
Prometheus story. This dissatisfaction displays itself in a
characteristic passage of his preface to the Prometheus, which happens
very felicitously to introduce the only other set of antique
considerations I shall offer you on this subject. "Let this
opportunity," (he says in one place) "be conceded to me of
acknowledging that I have what a Scotch philosopher characteristically
terms 'a passion for reforming the world'.... But it is a mistake to
suppose that I dedicate my poetical compositions solely to the direct
enforcement of reform, or that I consider them in any degree as
containing a reasoned system on the theory of human life....

... Should I live to accomplish what I purpose, that is, produce a
systematical history of what appear to me to be the genuine elements
of human society, let not the advocates of injustice and superstition
flatter themselves that I should take Æschylus rather than Plato as my

In Shelley's poem we have found much of the modernness between the
lines, or appearing as the result, merely, of that spirit of the time
which every writer must share to a greater or less extent with his
fellow-beings of the same period. But as we proceed now to examine
Bayard Taylor's poem, _Prince Deukalion_, we find a man not only
possessed with modernness, but consciously possessed; so that what was
implicit in Shelley--and a great deal more--here becomes explicit and

As one opens the book, a powerful note of modernness in the drama, as
opposed to the drama of Æschylus, strikes us at the outset in the
number of the actors. One may imagine the amazement of old Æschylus as
he read down this truly prodigious array of _dramatos prosopa_:

Eos, Goddess of the Dawn: Gæa, Goddess of the Earth; Eros; Prometheus;
Epimetheus; Pandora; Prince Deukalion; Pyrrha; Agathon; Medusa;
Calchas; Buddha; Spirits of Dawn; Nymphs; Chorus of Ghosts; Charon;
Angels; Spirits; The Nine Muses; Urania; Spirit of the Wind; Spirit of
the Snow; Spirit of the Stream; Echoes; the Youth; the Artist; the
Poet; the Shepherd; the Shepherdess; the Mediæval Chorus; Mediæval
Anti-Chorus; Chorus of Builders; Four Messengers. With these materials
Mr. Taylor's aim is to array before us the whole panorama of time,
painted in symbols of the great creeds which have characterized each
epoch. These epochs are four; and one act is devoted to each. In the
first act we have the passing away of nymph and satyr and the whole
antique Greek mythos; and we are shown the coming man and woman in the
persons of Prince Deukalion and Pyrrha, his wife-to-be, whose figures,
however, are as yet merely etched upon a mist of prophecy.

In Act II, we have the reign and fall of the mediæval faith, all of
which is mysteriously beheld by these same shadowy personalities,
Deukalion and Pyrrha. In Act III. the faith of the present is
similarly treated. In Act IV. we have at last the coming man, or
developed personality fairly installed as ruler of himself and of the
world, and Prince Deukalion and Pyrrha, the ideal man and the ideal
woman, now for the first time united in deed as well as in
inspiration, pace forth into the world to learn it and to enjoy it.
Mr. Taylor, as I said, is so explicit upon the points of personality
and modernness as compared with the Æschylean play, that few
quotations would be needed from his work, and I will not attempt even
such a sketch of it as that of Shelley's. For example, in Scene 1, Act
I, of _Prince Deukalion_, Scene I being given in the stage direction

"_A plain sloping from high mountains towards the sea; at the base of
the mountains lofty, vaulted entrances of caverns; a ruined temple on
a rocky height; a shepherd asleep in the shadow of a clump of laurels;
the flock scattered over the plain_,"--a shepherd awakes and
wonderingly describes his astonishment at certain changes which have
occurred during his sleep. This shepherd, throughout the book, is a
symbol of the mass of the common people, the great herd of men. Voices
from various directions interrupt his ejaculations: and amongst other
utterances of this sort, we have presently one from the nymphs--as
representative of the Greek nature--myths--which is quite to our
present purpose.


(Who are to the shepherd voices, and nothing more):

    "Our service hath ceased for you, shepherds!
    We fade from your days and your dreams,
    With the grace that was lithe as a leopard's,
    The joy that was swift as a stream's!
    To the musical reeds, and the grasses;
    To the forest, the copse, and the dell;
    To the mist and the rainbow that passes,
    The vine, and the goblet, farewell!
    Go, drink from the fountains that flow not!
    Our songs and our whispers are dumb:--
    But the thing ye are doing ye know not,
    Nor dream of the thing that shall come."

In Scene IV., Deukalion, leading Pyrrha, passes into a cavern, the
last mouth of Hades left on the earth. Presently, the two emerge upon
"a shadowy, colorless landscape," and are greeted by a chorus of
ghosts, which very explicitly formulates that dreary impossibility of
growth which I pointed out in the last lecture as incident to the old
conception of personality.


    Ashes that once were fires,
    Darkness that once was day,
    Dead passions, dead desires,
    Alone can enter here!
    In rest there is no strife,
       *       *       *       *       *
    Like some forgotten star,
    What first we were, we are,
    The past is adamant:
    The future will not grant
    That, which in all its range
    We pray for--change."

In spite of these warnings, they push on, find Charon at his old place
by the dark river, but are left to row themselves across, Charon
pleading age and long-unused joints; and, after many adventures, find
Prometheus, who very distinctly declares to Prince Deukalion and
Pyrrha their mission.

    "Since thou adrìft,"

says Prometheus,

    "And that immortal woman by thy side
    Floated above submerged barbarity
    To anchor, weary, on the cloven mount,
    Thou wast my representative."

Prince Deukalion--as perhaps many will remember--is the Noah of the
old Promethean cyclus, and the story ran, that the drowned world was
miraculously repeopled by him and Pyrrha. In the same speech
Prometheus introduces to Deukalion as a future helper his brother
Epimetheus--one of the most striking conceptions of the old fable, and
one of the most effective characters in Mr. Taylor's presentation. We
saw in the last lecture that Prometheus was called the Provident,--the
_pro-metheus_ being a looking forward. Precisely opposite is
Epimetheus, that is, he who looks _epi_--upon or backward. Perhaps it
is a fair contrast to regard Prometheus as a symbol of striving onward
or progress; and Epimetheus as a symbol of the historic instinct,--the
instinct which goes back and clears up the past as if it were the
future; which with continual effort reconstructs it; which keeps the
to-be in full view of what has been; which reconciles progress and
conservation. Accordingly, the old story reports Epimetheus as oldest
at his birth, and growing younger with the progress of the ages.

    "Take one new comfort"

says Prometheus,

                  Epimetheus lives.
    Though here beneath the shadow of the crags.
    He seems to slumber, head on nerveless knees,
    His life increases; oldest at his birth,
    The ages heaped behind him shake the snow
    From hoary locks, and slowly give him youth,
    "Tis he shall be thy helper: Brother, rise!

EPIMETHEUS--(_coming forward_)

    I did not sleep: I mused. Ha! comest thou, Deukalion?


    Soon thy work shall come!
        Shame shall cease
    When midway on their paths our mighty schemes
    Meet, and complete each other! Yet my son,
    Deukalion--yet one other guide I give,

And presently Prometheus leads Deukalion and Pyrrha to what is
described in the stage-direction as "_The highest verge of the rocky
table-land of Hades, looking eastward_." Eos is summoned by
Prometheus, much high conversation ensues, and this, the sixth and
last scene of the first Act ends thus:

EOS, (_addressing young Deukalion and Pyrrha_.)

    Faith, when none believe;
    Truth, when all deceive;
    Freedom, when force restrained;
    Courage to sunder chains;
    Pride, when good is shame;
    Love, when love is blame,--
    These shall call me in stars and flame!
        Thus if your souls have wrought,
    Ere ye approach me, I shine unsought."

But Eos proceeds to warn Deukalion and Pyrrha of long trial, and of
many disappointments, closing thus:

        "When darkness falls,
    And what may come is hard to see;
        When solid adamant walls
    Seem built against the Future that shall be;
    When Faith looks backward, Hope dies, Life appals,
        Think most of Morning and of me!

[The rosy glow in the sky fades away]

PROMETHEUS (to _Prince Deukalion_),

    Go back to Earth, and wait!

PANDORA (to _Pyrrha_),

    Go: and fulfil our fate!"

This sketch of the first Act of Taylor's work is so typical of the
remainder that I need not add quotations from the second, or third, or
fourth Act: the explicit modernness of the treatment, the
spirituality, the personality, of it, everywhere forms the most
striking contrast to the treatment of Æschylus; and I will close the
case as to _Prince Deukalion_ by quoting the subtle and wise words of
Prometheus which end the play. The time is the future: the coming man
and woman, Deukalion and Pyrrha, after long trial, and long
separation, are at last allowed to marry, and to begin their earthly
life. These are Prometheus' parting words to them. It would be
difficult to imagine one plane of thought farther removed from another
than is that of the time-spirit which here speaks through Taylor, from
the time-spirit which speaks through Æschylus. Remembering the
relations between man and inexorable nature, between man and the
exterminating god which we saw revealed by the Prometheus of Æschylus,
listen to these relations prophesied by the Prometheus of Taylor,--

    "Retrieve perverted destiny!"

(In Æschylus, when once "destiny" is about, all retrieval grows

    'Tis this shall set your children free.
    The forces of your race employ
    To make sure heritage of joy;
    Yet feed, with every earthly sense,
    Its heavenly coincidence,--
    That, as the garment of an hour,
    This, as an everlasting power.
    For Life, whose source not here began,
    Must fill the utmost sphere of Man,
    And so expanding, lifted be
    Along the line of God's decree,
    To find in endless growth all good;
    In endless toil, beatitude.
    Seek not to know Him; yet aspire
    As atoms toward the central fire!
    Not lord of race is He, afar,--
    Of Man, or Earth, or any star,
    But of the inconceivable All;
    Whence nothing that there is can fall
    Beyond Him, but may nearer rise,
    Slow-circling through eternal skies.
    His larger life ye cannot miss,
    In gladly, nobly using this.
    Now, as a child in April hours
    Clasps tight its handful of first flowers,
    Homeward, to meet His purpose, go!
    These things are all ye need to know.

We have seen that Shelley thought of producing a history of "the
genuine elements of human society," taking Plato as his model, instead
of Æschylus. Had he done so, how is it likely he would have fared? It
so happens that of all the monstrosities of thought which we find in
the whole Greek cultus, based upon the failure to conceive
personality, the most monstrous are those which originated with Plato.
And since you have now heard this word personality until your patience
must be severely taxed, I am glad to say that I can now close this
whole pending argument which I have announced as our first line of
research in a short and conclusive way by asking you to consider for a
moment the complete massacre and deliberate extermination of all those
sacred bases of personality upon which the fabric of our modern
society rests in that ideal society which Plato has embodied in his
_Republic_. Nothing is more irresistible than the conviction that the
being who planned Plato's _Republic_ could neither have had the least
actual sense of his own personality nor have recognized even
theoretically the least particle of its real significance. Fortunately
this examination can be made with great brevity by confining our
attention to the three quite conclusive matters of marriage, children,
and property as they are provided for in Book V. of Plato's

At line 460 of that book we find Socrates inquiring: "And how can
marriages be made most beneficial" in our ideal republic? and
presently answering his own question in due form. I quote here and
there, to make the briefest possible showing of the plan. "Why the
principle has been already laid down, that the best of either sex
should be united with the best as often as possible; and that
inferiors should be prevented from marrying at all." "Now these goings
on must be a secret which the rulers only know, ... or there will be a
farther danger of our herd ... breaking into rebellion." To these ends
we had "better appoint certain festivals at which the brides and
bridegrooms" (whom the rulers have previously selected with care and
secrecy) "will be brought together, and sacrifices will be offered and
suitable hymeneal songs composed by our poets;" ... and we "invent
some ingenious kind of lots which the less worthy may draw." In short,
the provision for marriage is that the rulers shall determine each
year how many couples shall marry, and shall privately designate a
certain number of the healthiest couples for that purpose; at the
annual festival all marriageable couples assemble and draw lots, these
lots having previously been so arranged that all unhealthy or in any
way inferior couples shall draw blanks. Of course this is fraud; but
Plato defends it against Glaucon's objection thus: since "our rulers
will have to practice on the body corporate with medicines, our rulers
will find a considerable dose of these" (that is, of falsehood and
deceit) "necessary for the good of their subjects; ... and this lawful
use of them seems likely to be often needed in the regulations of
marriages." The couples thus married eat at a common table. A brave
youth, as a reward of valor, is allowed more than one wife.

Such are the marriage-arrangements of Plato's ideal republic, except
that I have omitted all the most monstrous provisions, giving only the
rosiest view of it. Reserving comment, let us see how the children are
provided for. Immediately after birth "The proper officers will take
the offspring of the good" or (healthy) "parents to" a certain common
"fold, and there ... deposit them with certain nurses; but the
offspring of the inferior, or of the better where they chance to be
deformed, will be put away in some mysterious unknown place, as
decency requires;" the mothers are afterwards allowed to come to the
fold to nourish the children, but the officers are to take the
greatest care that "no mother recognizes her own child:" of course
these children, when they grow up are to be also bridegrooms and
brides, and the problem of how to prevent unknown brothers and
sisters, and the like,--from marrying is duly attended to: but the
provisions for this purpose are at once so silly and so beastly--nay,
they out-beast the beasts--that surely no one can read them without
wishing to blot out the moment in which he did so.

And lastly property is thus disposed of. "Then" (line 482, Bk. V.
Republic) "the community of wives and children is clearly the source
of the greatest good to the State, ... and agrees with the other
principle that the guardians"--the guardians are the model citizens of
this ideal republic--"are not to have houses or lands or any other
property; their pay is to be their food and they are to have no
private expenses;... Both the community of property and the community
of families ... tend to make them more truly guardians; they will not
tear the city in pieces by differing about _meum_ and _tuum_; the one
dragging any acquisition which he has made into a house of his own,
where he has a separate wife and children ..., and another into
another; ... but all will be affected as far as may be by the same
pleasures and pains; ... and, as they have nothing but their persons
which they can call their own, suits and complaints will have no
existence among them."

Now, as soon as the ideal dispositions of Plato are propounded to a
modern hearer, they send an instantaneous shock to the remotest ends
of his nature; and what I will ask you to do at present is to
formulate this shock in terms of personality. Taking for example the
Platonic provision with regard to marriage (how grotesquely, by the
way, these provisions show alongside of what have gained great
currency as "Platonic attachments"): perhaps the two thousand years
since Plato, have taught us nothing so clearly as that one of the most
mysterious and universal elements of personality, is that marvelous
and absolutely inconsequential principle by which a given man finds
himself determined to love a certain woman, or a given woman
determined to love a certain man; and if we look back we find that the
most continuous travail of the ages has been to secure perfect freedom
for these determinations.

Does it not seem as if Time grinned at us in some horrible dream when
we remind ourselves that here the divine Plato, as he has been called,
and the unspeakable Zola (as some of us have learned to call him) have
absolutely come cheek by jowl, and that the physiological marriage of
Zola's is no more nor less than the ideal marriage of Plato?

Rejecting comment on the child-nursing arrangement of Plato it is
instructive to pass on and regard from a different point of view,
though still from the general direction of personality, the Platonic
community of property. If men desire property says Plato, "one man's
desire will contravene another's, and we shall have trouble. How shall
we remedy it? Crush out the desire; and to that end abolish property."

But no, cries modern personality to Plato, cannot you imagine such an
extension of personality as to make each man see that on the whole the
shortest way to carry out his desires for property is to respect every
other man's desire for property, and thus, in the regulations which
will necessarily result from this mutual respect, to secure everything
he acquires by spiritual considerations infinitely more effective than
spears and bars?

We had occasion to observe the other day how complete has been the
success of this doctrine here in the United States: we found that the
real government now going on is individual, personal,--not at
Washington and that we have every proper desire,--of love in marriage,
of having one woman to wife, of cherishing our own children, of
accumulating property,--secured by external law apparently, and
really by respect for that law and the principles of personality it

It seems curious to me here to make two further points of contact,
which taken with the Zola point just made, seem to tax the extremes of
the heavens and the earth. Plato's organic principle appears to emerge
from some such consideration as this:--A boy ten years old is found to
possess a wondrous manual deftness: he can do anything with his
fingers: word is brought to Plato: what shall the State do with this
boy? Why, says Plato, if he be manually so adroit, likely he will turn
pickpocket: the plain course is to chop off his hands,--or to expose
him to die in one of those highly respectable places such as decency
requires for generally unavailable children.

No, says the modern man: you are destroying his manifest gift, the
very deepest outcome of his personality: he might be a pickpocket,
true, but then he might be a great violinist, he might be a great
worker in all manner of materials requiring deftness: instead of
cutting off his hands, let us put him at an industrial school, let us
set him to playing the violin, let us cherish him, let us develop his
personality. So, Plato takes the gift of acquiring property--for it is
a real gift and blessing to man, if properly developed--and he will
chop it off, that is, he will crush out the desire of property by
destroying the possibility of its exercise.

And what is this in its outcome but the Nirvana of the Buddhists? My
passions keep me in fear and hope; therefore I will annihilate them:
when I neither think nor desire, then I shall rest, then I shall enjoy
Nirvana. Plato institutes a Nirvana for the ills of marriage, of
offspring, of property: and he realizes it by the slow death through
inanition of the desire for love, for children, for property.

And as we have found the Platonic Plato arguing himself into Zola, the
dialectic Plato arguing himself into a dreaming Buddha, all for lack
of the sense of personality, we now find the ideal Plato arguing
himself, for the same lack, into a brawny Whitman. Think of Plato's
community of property, and listen to Whitman's reverie, as he looks at
some cattle. It is curious to notice how you cannot escape a certain
sense of _naïveté_ in this, and how you are taken by it,--until a
moment's thought shows you that the _naïveté_ is due to a cunning and
bold contradiction of every fact in the case.

    "I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and
    I stand and look at them long and long.

    Not one is dissatisfied--not one is demented with the mania of
        owning things:
    Not one is respectable or industrious over the whole earth."

The Whitman method of reaching _naïveté_ is here so queerly
illustrated that it seems worth while to stop a moment and point it
out. Upon the least reflection, one must see that "animals" here must
mean cows, and well-fed cows; for they are about the only animals in
the world to whom these items would apply. For says Whitman, "not one
is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things:"
but suppose he were taking one of his favorite night-strolls in the
woods of Bengal rather than of New Jersey, is it not more than
probable that the first animal he met would be some wicked tiger not
only dissatisfied, but perfectly demented with the mania of owning
Whitman, the only kind of property the tiger knows? Seriously, when we
reflect that property to the animal means no more than food or nest
or lair, and that the whole wing-shaken air above us, the
earth-surface about us, the earth-crust below us, the seas, and all,
are alive day and night with the furious activity of animals quite as
fairly demented with the mania of owning their property as men theirs;
and that it is only the pampered beast who is not so demented,--the
cow, for instance, who has her property duly brought to her so many
times a day and has no more to do but to enjoy the cud thereof until
next feed-time,--we have a very instructive model of methods by which
poetry can make itself _naïve_.

And finally, what a conclusive light is shed upon the principles
supporting Plato's community of property, when we bring forward the
fact, daily growing more and more notable, that along with the modern
passion for acquiring property has grown the modern passion of giving
away property, that is, of charity? What ancient scheme ever dreamed
of the multitudinous charitable organizations of some of our large
cities? Charity has become organic and a part of the system of things:
it has sometimes overflowed its bounds so that great social questions
now pend as to how we shall direct the overflowing charitable
instincts of society so as really to help the needy and not pamper the
lazy: its public manifestations are daily, its private ministrations
are endless.

Plato would have crushed the instinct of property; but the instinct,
vital part of man's personality, as it is, has taken care of itself,
has been cherished and encouraged by the modern cultus, and behold,
instead of breeding a wild pandemonium of selfishness as Plato argued,
it has in its orderly progress developed this wonderful new outgrowth
of charity which fills every thoughtful man's heart with joy, because
it covers such a multitude of the sins of the time.

I have been somewhat earnest--I fear tediously so--upon this matter,
because I have seen what seem the greatest and most mischievous errors
concerning it, receiving the stamp of men who usually think with
clearness and who have acquired just authority in many premises.

It would not be fair to the very different matters which I have now to
treat, to detail these errors; and I will only mention that if, with
these principles of personality fairly fixed in one's mind, one reads
for example the admirable Introduction of Professor Jowett to his
translation of Plato's _Republic_, one has a perfect clew to many of
the problems over which that translator labors with results which, I
think, cannot be conclusive to his own mind.

Here, too, no one can be satisfied with the otherwise instructive
chapter on Individuality in Professor Eucken's _Fundamental Concepts
of Modern Philosophic Thought_. Eucken's direct reference to Plato's
Republic is evidently made upon only a very vague recollection of
Plato's doctrine, which is always dangerous. "The complete
subordination and sacrifice of the individual expressed in Plato's
idea of a state arose from his opposition to a tendency of the times
which he considered pernicious, and so is characterized rather by
moral energy and intensity of feeling than by the quiet and simple
resignation to the objection which we find in the great men of the
preceding period." But a mere opposition to a tendency of the times
could never have bred this elaborate and sweeping annihilation of
individuality; and it is forgotten that Plato is not here legislating
for his times or with the least dream of the practical establishment
of his Republic: again and again he declares his doubts as to the
practicability of his plans for any time. No; he is building a
republic for all time, and is consistently building upon the ruins of
that personality which he was not sensible of except in its bad
outcome as selfishness.

I must add, too, that there was an explicit theory of what was called
Individuality among the Greeks; the phenomenon of the unaccountable
differences of men from birth early attracted those sharp eyes, and
the Stoics and others soon began to build in various directions from
this basis. But just as the Greeks had a theory of harmony--though
harmony was not developed until the last century--as Richter says
somewhere that a man may contemplate the idea of death for twenty
years, and only in some moment of the twenty-first suddenly have the
realization of death come upon him, and shake his soul; so their
theory of individuality must have been wholly amateur, not a working
element, and without practical result. Surely, we seem in condition to
say so with confidence if you run your minds back along this line of
development which now comes to an end. For what have we done? We have
interrogated Æschylus and Plato, whom we may surely call the two
largest and most typic spirits of the whole Greek cultus, upon the
main fact of personality; we have verified the abstract with the
concrete by questioning them upon the most vital and well-known
elements of personality: what do you believe about spiritual growth,
about spiritual compactness, about true love, marriage, children,
property? and we have received answers which show us that they have
not yet caught a conception of what personality means, and that when
they explicitly discuss individuality in their theories, it is a
discussion of blind men about colors.


We are now to enter upon the second of our four lines of study by
concentrating our attention upon three historic _details_ in the
growth of this personality whose _general_ advance has been so
carefully illustrated in our first line. These details are found in
the sudden rise of Physical Science, of Modern Music, and of the
Modern Novel, at periods of time so little separated from each other,
that we may consider these great fields of human activity as fairly
opened simultaneously to the entrance of man about the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries.

Addressing ourselves first, then, to the idea of Science, let us place
ourselves at a point of view from which we can measure with precision
the actual height and nature of the step which man took in ascending
from the plane of, say, Aristotle's "science" to that of Sir Isaac
Newton's "science." And the only possible method of placing ourselves
at this point of view is to pass far back and fix ourselves in the
attitude which antiquity maintained towards physical nature, and in
which succeeding ages comfortably dozed, scarcely disturbed even by
Roger Bacon's feeble protest in the thirteenth century, until it was
shocked out of all future possibility by Copernicus, Galileo and Sir
Isaac Newton.

Accordingly, in pursuance of our custom of abandoning abstract
propositions at the earliest moment, when we can embody them in terms
of the concrete, let us spend a quiet hour in contemplating some of
the specific absurdities of our ancestors in scientific thought and
in generalizing them into the lack of personality. Let us go and sit
with Socrates on his prison-bed, in the _Phædo_, and endeavor to see
this matter of man's scientific relation to physical nature, with his
sight. Hear Socrates talking to Simmias: he is discussing the method
of acquiring true knowledge: it is well we are invisible as we sit by
him, for we can not keep back a quiet smile,--we who come out of a
beautiful and vast scientific acquirement all based upon looking at
things with our eyes; we whose very intellectual atmosphere is
distilled from the proverb, "seeing is believing"--when we hear these
grave propositions of the wisest antique man. "But what of the
acquisition of wisdom," says Socrates: ... "do the sight and hearing
convey any certainty to mankind, or are they such as the poets
incessantly report them, who say that we neither hear nor see anything
as it is?... Do they not seem so to you?"

"They do, indeed," replied Simmias. "When, then," continued Socrates,
"does the soul attain to the truth? For when it attempts to
investigate anything along with the body, it is plain that the soul is
led astray by the body.... Is it not by reasoning, if by anything,
that reality is made manifest to the soul?"


But now Socrates advances a step to show that not only are we misled
when we attempt to get knowledge by seeing things, but that nothing
worth attention is capable of being physically seen. I shall have
occasion to recur in another connection to the curious fallacy
involved in this part of Socrates' argument. He goes on to inquire of
Simmias: "Do we assert that Justice is anything, or not?"

"We say that it is."

"And beauty and goodness, also?"


"Did you ever see anything of the kind with your eyes?"

"Never," replied Simmias.

... "Then," continues Socrates, "whoever amongst us prepares, with the
greatest caution and accuracy, to reflect upon that particular thing
by itself upon which he is inquiring" and ... "using reflection alone,
endeavors to investigate every reality by itself, ... abstaining as
much as possible from the use of the eyes ... is not such an one, if
any, likely to arrive at what really exists?"

"You speak, Socrates," answered Simmias, "with amazing truth."

It is curious to note in how many particulars this process of
acquiring knowledge is opposed to that of the modern scientific man.
Observe specially that Socrates wishes to investigate every reality by
itself, while we, on the contrary, fly from nothing with so much
vehemence as from an isolated fact; it maddens us until we can put it
into relation with other facts, and delights us in proportion to the
number of facts with which we can relate it. In that book of
multitudinous suggestions which Novalis (Friedrich Von Hardenberg)
calls _The Pupil at Sais_, one of the most modern sentences is that
where, after describing many studies of his wondrous pupil, Novalis
adds that "erelong he saw nothing alone."

Surely, one of the earliest and most delightful sensations one has in
spiritual growth, after one has acquired the true synthetic habit
which converts knowledge into wisdom, is that delicious, universal
impulse which accompanies every new acquisition as it runs along like
a warp across the woof of our existing acquisition, making a pleasant
tang of contact, as it were, with each related fibre.

But Plato speaks even more directly upon our present point, in
advocating a similar attitude towards physical science. In Book VII.
of the _Republic_, he puts these words into the mouth of Socrates:
"And whether a man gapes at the heavens, or blinks on the ground,
seeking to learn some particular of sense, I would deny that he can
learn, for nothing of that sort is matter of science."

Of course these, as the opinions of professed idealists, would not be
representative of the Greek attitude towards physical science.

Yet when we turn to those who are pre-eminently physical philosophers,
we find that the mental disposition, though the reverse of hostile, is
nearly always such as to render the work of these philosophers
unfruitful. When we find, for example, that Thales in the very
beginning of Greek philosophy holds the principle, or beginning,
ἡ ἀρχἡ of all things to be moisture, or water; that
Anaximenes a little while after holds the beginning of things to be
air; that Heraclitus holds the _arche_ to be fire: this _sounds_
physical, and we look for a great extension of men's knowledge in
regard to water, air and fire, upon the idea that if these are really
the organic principles of things, thousands of keen inquiring eyes
would be at once leveled upon them, thousands of experiments would be
at once set on foot, all going to reveal properties of water, air and

But perhaps no more expressive summary of the real relation between
man and nature, not only during the Greek period but for many
centuries after it, could be given than the fact that these three
so-called elements which begin the Greek physical philosophy remained
themselves unknown for more than two thousand years after Thales and
Anaximenes and Heraclitus, until the very last century when, with the
discovery of oxygen, men are able to prove that they are not elements
at all; but that what we call fire is merely an effect of the rapid
union of oxygen with bodies, while water and air are compounds of it
with other gases. It is perfectly true that in the years between
Thales and the death of Aristotle, a considerable body of physical
facts had been accumulated; that Pythagoras had observed a number of
acoustic phenomena and mathematically formulated their relations; it
is true that--without detaining you to specify intermediate
inquirers--we have that wonderful summary of Aristotle--wonderful for
one man--which is contained in his _Physics_, from which the name
"meta-physics" originated, though the circumstance that he placed the
other books _after_ those on physics, calling them Τὰ μετὰ τὰ φυσιχὰ βιβλἱα,
the meta-physical, or over and above physical, books.

When we read the titles of these productions--here are "Eight Books of
Physical Lectures," "Four Books of the Heavens," "Two Books of
Production and Destruction," Treatises "On Animals," "On Plants," "On
Colors," "On Sound"--we feel that we must be in a veritable realm of
physical science. But if we examine these lectures and treatises,
which probably contain the entire body of Greek physical learning, we
find them hampered by a certain disability which seems to me
characteristic not only of Greek thought, but of all man's early
speculation, and which excludes the possibility of a fruitful and
progressive physical science. I do not know how to characterize this
disability otherwise than by calling it a lack of that sense of
personal relation to fact which makes the thinker passionately and
supremely solicitous about the truth, that is, the existence of his
facts and the soundness of his logic; solicitous of these, not so much
with reference to the value of his conclusions as because of an inward
tender inexorable yearning for the truth and nothing but the truth.

In short, I find that early thought everywhere, whether dealing with
physical facts or meta-physical problems, is lacking in what I may
call the intellectual conscience--the conscience, for example, which
makes Mr. Darwin spend long and patient years in investigating small
facts before daring to reason upon them; and which makes him state the
facts adverse to his theory with as much care as the facts which make
for it.

Part of the philosophy of this personal relation between a man and a
fact is very simple. For instance what do you know at present of the
inner life of the Patagonians? Probably no more than your Mitchell's
or Cornell's Geography told you at school. But if a government
expedition is soon to carry you to the interior of that country, a
personal relation arises which will probably set you to searching all
the libraries at your command for such travels or treatises as may
enlarge your knowledge of Patagonia.

It is easy to give a thousand illustrations of this lack of
intellectual conscience in Greek thought, which continued indeed up to
the time of the Renaissance. For example: it would seem that nothing
less than a sort of amateur mental attitude towards nature, an
attitude which does not bind the thinker to his facts with such iron
conscientiousness that if one fact were out of due order, it would
rack him, could account for Aristotle's grave exposition of the four
elements. "We seek," he says "the principles of sensible things, that
is of tangible bodies. We must take therefore not all the
contrarieties of quality but those only which have reference to the
touch.... Now the contrarieties of quality which refer to the touch
are these: hot, cold; dry, wet; heavy, light; hard, soft; unctuous,
meagre; rough, smooth; dense, rare." Aristotle then rejects the last
three couplets on several grounds and proceeds: "Now in four things
there are six combinations of two; but the combinations of two
opposites, as hot and cold, must be rejected; we have therefore four
elementary combinations which agree with the four apparently
elementary bodies. Fire is hot and dry; air is hot and wet; water is
cold and wet: earth is cold and dry." And thus we comfortably fare
forward with fire, air, earth and water for the four elements of all

But Aristotle argues that there must be a fifth element: and our
modern word quintessence is, by the way, a relic of this argument,
this fifth element having been called by later writers _quinta
essentia_ or quintessence. The argument is as follows: "the simple
elements must have simple motions, and thus fire and air have their
natural motions upwards and water and earth have their natural motions
downwards; but besides these motions there is motion in a circle which
is unnatural to these elements, but which is a more perfect motion
than the other, because a circle is a perfect line and a straight line
is not; and there must be something to which this motion is natural.
From this it is evident that there is some essence or body different
from those of the four elements, ... and superior to them. If things
which move in a circle move contrary to nature it is marvelous, or
rather absurd that this, the unnatural motion should alone be
continuous and eternal; for unnatural motions decay speedily. And so
from all this we must collect that besides the four elements which we
have here and about us, there is another removed far off and the more
excellent in proportion as it is more distant from us."

Or take Aristotle's dealing with the heaviness and lightness of

After censuring former writers for considering these as merely
relative, he declares that lightness is a positive or absolute
property of bodies just as weight is; that earth is absolutely heavy,
and therefore tends to take its place below the other three elements;
that fire has the positive property of lightness, and hence tends to
take its place above the other three elements; (the modern word
_empyrean_ is a relic of this idea from the _pyr_ or fire, thus
collected in the upper regions), and so on; and concludes that bodies
which have the heavy property tend to the centre, while those with the
light property tend to the exterior, of the earth, because "Exterior
is opposite to Centre, as heavy is to light."

This conception, or rather misconception, of opposites appears most
curiously in two of the proofs which Socrates offers for the
immortality of the soul, and I do not know how I can better illustrate
the infirmity of antique thought which I have just been describing
than by citing the arguments of Socrates in that connection according
to the _Phædo_. Socrates introduced it with special solemnity. "I do
not imagine," he says, "that any one, not even if he were a comic
poet, would now say that I am trifling.... Let us examine it in this
point of view, whether the souls of the dead survive or not.

     "Let us consider this, whether it is absolutely necessary in the
     case of as many things as have a contrary, that this contrary
     should arise from no other source than from a contrary to itself.
     For instance, where anything becomes greater, must it not follow
     that from being previously less it subsequently became greater?


     "So, too, if anything becomes less, shall it become so
     subsequently to its being previously greater?"

     "Such is the case," said Cebes.

     "And weaker from stronger, swifter from slower, ... worse from
     better, juster from more unjust?"


     "We are then sufficiently assured of this, that all things are so
     produced, contraries from contraries?"

     "Sufficiently so."

     ... "Do you now tell me likewise in regard to life and death. Do
     you not say that death is the contrary of life?"

     "I say so."

     "And that they are produced from each other?"


     "What then is that which is produced from life?"

     "Death," said Cebes.

     "And that which is produced from death?"

     "I must allow," said Cebes, "to be life."

     "Therefore, our souls exist after death."

This is one formal argument of Socrates.

He now goes on speaking to his friends during that fatal day at great
length, setting forth other arguments in favor of the immortality of
the soul. Finally he comes to the argument which he applies to the
soul, that magnitude cannot admit its contrary, but that one retires
when the other approaches. At this point he is interrupted by one who
remembers his former position. Plato relates:

     Then some one of those present (but who he was I do not clearly
     recollect) when he heard this, said, "In the name of the gods,
     was not the very contrary of what is now asserted laid down in
     the previous part of the discussion, that the greater is produced
     from the less and the less from the greater, and this positively
     was the mode of generating contraries from contraries?" Upon
     which Socrates said ... "... 'Then it was argued that a contrary
     thing was produced from a contrary; but now, that contrary itself
     can never become its own contrary'.... But observe further if
     you will agree with me in this. Is there anything you call heat
     and cold?"


     "The same as snow and fire?"

     "Assuredly not."

     "Is heat, then, something different from fire, and cold something
     different from snow?"


     "But this I think is evident to you, that snow while it is snow
     can never, having admitted heat, continue to be what it was, snow
     and hot; but on the approach of heat will either give way to it
     or be destroyed."

     "Certainly so."

     "And fire, on the other hand, on the approach of cold, must
     either give way to it or be destroyed; nor can it ever endure,
     having admitted cold, to continue to be what it was, fire and
     cold.... Such I assert to be the case with the number 3 and many
     other numbers. Shall we not insist that the number 3 shall perish
     first ... before it would endure while it was yet 3 to become
     even?... What then? what do we now call that which does not admit
     the idea of the even?"

     "Odd," replied he.

     "And that which does not admit the just, nor the graceful?"

     "The one, ungraceful, and the other, unjust."

     "Be it so. But by what name do we call that which does not admit


     "Does the soul, then, not admit death?" (Socrates has already
     suggested that whatever the soul occupies it brings life to.)


     "Is the soul, therefore, immortal?"


Socrates' argument drawn from the number 3 brings before us a great
host of these older absurdities of scientific thought, embracing many
grave conclusions drawn from fanciful considerations of number,
everywhere occurring. For briefest example: Aristotle in his book "On
the Heavens" proves that the world is perfect by the following
complete argument: "The bodies of which the world is composed ... have
three dimensions; now 3 is the most perfect number ... for of 1 we do
not speak as a number; of 2 we say _both_; but 3 is the first number
of which we say _all_; moreover, it has a beginning, a middle and an
end." You may instructively compare with this the marvelous matters
which the school of Pythagoras educed out of _their_ perfect number
which was 4, or the _tetractys_; and Plato's number of the _Republic_
which commentators to this day have not settled.

These illustrations seem sufficient to show a mental attitude towards
facts which is certainly like that one has towards a far-off country
which one does not expect to visit. The illustration I have used is
curiously borne out by a passage in Lactantius, writing so far down as
the fourth century, in which we have a picture of mediæval relations
towards nature and of customary discussions.

"To search," says he, "for the causes of natural things; to inquire
whether the sun be as large as he seems, whether the moon is convex or
concave, whether the stars are fixed in the sky or float freely in the
air; of what size and what material are the heavens; whether they be
at rest or in motion; what is the magnitude of the earth; on what
foundations it is suspended and balanced;--to dispute and conjecture
on such matters is just as if we chose to discuss what we think of a
city in a remote country of which we never heard but the name."

Perhaps this defect of thought, this lack of personality towards
facts, is most strikingly perceived in the slowness with which most
primary ideas of the form and motion of the earth made their way among
men. Although astronomy is the oldest of sciences, and the only one
progressive science of antiquity; and although the idea that the
earth was a sphere, was one of the earliest in Greek philosophy; yet
this same Lactantius in the 4th century is vehemently arguing as
follows: "Is it possible that men can be so absurd as to believe that
the crops and trees on the other side of the earth hang downwards, and
that men there have their feet higher than their heads? If you ask of
them how they defend these monstrosities--how things do not fall away
from the earth on that side? they reply that the nature of things is
such that heavy bodies tend towards the centre, like the spokes of a
wheel, while light bodies, as clouds, smoke, fire, tend from the earth
towards the heavens on all sides. Now I am really at a loss what to
say of those who, when they have once gone wrong, steadily persevere
in their folly and defend one absurd opinion by another."

And coming on down to the eighth century, the anecdote is well known
of honest Bishop Virgil of Salisbury, who shocked some of his
contemporaries by his belief in the real existence of the antipodes,
to such an extent that many thought he should be censured by the Pope
for an opinion which involved the existence of a whole "world of human
beings out of reach of the conditions of salvation."

And finally we all know the tribulations of Columbus on this point far
down in the fifteenth century, at the very beginning of the

Now this infirmity of mind is as I said, not distinctive of the Greek.
To me it seems simply a natural incident of the youth of reason, of
the childhood of personality. At any rate, for a dozen centuries and
more after Aristotle's death, to study science, means to study
Aristotle; in vain do we hear Roger Bacon in the thirteenth
century--that prophet philosopher who first announces the two
rallying cries of modern science, mathematics and experiment--in vain
do we hear Roger Bacon crying: "If I had power over the works of
Aristotle I would have them all burnt; for it is only a loss of time,
a course of error, and a multiplication of ignorance beyond
expression, to study them."

Various attempts have been made to account for the complete failure of
Greek physical science by assigning this and that specific tendency to
the Greek mind: but it seems a perfect confirmation of the view I have
here presented--to wit that the organic error was not Greek but simply
a part of the general human lack of personality--to reflect that 1,500
years after Aristotle, things are little better, and that when we do
come to a time when physical science begins to be pursued upon
progressive principles, we find it to be also a time when all other
departments of activity begin to be similarly pursued, so that we are
obliged to recognize not the correction of any specific error in Greek
ratiocination, but a general advance of the spirit of man along the
whole line.

And perhaps we have now sufficiently prepared ourselves, as was
proposed at the outset of this sketch of Greek science, to measure
precisely the height of the new plane which begins with Copernicus,
Kepler and Galileo in the 16th century, over the old plane which ended
with Aristotle and his commentators. Perhaps the true point up to
which we should lay our line in making this measurement is not to be
found until we pass nearly through the 17th century and arrive fairly
at Sir Isaac Newton. For while each one of the great men who preceded
him had made his contribution weighty enough, as such, yet each brings
with him some old darkness out of the antique period.

When we come to examine Copernicus, we find that though the root of
the matter is there, a palpable environment of the old cycle and
epicycle still hampers it; Galileo disappoints us at various
emergencies. Kepler puts forth his sublime laws amid a cluster of
startling absurdities; Francis Bacon is on the whole unfaithful;
Descartes will have his vortices or eddies as the true principles of
motion of the heavenly bodies; and so it is not until we reach Sir
Isaac Newton at the end of the 17th century that we find a large,
quiet, wholesome thinker, de-Aristotleized, de-Ptolemized,
de-Cartesianized, pacing forth upon the domain of reason as if it were
his own orchard, and seating himself in the centre of the universe as
if it were his own easy chair, observing the fact and inferring the
law as if with a personal passion for truth and a personal religion
towards order. In short, and in terms of our present theory, with Sir
Isaac Newton the growth of man's personality has reached a point when
it has developed a true personal relation between man and nature.

I should have been glad if the scope of this part of my inquiry had
allowed me to give some sketch at least of the special workers in
science who immediately preceded Newton, and some of whose lives were
most pathetic and beautiful illustrations of this personal love for
nature which I have tried to show as now coming into being for the
first time in the history of man. Besides such spectacles as the
lonesome researches of Jeremiah Horrox, for example, I scarcely know
anything in history which yields such odd and instructive contrasts as
those glimpses of the scientific work which went on about the court of
Charles II, and of what seems to have been the genuine interest of the
monarch himself. In _Pepys' Diary_, for instance, under date of May
11th, 1663, I find the entry: "Went home after a little discourse
with Mr. Pierce the surgeon who tells me that ... the other day Dr.
Clarke and he did dissect two bodies, a man and a woman, before the
king, with which the king was highly pleased." Again, February 1st, of
the next year: "Thence to Whitehall, where in the Duke's chamber the
King came and stayed an hour or two, laughing at Sir W. Petty ... and
at Gresham College in general: Gresham College he mightily laughed at
for spending time only in weighing of air and doing nothing else since
they sat." On the 4th, he was at St. Paul's school and "Dr. Wilkins"
is one of the "posers," Dr. Wilkins being John Wilkins, Bishop of
Chester, whose name was well-known in mathematics and in physics.
Under date of March 1st, same year, the entry is: "To Gresham College
where Mr. Hooke read a second very curious lecture about the late
comet; among other things proving very probably that this is the very
same comet that appeared before in the year 1618, and that in such a
time probably it will appear again, which is a very new opinion; but
all will be in print." And again on the 8th of August, 1666, I find an
entry which is of considerable interest: "Discoursed with Mr. Hooke
about the nature of sounds, and he did make me understand the nature
of musical sounds made by strings mighty prettily; and told me that
having come to a certain number of vibrations proper to make any tone,
he is able to tell how many strokes a fly makes with her wings (those
flies that hum in their flying) by the note that it answers to in
music during their flying. That I suppose is a little too much
refined; but his discourse in general of sound was mighty fine."

On the other hand, I scarcely know how I could show the newness of
this science thus entering the world, more vividly than by recording
two other entries which I find in the midst of these scientific
notes. One of these records a charm for a burn, which Pepys thought so
useful as to preserve. This is, in case one should be burned, to say
immediately the following verse:

    "There came three angels out of the East;
      One brought fire, the other brought frost--
    Out fire, in frost,
      In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost."

And the other is, under Sept. 29th, 1662, "To the King's Theatre,
where we saw 'Midsummer's Night's Dream,' which I had never seen
before, nor shall ever again, for it is the most insipid, ridiculous
play that ever I saw in my life."

Indeed, if you should wish to see how recently we are out of the range
of Aristotle, you have only to read the chapter on Human Anatomy,
which occurs in the early part of dear old Robert Burton's _Anatomy of
Melancholy_. Here is an account of the body which makes curious
reading for the modern biologist. I give a line here and there. The
body is divided into parts containing or contained, and the parts
contained are either humors or spirits. Of these humors there are
four: to wit, first, blood; next, phlegm; third, choler; and fourth,
melancholy; and this is part of the description of each.

"Blood is a hot, sweet, temperate, red humor, ... made of the most
temperate parts of the chylus in the liver.... And from it spirits are
first begotten in the heart. Phlegm is a cold and moist humor,
begotten of the colder part of the chylus in the liver. Choler is hot
and dry, begotten of the hotter parts of the chylus. Melancholy, cold
and dry, ... is a bridle to the other two hot humors, blood and
choler. These four humors have some analogy with the four elements and
to the four ages in man." Having disposed thus of humors, we have
this account of spirit or the other contained part of the body.
"Spirit is a most subtle vapor, which is expressed from the blood, and
the instrument of the soul to perform all his actions; a common tie or
medium between the body and the soul, as some will have it; or as
Paracelsus--a fourth soul of itself." Proceeding to other parts of the
body, here are the lungs. "The lungs is a thin spongy part like an
ox-hoof.... The instrument of voice; ... and next to the heart to
express their thoughts by voice. That it is the instrument of voice is
manifest in that no creature can speak ... which wanteth these lights.
It is besides the instrument of breathing; and its office is to cool
the heart by sending air into it by the venosal artery," &c., &c.

This anatomy of Burton's includes the soul, and here are some
particulars of it. "According to Aristotle, the soul is defined to be
emtelecheia, ... the perfection or first act of an organical body
having power of life.... But many doubts arise about the essence,
subject, seat, distinction and subordinate faculties of it.... Some
make one soul; ... others, three.... The common division of the soul
is into three principal faculties--vegetal, sensible and rational."
The soul of man includes all three; for the "sensible includes vegetal
and rational both; which are contained in it (saith Aristotle) _ut
trigonus in tetragono_, as a triangle in a quadrangle.... Paracelsus
will have four souls, adding to the three grand faculties a spiritual
soul: which opinion of his Campanella in his book _De Sensu Rerum_
much labors to demonstrate and prove, because carcases bleed at the
sight of the murderer; with many such arguments." These are not the
wanderings of ignorance; they represent the whole of human knowledge,
and are an epitome made up from Aristotle, Galen, Vesalius,
Fallopius, Wecker, Melancthon, Feruclius, Cicero, Pico Mirandola,
Paracelsus, Campanella, Taurellus, Philip, Flavius, Macrobius, Alhazen
the Arabian, Vittellio, Roger Bacon, Baptista Porta, Cardan, Sambucus,
Pliny, Avicenna, Lucretius, and such another list as makes one weary
with the very names of authorities.

These details of antique science brought face to face with the
weighing of air at Gresham College, and with Sir Isaac Newton,
represent with sufficient sharpness the change from the old reign of
enmity between Nature and man, from the stern ideal of justice to the
later reign of love which embraces in one direction, God, in another,
fellow-man, in another, physical nature.

Now, in these same sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, in
which we have seen science recovering itself after having been so long
tongue-tied by authority, a remarkably similar process goes on in the
art of music. If, as we did in considering the progress of science, we
now place ourselves at a standpoint from which we can precisely
estimate that extension of man's personal relation towards the unknown
during these centuries, which resulted in modern music, we are met
with a chain of strikingly similar facts and causes. The Greek music
quite parallels Greek physical science. We have seen how, in the
latter, a Greek philosopher would start off with a well-sounding
proposition that all things originated in moisture, or in fire, or in
air, and we have seen how, instead of attacking moisture, fire and
air, and of observing and classifying all the physical facts connected
with them, the philosopher after awhile presents us with an amazing
superstructure of pure speculation wholly disconnected from facts of
any kind, physical or otherwise. Greek music offers us precisely the
same net outcome. It was enthusiastically studied, there were
multitudes of performers upon the lyre, the flute, and so on, it was a
part of common education, and the loftiest souls exerted their
loftiest powers in theorizing upon it. For example, in Plato's
_Republic_, Socrates earnestly condemns every innovation upon music.
His words are: "For any musical innovation is full of danger to the
State.... Damon tells me, and I can quite believe him ... that when
modes of music change, the fundamental laws of the State always change
with them;" ... (therefore) "our guardians must lay the foundations of
their fortress in music." Again, in Book III., during a discussion as
to the kind of music to be permitted in our Republic, we have this
kind of talk. Socrates asks: "Which are the harmonies expressive of
sorrow?" It is replied, they are "the mixed Lydian and the full-toned
or bass Lydian."

"These must be banished.... Which are the soft or drinking harmonies?"

"The Ionian and the Lydian."

These, it appears, must also be banished.

"Then the Dorian and the Phrygian appear to be the only ones which

Socrates "answered; of the harmonies I know nothing; but I want to
have one warlike which will sound the word or note which a brave man
utters in the hour of danger or stern resolve, or when his cause is
failing ... (and he) meets fortune with calmness and endurance; and
another to be used by him in times of peace and freedom of action....
These two harmonies I ask you to leave: the strain of necessity and
the strain of freedom, the strain of the unfortunate and the strain of
the fortunate, the strain of courage and the strain of temperance;
these, I say, leave."

Simmias draws a charming analogy in the _Phædo_ between the relation
of a beautiful and divine harmony to the lyre and that of the soul to
the body; Pythagoras dreams upon the music of the spheres; everywhere
the Greek is occupied with music, practical and theoretical. I find a
lively picture of the times where in Book VII. of the _Republic_,
Socrates describes the activity of the musical searchers: "By heaven,"
he says, "'tis as good as a play to hear them talking about their
condensed notes, as they call them; they put their ears alongside of
their neighbors.... one set of them declaring that they catch an
intermediate note and have found the least interval which should be
the unit of measurement; the others maintaining the opposite theory,
that the two sounds have passed into the same, each party setting
their ears before their understanding."

And in this last clause we have a perfectly explicit statement of that
lack of personal relation to facts which makes Greek music as meagre
as Greek science. We found it the common fault of Greek scientific
thought that it took more satisfaction in an ingenious argument upon a
pseudo-fact than in a solid conclusion based upon plain observation
and reasoning. So here, Socrates is satirizing even the poor attempt
at observation made by these people, and sardonically accuses them of
what is the very pride of modern science--namely, of setting their
ears before their understanding,--that is, of rigorously observing the
facts before reasoning upon them.

At any rate, in spite of all this beautiful and comprehensive talk of
harmony and the like, the fact is clear, that the Greek had no harmony
worth the name; he knew nothing but the crude concords of the octave,
the fourth and the fifth; moreover, his melody was equally meagre;
and altogether his ultimate flight in music was where voices of men
and women sang, accompanied in unison or octave by the lyre, the flute
and the like.

And if we consider the state of music after the passing away of the
Greek cultus up to the fifteenth century, we have much the same story
to tell as was just now told of mediæval science. For a time the
world's stock of tunes is practically comprised in the melodies
collected by Gregory, known as the Gregorian Chant. Presently the
system of polyphonic music arises, in which several voices sing
different melodies so arranged as not to jar with each other. But when
we now come down to the sixteenth century, we find a wonderful new
activity in music accompanying that in science. Luther in Germany,
Gondimel in France, push forward the song: in Spain, Salinas of
Salamanca, studies ancient music for thirty years, and finally arrives
at the conclusion that the Greek had no instrumental music, and that
all their melody was originally derived from the order of syllables in
verse. In Italy, Montaverde announces what were called his "new
discords," and the beautiful maestro, Palestrina, writes compositions
in several parts, which are at once noble, simple and devout. England
at this time is filled with music; and by the end of the sixteenth
century the whole land is a-warble with the madrigals and
part-compositions of Weelkes, Wilbye, John Milton, Sr., and the famous
Dr. John Bull, together with those of Tye, Tallis, Morley, Orlando
Gibbons, and hundreds more. But as yet modern music is not. There is
no orchestra; Queen Elizabeth's dinner-music is mainly drums and
trumpets. It is not until the middle of the seventeenth century that
Jenkins and Purcell begin to write sonatas for a small number of
violins with organ accompaniment.

A curious note of the tendency towards instrumental music at this
time, however, is found in the fact that people begin to care so
little for the words of songs as to prefer them in a foreign language.
Henry Lawes, one of the most famous musicians of the middle of the
seventeenth century, he who suggested Milton's _Comus_ and set it to
music, endeavored to rebuke this affectation, as he supposed it, by a
cruel joke: he wrote a song, of which the words were nothing more than
the index of an old volume of musical compositions, and had it sung
amidst great applause. It must have been in the same course of feeling
that Waller--several of whose poems had been set to music by
Lawes--addressed to him the following stanza:

    "Let those who only warble long,
    And gargle in their throat a song,
    Content themselves with do, re, mi;
    Let words of sense be set by thee."

And so through Allegri, Stradella, the Scarlattis and a thousand
singers, players and composers we come to the year 1685 in which both
Bach and Handel were born. Here we are fairly in the face of modern
music. What then is modern music? Music at this time bounds forward in
the joy of an infinitely developable principle. What is this
principle? In its last analysis it is what has now come to be called
Harmony, or more specially Tonality. According to the modern musical
feeling when any tone is heard it is heard in its relation to some
other tone which from one circumstance or another may have been taken
as a basis of such relations. By a long course of putting our ears
before our understanding,--a course carried on by all those early
musicians whose names I have mentioned, each contributing some new
relation between tones which his ear had discovered, we have finally
been able to generalize these relations in such a way as to make a
complete system of tonality in which every possible tone brings to our
ear an impression dependent on the tone or tones in connection with
which it is heard. As the Pupil at Sais ere long began to see nothing
alone, so we hear nothing alone. You have only to remember that the
singer now-a-days must always have the piano accompaniment in order to
satisfy our demand for harmony, that we never hear any unmixed melody
in set music, in order to see how completely harmony reigns in our
music, instead of bare melody. We may then broadly differentiate the
modern music which begins at the same time with modern science, from
all precedent music, as Harmony contrasted with Melody. To this we
must add the idea of instrumental harmony, of that vast extension of
harmonies rendered possible by the great development of orchestral
instruments whose compass greatly exceeds that of the human voice,
which formerly limited all musical energy.

It is tempting, here, to push the theory of personality into fanciful
extremes. You have seen how the long development of melody--melody
being here the individual--receives a great extension in the
polyphonic music, when individual melodies move along side by side
without jostling: and how at length the whole suddenly bursts into the
highest type of social development, where the melody is at once united
with the harmony in the most intimate way, yet never loses its
individuality; where the melody would seem to maintain towards the
harmony almost the ideal relation of our finite personality, to the
Infinite personality; at once autonomous as finite, and yet contained
in, and rapturously united with the infinite.

But without pressing the matter, it now seems clear from our sketch
that just as in the 17th century the spirit of man has opened up for
the first time a perfectly clear and personal relation with physical
nature and has thus achieved modern science with Sir Isaac Newton, so
in this 17th century, the spirit of man opens up a new relation to the
infinite, to the unknown, and achieves modern music in John Sebastian

Nor need I waste time in defending this category in which I placed
music, as a relation to the Unknown. If you collect all the
expressions of poets and philosophers upon music, you will find them
converging upon this idea. No one will think Thomas Carlyle
sentimental; yet it is he who says "music which leads us to the verge
of the infinite, and lets us gaze on that."

And so finally, with the first English novel of Richardson in 1739-40,
we have completed our glance at the simultaneous birth of modern
science, modern music, and the modern novel.

And we are now prepared to carry forward our third and fourth lines of
thought together: which were to show the development of the novel from
the Greek Drama, and to illustrate the whole of the principles now
advanced, with some special studies of the modern novel. These two
lines will mutually support each other, and will emerge concurrently,
as we now go on to study the life and works of that George Eliot, who
has so recently solved the scientific problem which made her life one
of the most pathetic and instructive in human history.


Our custom, in these studies, of passing at the earliest possible
moment from the abstract to the concrete, and of verifying theory by
actual experiment, arrives at a sort of beautiful climax and
apotheosis as we proceed from the abstract principles formulated in
the last six lectures, to their exquisite concrete and verification in
George Eliot.

At our last meeting we saw that during a period of time which we fix
to a point by sweeping the mind from the sixteenth century to the
middle of the eighteenth, the growing personality of man sent out
three new processes, which have remarkably changed and enlarged the
whole form of our individual and social structure.

I have found it highly useful in more than one connection to acquire a
clear notion of these three processes by referring them all to a
common physical _concept_ of direction. For example: we may with
profit construct a diagram in which it shall appear that at the
renaissance period mentioned the three great and distinctive new
personal relations which man established for himself were (1) a
relation upward,

                                              unknown (Music)

Personality ---->[**arrow right] Fellow-man. (The Novel)[**arrow up
                                                        to "Music"]

[**arrow down from "Personality"]Nature. (Physical Science.)

towards the unknown, (2) a relation on our own level, a relation
towards our equal,--that is towards our fellow man, and (3) a relation
towards our inferior,--in the sense that the world is for man's use,
is made for man,--that is, towards physical nature. We have seen how
from the beginning of man's history these three relations did not
acquire the vividness and energy of personal relations, nor any fixed
or developable existence at all until the period mentioned.

I cannot help expressing earnest regret that the limits of my present
subject have not allowed me to give any development whatever to this
conception of the actual significance of the Renaissance as a
significance which crystallizing into Music, the Novel, and Science,
has left us those as the solid residuum of that movement; and it is
not a mere sentimental generalization but a hard, scientific and
unifiable fact that music is the distinctive form in which man's new
relation to what is above him has expressed itself; the novel is the
distinctive form in which man's new personal relation to his
fellow-man has expressed itself; and science is the distinctive form
in which man's new personal relation to nature has expressed itself.

I am perfectly well aware, for instance, that when one thinks of the
Italian Opera with its banalities and fleshly frenzies; or when one
thinks of the small, low, unmanly sensual lives which so many
musicians have led under our eyes; one may well feel inclined to
dispute this category to which I have assigned music, and to question
whether music does belong to this wholly religious sphere. I long to
be able to remind such questioners of the historic fact that music has
been brought into the church as the mouthpiece of our worship, not by
the sentimental people but by the sternest reformers and the most
untheoretical and hard-handed workers: I long to remind them now it
is the same Luther who would meet his accusers though ten thousand
devils backed them, that cares most assiduously for the hymns of the
church, makes them, sings them: how it is the same Puritan who fights
winter and hunger and the savage, that is noted for his sweet songs,
and must have his periodic opening of the musical avenue up towards
the great God: or, passing far back to the times before music was
music, and so making the case stronger, I long to remind them of a
single line in a letter from Pliny the younger to Trajan in the year
110, which puts before me a dewy morning picture of music and
Christian devotion that haunts my imagination--a line in which Pliny
mentions some people who were in the habit of "meeting on a certain
day before daylight and singing a hymn to Christ as to a God": or how
in the fourth century the very Ambrosian chant which preceded the
Gregorian chant is due to the fact that the good Ambrose, Bishop of
Milan, casting about for solace, collects a number of psalm tunes and
hymns and appoints them to be sung for the express purpose of
consoling his people in their afflictions: and coming down to the
birth of modern music, I long to remind these questioners of the noble
and simple devoutness which Palestrina brings into the church worship
with his music; of the perfect calm creative life of John Sebastian
Bach whose music is so compact of devotion as to have inspired the
well-known declaration that wherever it is played, it makes that place
a church; and finally I long to remind them how essential a part of
every modern church the organ-loft and the choir have come to be--and
in full view of the terrible mistakes which these often make, of the
screechy Italian opera music which one hears floating from this or
that church on a Sunday, of the wholly undevout organ music with
which the unfortunate flippant-minded organist often sends us
forth--to declare that music is yet, as we have seen, a new art, that
we have not really learned the uses of it, much less the scope of it;
that indeed not all of us have even yet acquired the physical capacity
or ear for it,--and that finally we are at the very threshold of those
sweet applications we may hereafter make of that awful and mysterious
power in music to take up our yearnings towards the infinite at the
point where words and all articulate utterance fail, and bear them
onward often to something like a satisfactory nearness to their divine

But all this must be left aside, and we must now pass on to consider
that remarkable writer who for something more than twenty years past
has been chaining the attention of our English world purely by virtue
of her extraordinary endowment as to all three of these relations
which I have here sketched in diagram--these relations to the growing
personality of man to that which is above him, or the unknown--to that
which is in his level, or his fellow-man; and to that which is beneath
him, or nature--which have resulted respectively in music, the novel,
and science.

If I could be allowed to construct a final text and summary of all the
principles which have been announced in the preceding lectures, I
could make none more complete than is furnished me by two English
women who have recently been among us, and who, in the quietest way
have each made an epoch, not only in literature but in life. These two
women are Elizabeth Barrett Browning and George Eliot; and although
our studies now lie more immediately with the latter, I shall find a
frequent delight as we go on in comparing her printed words with those
of Mrs. Browning, and in showing through what diverse forms of
personality--so diverse as to be often really complementary to each
other--these two have illustrated the doctrines I have hitherto

In beginning to get some clear view of the actual living personality
which I have hitherto designated as George Eliot, one is immediately
struck with the fact that it has enjoyed more of what Jack Falstaff
would call a commodity of good names than falls to the lot of most
mortals. As one rehearses these names it is curious also to reflect
what a different train of associations each one suggests. It is hard
to believe that Marian Evans, Amos Barton (for when the editor of
Blackwood's was corresponding with her about her first unsigned
manuscript, which was entitled, _The Sad Fortunes of the Rev. Amos
Barton_, I find him addressing her as "My dear Amos"), George Eliot,
Mrs. Lewes, and Mrs. Cross are one and the same person. Amid all these
appellations I find myself most strongly attracted towards that of
George Eliot. This was the name which she chose for herself; it was
under this name that she made her great successes; it was by this name
that she endeared herself to all who love great and faithful work; and
surely--if one may paraphrase Poe--the angels call her George Eliot.
Since therefore we are mainly interested in Marian Evans, or Mrs.
Lewes, or Mrs. Cross, just in so far as they bear intimate relations
to George Eliot, I find myself drawn, in placing before you such
sketch as I have been able to make of this remarkable personage, to
begin with some account of the birth of the specific George Eliot, and
having acquired a view of the circumstances attending that event, to
look backward and forward from that as a central point at the origin
and life of Marian Evans on the one hand, and of Mrs. Lewes and Mrs.
Cross on the other.

On a certain night in the autumn of 1856, the editor of _Blackwood's
Magazine_, was seated in an apartment of his own house, reading a
manuscript which he had lately received from London, called _The Sad
Fortunes of the Rev. Amos Barton_. About 11 o'clock in the evening
Thackeray, who had been staying with him and had been out to dinner,
entered the room, and the editor remarked, "Do you know I think I have
lighted upon a new author who is uncommonly like a first-class

Hereupon he read to Thackeray a passage from the manuscript which he
held in his hand. We are able to identify this passage, and it seems
interesting to reproduce it here, not only as a specimen of the kind
of matter which was particularly striking to the editor of a great
magazine twenty-five years ago, but as about the first tangible
utterance of the real George Eliot. The passage occurs early in the
second chapter of the story. In the first chapter we have had some
description of the old church and the existing society in Shepperton
"twenty-five years ago," which dating from 1856 would show us that
village about the year 1830-31. In the second chapter we are
immediately introduced to the Rev. Amos Barton, and the page or two
which our editor read to Thackeray was this:

     Look at him as he winds through the little churchyard! The silver
     light that falls aslant on church and tomb, enables you to see
     his slim black figure, made all the slimmer by tight pantaloons.
     He walks with a quick step, and is now rapping with sharp
     decision at the vicarage door. It is opened without delay by the
     nurse, cook, and housemaid, all at once--that is to say, by the
     robust maid-of-all work, Nanny; and as Mr. Barton hangs up his
     hat in the passage, you see that a narrow face of no particular
     complexion--even the small-pox that has attacked it seems to have
     been of a mongrel, indefinite kind--with features of no
     particular shape, and an eye of no particular expression, is
     surmounted by a slope of baldness gently rising from brow to
     crown. You judge him, rightly, to be about forty. The house is
     quiet, for it is half-past ten, and the children have long been
     gone to bed. He opens the sitting-room door, but instead of
     seeing his wife, as he expected, stitching with the nimblest of
     fingers by the light of one candle, he finds her dispensing with
     the light of a candle altogether. She is softly pacing up and
     down by the red fire-light, holding in her arms little Walter,
     the year-old baby, who looks over her shoulder with large
     wide-open eyes, while the patient mother pats his back with her
     soft hand, and glances with a sigh at the heap of large and small
     stockings lying unmended on the table.

     She was a lovely woman--Mrs. Amos Barton; a large, fair, gentle
     Madonna, with thick, close chestnut curls beside her well rounded
     cheeks, and with large, tender, short-sighted eyes. The flowing
     line of her tall figure made the limpest dress look graceful, and
     her old frayed black silk seemed to repose on her bust and limbs
     with a placid elegance and sense of distinction, in strong
     contrast with the uneasy sense of being no fit, that seemed to
     express itself in the rustling of Mrs. Farquhar's _gros de
     Naples_. The caps she wore would have been pronounced, when off
     her head, utterly heavy and hideous--for in those days even
     fashionable caps were large and floppy; but surmounting her long,
     arched neck, and mingling their borders of cheap lace and ribbon
     with her chestnut curls, they seemed miracles of successful
     millinery. Among strangers she was shy and tremulous as a girl of
     fifteen; she blushed crimson if any one appealed to her opinion;
     yet that tall, graceful, substantial presence was so imposing in
     its mildness, that men spoke to her with an agreeable sensation
     of timidity.... I venture to say Mrs. Barton would never have
     grown half so angelic if she had married the man you would
     perhaps have had in your eye for her--a man with sufficient
     income and abundant personal éclat. Besides, Amos was an
     affectionate husband, and, in his way, valued his wife as his
     best treasure.

       *       *       *       *       *

     "I wish we could do without borrowing money, and yet I don't see
     how we can. Poor Fred must have some new shoes; I couldn't let
     him go to Mrs. Bond's yesterday because his toes were peeping
     out, dear child; and I can't let him walk anywhere except in the
     garden. He must have a pair before Sunday. Really, boots and
     shoes are the greatest trouble of my life. Everything else one
     can turn and turn about, and make old look like new; but there's
     no coaxing boots and shoes to look better than they are."

     Mrs. Barton was playfully undervaluing her skill in
     metamorphosing boots and shoes. She had at that moment on her
     feet a pair of slippers which had long ago lived through the
     prunella phase of their existence, and were now running a
     respectable career as black silk slippers, having been neatly
     covered with that material by Mrs. Barton's own neat fingers.

     Wonderful fingers those! they were never empty; for if she went
     to spend a few hours with a friendly parishioner, out came her
     thimble and a piece of calico or muslin, which before she left,
     had become a mysterious little garment with all sorts of hemmed
     ins and outs. She was even trying to persuade her husband to
     leave off tight pantaloons; because if he would wear the ordinary
     gun-cases, she knew she could make them so well that no one would
     suspect the tailor.

     But by this time Mr. Barton has finished his pipe, the candle
     begins to burn low, and Mrs. Barton goes to see if Nanny has
     succeeded in lulling Walter to sleep. Nanny is that moment
     putting him in the little cot by his mother's bedside; the head
     with its thin wavelets of brown hair, indents the little pillow;
     and a tiny, waxen, dimpled fist hides the rosy lips, for baby is
     given to the infantine peccadillo of thumb-sucking. So Nanny
     could now join in the short evening prayer, and all go to bed.
     Mrs. Barton carried up stairs the remainder of her heap of
     stockings, and laid them on a table close to her bedside, where
     also she placed a warm shawl, removing her candle, before she put
     it out, to a tin socket fixed at the head of her bed. Her body
     was weary, but her heart was not heavy, in spite of Mr. Woods the
     butcher, and the transitory nature of shoe-leather; for her heart
     so overflowed with love, she felt sure she was near a fountain of
     love that would care for her husband and babes better than she
     could foresee; so she was soon asleep. But about half-past five
     o'clock in the morning, if there were any angels watching round
     her bed--and angels might be glad of such an office--they saw
     Mrs. Barton rise up quietly, careful not to disturb the
     slumbering Amos, who was snoring the snore of the just; light her
     candle, prop herself upright with the pillows, throw the warm
     shawl round her shoulders, and renew her attack on the heap of
     undarned stockings. She darned away until she heard Nanny
     stirring, and then drowsiness came with the dawn; the candle was
     put out, and she sank into a doze. But at nine o'clock she was at
     the breakfast-table busy cutting bread and butter for five hungry
     mouths, while Nanny, baby on one arm, in rosy cheeks, fat neck,
     and night-gown, brought in a jug of hot milk and water.

Although Thackeray was not enthusiastic, the editor maintained his
opinion and wrote the author that the manuscript was "worthy the
honors of print and pay," addressing the author as "My dear Amos."
Considerable correspondence followed in which the editor was free in
venturing criticisms. The author had offered this as the first of a
series to be called "_Scenes from Clerical Life_;" but no others of
the series were yet written and the editor was naturally desirous to
see more of them before printing the first. This appears to have made
the author extremely timid, and for a time there was doubt whether it
was worth while to write the remaining stories. For the author's
encouragement, therefore, it was determined to print the first story
without waiting to see the others; and accordingly in _Blackwood's
Magazine_ for January, 1857, the story of _Amos Barton_ was printed.

This stimulus appears to have had its effect; and after the January
number, each succeeding issue of _Blackwood's Magazine_ contained an
instalment of the series known as _Scenes of Clerical Life_, until it
was concluded in the number for November, 1857; the whole series
embracing the three stories of _Amos Barton_, _Mr. Gilfil's
Love-Story_ and _Janet's Repentance_. It was only while the second of
these--_Mr. Gilfil's Love-Story_--was appearing in the Magazine that
our George Eliot was born; for it was at this time that the editor of
the Magazine was instructed to call the author by that name.

The hold which these three stories immediately took upon all thinking
people was remarkable. In January, 1858, that is two months after the
last instalment of _Janet's Repentance_--I find Charles Dickens
writing this letter:


     "Will you--by such roundabout ways and methods as may present
     themselves--convey this note of thanks to the author of 'Scenes
     of Clerical Life,' whose two first stories I can never say enough
     of, I think them so truly admirable. But, if those two volumes or
     a part of them, were not written by a woman--then should I begin
     to believe that I am a woman myself.

                                    Faithfully Yours Always,

                                                       CHARLES DICKENS."

It is especially notable to find that the editor of the Magazine
himself completely abandoned all those conservative habits of the
prudent editor which have arisen from a thousand experiences of the
rapid failures of this and that new contributor who seemed at first
sure to sweep the world, and which always teach every conductor of a
great magazine at an early stage of his career to be extremely guarded
in his expressions to new writers however promising they may appear.
This traditional guardedness seems to have been completely swept away
by these stories; Mr. Blackwood writes letter after letter to George
Eliot, full of expressions that the hackneyed editor would ordinarily
consider extravagant: and finally in a letter concerning the
publication in book-form of the magazine-stories: "You will recollect
... my impression was that the series had not lasted long enough in
the Magazine to give you a hold on the general public, although long
enough to make your literary reputation. Unless in exceptional cases,
a very long time often elapses between the two stages of
reputation--the literary and the public. Your progress will be _sure_,
if not so quick as we could wish."

Before examining these stories, it seems a pleasant method of pursuing
our account of the George Eliot thus introduced, to go forward a
little to the time when a curious and amusing circumstance resulted in
revealing her actual name and sex. Thus we seem to be making this
lovely star rise before us historically as it rose before the world. I
have just spoken of the literary interest which the stories excited in
Mr. Blackwood. The personal interest appears to have been as great,
and he was at first very anxious to make the acquaintance of his new
contributor in the flesh. He was given to understand, however, that
the contributor wished to remain obscure, for the present, and he
forbore further inquiries with scrupulous delicacy. It happened,
however, that presently the authorship of _Scenes of Clerical Life_
was claimed for another person, and the claim soon assumed
considerable proportions. Certain residents about Nuneaton, in
Warwickshire--where in point of fact George Eliot had been born and
brought up--felt sure they recognized in the stories of Amos Barton
and Mr. Gilfil portraits of people who had actually lived in that
country, and began to inquire what member of their community could
have painted these portraits. Presently, while the stories were
running in the magazine, a newspaper published in the Isle of Man
boldly announced that a certain Mr. Liggins, of Nuneaton, was their
author. The only claim to literary power Mr. Liggins had, it seems,
lay in the circumstance that he had run through a fortune at
Cambridge; and in fact he himself denied the charge at first. But
immediately upon the heels of _Scenes of Clerical Life_ appeared _Adam
Bede_, and the honor of that great work was so seductive that for some
reason or other--whether because the reiteration of his friends had
persuaded him that he actually did write the works, in some such way
as it is said that a man may tell a lie so often and long that he will
finally come to believe it himself, or for whatever other reason--it
seems that Mr. Liggins so far compromised himself that, without active
denial by him, a friendly clergyman down in Warwickshire sent a letter
to the _Times_, formally announcing Liggins as the author of _Scenes
of Clerical Life_ and of _Adam Bede_. Hereupon appeared a challenge
from the still mythical George Eliot, inviting Mr. Liggins to make a
fair test of his capacity by writing a chapter or two in the style of
the disputed works. The Blackwoods were thickly besieged with letters
from various persons earnestly assuring them that Liggins was the
author. To add to the complications, it was given out that Liggins was
poor, so that many earnest persons wrote to the Blackwoods declaring
that so great a genius ought not to be hampered by want, and liberally
offering their purses to place him in such condition that he might
write without being handicapped by care. It seems to have been
particularly troublesome to the Blackwoods to prevent money from being
misapplied in this way--for they were satisfied that Liggins was not
the author; and they were made all the more careful by some previous
experiences of a similar kind; and in one of Blackwood's letters to
George Eliot he comically exclaims that "some years ago a rascal
nearly succeeded in marrying a girl with money on the strength of
being the author of a series of articles in the Magazine."

Thus what with the public controversy between the Liggins and
anti-Liggins parties--for many persons appear to have remained firmly
persuaded that Liggins was the true author--and what with the more
legitimate stimulus excited by the confirmatory excellence of _Adam
Bede_, the public curiosity was thoroughly aroused, so that even
before _The Mill on the Floss_ appeared in 1860, it had become pretty
generally known who "George Eliot" was.

Here, then, would seem to be a fitting point for us to pause a moment
and endeavor to construct for ourselves some definite figure of the
real flesh-and-blood creature who, up to this time, had remained the
mere literary abstraction called George Eliot.

It appeared that her real name was Marian Evans, and that she was the
daughter of a respectable land surveyor, who had married and settled
at Nuneaton, in Warwickshire. Here she was born in November, 1820; and
it seems pleasant to reflect that but a few miles off in the same
county of Warwickshire was the birthplace of Shakspeare, whose place
among male writers seems more nearly filled by Marian Evans or George
Eliot among female writers than by any other woman, so that we have
the greatest English man and the greatest English woman born, though
two centuries and a half apart in time, but a few miles apart in

Here, among the same thick hedges and green fields of the fair English
Midlands with which Shakspeare was familiar, Marian Evans lived for
the first large part of her life. Perhaps a more quiet, uneventful
existence as to external happenings could hardly be imagined; and that
Marian Evans was among the quietest of the quiet residents there seems
cunningly enough indicated if we remember that when the good people of
Nuneaton first began to suspect that some resident of that region had
been taking their portraits in _Scenes of Clerical Life_, none seemed
to think for a moment of a certain Marian Evans as possibly connected
with the matter; and popular suspicion, after canvassing the whole
ground, was able to find only one person--to wit, the Mr. Liggins
just referred to--who seemed at all competent to such work.

Of these demure, reserved, uneventful years of country existence it
is, of course, impossible to lay before you any record; no life of
George Eliot has yet been given to the public. Sometime ago, however,
I happened upon a letter of Marian Evans published in an English
paper, in which she refers with so much particularity to this portion
of her life, that I do not know how we could gain a more vivid and
authentic view thereof than by quoting it here. Specifically, the
letter relates to a controversy that had sprung up as to who was the
original of the character of Dinah Morris--that beautiful Dinah
Morris, you will remember in _Adam Bede_--solemn, fragile, strong
Dinah Morris, the woman-preacher whom I find haunting my imagination
in strange but entrancing unions of the most diverse forms, as if, for
instance, a snow-drop could also be St. Paul, as if a kiss could be a
gospel, as if a lovely phrase of Chopin's most inward music should
become suddenly an Apocalypse--that rare, pure and strange Dinah
Morris who would alone consecrate English literature if it had yielded
no other gift to man. It would seem that possibly a dim suggestion of
such a character may have been due to a certain aunt of hers,
Elizabeth Evans, whom Marian had met in her girlhood; but this
suggestion was all; and the letter shows us clearly that the character
of Dinah Morris was almost an entire creation. The letter is as

                                       HOLLY LODGE, Oct. 7, 1859.


     I should like, while the subject is vividly present with me, to
     tell you more exactly than I have ever yet done, what I knew of
     my aunt, Elizabeth Evans. My father, you know, lived in
     Warwickshire all my life with him, having finally left
     Staffordshire first, and then Derbyshire, six or seven years
     before he married my mother. There was hardly any intercourse
     between my father's family, resident in Derbyshire and
     Staffordshire, and our family--few and far between visits of (to
     my childish feelings) strange uncles and aunts and cousins from
     my father's far-off native county, and once a journey of my own,
     as a little child, with my father and mother, to see my uncle
     William, a rich builder, in Staffordshire--but not my uncle and
     aunt Samuel, so far as I can recall the dim outline of
     things--are what I remember of northerly relations in my

     But when I was seventeen or more--after my sister was married and
     I was mistress of the house--my father took a journey into
     Derbyshire, in which, visiting my uncle and aunt Samuel, who were
     very poor, and lived in a humble cottage at Wirksworth, he found
     my aunt in a very delicate state of health after a serious
     illness, and, to do her bodily good, he persuaded her to return
     with him, telling her that I should be very, very happy to have
     her with me for a few weeks. I was then strongly under the
     influence of Evangelical belief, and earnestly endeavoring to
     shape this anomalous English-Christian life of ours into some
     consistency with the spirit and simple verbal tenor of the New

     I was delighted to see my aunt. Although I had only heard her
     spoken of as a strange person, given to a fanatical vehemence of
     exhortation in private as well as public, I believed that we
     should find sympathy between us. She was then an old woman--above
     sixty--and, I believe, had for a good many years given up
     preaching. A tiny little woman, with bright, small dark eyes, and
     hair that had been black, I imagine, but was now gray--a pretty
     woman in her youth, but of a totally different physical type from
     Dinah. The difference--as you will believe--was not simply
     physical; no difference is. She was a woman of strong natural
     excitability, which, I know, from the description I have heard my
     father and half-sister give, prevented her from the exercise of
     discretion under the promptings of her zeal. But this vehemence
     was now subdued by age and sickness; she was very gentle and
     quiet in her manners--very loving--and (what she must have been
     from the very first) a truly religious soul, in whom the love of
     God and love of man were fused together. There was nothing highly
     distinctive in her religious conversation. I had had much
     intercourse with pious Dissenters before. The only freshness I
     found in our talk, came from the fact that she had been the
     greater part of her life a Wesleyan; and though she left the
     society when women were no longer allowed to preach, and joined
     the new Wesleyans, she retained the character of thought that
     belongs to the genuine old Wesleyan. I had never talked with a
     Wesleyan before, and we used to have little debates about
     predestination, for I was then a strong Calvinist. Here her
     superiority came out, and I remember now, with loving admiration,
     one thing which at the time I disapproved. It was not strictly a
     consequence of her Arminian belief, and at first sight might seem
     opposed to it,--yet it came from the spirit of love which clings
     to the bad logic of Arminianism. When my uncle came to fetch her,
     after she had been with us a fortnight or three weeks, he was
     speaking of a deceased minister, once greatly respected, who from
     the action of trouble upon him had taken to small tippling,
     though otherwise not culpable. "But I hope the good man's in
     heaven for all that," said my uncle. "Oh, yes," said my aunt,
     with a deep inward groan of joyful conviction, "Mr. A.'s in
     heaven--that's sure." This was at the time an offence to my
     stern, ascetic, hard views--how beautiful it is to me now!

     As to my aunt's conversation, it is a fact that the only two
     things of any interest I remember in our lonely sittings and
     walks are her telling me one sunny afternoon how she had, with
     another pious woman, visited an unhappy girl in prison, stayed
     with her all night, and gone with her to execution; and one or
     two accounts of supposed miracles in which she believed--among
     the rest, the face with the crown of thorns seen in the glass. In
     her account of the prison scenes, I remember no word she
     uttered--I only remember her tone and manner, and the deep
     feeling I had under the recital. Of the girl she knew nothing, I
     believe--or told me nothing--but that she was a common coarse
     girl, convicted of child-murder. The incident lay in my mind for
     years on years, as a dead germ, apparently--till time had placed
     in my mind a nidus in which it could fructify; it then turned out
     to be the germ of "Adam Bede."

     I saw my aunt twice after this. Once I spent a day and night with
     my father in the Wirksworth cottage sleeping with my aunt, I
     remember. Our interview was less interesting than in the former
     time: I think I was less simply devoted to religious ideas. And
     once again she came with my uncle to see me--when my father and I
     were living at Foleshill; then there was some pain, for I had
     given up the form of Christian belief, and was in a crude state
     of free-thinking. She stayed about three or four days, I think.
     This is all I remember distinctly, as matter I could write down,
     of my dear aunt, whom I really loved. You see how she suggested
     Dinah; but it is not possible you should see as I do how entirely
     her individuality differed from Dinah's. How curious it seemed to
     me that people should think Dinah's sermon, prayers and speeches
     were copied--when they were written with hot tears, as they
     surged up in my own mind!

     As to my indebtedness to facts of local and personal history of a
     small kind, connected with Staffordshire and Derbyshire--you may
     imagine of what kind that is when I tell you that I never
     remained in either of those counties more than a few days
     together, and of only two such visits have I more than a shadowy,
     interrupted recollection. The details which I knew as facts, and
     have made use of for my picture, were gathered from such
     imperfect allusion and narrative as I heard from my father in his
     occasional talk about old times.

     As to my aunt's children or grandchildren saying, if they did
     say, that Dinah is a good portrait of my aunt--that is the vague,
     easily satisfied notion imperfectly instructed people always have
     of portraits. It is not surprising that simple men and women
     without pretension to enlightened discrimination should think a
     generic resemblance constitutes a portrait, when we see the great
     public so accustomed to be delighted with misrepresentations of
     life and character, which they accept as representations, that
     they are scandalized when art makes a nearer approach to truth.

     Perhaps I am doing a superfluous thing in writing all this to
     you--but I am prompted to do it by the feeling that in future
     years "Adam Bede" and all that concerns it may have become a dim
     portion of the past, and I may not be able to recall so much of
     the truth as I have now told you.

               Once more, thanks, dear Sara.
                                 Ever your loving

It is easy to gather from this letter that whilst the existence of
Marian Evans was calm enough externally, her inner life was full of
stirring events--of the most stirring events, in fact which can
agitate the human soul for it is evident that she had passed along
some quite opposite phases of religious belief. In 1851, after a
visit to the continent, she goes--where all English writers seem to
drift by some natural magic--to London, and fixes her residence there.
It is curious enough that with all her clearness of judgment she works
here for five years, apparently without having perceived the vocation
for which her whole natural and acquired outfit had so remarkably
prepared her. We find her translating Spinoza's _Ethics_; not only
translating but publishing Feuerbach's _Essence of Christianity_ and
Strauss's _Life of Jesus_. She contributes learned essays to the
Westminster Review; it is not until the year 1856, when she is
thirty-six years old that her first slight magazine story is sent to
Blackwood's; and even after his first commendations her timidity and
uncertainty as to whether she could succeed in story-writing are so
great that she almost resolved to give it up. I should regard it as
mournful, if I could think it religious to regard anything as mournful
which has happened and is not revocable, that upon coming to London
Marian Evans fell among a group of persons represented by George Henry
Lewes. If one could have been her spiritual physician at this time one
certainly would have prescribed for her some of those warm influences
which dissipate doubt by exposing it to the fierce elemental heats of
love, of active charity. One would have prescribed for her the very
remedy she herself has so wisely commended in _Janet's Repentance_.

     "No wonder the sick room and the lazaretto have so often been a
     refuge from the tossings of intellectual doubt--a place of repose
     for the worn and wounded spirit. Here is a duty about which all
     creeds and philosophers are of one mind; here, at least, the
     conscience will not be dogged by adverse theory; here you may
     begin to act without settling one preliminary question. To
     moisten the sufferer's parched lips through the night-watches, to
     bear up the drooping head, to lift the helpless limbs, to divine
     the want that can find no utterance beyond the feeble motion of
     the hand or beseeching glance of the eye--these are offices that
     demand no self-questionings, no casuistry, no assent to
     propositions, no weighing of consequences. Within the four walls
     where the stare and glare of the world are shut out, and every
     voice is subdued--where a human being lies prostrate, thrown on
     the tender mercies of his fellow, the moral relation of man to
     man is reduced to its utmost clearness and simplicity; bigotry
     cannot confuse it, theory cannot pervert it, passion, awed into
     quiescence, can neither pollute nor perturb it."

Or one might have prescribed for her America where the knottiest
social and moral problems disappear unaccountably before a certain new
energy of individual growth which is continually conquering new points
of view from which to regard the world.

At the time to which we have now brought her history, Marian Evans
would seem to have been a singularly engaging person. She was small in
stature and her face was what would be called plain here; but she was
widely read, master of several languages, a good talker and listener:
and beyond all, every current of testimony runs towards a certain
intensity and loving fire which pervaded her and which endowed her
with irresistible magnetic attraction for all sensitive souls that
came near her. Her love for home matters, and for the spot of earth
where she had been born, her gentle affection for animals; how the
Bible and Thomas à Kempis were her favorite books, these and a
thousand womanly traits I hope to bring out as we study some of her
greater works,--for with all her reputed reserve I find scarcely any
writer so sincerely communicative and so frankly desirous of sympathy
on the part of her reader as George Eliot. In the next article I shall
ask leave to present you with some pictures of the stage at which
English novel-writing has arrived under the recent hands of Scott,
Thackeray and Dickens when George Eliot is timidly offering her first
manuscript to Blackwood's; and I shall then offer some quotations
from these first three stories--particularly from _Janet's Repentance_
which seems altogether the most important of the three--and shall
attempt to show distinctly what were the main new features of wit, of
humor, of doctrine, and of method which were thus introduced into
literature, especially in connection with similar features which about
this same time were being imparted by Mrs. Browning.

Meantime, let me conclude by asking you to fix your attention for a
moment on this figure of Milly, sweet wife of Amos Barton, going to
bed with her unmended basket of stockings in great fatigue, yet in
great love and trust, and contrast it with that figure of Prometheus,
nailed to the Caucasian rock in pain and hate, which formed the first
object of these studies. What prodigious spiritual distance we have
swept over from the Titan lying down, to unrest, thundering defiance
against Jove's thunder, as if clashing shield against shield, and the
tender-limbed woman whom the simple narrative puts before us in these
words: "Her body was very weary, but her heart was not heavy ...; for
her heart so overflowed with love," &c. Fixing your attention upon
this word "love," and reminding you how, at the close of the last
lecture, we found that the whole movement of the human spirit which we
have traced here as the growth of personality towards the
unknown--towards fellow-man--towards nature,--resulting in music, in
the novel, in science--that this whole movement becomes a unity when
we arrive at the fact that it really imparts a complete change in
man's most ultimate conception of things--a change, namely, from the
conception of Justice as the organic idea of moral order, a conception
which we have seen Æschylus and Plato vainly working out to the
outrageous conclusions of Prometheus, of the _Republic_; to the
conception of Love as the organic idea of moral order, a conception
which we are just now to see George Eliot working out to the
divinely-satisfactory conclusion of Milly Barton, who conquers with
gentle love a world which proved refractory alike to the justice of
Jove and the defiance of Prometheus; reminding you, I say, of this
concurrent change from feeble personality and justice to strong
personality and love, what an amazing arc of progress we have
traversed in coming from Æschylus to George Eliot!

And it is, finally, most interesting to find this change receiving
clear expression, for the first time in English literature, in the
works of the two women I have mentioned, Mrs. Browning and George
Eliot. In this very autumn, when we have seen the editor of
_Blackwood's Magazine_ reading the MS. of George Eliot's first story
to Thackeray, Mrs. Browning is sending _Aurora Leigh_ to print; and,
as I shall have frequent occasion to point out, the burden of _Aurora
Leigh_ as well as of George Eliot's whole cyclus of characters is

There is a charming scene in the first Act of Bayard Taylor's _Prince
Deukalion_, which, though not extending to the height we have reached,
yet very dramatically sums up a great number of ideas which converge
towards it. In this scene Gæa, the Earth, mother of men, is
represented as tenderly meditating upon her son, man. Near her stands
a rose-tree, from one bud of which Love is presently to emerge. She

                            "I change with man,
    Mother, not more than partner, of his fate.
    Ere he was born I dreamed that he might be,
    And through long ages of imperfect life
    Waited for him. Then vexed with monstrous shapes,
    That spawned and wallowed in primeval ooze,
    I lay supine and slept, or dreamed to sleep;
    And dreamed, or waking felt as in a dream,
    Some touch of hands, some soft delivering help,
    And he was there! His faint new voice I heard;
    His eye that met the sun, his upright tread,
    Thenceforth were mine! And with him came the palm,
    The oak, the rose, the swan, the nightingale;
    The barren bough hung apples to the sun;
    Dry stalks made harvest: breezes in the woods
    Then first found music, and the turbid sea
    First rolled a crystal breaker to the shore.
    His foot was on the mountains, and the wave
    Upheld him: over all things huge and coarse
    There came the breathing of a regal sway,
    Which bent them into beauty. Order new
    Followed the march of new necessity,
    And what was useless, or unclaimed before,
    Took value from the seizure of his hands."

In the midst of like thoughts, a bud on a rose which stands by Gæa
bursts open, and Eros, the antique god of young love, appears from it.


    Blithe, tricksome spirit! art thou left alone
    Of gods and all their intermediate kin
    The sweet survivor? Yet a single seed,
    When soil and seasons lend their alchemy,
    May clothe a barren continent in green.


    Was I born, that I should die?
    Stars that fringe the outer sky
    Know me: yonder sun were dim
    Save my torch enkindle him.
    Then, when first the primal pair
    Found me in the twilight air,
    I was older than their day,
    Yet to them as young as they.
    All decrees of fate I spurn;
    Banishment is my return:
    Hate and force purvey for me,
    Death is shining victory.


If you should be wandering meditatively along the banks of some tiny
brook, so narrow that you can leap across it without effort, so quiet
in its singing its loudest tinkle cannot be heard in the next field,
carrying upon its bosom no craft that would draw more water than the
curving leaf of a wild-rose floating down stream, too small in volume
to dream of a mill-wheel and turning nothing more practical than maybe
a piece of violet petal in a little eddy off somewhere,--if, I say,
you should be strolling alongside such a brook and should see it
suddenly expand, without the least intermediate stage, into a mighty
river, turning a thousand great wheels for man's profit as it swept on
to the sea, and offering broad highway and favorable currents to a
thousand craft freighted with the most precious cargoes of human
aspirations; you would behold the aptest physical semblance of that
spiritual phenomenon which we witnessed at our last meeting, when in
tracing the quiet and mentally wayward course of demure Marian Evans
among the suave pastorals of her native Warwickshire, we came suddenly
upon the year 1857 when her first venture in fiction--_The Scenes from
Clerical Life_ appeared in _Blackwood's Magazine_ and magically
enlarged the stream of her influence from the diameter of a small
circle of literary people in London to the width of all England.

At this point it seems interesting now to pause a moment, to look
about and see exactly what network English fiction had done since its
beginning, only about a century before; to note more particularly
what were the precise gains to humanity which Thackeray and Dickens
had poured in just at this time of 1857; and thus to differentiate a
clear view of the actual contribution which George Eliot was now
beginning to make to English life and thought.

It is not a pleasant task, however instructive, to leave off looking
at a rose and cast one's contemplation down to the unsavory muck in
which its roots are imbedded. This, however, is what one must do when
one passes from the many-petalled rose of George Eliot's fiction to
the beginning of the English novel.

This beginning was as curious as it was unlooked for by the people
engaged in it.

In the year 1740, a book in two volumes called _Pamela: or The Reward
of Virtue_, was printed, in which Samuel Richardson took what seems to
have been the first revolutionary departure from the wild and complex
romances--such for example, as Sir Philip Sidney's _Arcadia_--which
had formed the nearest approach to the modern novel until then. At
this time Richardson was fifty years old, and probably the last man in
England who would have been selected as likely to write an
epoch-making book of any description.

He had worked most of his life as a printer, but by the time referred
to had gotten so far towards the literary life as to be employed by
booksellers to arrange indexes and to write prefaces and dedications.
It so happened that on a certain occasion he was asked by two
booksellers to write a volume of letters on different subjects which
might serve as models to uneducated persons--a sort of Every Man His
Own Letter Writer, or the like.

The letters, in order to be more useful, were to be upon such subjects
as the rustic world might likely desire to correspond about.
Richardson thinks it over; and presently writes to inquire, "Will it
be any harm, in a piece you want to be written so low, if we should
instruct them how they should think and act in common cases, as well
as indite?" This seemed a capital idea and in the course of time,
after some experiments, and after recalling an actual story he had
once heard which gave him a sort of basis, he takes for his heroine a
simple servant-girl, daughter of Goodman Andrews, a humbly born
English farmer, rather sardonically names her Pamela after the Lady
Pamela in Sir Philip Sidney's _Arcadia_, carries her pure through a
series of incredibly villainous plots against her by the master of the
house where she is at service, and who takes advantage of the recent
death of his wife, Pamela's mistress, to carry these on, and finally
makes the master marry her in a fit of highly spasmodic goodness,
after a long course of the most infamous but unsuccessful villainy,
calls the book _Pamela or Virtue Rewarded_, prints it, and in a very
short time wins a great host of admiring readers, insomuch that since
the first two volumes ended with the marriage, he adds two more
showing the married life of Pamela and her squire.

The whole novel, like all of Richardson's, is written in the form of
letters passing between the characters. It is related, apropos of his
genius in letter-writing, that in his boyhood he was the
love-letter-writer-in-chief for three of the young ladies of his town,
and that he maintained this embarrassing position for a long time
without suspicion from either of the three. Richardson himself
announces the moral purpose of his book, saying that he thinks it
might "introduce a new species of writing that might possibly turn
young people into a course of reading different from the pomp and
parade of romance-writing, and ... promote the cause of religion and
virtue;" and in the preface to the continuation before-mentioned, he
remarks as follows: "The two former volumes of _Pamela_ met with a
success greatly exceeding the most sanguine expectations; and the
editor hopes" (Richardson calls himself the editor of the letters),
"that the letters which compose these will be found equally written to
nature, avoiding all romantic flights, improbable surprises, and
irrational machinery; and that the passions are touched where
requisite; and rules equally new and practicable inculcated throughout
the whole for the general conduct of life." I have given these
somewhat tedious quotations from Richardson's own words, to show first
that the English novel starts out with a perfectly clear and conscious
moral mission, and secondly, to contrast this pleasing moral
announcement of Richardson's with what I can only call the silly and
hideous realization of it which meets us when we come actually to read
this wonderful first English novel--_Pamela_.

I have already given the substance of the first two volumes in which
the rich squire, Mr. B. (as he is called throughout the novel),
finally marries and takes home the girl who had been the servant of
his wife and against whom, ever since that lady's death, he had been
plotting with an elaborate baseness which has never before been, and I
sincerely hope will never hereafter be described. By this action Mr.
B. has, in the opinion of Richardson, of his wife, the servant girl,
and of the whole contemporary world, saturated himself with such a
flame of saintliness as to have burnt out every particle of any little
misdemeanors he may have been guilty of in his previous existence; and
I need only read you an occasional line from the first four letters of
the third volume in order to show the marvellous sentimentality, the
untruth towards nature, and the purely commercial view of virtue and
of religion which make up this intolerable book. At the opening of
Volume III. we find that Goodman Andrews, the father of the bride, and
his wife have been provided with a comfortable farm on the estate of
Mr. B., and the second letter is from Andrews to his daughter, the
happy bride, Pamela. After rhapsodizing for several pages, Andrews
reaches this climax--and it is worth while observing that though only
a rude farmer of the eighteenth century whose daughter was a servant
maid, he writes in the most approved epistolary style of the period:

     "When here in this happy dwelling and this well-stocked farm, in
     these rich meadows and well-cropped acres, we look around us and
     whichever way we turn our heads see blessings upon blessings and
     plenty upon plenty; see barns well stored, poultry increasing,
     the kine lowing and crowding about us, and all fruitful; and are
     bid to call all these our own. And then think that all is the
     reward of our child's virtue! O, my dear daughter, who can bear
     these things! Excuse me! I must break off a little! For my eyes
     are as full as my heart; and I will retire to bless God and your
     honored husband."

Here there is a break in the page, by which the honest farmer is
supposed to represent the period of time occupied by him in retiring,
and, as one hopes, dividing his blessing impartially between the
Creator and Pamela's honored husband--and the farmer resumes his

     "So, my dear child, I now again take up my pen. But reading what
     I had written, in order to carry on the thread, I can hardly
     forbear again being in like sort affected."

And here we have a full stop and a dash, during which it is only fair
to suppose that the honest Andrews manages to weep and bless up to
something like a state of repose.

Presently Pamela:

     "My dear father and mother; I have shown your letter to my
     beloved.... 'Dear good soul,' said he, 'how does everything they
     say and everything they write manifest the worthiness of their
     hearts! Tell them ... let them find out another couple as worthy
     as themselves, and I will do as much for them. Indeed I would not
     place them,' continued the dear obliger, 'in the same county,
     because I would wish two counties to be blessed for their
     sakes.'... I could only fly to his generous bosom ... and with my
     eyes swimming in tears of grateful joy ... bless God and bless
     him with my whole heart; for speak I could not! but almost choked
     with joy, sobbed to him my grateful acknowledgements.... ''Tis
     too much, too much,' said I, in broken accents. 'O, sir, bless me
     more gradually and more cautiously--for I cannot bear it!' And,
     indeed, my heart went flutter, flutter, flutter, at his dear
     breast, as if it wanted to break its too narrow prison to mingle
     still more intimately with his own."

And a few lines further on we have this purely commercial view of

     "And if our prayers shall be heard," continues Pamela, "and we
     shall have the pleasure to think that his" (her husband's)
     "advances in piety are owing not a little to them ... then indeed
     may we take the pride to think we have repaid his goodness to us
     and that we have satisfied the debt which nothing less can

Or, again, in the same letter, she exclaims anew:

     "See, O see, my excellent parents, how we are crowned with
     blessings upon blessings, until we are the talk of all who know
     us; you for your honesty, I for my humility and virtue;" so that
     now I have "nothing to do but to reap all the rewards which this
     life can afford; and if I walk humbly and improve my blessed
     opportunities, will heighten and perfect all, in a still more
     joyful futurity."

Perhaps a more downright creed, not only of worldliness, but of
"other-worldliness," was never more explicitly avowed.

Now, to put the whole moral effect of this book into a
nutshell--Richardson had gravely announced it as a warning to young
servant-girls, but why might he not as well have announced it as an
encouragement to old villains? The virtue of Pamela, it is true, is
duly rewarded: but Mr. B., with all his villainy, certainly fares
better than Pamela: for he not only receives to himself a paragon of a
wife, but the sole operation of his previous villainy towards her is
to make his neighbors extol him to the skies as a saint, when he turns
from it; so that, considering the enormous surplus of Mr. B.'s rewards
as against Pamela's, instead of the title _Pamela; or, The Reward of
Virtue_, ought not the book to have been called _Mr. B.; or, The
Reward of Villainy_?

It was expressly to ridicule some points of Richardson's Pamela that
the second English novel was written. This was Henry Fielding's
_Joseph Andrews_, which appeared in 1742. It may be that the high
birth of Fielding--his father was great-grandson of the Earl of
Denbigh, and a lieutenant-general in the army--had something to do
with his opposition to Richardson, who was the son of a joiner; at any
rate, he puts forth a set of exactly opposite characters to those in
Pamela, takes a footman for his virtuous hero, and the footman's
mistress for his villainous heroine, names the footman Joseph Andrews,
explaining that he was the brother of Richardson's Pamela, who, you
remember, was the daughter of Goodman Andrews, makes principal figures
of two parsons, Parson Adams and Parson Trulliber, the former of whom
is set up as a model of clerical behavior, and the latter the reverse;
and with these main materials, together with an important peddler, he
gives us the book still called by many the greatest English novel,
originally entitled: _The Adventures of Joseph Andrews and His Friend
Abraham Adams_.

I will not, because I cannot, here cite any of the vital portions of
_Joseph Andrews_ which produce the real moral effect of the book upon
a reader. I can only say, that it is not different in essence from the
moral effect of Richardson's book just described, though the tone is
more clownish. But for particular purposes of comparison with Dickens
and George Eliot hereafter, let me recall to you in the briefest way
two of the comic scenes. That these are fair samples of the humorous
atmosphere of the book I may mention that they are both among the
number which were selected by Thackeray, who was a keen lover of
Fielding generally, and of his Joseph Andrews particularly, for his
own illustrations upon his own copy of this book.

In the first scene Joseph Andrews is riding along the road upon a very
untrustworthy horse who has already given him a lame leg by a fall,
attended by his friend Parson Adams. They arrive at an inn, dismount,
and ask for lodging: the landlord is surly, and presently behaves
uncivilly to Joseph Andrews; whereupon Parson Adams, in defence of his
lame friend, knocks the landlord sprawling upon the floor of his own
inn; the landlord, however, quickly receives reinforcements, and his
wife, seizing a pan of hog's blood which stood on the dresser,
discharged it with powerful effect into the good parson's face. While
the parson is in this condition, enters Mrs. Slipshod--a veritable
Grendel's mother--

    "Terrible termagant, mindful of mischief,"

and attacks the landlady, with fearsome results of uprooted hair and
defaced feature. In scene second, Parson Adams being in need of a
trifling loan, goes to see his counter parson Trulliber, who was
noted, among other things, for his fat hogs. Unfortunately Parson
Adams meets Mrs. Trulliber first, and is mistakenly introduced by her
to her husband as "a man come for some of his hogs." Trulliber
immediately begins to brag of the fatness of his swine, and drags
Parson Adams to his stye, insisting upon examination in proof of his
praise. Parson Adams complies; they reach the stye, and by way of
beginning his examination, Parson Adams lays hold of the tail of a
very high-fed, capricious hog; the beast suddenly springs forward, and
throws Parson Adams headlong into the deep mire. Trulliber bursts into
laughter, and contemptuously cries: "Why, dost not know how to handle
a hog?"

It is impossible for lack of space to linger over further
characteristics of these writers. It has been very fairly said, that
Fielding tells us what o'clock it is, while Richardson shows us how
the watch is made; and this, as characterizing the highly analytic
faculty of Richardson in contrast to the more synthetic talent of
Fielding, is good as far as it goes.

In 1748 appears Richardson's _Clarissa Harlowe_ in eight volumes,
which, from your present lecturer's point of view, is quite
sufficiently described as a patient analysis of the most intolerable
crime in all history or fiction, watered with an amount of tears and
sensibility as much greater than that in Pamela as the cube of eight
volumes is greater than the cube of four volumes.

In 1753 Richardson's third and last novel, _Sir Charles Grandison_,
appeared; a work differing in motive, but not in moral tone, from the
other two, though certainly less hideous than _Clarissa Harlowe_.

Returning to bring up Fielding's novels, in 1743 appeared his _History
of the Life of the late Mr. Jonathan Wild the Great_, in which the
hero Jonathan Wild was a taker of thieves, or detective, who ended his
own career by being hung; the book being written professedly as "an
exposition of the motives that actuate the unprincipled great, in
every walk and sphere of life, and which are common alike to the thief
or murderer on the small scale and to the mighty villain and reckless
conqueror who invades the rights or destroys the liberties of
nations." In 1749 Fielding prints his _Tom Jones_, which some consider
his greatest book. The glory of _Tom Jones_ is Squire Allworthy, whom
we are invited to regard as the most miraculous product of the divine
creation so far in the shape of man; but to your present lecturer's
way of thinking, the kind of virtue represented by Squire Allworthy is
completely summed in the following sentence of the work introducing
him in the midst of nature: it is a May morning, and Squire Allworthy
is pacing the terrace in front of his mansion before sunrise; "when,"
says Fielding, "in the full blaze of his majesty up rose the sun, than
which one object alone in this lower creation could be more glorious,
and that Mr. Allworthy himself presented--a human being replete with
benevolence meditating in what manner he might render himself most
acceptable to his Creator by doing most good to his creatures;" that
is, in plain commercial terms, how he might obtain the largest
possible amount upon the letter of credit which he found himself
forced to buy against the inevitable journey into the foreign parts
lying beyond the waters of death.

Out of Fielding's numerous other writings, dramatic and periodical, it
is perhaps necessary to mention farther only his _Amelia_, belonging
to the year 1751, in which he praised his first wife and satirized the
jails of his time.

We must now hastily pass to the third so-called classic writer in
English fiction, Tobias Smollett, who, after being educated as a
surgeon, and having experiences of life as surgeon's mate on a ship
of the line in the expedition to Carthagena, spent some time in the
West Indies, returned to London, wrote some satire, an opera, &c., and
presently when he was still only twenty-seven years old captivated
England with his first novel, _Roderick Random_, which appeared, in
1748, the same year with _Clarissa Harlowe_. In 1751 came Smollett's
_Peregrine Pickle_, famous for its bright fun and the caricature it
contains of Akenside--_Pleasures of Imagination._ Akenside, who is
represented as the host in a very absurd entertainment after the
ancient fashion. In 1752 Smollett's _Adventures of Ferdinand Count
Fathom_ gave the world a new and very complete study in human
depravity. In 1769, appeared his _Adventures of an Atom_; a theme
which one might suppose it difficult to make indecorous; and which was
really a political satire; but the unfortunate liberty of locating his
atom as an organic particle in various parts of various successive
human bodies gave Smollett a field for indecency which he cultivated
to its utmost yield. A few months before his death in 1771 appeared
his _Expedition of Humphrey Clinker_, certainly his best novel. It is
worth while noticing that in Humphrey Clinker the veritable British
woman, poorly-educated and poor-spelling, begins to express herself in
the actual dialect of the species; and in the letters of Mrs. Winifred
Jenkins to her fellow-maid-servant Mrs. Mary Jones at Brambleton Hall,
during a journey made by the family to the North we have some very
worthy and strongly-marked originals not only of Mrs. Malaprop and
Mrs. Partington, but of the immortal Sairey Gamp and of scores of
other descendants in Thackeray and Dickens, here and there.

I can quote but a few lines from the last letter of Mrs. Winifred
Jenkins concluding the _Expedition of Humphrey Clinker_, which by the
way is told entirely through letters from one character to another,
like Richardson's.

     "To Mrs. Mary Jones at Brambleton Hall,

     Mrs. Jones,:--

     Providence has bin pleased to make great halteration in the
     pasture of our affairs. We were yesterday three kiple chined by
     the grease of God in the holy bands of matter-money."

     (The novel winds up with a general marriage of pretty much all
     parties concerned, mistress, maid, master and man); "and I now
     subscribe myself Loyd, at your sarvice." Here she of course
     describes the wedding. "As for Madam Lashmiheygo, you nose her
     picklearities--her head to be sure was fantastical; and her
     spouse had wrapped her with a long ... clock from the land of the
     selvedges.... Your humble servant had on a plain pea-green tabby
     sack, with my runnela cap, ruff toupee, and side-curls. They said
     I was the very moral of Lady Rickmanstone but not so pale--that
     may well be, for her ladyship is my elder by seven good years or
     more. Now, Mrs. Mary, our satiety is to suppurate; and we are
     coming home"--which irresistibly reminds us of the later Mrs.
     Malaprop's famous explanation in _The Rivals_:--"I was putrefied
     with astonishment."--"Present my compliments to Mrs. Gwillim, and
     I hope she and I will live upon dissent terms of civility. Being
     by God's blessing removed to a higher spear you'll excuse my
     being familiar with the lower sarvints of the family, but as I
     trust you will behave respectful and keep a proper distance you
     may always depend on the good will and protection of

                                                         W. LOYD."

To these I have now only to add the name of Lawrence Sterne, whose
_Tristram Shandy_ appeared in 1759, in order to complete a group of
novel writers whose moral outcome is much the same, and who are still
reputed in all current manuals as the classic founders of English
fiction. I need give no characterization of Sterne's book, which is
probably best known of all the three. Every one recalls the Chinese
puzzle of humor in _Tristram Shandy_, which pops something grotesque
or indecent at us in every crook. As to its morality, I know good
people who love the book; but to me, when you sum it all up, its
teaching is that a man may spend his life in low, brutish, inane
pursuits, and may have a good many little private sins on his
conscience, but will, nevertheless, be perfectly sure of heaven if he
can have retained the ability to weep a maudlin tear over a tale of
distress; or, in short, that a somewhat irritable state of the
lachrymal glands will be cheerfully accepted by the Deity as a
substitute for saving grace or a life of self-sacrifice. As I have
said, these four writers still maintain their position as the classic
novelists, and their moral influence is still copiously extolled; but
I cannot help believing that much of this praise is simply well
meaning ignorance. I protest that I can read none of these books
without feeling as if my soul had been in the rain, draggled, muddy,
miserable. In other words, they play upon life as upon a violin
without a bridge, in the deliberate endeavor to get the most
depressing tones possible from the instrument. This is done under
pretext of showing us vice.

In fine, and this is the characterization I shall use in contrasting
this group with that much sweeter group led by George Eliot, the
distinctive feature of these first novelists is to show men with
microscopic detail how bad men may be. I shall presently illustrate
with the George Eliot group how much larger the mission of the novel
is than this; meantime, I cannot leave this matter without recording,
in the plainest terms, that, for far deeper reasons than those which
Roger Bacon gave for sweeping away the works of Aristotle, if I had my
way with these classic books I would blot them from the face of the
earth. One who studies the tortuous behaviors of men in history soon
ceases to wonder at any human inconsistency; but, so far as I _can_
marvel, I _do_ daily that we regulate by law the sale of gunpowder,
the storage of nitro-glycerine, the administration of poison--all of
which can hurt but our bodies--but are absolutely careless of these
things--so-called classic books, which wind their infinite
insidiousnesses about the souls of our young children, and either
strangle them or cover them with unremovable slime under our very
eyes, working in a security of fame and so-called classicism that is
more effectual for this purpose than the security of the dark. Of this
terror it is the sweetest souls who know most.

In the beginning of _Aurora Leigh_, Mrs. Browning speaks this matter
so well that I must clinch my opinion with her words. Aurora Leigh
says, recalling her own youthful experience:

    "Sublimest danger, over which none weep,
    When any young wayfaring soul goes forth
    Alone, unconscious of the perilous road,
    The day-sun dazzling in his limpid eyes,
    To thrust his own way, he an alien, through
    The world of books! Ah, you!--you think it fine,
    You clap hands--'A fair day!'--you cheer him on
    As if the worst could happen, were to rest
    Too long beside a fountain. Yet behold,
    Behold!--the world of books is still the world;
    And worldlings in it are less merciful
    And more puissant. For the wicked there
    Are winged like angels. Every knife that strikes
    Is edged from elemental fire to assail
    Our spiritual life. The beautiful seems right
    By force of beauty, and the feeble wrong
    Because of weakness....
                    ... In the book-world, true,
    There's no lack, neither, of God's saints and kings...
    True, many a prophet teaches in the roads ...
    But stay--who judges?...
                    ... The child there? Would you leave
    That child to wander in a battle-field
    And push his innocent smile against the guns?
    Or even in the catacombs--his torch
    Grown ragged in the fluttering air, and all
    The dark a-mutter round him? not a child!"

But to return to our sketch of English fiction, it is now delightful
to find a snow-drop springing from this muck of the classics. In the
year 1766 appeared Goldsmith's _Vicar of Wakefield_.

One likes to recall the impression which the purity of this charming
book made upon the German Goethe. Fifty years after Goethe had read
it--or rather after Herder read to him a translation of the _Vicar of
Wakefield_ while he was a law-student at Strasburg--the old poet
mentions in one of his letters to Zelter the strong and healthy
influence of this story upon him, just at the critical point of his
mental development; and yesterday while reading the just published
_Reminiscences of Thomas Carlyle_ I found a pleasant pendant to this
testimony of Goethe's in favor of Goldsmith's novel in an entry of the
rugged old man in which he describes the far outlook and new wisdom
which he managed to conquer from Goethe's _Wilhelm Meister_, after
many repulsions.

     "Schiller done, I began _Wilhelm Meister_, a task I liked perhaps
     rather better, too scanty as my knowledge of the element, and
     even of the language, still was. Two years before I had at
     length, after some repulsion, got into the heart of _Wilhelm
     Meister_, and eagerly read it through; my sally out, after
     finishing, along the vacant streets of Edinburgh, a windless,
     Scotch-misty morning, is still vivid to me. 'Grand, serenely,
     harmoniously built together, far-seeing, wise and true. Where,
     for many years, or in my whole life before, have I read such a
     book?' Which I was now, really in part as a kind of duty,
     conscientiously translating for my countrymen, if they would read
     it--as a select few of them have ever since kept doing."

Of the difference between the moral effect of Goldsmith's _Vicar of
Wakefield_ and the classical works just mentioned I need not waste
your time in speaking. No great work in the English novel appears
until we reach Scott whose _Waverley_ astonished the world in 1814;
and during the intervening period from this book to the _Vicar of
Wakefield_ perhaps there are no works notable enough to be mentioned
in so rapid a sketch as this unless it be the society novels of Miss
Burney, _Evelina_ and _Cecilia_, the dark and romantic stories of Mrs.
Radcliffe, the _Caleb Williams_ of William Godwin--with which he
believed he was making an epoch because it was a novel without love as
a motive--Miss Edgeworth's moral tales and the quiet and elegant
narratives of Jane Austen.

But I cannot help mentioning here a book which occurs during this
period, and which attaches itself by the oddest imaginable ties to
what was said in a previous lecture, of The Novel, as the true
meeting-ground where the poetic imagination and the scientific
imagination come together and incorporate themselves. Now, to make the
true novel--the work which takes all the miscellaneous products of
scientific observation and carries them up into a higher plane and
incarnates them into the characters (as we call them) of a book, and
makes them living flesh and blood like ourselves--to effect this,
there must be a true incorporation and merger of the scientific and
poetic faculties into one: it is not sufficient if they work side by
side like two horses abreast, they must work like a man and wife with
one soul; or to change the figure, their union must not be mechanical,
it must be chemical, producing a thing better than either alone; or
to change the figure again, the union must be like that which Browning
has noticed as existing among the ingredients of a musical chord,
when, as he says, out of three tones, we make not a fourth, but a

Now the book I mean shows us the scientific faculty, and the poetic
faculty--and no weak faculties either--working along together, _not_
merged, _not_ chemically united, _not_ lighting up matter like a
star,--with the result, as seems to me, of producing the very drollest
earnest book in our language. It is _The Loves of the Plants_, by Dr.
Erasmus Darwin, grandfather, I believe, to our own grave and patient
Charles Darwin. _The Loves of the Plants_ is practically a series of
little novels in which the heroes and heroines belong to the vegetable
world. Linnæus had announced the sexuality of plants, and so had made
this idea a principle of classification, the one-stamen class,
_Monandria_, two stamen class, _Diandria_, etc., etc. Now all this the
diligent and truly loving Doctor framed into poetry, and poetry which
so far as technical execution goes is quite as good as the very best
of the Pope school which it follows. Here are a few specimens of the

    "Descend, ye hovering sylphs! aërial quires,
    And sweep with little hands your silver lyres;
    With fairy footsteps print your grassy rings,
    Ye Gnomes! accordant to the tinkling strings:
    While in soft notes I tune to oaten reed
    Gay hopes, and amorous sorrows of the mead;--
    From giant Oaks, that wave their branches dark,
    To the dwarf Moss that clings upon their bark,
    What Beaux and Beauties crowd the gaudy groves,
    And woo and win their vegetable Loves.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "First the tall Canna lifts his curled brow
    Erect to heaven, and plights his nuptial vow;
    The virtuous pair, in milder regions born,
    Dread the rude blast of Autumn's icy morn;
    Round the chill fair he folds his crimson vest,
    And clasps the timorous beauty to his breast!"

Here, however, a serious case presents itself; in _Canna_ there was
one stamen to one pistil, and this was comfortable; but in the next
flower he happened to reach--the _Genista_ or Wild Broom--there were
ten stamens to one pistil; that is, ten lovers to one lady; but the
intrepid Doctor carries it through, all the same, managing the whole
point simply by airy swiftness of treatment:

    "Sweet blooms Genista[A] in the myrtle shade,
    And ten fond brothers woo the haughty maid."

But sometimes our botanist comes within a mere ace of beautiful
poetry, as for example:

    "When o'er the cultured lawns and dreary wastes,
    Retiring Autumn flings her howling blasts,
    Bends in tumultuous waves the struggling woods,
    And showers their leafy honors on the floods;
    In withering heaps collects the flowery spoil;
    And each chill insect sinks beneath the soil:
    Quick flies fair Tulipa the loud alarms,
    And folds her infant closer in her arms;
    In some lone cave, secure pavilion, lies,
    And waits the courtship of serener skies."

This book has what it calls Interludes between the parts, in which the
Bookseller and the Poet discuss various points arising in it; and its
oddity is all the more increased when one finds here a number of the
most just, incisive, right-minded and large views not only upon the
mechanism of poetry, but upon its essence and its relations to other

[Footnote A: Genista, or _Planta Genista_, origin of "Plantagenet,"
from the original name-giver's habit of wearing a tuft of his native
heath or broom in his bonnet.]

[Footnote B: Carlyle's opinion of the book is given with a comical
grimness in his Reminiscences _à propos_ of the younger Erasmus
Darwin, who used much to visit the Carlyles after they settled in
London: "Erasmus Darwin, a most diverse kind of mortal, came to seek
us out very soon ('had heard of Carlyle in Germany,' &c.), and
continues ever since to be a quiet home-friend, honestly attached;
though his visits latterly have been rarer and rarer, health so poor,
I so occupied, etc., etc. He had something of original and
sarcastically ingenious in him; one of the sincerest, naturally
honest, and most modest of men; elder brother of Charles Darwin (the
famed Darwin on Species of these days), to whom I rather prefer him
for intellect, had not his health quite doomed him to silence and
patient idleness--grandsons, both, of the first famed Erasmus
('Botanic Garden,' etc.), who also seems to have gone upon 'species'
questions, '_omnia ex conchis_' (all from oysters), being a dictum of
his (even a stamp he sealed with still extant), as this present
Erasmus once told me, many long years before this of Darwin on Species
came up among us. Wonderful to me, as indicating the capricious
stupidity of mankind: never could read a page of it, or waste the
least thought upon it."]

Nor need I dwell upon Scott's novels, which stretch from 1814 to 1831,
which we have all known from our childhood as among the most hale and
strengthening waters in which the young soul ever bathed. They discuss
no moral problems, they place us in no relation towards our fellow
that can be called moral at all, they belong to that part of us which
is youthful, undebating, wholly unmoral--though not immoral--they are
simply always young, always healthy, always miraculous. And I can only
give now a hasty additional flavor of these Scott days by reminding
you of the bare names of Thomas Hope, Lockhart, Theodore Hook, Mrs.
Trollope, Mrs. Gore and Miss Mitford. It seems always comfortable in
a confusion of this kind to have some easily-remembered formula which
may present us a considerable number of important facts in portable
shape. Now the special group of writers which I wish to contrast with
the classic group, consisting of Dickens, Thackeray, Tennyson, Mrs.
Browning, Charlotte Bronte, and George Eliot, are at work between 1837
and 1857; and for the purpose of giving you a convenient skeleton or
set of vertebræ, containing some main facts affecting the English
novel of the nineteenth century, I have arranged this simple table
which proceeds by steps of ten years up to the period mentioned.

For example: since these all end in seven; beginning with the year
1807, it seems easy to remember that that is the date of Charles and
Mary Lamb's _Tales from Shakspeare_; skipping ten years to 1817, in
this year _Blackwood's Magazine_ is established, a momentous event in
fiction generally and particularly as to George Eliot's; advancing ten
years, in 1827, Bulwer's _Pelham_ appears, and also the very
stimulating _Specimens of German Romance_, which Thomas Carlyle
edited; in 1837 the adorable _Pickwick_ strolls into fiction; in 1847
Thackeray prints _Vanity Fair_, Charlotte Bronte gives us _Jane Eyre_,
and Tennyson _The Princess_; and finally, in 1857, as we have seen,
George Eliot's _Scenes of Clerical Life_ are printed, while so closely
upon it in the previous year as to be fairly considered contemporary,
comes Mrs. Browning's _Aurora Leigh_.

Now I do not know any more vivid way of bringing before you the
precise work which English fiction is doing at the time George Eliot
sets in, than by asking you to run your eye along the last four dates
here given, 1827, 1837, 1847, 1857. Here, in 1827, advances a
well-dressed man, bows a fine bow, and falls to preaching his gospel:
"My friends, under whatever circumstances a man may be placed, he has
it always in his power to be a gentleman;" and Bulwer's gentleman is
always given as a very manful and Christian being. I am well aware of
the modern tendency to disparage Bulwer, as a slight creature; but
with the fresh recollection of his books as they fell upon my own
boyhood, I cannot recall a single one which did not leave, as a last
residuum, the picture in some sort of the chivalrous gentleman
impressed upon my heart. I cheerfully admit that he sometimes came
dangerously near snobbery, and that he was uncivil and undignified and
many other bad things in the _New Timon_ and the Tennyson quarrel; and
I concede that it must be difficult for us--you and me, who are so
superior and who have no faults of our own--to look upon these
failings with patience; and yet I cannot help remembering that every
novel of Bulwer's is skilfully written and entertaining, and that
there is not an ignoble thought or impure stimulus in the whole range
of his works.

But, advancing, here, in 1837, comes on a preacher who takes up the
slums and raggedest miseries of London and plumps them boldly down in
the parlors of high life; and, like the boy in the fairy tale whose
fiddle compelled every hearer to dance in spite of himself, presently
has a great train of people following him, ready to do his bidding in
earnestly reforming the prisons, the schools, the workhouses, and the
like, what time the entire train are roaring with the genialest of
laughter at the comical and grotesque figures which this peculiar
Dickens has fished up out of the London mud.

But again: here, in 1847, we have Thackeray exposing shame and high
vulgarity and minute wickedness, while Charlotte Bronte and Tennyson,
with the widest difference in method, are for the first time
expounding the doctrine of co-equal sovereignty as between man and
woman, and bringing up the historic conception of the personality of
woman to a plane in all respects level with, though properly
differentiated from, that of man. It is curious to see the depth of
Charlotte Bronte's adoration for Thackeray, the intense, high-pitched
woman for the somewhat slack, and as I always think, somewhat
low-pitched satirist; and perhaps the essential utterance of
Thackeray, as well as the fervent tone which I beg you to observe is
now being acquired by the English novel, the awful consciousness of
its power and its mission, may be very sufficiently gathered from some
of Charlotte Bronte's words about Thackeray which occur in the Preface
to the second edition of her _Jane Eyre_:

     "There is a man in our own days whose words are not framed to
     tickle delicate ears; who, to my thinking, comes before the great
     ones of society much as the son of Imlah came before the throned
     kings of Judah and Israel; and who speaks truth as deep, with a
     power as prophet-like and as vital--a mien as dauntless and as
     daring. Is the satirist of _Vanity Fair_ admired in high places?
     I cannot tell; but I think if some of those amongst whom he hurls
     the Greek-fire of his sarcasm, and over whom he flashes the
     levin-brand of his denunciation, were to take his warnings in
     time, they or their seed might yet escape a fatal Ramoth-Gilead.

     "Why have I alluded to this man? I have alluded to him, reader,
     because I think I see in him an intellect profounder and more
     unique than his contemporaries have yet recognized; because I
     regard him as the first social regenerator of the day: as the
     very master of that working corps who would restore to rectitude
     the warped system of things."

Now, into this field of beneficent activity which _The Novel_ has
created, comes in 1857 George Eliot: comes with no more noise than
that of a snow-flake falling on snow, yet--as I have said, and as I
wish now to show with some detail--comes as an epoch-maker, both by
virtue of the peculiar mission she undertakes and of the method in
which she carries it out.

What then is that peculiar mission?

In the very first of these stories, _Amos Barton_, she announces it
quite explicitly, though it cannot be supposed at all consciously.
Before quoting the passage, in order that you may at once take the
full significance of it, let me remind you of a certain old and
grievous situation as between genius and the commonplace person. For a
long time every most pious thinker must have found one of the
mysteries most trying to his faith to be the strange and apparently
unjustifiable partiality of God's spiritual gifts as between man and

For example, we have a genius (say) once in a hundred years; but this
hundred years represents three generations of the whole world; that is
to say, here are three thousand million commonplace people to one

Now, with all the force of this really inconceivable numerical
majority, the cry arises, How monstrous! Here are three thousand
millions of people to eat, sleep, die, and rot into oblivion, and but
one man is to have such faculty as may conquer death, win fame, and
live beyond the worms!

Now, no one feels this inequality so keenly as the great genius
himself. I find in Shakspeare, in Beethoven, in others, often an
outcrop of feeling which shows that the genius cringes under this load
of favoritism, as if he should cry in his lonesome moments, _Dear
Lord, why hast thou provided so much for me, and so little for yonder
multitude?_ In plain fact, it seems as if there was never such a
problem as this: what shall we do about these three thousand millions
of common men as against the one uncommon man, to save the goodness
of God from seeming like the blind caprice of a Roman Emperor!

It is precisely here that George Eliot comes to the rescue; and though
she does not solve the problem--no one expects to do that--at any rate
she seems to me to make it tolerable, and to take it out of that class
of questions which one shuts back for fear of nightmare and insanity.
Emerson has treated this matter partially and from a sort of
side-light. "But," he exclaims in the end of his essay on _The Uses of
Great Men_, "_great men_,--the word is injurious. Is there caste? Is
there fate? What becomes of the promise to virtue?... Why are the
masses, from the dawn of history down, food for knives and powder? The
idea dignifies a few leaders, ... and they make war and death sacred;
but what for the wretches whom they hire and kill? The cheapness of
man is everyday's tragedy." And more to this purport. But nothing
could be more unsatisfactory than Emerson's solution of the problem.
He unhesitatingly announces on one page that the wrong is to be
righted by giving every man a chance in the future, in (say) different
worlds; every man is to have his turn at being a genius; until "there
are no common men." But two pages farther on this elaborate scheme of
redress is completely swept away by the announcement that after all
the individual is nothing, the quality is what abides, and so falls
away in that singular delusion of his, that personality is to die away
into the first cause.

On the other hand, if you will permit me to quote a few pathetic words
which I find in Carlyle's _Reminiscences_, in the nature of a sigh and
aspiration, and breathed blessing all in one upon his wife and her
ministrations to him during that singular period of his life when he
suddenly left London and buried himself in his wild Scotch farm of
Craigenputtoch, I shall be able to show you how Carlyle, most
unconsciously, dreams toward a far more satisfactory end of this
matter than Emerson's, and then how George Eliot actually brings
Carlyle's dream to definite form, and at last partial fulfilment in
the very beginning of her work. Carlyle is speaking of the rugged
trials and apparent impossibilities of living at Craigenputtoch when
he and his Jeanie went there, and how bravely and quietly she faced
and overcame the poverty, the ugliness, the almost squalor, which was
their condition for a long time. "Poverty and mean obstruction
continued," he says, "to preside over it, but were transformed by
human valor of various sorts into a kind of victory and royalty.
Something of high and great dwelt in it, though nothing could be
smaller and lower than many of the details. How blessed might poor
mortals be in the straitest circumstances, if only their wisdom and
fidelity to Heaven and to one another were _adequately_ great! It
looks to me now like a kind of humble russet-coated _epic_, that seven
years' settlement at Craigenputtoch, very poor in this world's goods,
but not without an intrinsic dignity greater and more important than
then appeared; thanks very mainly to her, and her faculties and
magnanimities, without whom it had not been possible."

And now, let us hear the words in which George Eliot begins to preach
the "russet-coated epic" of everyday life and of commonplace people.

     The Rev. Amos Barton, whose sad fortunes I have undertaken to
     relate, was, you perceive, in no respect an ideal or exceptional
     character; and perhaps I am doing a bold thing to bespeak your
     sympathy on behalf of a man who was so very far from
     remarkable,--a man whose virtues were not heroic, and who had no
     undetected crime within his breast; who had not the slightest
     mystery hanging about him, but was palpably and unmistakably
     commonplace; who was not even in love, but had had that
     complaint favorably many years ago. "An utterly uninteresting
     character!" I think I hear a lady reader exclaim--Mrs.
     Farthingale, for example, who prefers the ideal in fiction; to
     whom tragedy means ermine tippets, adultery, and murder; and
     comedy, the adventures of some personage who is quite a

     But, my dear madam, it is so very large a majority of your
     fellow-countrymen that are of this insignificant stamp. At least
     eighty out of a hundred of your adult male fellow-Britons
     returned in the last census are neither extraordinarily wicked,
     nor extraordinarily wise; their eyes are neither deep and liquid
     with sentiment, nor sparkling with suppressed witticisms; they
     have probably had no hair-breadth escapes or thrilling
     adventures; their brains are certainly not pregnant with genius,
     and their passions have not manifested themselves at all after
     the fashion of a volcano. They are simply men of complexions more
     or less muddy, whose conversation is more or less bald and
     disjointed. Yet these commonplace people--many of them--bear a
     conscience, and have felt the sublime prompting to do the painful
     right; they have their unspoken sorrows and their sacred joys;
     their hearts have perhaps gone out towards their first-born, and
     they have mourned over the irreclaimable dead. Nay, is there not
     a pathos in their very insignificance--in our comparison of their
     dim and narrow existence with the glorious possibilities of that
     human nature which they share.

     Depend upon it, you would gain unspeakably if you would learn
     with me to see some of the poetry and the pathos, the tragedy and
     the comedy, lying in the experience of a human soul that looks
     out through dull gray eyes, and that speaks in a voice of quite
     ordinary tone. In that case, I should have no fear of your not
     caring to know what further befell the Rev. Amos Barton, or of
     your thinking the homely details I have to tell at all beneath
     your attention. As it is, you can, if you please, decline to
     pursue my story further; and you will easily find reading more to
     your taste, since I learn from the newspapers that many
     remarkable novels, full of striking situations, thrilling
     incidents, and eloquent writing, have appeared only within the
     last season.

Let us now pass on to _Adam Bede_, _The Mill on the Floss_, and the rest of
George Eliot's works in historic order, and see with what delicious fun,
what play of wit, what ever-abiding and depth-illuminating humor, what
creative genius, what manifold forms of living flesh and blood, George
Eliot preached the possibility of such moral greatness on the part of every
most commonplace man and woman as completely reduces to a level the
apparent inequality in the matter of genius, and so illustrated the
universal "russet-coated epic."


Before _Scenes from Clerical Life_ had ceased to run, in the latter
part of the year 1857, George Eliot had already begun a novel more
complete in form than any of the three tales which composed that
series. Early in 1858, she made a visit to the Continent, and it was
from Munich that a considerable portion of the MS. of her new book was
sent to her publisher, Mr. Blackwood. This was _Adam Bede_, which she
completed by the end of October, 1858.

It was brought out immediately in book form; George Eliot seemed
desirous of putting the public to a speedier test than could be
secured by running the story through successive numbers of the
magazine, as usual; although the enthusiastic editor declared himself
very willing to enrich the pages of _Blackwood's_ with it. It was
therefore printed in January, 1859.

I have already cited a letter from Marian Evans to Miss Henschel, in which
she mentions the only two matters of fact connected in the most shadowy way
as originals with the plot of _Adam Bede_. One of these is that in her
girlhood, she had met an aunt of hers about sixty years old, who had in
early life been herself a preacher. To this extent, and this only, is there
any original for our beautiful snow-drop--Dinah Morris, in _Silas Marner_.
Again, in the same letter, George Eliot mentions that this same aunt had
told her of once spending a night in prison to comfort a poor girl who had
murdered her own child, and that this incident lay in her mind for many
years, until it became the germ of _Adam Bede_.

These are certainly but shadowy connections; yet, probably, the
greatest works are built upon quite as filmy a relation to any actual
precedent facts. A rather pretty story is told of Mrs. Carlyle, which,
perhaps, very well illustrates this filmy relation. It is told that
one evening she gave to Dickens a subject for a novel which she had
indeed worked out up to the second volume, the whole subject
consisting of a weaving together of such insignificant observations as
any one must make of what goes on at houses across the street. For
example,--Mrs. Carlyle observed of a house nearly opposite them that
one day the blinds or curtains would be up or down; the next day a
figure in a given costume would appear at the window, or a cab would
drive, hastily or otherwise, to the door, a visitor would be admitted
or rejected, etc; such bits of circumstances she had managed to
connect with human characters in a subtle way which is said to have
given Dickens great delight. She never lived, however, to finish her
novel, thus begun.

This publication of _Adam Bede_, placed George Eliot decisively at the
head of English novel-writers, with only Dickens for second, even; and
thus enables us at this point fairly to do what the ages always do in
order to get that notoriously clear view of things which comes with
time, and time only, that is to brush away all small circumstances and
cloudy non-essentials of time so as to bring before our minds the
whole course of English fiction, from its beginning to the stage at
which it is now pending with _Adam Bede_, as if it concerned but four
names and two periods, to wit:

RICHARDSON,  }  middle 18th century


DICKENS,       }  middle 19th century.

Now it was shown in the last lecture how distinctly the moral purpose
of the English fiction represented by this upper group was announced,
though we were obliged to record a mournful failure in realizing that
announcement. _Adam Bede_ gives us the firmest support for a first and
most notable difference between these two periods of English fiction,
that while the former professes morality yet fails beyond description,
the latter executes its moral purpose to a practical degree of
beneficence beyond its wildest hopes. Without now specifying the
subtle revolutions which lie in _Adam Bede_, a single more tangible
example will be sufficient to bring this entire difference before you.
If I ask you to recall how it is less than fifty years ago that
Charles Dickens was writing of the debtors' prisons with all the
terrible earnest of one who had lived with his own father and mother
in those unspeakable dens; if I recall to you what marvelous haste for
proverbially slow England the reform thus initiated took upon itself,
how it flew from this to that prison, from this to that statute, from
this to that country, until now not only is no such thing as
imprisonment for debt known to any of Dickens's readers, but with the
customary momentum of such generous impulses in society, the whole
movement in favor of debtors is clearly going too far and is beginning
to oppress the creditor with part of the injustice it formerly meted
out to the debtor; if, I say, I thus briefly recall to you this single
instance of moral purpose carried into perfect practice, I typify a
great and characteristic distinction between these two schools. For in
point of fact what one may call an organic impracticability lay at the
core of the moral scheme of Richardson and Fielding.

I think all reasoning and experience show that if you confront a man
day by day with nothing but a picture of his own unworthiness, the
final effect is, not to stimulate, but to paralyze his moral energy.
The picture of the man becomes the head of a Gorgon. Now this was
precisely what this early English fiction professed to do. It
professed to show man exactly as he is; but although this profession
included the good man as well as the bad man, and although there was
some endeavor to relieve the picture with tints of goodness here and
there, the final result was--and I fearlessly point any doubter to the
net outcome from _Pamela_ and _Clarissa Harlowe_ down to _Humphrey
Clinker_--the final result was such a portrayal as must make any man
sit down before the picture in a miserable deep of contempt for
himself and his fellows, out of which many spirits cannot climb at
all, and none can climb clean.

On the other hand, the work of Dickens I have just referred to is a
fair specimen of the way in which the later school of English fiction,
while glozing no evil, showed man, not how bad he might be, but how
good he might be; and thus, instead of paralyzing the moral energy,
stimulated it to the most beneficent practical reform. I think it is
Robert Browning who has declared that a man is as good as his best;
and there is the subtlest connection between the right to measure a
man's moral stature by the highest thing that he has done, rather than
the lowest, on the one hand, and that new and beautiful inspiration
which comes into one's life as one contemplates more and more
instances of the best in human behavior, as these are given by a
literature which thus lifts one up from day to day with the
declaration that however commonplace a man may be, he yet has within
himself the highest capabilities of what we have agreed to call the
russet-coated epic. The George Eliot and Dickens school, in fact, do
but expand the text of the Master when He urges His disciples: "Be ye
perfect as I am perfect."

Let me now suggest a second difference between the two schools which
involves an interesting coincidence and now specially concerns us. As
between Richardson and Fielding, it has been well said (by whom I
cannot now remember) that Fielding tells you the time of day, whilst
Richardson shows you how the watch is made. As indicating Fielding's
method of conducting the action rather by concrete dialogue and event,
than by those long analytic discussions of character in which
Richardson would fill whole pages with minute descriptions of the
changing emotions of Clarissa upon reading a certain letter from
Lovelace, pursuing the emotion as it were tear by tear,
_lachrymatim_,--this characterization happily enough contrasts the
analytic strength of Richardson with the synthetic strength of

Now a strikingly similar contrast obtains as between George Eliot and
Charles Dickens. Every one will recognize as soon as it is mentioned
the microscopic analysis of character throughout George Eliot as
compared with the rapid cartoon-strokes by which Dickens brings out
his figures. But the antithesis cannot be left here as between George
Eliot and Dickens; for it is the marvel of the former's art that,
though so cool and analytic, it nevertheless sets before us perfect
living flesh-and blood people by fusing the whole analytic process
with a synthetic fire of the true poet's human sympathy.

And here we come upon a farther difference between George Eliot and
Dickens of which we shall have many and beautiful examples in the
works we have to study. This is a large, poetic tolerance of times and
things which, though worthy of condemnation, nevertheless appeal to
our sympathy because they once were closely bound with our
fellow-men's daily life. For example, George Eliot writes often and
lovingly about the England of the days before the Reform Bill, the
careless, picturesque country-squire England; not because she likes
it, or thinks it better than the England of the present, but with much
the same feeling with which a woman looks at the ragged, hob-nailed
shoes of her boy who is gone--a boy who doubtless was often rude and
disobedient and exasperating to the last degree, but who was her boy.

A keen insight into this remarkable combination of the poetic
tolerance with the sternness of scientific accuracy possessed by this
remarkable woman--the most remarkable of all writers in this respect,
we should say, except Shakspeare--is offered us in the opening lines
of the first chapter of her first story, _Amos Barton_. (I love to
look at this wonderful faculty in its germ). The chapter begins:
"Shepperton Church was a very different looking building
five-and-twenty years ago.... Now there is a wide span of slated roof
flanking the old steeple; the windows are tall and symmetrical; the
outer doors are resplendent with oak graining, the inner doors
reverentially noiseless with a garment of red baize;" and we have a
minute description of the church as it is. Then we have this turn in
the next paragraph, altogether wonderful for a George Eliot who has
been translating Strauss and Feuerbach, studying physics, Comtism and
the like among the London agnostics, a fervent disciple of progress, a
frequent contributor to the _Westminster Review_; "Immense
improvement! says the well-regulated mind, which unintermittingly
rejoices in the new police ... the penny-post, and all guaranties of
human advancement, and has no moments when conservative reforming
intellect takes a nap, while imagination does a little Toryism by the
sly, revelling in regret that dear old brown, crumbling, picturesque
inefficiency is everywhere giving place to spick-and-span,
new-painted, new-varnished efficiency, which will yield endless
diagrams, plans, elevations and sections, but alas! no picture. Mine,
I fear is not a well-regulated mind: it has an occasional tenderness
for old abuses; it lingers with a certain fondness over the days of
nasal clerks and top-booted parsons, and has a sigh for the departed
shades of vulgar errors." And it is worth while, if even for an aside,
to notice in the same passage how this immense projection of herself
out of herself into what we may fairly call her antipodes, is not only
a matter of no strain, but from the very beginning is accompanied by
that eye-twinkle between the lines which makes much of the very
ruggedest writing of George Eliot's like a Virginia fence from between
whose rails peep wild roses and morning-glories.

This is in the next paragraph where after thus recalling the outside
of Shepperton church, she exclaims: "Then inside what dear old
quaintnesses! which I began to look at with delight even when I was so
crude a member of the congregation that my nurse found it necessary to
provide for the reinforcement of my devotional patience by smuggling
bread and butter into the sacred edifice." Or, a few lines before, a
still more characteristic twinkle of the eye which in a flash carries
our thoughts all the way from evolution to pure fun, when she
describes the organ-player of the new Shepperton church as a
rent-collector "differentiated by force of circumstances into an
organist." Apropos of this use of the current scientific term
"differentiation," it is worth while noting, as we pass, an instance
of the extreme vagueness and caprice of current modern criticism.
When George Eliot's _Daniel Deronda_ was printed in 1876, one of the
most complacent English reviews criticized her expression "dynamic
power of" a woman's glance, which occurs in her first picture of
Gwendolen Harleth, as an inappropriate use of scientific phraseology;
and was immediately followed by a chorus of small voices discussing
the matter with much minute learning, rather as evidence of George
Eliot's decline from the proper artistic style. But here, as you have
just seen, in the very first chapter of her first story, written
twenty years before, scientific "differentiation" is made to work very
effectively; and a few pages further on we have an even more striking
instance in this passage: "This allusion to brandy-and-water suggested
to Miss Gibbs the introduction of the liquor decanters now that the
tea was cleared away; for in bucolic society five-and-twenty-years
ago, the human animal of the male sex was understood to be perpetually
athirst, and 'something to drink' was as necessary a 'condition of
thought' as Time and Space." Other such happy uses of scientific
phrases occur indeed throughout the whole of these first three
stories, and form an integral part of that ever-brooding humor which
fills with a quiet light all the darkest stories of George Eliot.

But now, on the other hand, it is in strong contrast that we find her
co-laborer Dickens, always growing furious (as his biographer
describes), when the ante-reform days are mentioned, those days of
rotten boroughs, etc., when, as Lord John Russell said, "a ruined
mound sent two representatives to Parliament, three niches in a stone
wall sent three representatives to parliament, and a park where no
houses were to be seen sent two representatives to Parliament." While
George Eliot is indulging in the tender recollections of
picturesqueness, etc., just given, Dickens is writing savage versions
of the old ballad, _The Fine Old English Gentleman_, in which he
fiercely satirizes the old Tory England:

    "I will sing you a new ballad" (he cries), "and I'll warrant it
    Of the days of that old gentleman who had that old estate,

    The good old laws were garnished well with gibbets, whips and chains,
    With fine old English penalties and fine old English pains;
    With rebel heads and seas of blood once hot in rebel veins:
    For all these things were requisite to guard the rich old gains
    Of the fine old English Tory times;
    Soon may they come again!

    The good old times for cutting throats that cried out in their need,
    The good old times for hunting men who held their father's creed,
    The good old times when William Pitt, as all good men agreed,
    Came down direct from Paradise at more than railroad speed;
    Oh, the fine old English Tory times,
    When will they come again!

    In those rare days the press was seldom known to snarl or bark,
    But sweetly sang of men in power like any tuneful lark;
    Grave judges, too, to all their evil deeds were in the dark;
    And not a man in twenty score knew how to make his mark.
    Oh, the fine old English Tory times,
    Soon may they come again!"

In a word, the difference between Dickens' and George Eliot's powers
is here typified: Dickens tends toward the satiric or destructive view
of the old times; George Eliot, with an even more burning intolerance
of the essential evil, takes, on the other hand, the loving or
constructive view. It is for this reason that George Eliot's work, as
a whole, is so much finer than some of Dickens'. The great artist
never can work in haste, never in malice, never in even the sub-acid
satiric mood of Thackeray; in love, and love only, can great work,
work that not only pulls down, but builds, be done; it is love, and
love only, that is truly constructive in art.

And here it seems profitable to contrast George Eliot's peculiar
endowment as shown in these first stories, with that of Thackeray.
Thackeray was accustomed to lament that "since the author of _Tom
Jones_ was buried, no writer of fiction among us has been permitted to
depict to his utmost powers a man.... Society will not tolerate the
natural in art." Under this yearning of Thackeray's after the supposed
freedom of Fielding's time, lie at once a short-coming of love, a
limitation of view and an actual fallacy of logic, which always kept
Thackeray's work below the highest, and which formed the chief reason
why I have been unable to place him here, along with Dickens and
George Eliot. This short-coming and limitation still exist in our
literature and criticism to such an extent that I can do no better
service than by asking you to examine them. And I think I can
illustrate the whole in the shortest manner by some considerations
drawn from that familiar wonder of our times, the daily newspaper.
Consider the printed matter which is brought daily to your breakfast
table. The theory of the daily paper is that it is the history of the
world for one day; and let me here at once connect this illustration
with the general argument by saying that Thackeray and his school,
when they speak of drawing a man as he is--of the natural, etc., in
art--would mean drawing a man as he appears in such a history as the
daily newspaper gives us. But let us test this history: let us
examine, for instance, the telegraphic column in the morning journal.
I have made a faithful transcript on the morning of this writing of
every item in the news summary, involving the moral relation of man
to man; the result is as follows: one item concerning the
assassination of the Czar; the recent war with the Boers in Africa;
the quarrel between Turkey and Greece; the rebellion in Armenia; the
trouble about Candahar; of a workman in a lumber-camp in Michigan, who
shot and killed his wife, twenty-two years old, yesterday; of the
confession of a man just taken from the West Virginia penitentiary, to
having murdered an old man in Michigan, three years ago; of the
suicide of Mrs. Scott at Williamstown, Mississippi; of the killing of
King by Clark in a fight in Logan county, Kentucky, on Sunday; of how,
about 10 o'clock last night, a certain John Cram was called to the
door of his house, near Chicago, and shot dead by William Seymour; of
how young Mohr, thirteen years of age, died at the Charity Hospital,
in Jersey City, yesterday, from the effects of a beating by his
father; of how young Clasby was arrested at Richmond, Virginia, for
stealing letters out of the mail bag; of how the miners of the
Connellsville, Pennsylvania, coke regions, the journeyman bakers of
Montreal, Canada, the rubber-workers of New Brunswick, New Jersey, and
the Journeyman Tailors' Union in Cincinnati, are all about to strike;
and finally, of how James Tolen, an insane wife-murderer, committed
suicide in Minnesota, yesterday, by choking himself with a twisted
sheet. These are all the items involving the moral relations of man to
man contained in the history of the world for Tuesday, March 22d,
1881, as given by a journal noted for the extent and accuracy of its
daily collection.

Now suppose a picture were drawn of the moral condition of the United
States from these data: how nearly would it represent the facts? This
so-called "history of the world for one day," if you closely examine
it, turns out to be, you observe, only a history of the world's crimes
for one day. The world's virtues do not appear. It is true that
Patrick Kelly murdered his wife yesterday; but then how many Kellys
who came home, tired from work, and found the wife drunk and the
children crying for bread, instead of murdering the whole family, with
a rugged sigh drew the beastly woman's form into one corner, fumbled
about the poor, dirty cupboard in another for crusts of bread, fed the
crying youngsters after some rude fashion, and finally lay down with
dumb heaviness to sleep off the evil of that day. It is true that
Jones, the bank clerk, was yesterday exposed in a series of
defalcations; but how many thousands of bank clerks on that same day
resisted the strongest temptations to false entries and the
allurements of private stock speculations. It is true that yesterday
Mrs. Lighthead eloped with the music-teacher, leaving six children and
a desolate husband; but how many thousands of Mrs. Heavyhearts spent
the same day in nursing some drunken husband, who had long ago
forfeited all love; how many Milly Bartons were darning six children's
stockings at five o'clock of that morning; nay, what untold millions
of faithful women made this same day a sort of paradise for husband
and children. And finally, you have but to consider a moment that if
it lay within the power of the diligent collector of items for the
Associated Press despatches to gather together the virtuous, rather
than the criminal actions of mankind, the virtuous would so far exceed
the criminal as that no journal would find columns enough to put them
in, so as to put a wholly different complexion upon matters. Now the
use of this newspaper illustration in my present argument is this: I
complain that Thackeray, and the Fielding school, in professing to
paint men as they _are_, really paint men only as they _appear_ in
some such necessarily one-sided representations as the newspaper
history just described. And it is perfectly characteristic of the
inherent weakness of Thackeray that he should so utterly fail to see
the true significance underlying society's repudiation of his proposed
natural picture. The least that such a repudiation _could_ mean, would
be that even if the picture were good in Fielding's time, it is bad
now. It is beautiful, therefore, remembering Thackeray's great
influence at the time when _Scenes from Clerical Life_ were written,
to find a woman, George Eliot, departing utterly out of that mood of
hate or even of acidulous satire in which Thackeray so often worked,
and in which, one may add, the world is seldom benefited, however
skillful the work may be, departing from all that, deftly painting for
us these pathetic Milly Bartons, and Mr. Gilfils, and Janet Dempsters,
and Rev. Tryans, and arranging the whole into a picture which becomes
epic because it is filled with the struggles of human personalities,
dressed in whatever russet garb of clothing or of circumstances.

Those who were at my first lecture on George Eliot will remember that
we found the editor of _Blackwood's Magazine_ on a certain autumn
night in 1856, reading part of the MS. of _Amos Barton_, in his
drawing-room to Thackeray, and remarking to Thackeray, who had just
come in late from dinner, that he had come upon a new author who
seemed uncommonly like a first-class passenger; it is significantly
related that Thackeray said nothing, and evinced no further interest
in it than civilly to say, sometime afterward, that he would have
liked to hear more of it. In the light of the contrast I have just
drawn, Thackeray's failure to be impressed seems natural enough, and
becomes indeed all the more impressive, when we compare it with the
enthusiastic praise which Charles Dickens lavished upon this same work
in the letter which you will remember I read from him.

And here I come upon a further contrast between George Eliot and
Dickens which I should be glad now to bring out as clearly appearing
in these first three _Scenes from Clerical Life_ before _Adam Bede_ was

This is her exquisite modernness in that intense feeling for
personality, which I developed with so much care in my first six
lectures, and her exquisite scientific precision in placing the
personalities or characters of her works before the reader.

All the world knows how Dickens puts a personality on his canvas: he always
gives us a vividly descriptive line of facial curve, of dress, of form, of
gesture and the like, which distinguishes a given character. Whenever we
see this line we know the character so well that we are perfectly content
that two rings for the eyes, a spot for the nose and a blur for the body
may represent the rest; and we accept always with joy the rich mirthfulness
or pathetic matter with which Dickens manages to invest such hastily drawn
figures. George Eliot's principle and method are completely opposite; at
the time of her first stories which we are now considering they were
unique; and the quietness with which she made a real epoch in all
character-description is simply characteristic of the quietness of all her
work. She showed for the first time that without approaching dangerously
near to caricature as Dickens was often obliged to do, a loveable creature
of actual flesh and blood could be drawn in a novel with all the advantage
of completeness derivable from microscopic analysis, scientific precision,
and moral intent; and with absolutely none of the disadvantages, such as
coldness, deadness and the like, which had caused all sorts of
meretricious arts to be adopted by novelists in order to save the
naturalness of a character.

A couple of brief expressions from _Janet's Repentance_, the third of
_Scenes from Clerical Life_ show how intensely George Eliot felt upon
this matter. At the end of Chapter X of that remarkable story, for
instance, she says: "Our subtlest analysis of schools and sects must
miss the essential truth unless it be lit up by the love that sees in
all forms of human thought and work the life-and-death struggles of
separate human beings." And again in Chapter XXII: "Emotion, I fear,
is obstinately irrational: it insists on caring for individuals; it
absolutely refuses to adopt the quantitative view of human anguish,
and to admit that thirteen happy lives are a set-off against twelve
miserable lives," leaving "a clear balance on the side of
satisfaction.... One must be a great philosopher," she adds,
sardonically, "to have emerged into the serene air of pure intellect
in which it is evident that individuals really exist for no other
purpose than that abstractions may be drawn from them:" (which is
dangerously near, by the way, to a complete formula of the Emersonian
doctrine which I had occasion to quote in my last lecture.) She
continues: "And so it comes to pass that for the man who knows
sympathy because he has known sorrow, that old, old saying, about the
joy of angels over the repentant sinner out-weighing their joy over
the ninety-nine just, has a meaning that does not jar with the
language of his own heart. It only tells him that for angels too there
is a transcendent value in human pain which refuses to be settled by
equations; ... that for angels too the misery of one casts so
tremendous a shadow as to eclipse the bliss of ninety-nine." The
beautiful personality who suggests this remark is Janet Dempster, the
heroine of _Janet's Repentance_; a tall, grand, beautiful girl who has
married the witty Lawyer Dempster, and who, after a bitter married
life of some years in which Dempster finally begins amusing himself by
beating her, has come to share the customary wine decanter at table,
and thus by insensible degrees to acquire the habit of taking wine
against trouble. Presently a terrible catastrophe occurs; she is
thrust out of doors barefooted at midnight, half clad, by her brutal
husband, and told never to return. Finding lodgement with a friend
next day, a whirlwind of necessity for complete spiritual
re-adjustment shakes her. "She was sick," says George Eliot, "of that
barren exhortation, 'Do right and keep a clear conscience and God will
reward you, etc.' She wanted strength to do right;" and at this point
the thought of Tryan, an unorthodox clergyman who had made a great
stir in the village and whom she had been taught to despise, occurs to
her. "She had often heard Mr. Tryan laughed at for being fond of great
sinners; she began to see a new meaning in those words; he would
perhaps understand her helplessness. If she could pour out her heart
to him!" Then here we have this keen glimpse into some curious
relations of personality. "The impulse to confession almost always
requires the presence of a fresh ear and a fresh heart; and in our
moments of spiritual need the man to whom we have no tie but our
common nature seems nearer to us than mother, brother or friend. Our
daily, familiar life is but a hiding of ourselves from each other
behind a screen of trivial words and deeds; and those who sit with us
at the same hearth are often the farthest off from the deep human soul
within us, full of unspoken evil and unacted good." Nor can I ever
read the pathetic scene in which Janet secures peace for her spirit
and a practicable working theory for the rest of her active life,
without somehow being reminded of the second scene in Mrs. Browning's
_Drama of Exile_, prodigiously different as that is from this in all
external setting:--the scene where the figures of Adam and Eve are
discovered at the extremity of the sword-glare, flying from Eden, and
Adam begins:

    "Pausing a moment on the outer edge,
    Where the supernal sword-glare cuts in light
    The dark exterior desert,--hast thou strength
    Beloved, to look behind us to the gate?
    _Eve_--Have I not strength to look up to thy face?"

This story of _Janet's Repentance_ offers us, by the way, a strong
note of modernness as between George Eliot and Shakspeare. Shakspeare
has never drawn, so far as I know, a repentance of any sort. Surely,
in the whole range of our life, no phenomenon can take more powerful
hold upon the attention of the thinker than that of a human spirit
suddenly, of its own free-will, turning the whole current of its love
and desire from a certain direction into a direction entirely
opposite; so that from a small spiteful creature, enamored with all
ugliness, we have a large, generous spirit, filled with the love of
true love. In looking upon such a sight one seems to be startlingly
near to the essential mystery of personality--to that hidden fountain
of power not preceded, power not conditioned, which probably gives man
his only real conception of Divine power, or power acting for itself.
It would be wonderful that the subtleties of human passion
comprehended in the situation of repentance had not attracted
Shakspeare's imagination, if one did not remember that the developing
personality of man was then only coming into literature. The only
apparent change of character of this sort in Shakspeare which I
recall is that of the young king Henry V. leaving Falstaff and his
other gross companions for the steadier matters of war and government;
but the soliloquy of Prince Hal in the very first act of King Henry
IV. precludes all idea of repentance here, by showing that at the
outset his heart is not in the jolly pranks, but that he is
calculatingly ambitious from the beginning; and his whole apparent
dissipation is but a scheme to enhance his future glory. In the first
act of Henry IV. (first part), when the plot is made to rob the
carriers, at the end of Scene II., _exeunt_ all but Prince Hal, who
soliloquizes thus:

    "I know you all, and will awhile uphold
    The unyoked humor of your idleness:
    Yet herein will I imitate the sun,
    Who doth permit the base contagious clouds
    To smother up his beauty from the world,
    That, when he please again to be himself,
    Being wanted, he may be more wondered at
    By breaking through the foul and ugly mists
    Of vapors that did seem to strangle him.
    ... So when this loose behaviour I throw off
    And pay the debt I never promised,
    By how much better than my word I am,
    By so much shall I falsify men's hopes;
    And, like bright metal on a sullen ground,
    My reformation, glittering o'er my fault,
    Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes
    Than that which had no foil to set it off.
    I'll so offend to make offense a skill,
    Redeeming time when men think least I will."

Here the stream of his love is from the beginning and always towards
ambition; there is never any turn at all, and Prince Hal's assumption
of the grace _reformation_, as applied to such a career of deliberate
acting, is merely a piece of naïve complacency.

Let us now go further and say that with this reverence for personality
as to the ultimate important fact of human existence, George Eliot
wonderfully escapes certain complexities due to the difference between
what a man is, really, and what he seems to be to his fellows. Perhaps
I may most easily specify these complexities by asking you to recall
the scene in one of Dr. Holmes' _Breakfast-Table_ series, where the
Professor laboriously expounds to the young man called John that there
are really three of him, to wit: John, as he appears to his neighbors;
John, as he appears to himself; and John, as he really is.

In George Eliot's _Theophrastus Such_, one finds explicit mention of
the trouble that had been caused to her by two of these: "With all
possible study of myself," she says in the first chapter ... "I am
obliged to recognize that while there are secrets in one unguessed by
others, these others have certain items of knowledge about the extent
of my powers and the figure I make with them which, in turn, are
secrets unguessed by me.... Thus ... O fellow-men! if I trace with
curious interest your labyrinthine self-delusions ... it is not that I
feel myself aloof from you: the more intimately I seem to discern your
weaknesses the stronger to me is the proof I share them.... No man can
know his brother simply as a spectator. Dear blunderers, I am one of

Perhaps nothing less than this underlying reverence for all manner of
personality could have produced this first chapter of _Adam Bede_.
"With this drop of ink," she says at starting, "I will show you the
roomy work-shop of Mr. Jonathan Burge, carpenter and builder in the
village of Hayslope, as it appeared on the 18th of June, in the year
of our Lord 1799." I can never read this opening of the famous
carpenter's shop without indulging myself for a moment in the wish
that this same marvellous eye might have dwelt upon a certain
carpenter's shop I wot of, on some 18th of June, in the year of our
Lord 25. What would we not give for such a picture of the work-shop of
that master-builder and of the central figure in it as is here given
us of the old English room ringing with the song of _Adam Bede_.
Perhaps we could come upon no clearer proof of that modernness of
personality which I have been advocating than this very fact of our
complete ignorance as to the physical person of Christ. One asks one's
self, how comes it never to have occurred to St. Matthew, nor St.
Mark, nor St. Luke, nor St. John to tell us what manner of man this
was--what stature, what complexion, what color of eye and hair, what
shape of hand and foot. A natural instinct arising at the very outset
of the descriptive effort would have caused a modern to acquaint us
with these and many like particulars.

It is advancing upon the same line of thought to note that, here, in
this opening of _Adam Bede_, not only are the men marked off and
differentiated for our physical eye, but the very first personality
described is that of a dog, and this is subtly done: "On a heap of
soft shavings a rough gray shepherd-dog had made himself a pleasant
bed, and was lying with his nose between his fore-paws, occasionally
wrinkling his brows to cast a glance at the tallest of the five
workmen, who was carving a shield in the centre of a wooden
mantel-piece." This dog is our friend Gyp, who emerges on several
occasions through _Adam Bede_. Gyp is only one of a number of genuine
creations in animal character which show the modernness of George
Eliot and Charles Dickens, and make them especially dear. How, indeed,
could society get along without that famous cock in _Adam Bede_, who,
as George Eliot records, was accustomed to crow as if the sun was
rising on purpose to hear him! And I wish here to place upon the roll
of fame, also, a certain cock who entered literature about this time
in a series of delicious papers called _Shy Neighborhoods_. In these
Charles Dickens gave some account, among many other notable but
unnoted things, of several families of fowls in which he had become,
as it were, intimate during his walks about outlying London. One of
these was a reduced family of Bantams whom he was accustomed to find
crowding together in the side entry of a pawnbroker's shop. Another
was a family of Dorkings, who regularly spent their evenings in
somewhat riotous company at a certain tavern near the Haymarket, and
seldom went to bed before two in the morning.

My particular immortal, however, was a member of the following family:
I quote from Dickens here:--"But the family I am best acquainted with
reside in the densest parts of Bethnal-Green. Their abstraction from
the objects amongst which they live, or rather their conviction that
those objects have all come into existence into express subservience
to fowls has so enchanted me that I have made them the subject of many
journeys at divers hours.... The leading lady" is "an aged personage
afflicted with a paucity of feather and visibility of quills that give
her the appearance of a bundle of office pens. When a railway
goods-van that would crush an elephant comes round the corner, tearing
over these fowls, they emerge unharmed from under the horses perfectly
satisfied that the whole rush was a passing property in the air which
may have left something to eat behind it. They look upon old shoes,
wrecks of kettles and saucepans, and fragments of bonnets as a kind of
meteoric discharge for fowls to peck at.... Gaslight comes quite as
natural to them as any other light; and I have more than a suspicion
that in the minds of the two lords, the early public-house at the
corner has superseded the sun. They always begin to crow when the
public-house shutters begin to be taken down: and they salute the
Pot-boy when he appears to perform that duty as if he were Phœbus
in person." And alongside these two cocks I must place a hen whom I
find teaching a wise and beautiful lesson to the last man in the world
you would suspect as accessible to influences from any such direction.
This was Thomas Carlyle. Among his just-published _Reminiscences_ I
find the following entry from the earlier dyspeptic times, which seems
impossible when we remember the well-known story--true, as I
know--how, after Thomas Carlyle and his wife had settled at Chelsea,
London, and the crowing of the neighborhood cocks had long kept him in
martyrdom, Mrs. Carlyle planned and carried out the most brilliant
campaign of her life, in the course of which she succeeded in
purchasing or otherwise suppressing every cock within hearing
distance. But this entry is long before.

"Another morning, what was wholesome and better, happening to notice,
as I stood looking out on the bit of green under my bedroom window, a
trim and rather pretty hen actively paddling about and picking up what
food might be discoverable, 'See,' I said to myself; "look, thou fool!
Here is a two-legged creature with scarcely half a thimbleful of poor
brains; thou call'st thyself a man with nobody knows how much brain,
and reason dwelling in it; and behold how the one _life_ is regulated
and how the other! In God's name concentrate, collect whatever of
reason thou hast, and direct it on the one thing needful.' Irving,
when we did get into intimate dialogue, was affectionate to me as
ever, and had always to the end a great deal of sense and insight
into things about him, but he could not much help me; how could
anybody but myself? By degrees I was doing so, taking counsel of that
_symbolic_ Hen."

In George Eliot all the domestic animals are true neighbors and are
brought within the Master's exhortation: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor
as thyself," by the tenderness and deep humor with which she treats
them. This same Gyp, who is honored with first place among the
characters described in the carpenter's shop, is continually doing
something charming throughout _Adam Bede_. In _Janet's Repentance_
dear old Mr. Jerome comes down the road on his roan mare, "shaking the
bridle and tickling her flank with the whip as usual, though there was
a perfect mutual understanding that she was not to quicken her pace;"
and everywhere I find those touches of true sympathy with the dumb
brutes, such as only earnest souls or great geniuses are capable of.

Somehow--I cannot now remember how--a picture was fastened upon my
mind in childhood, which I always recall with pleasure: it is the
figure of man emerging from the dark of barbarism attended by his
friends the horse, the cow, the chicken and the dog. George Eliot's
animal-painting brings always this picture before me.

In April, 1860, appeared George Eliot's second great novel, _The Mill
on the Floss_. This book, in some respects otherwise her greatest
work, possesses a quite extraordinary interest for us now in the
circumstance that a large number of traits in the description of the
heroine, Maggie Tulliver, are unquestionably traits of George Eliot
herself, and the autobiographic character of the book has been avowed
by her best friends. I propose, therefore, in the next lecture, to
read some passages from _The Mill on the Floss_, in which I may have
the pleasure of letting this great soul speak for herself with little
comment from me, except that I wish to compare the figure of Maggie
Tulliver, specially, with that of Aurora Leigh, in the light of the
remarkable development of womanhood, both in real life and in fiction,
which arrays itself before us when we think only of what we may call
the Victorian women; that is, of the queen herself, Sister Dora,
Florence Nightingale, Ida in Tennyson's _Princess_, Jane Eyre,
Charlotte Bronte and her sisters, Mrs. Browning, with her Eve and
Catarina and Aurora Leigh, and George Eliot, with her creations. I
shall thus make a much more extensive study of _The Mill on the Floss_
than of either of the four works which preceded it. It is hard to
leave Adam Bede, and Dinah Morris and Bartle Massey, and Mrs. Poyser,
but I must select; and I have thought this particularly profitable
because no criticism that I have yet seen of George Eliot does the
least justice to the enormous, the simply unique equipment with which
she comes into English fiction, or in the least prepares the reader
for those extraordinary revolutions which she has wrought with such
demure quietness that unless pointed out by some diligent professional
student, no ordinary observer would be apt to notice them. Above all
have I done this because it is my deep conviction that we can find
more religion in George Eliot's words than she herself dreamed she was
putting there, and a clearer faith for us than she ever formulated for
herself; a strange and solemn result, but one not without parallel;
for Mrs. Browning's words of Lucretius in _The Vision of Poets_ partly
apply here:

    "Lucretius, nobler than his mood!
    Who dropped his plummet down the broad
    Deep Universe, and said 'No God',
    Finding no bottom! He denied
    Divinely the divine, and died
    Chief-poet on the Tiber-side
    By grace of God! His face is stern
    As one compelled, in spite of scorn,
    To teach a truth he could not learn."


While it is true that the publication of _Adam Bede_ enables us--as
stated in the last lecture--to fix George Eliot as already at the head
of English novel writers in 1859, I should add that the effect of the
book was not so well defined upon the public of that day. The work was
not an immediate popular success; and even some of the authoritative
critics, instead of recognizing its greatness with generosity, went
pottering about to find what existing authors this new one had most
likely drawn her inspiration from.

But _The Mill on the Floss_, which appeared in April, 1860, together
with some strong and generous reviews of _Adam Bede_, which had
meantime appeared in _Blackwood's Magazine_ and in the _London Times_,
quickly carried away the last vestige of this suspense, and _The Mill
on the Floss_ presently won for itself a popular audience and loving
appreciation which appear to have been very gratifying to George Eliot
herself. This circumstance alone would make the book an interesting
one for our present special study; but the interest is greatly
heightened by the fact--a fact which I find most positively stated by
those who most intimately knew her--that the picture of girlhood which
occupies so large a portion of the first part of the book, is, in many
particulars, autobiographic. The title originally chosen for this work
by George Eliot was _Sister Maggie_, from which we may judge the
prominence she intended to give to the character of Maggie Tulliver.
After the book was finished, however, this title was felt to be, for
several reasons, insufficient. It was a happy thought of Mr.
Blackwood's to call the book _The Mill on the Floss_; and George Eliot
immediately adopted his suggestion to that effect. There is, too, a
third reason why this particular work offers some peculiar
contributions to the main lines of thought upon which these lectures
have been built. As I go on to read a page here and there merely by
way of recalling the book and the actual style to you, you will
presently find that the interest of the whole has for the time
concentrated itself upon the single figure of a little wayward English
girl some nine years old, perhaps alone in a garret in some fit of
childish passion, accusing the Divine order of things as to its
justice or mercy, crudely and inarticulately enough yet quite as
keenly after all as our _Prometheus_, either according to Æschylus or
Shelley. As I pass along rapidly bringing back to you these pictures
of Maggie's girlish despairs, I beg you to recall the first scenes
which were set before you from the _Prometheus_, to bear those in mind
along with these, to note how Æschylus--whom we have agreed to
consider as a literary prototype, occupying much the same relation to
his age as George Eliot does to ours--in stretching _Prometheus_ upon
the bare Caucasian rock and lacerating him with the just lightnings of
outraged Fate, is at bottom only studying with a ruder apparatus the
same phenomena which George Eliot is here unfolding before us in the
microscopic struggles of the little English girl; and I ask you
particularly to observe how, here, as we have so many times found
before, the enormous advance from _Prometheus_ to Maggie
Tulliver--from Æschylus to George Eliot--is summed up in the fact that
while personality in Æschylus' time had got no further than the
conception of a universe in which justice is the organic idea, in
George Eliot's time it has arrived at the conception of a universe in
which love is the organic idea; and that it is precisely upon the
stimulus of this new growth of individualism that George Eliot's
readers crowd up with interest to share the tiny woes of insignificant
Maggie Tulliver, while Æschylus, in order to assemble an interested
audience, must have his Jove, his Titans, his earthquakes, his
mysticism, and the blackness of inconclusive Fate withal.

Everyone remembers a sense of mightiness in this opening chapter of
_The Mill on the Floss_, where the great river Floss, thick with
heavy-laden ships, sweeps down to the sea by the red-roofed town of
St. Ogg's. Remembering how we found that the first personality
described in _Adam Bede_ was that of a shepherd-dog, here, too, we
find that the first prominent figures in our landscape are those of
animals. The author is indulging in a sort of dreamy prelude of
reminiscences, and in describing Dorlcote Mill, Maggie's home, says:

     "The rush of the water and the booming of the mill bring a dreamy
     deafness which seems to heighten the peacefulness of the scene.
     They are like a great curtain of sounds shutting one out from the
     world beyond. And now there is the thunder of the huge covered
     wagon coming home with sacks of grain. That honest wagoner is
     thinking of his dinner getting sadly dry in the oven at this late
     hour; but he will not touch it until he has fed his horses--the
     strong, submissive, meek-eyed beasts, who, I fancy, are looking
     mild reproach at him from between their blinkers, that he should
     crack his whip at them in that awful manner, as if they needed
     that hint! See how they stretch their shoulders up the slope to
     the bridge, with all the more energy because they are so near
     home. Look at their grand, shaggy feet, that seem to grasp the
     firm earth, at the patient strength of their necks bowed under
     the heavy collar, at the mighty muscles of their struggling
     haunches! I should like well to hear them neigh over their
     hardly-earned feed of corn, and see them, with their moist necks
     freed from the harness, dipping their eager nostrils into the
     muddy pond. Now they are on the bridge, and down they go again at
     a swifter pace, and the arch of the covered wagon disappears at a
     turning behind the trees."

Remembering how we have agreed that the author's comments in the
modern novel, acquainting us with such parts of the action as could
not be naturally or conveniently brought upon the stage, might be
profitably regarded as a development of certain well-known functions
of the chorus in the Greek drama--we have here a quite palpable
instance of the necessity for such development; how otherwise, could
we be let into the inner emotions of farm-horses so genially as in
this charming passage?

In Chapter II. we are introduced to Mr. and Mrs. Tulliver talking by
the fire in the left-hand corner of their cosy English home, and I
must read a page or two of their conversation before bringing Maggie
on the stage, if only to show the intense individuality of the latter
by making the reader wonder how such an individualism could ever have
been evolved from any such precedent conditions as those of Mr. and
Mrs Tulliver. "What I want, you know," said Mr. Tulliver,--

     "What I want is to give Tom a good eddication--an eddication
     as'll be bread to him. That was what I was thinking of when I
     gave notice for him to leave th' academy at Ladyday. I mean to
     put him to a downright good school at Midsummer. The two years at
     th' academy 'ud ha' done well enough, if I'd meant to make a
     miller and farmer of him, for he's had a fine sight more
     schoolin' nor _I_ ever got: all the learnin' _my_ father ever
     paid for was a bit o' birch at one end and the alphabet at th'
     other. But I should like Tom to be a bit of a schollard, so as he
     might be up to the tricks o' these fellows a stalk fine and write
     with a flourish. It 'ud be a help to me wi' these lawsuits, and
     arbitrations, and things. I wouldn't make a downright lawyer o'
     the lad--I should be sorry for him to be a raskell--but a sort o'
     engineer, or a surveyor, or an auctioneer and vallyer, like
     Riley, or one o' them smartish businesses as are all profits and
     no out-lay, only for a big watch-chain, and a high stool. They're
     putty nigh all one, and they're not far off being even wi' the
     law, _I_ believe; for Riley looks Lawyer Wakem i' the face as
     hard as one cat looks another. _He's_ none frightened at him."

     Mr. Tulliver was speaking to his wife, a blonde comely woman, in
     a fan-shaped cap (I am afraid to think how long it was since
     fan-shaped caps were worn--they must be so near coming in again.
     At that time, when Mrs. Tulliver was nearly forty, they were new
     at St. Ogg's, and considered sweet things).

     "Well, Mr. Tulliver, you know best; _I've_ no objections. But
     hadn't I better kill a couple o' fowl and have th' aunts and
     uncles to dinner next week, so as you may hear what sister Glegg
     and sister Pullet have got to say about it? There's a couple o'
     fowl _wants_ killing!"

     "You may kill every fowl i' the yard, if you like, Bessy; but I
     shall ask neither aunt nor uncle what I'm to do wi' my own lad,"
     said Mr. Tulliver, defiantly.

     "Dear heart!" said Mrs. Tulliver, shocked at this sanguinary
     rhetoric, "how can you talk so, Mr. Tulliver? But it's your way
     to speak disrespectful o' my family; and sister Glegg throws all
     the blame upo' me, though I'm sure I'm as innocent as the babe
     unborn. For nobody's ever heard _me_ say as it wasn't lucky for
     my children to have aunts and uncles as can live independent.
     However, if Tom's to go to a new school, I should like him to go
     where I can wash him and mend him; else he might as well have
     calico as linen, for they'd be one as yaller as th' other before
     they'd been washed half a dozen times. And then, when the box is
     goin' backards and forrards, I could send the lad a cake, or a
     pork-pie or an apple; for he can do with an extra bit, bless him,
     whether they stint him at the meals or no. My children can eat as
     much victuals as most, thank God."

     Mr. Tulliver paused a minute or two, and dived with both hands
     into his breeches pockets as if he hoped to find some suggestion
     there. Apparently he was not disappointed, for he presently said
     "I know what I'll do. I'll talk it over wi' Riley: he's coming
     to-morrow t' arbitrate about the dam."

     "Well, Mr. Tulliver, I've put the sheets out for the best bed,
     and Kezia's got 'em hanging at the fire. They aren't the best
     sheets, but they're good enough for anybody to sleep in, be he
     who he will; for as for them best Holland sheets, I should repent
     buying 'em, only they'll do to lay us out in. An' if you was to
     die to-morrow, Mr. Tulliver, they're mangled beautiful, an' all
     ready, 'an smell o' lavender, as it 'ud be a pleasure to lay them
     out; an' they lie at the left-hand corner o' the big oaken chest,
     at the back--not as I should trust any body to look 'em out but

In the next chapter, Mr. Tulliver at night, over a cosy glass of
brandy-and-water, is discussing with Riley the momentous question of a
school for Tom. Mrs. Tulliver is out of the room upon household cares,
and Maggie is off on a low stool close by the fire, apparently buried
in a large book that is open on her lap, but betraying her interest in
the conversation by occasionally shaking back her heavy hair and
looking up with gleaming eyes when Tom's name is mentioned. Presently
Maggie, in an agitated outburst on Tom's behalf, drops the book she
has been reading. Mr. Riley picks it up, and here we have a glimpse at
the kind of food which nourishes Maggie's infant mind. Mr. Riley calls
out, "Come, come and tell me something about this book; here are some
pictures--I want to know what they mean."

Maggie, with deepening color, went without hesitation to Mr. Riley's
elbow, and looked over the book, eagerly seizing one corner, and
tossing back her mane, while she said:

     "Oh, I'll tell you what that means. It's a dreadful picture,
     isn't it? But I can't help looking at it. That old woman in the
     water's a witch--they've put her in to find out whether she's a
     witch or no, and if she swims she's a witch, and if she's
     drowned--and killed, you know--she's innocent, and not a witch,
     but only a poor silly old woman. But what good would it do her
     then, you know, when she was drowned? Only, I suppose, she'd go
     to heaven, and God would make it up to her. And this dreadful
     blacksmith, with his arms akimbo, laughing--oh, isn't he ugly?
     I'll tell you what he is. He's the devil, _really_," (here
     Maggie's voice became louder and more emphatic), "and not a right
     blacksmith; for the devil takes the shape of wicked men, and
     walks about and sets people doing wicked things, and he's oftener
     in the shape of a bad man than any other, because, you know, if
     people saw he was the devil, and he roared at 'em, they'd run
     away, and he couldn't make 'em do what he pleased."

     Mr. Tulliver had listened to this exposition of Maggie's with
     petrifying wonder.

     "Why, what book is it the wench has got hold on?" he burst out,
     at last.

     "_The History of the Devil_, by Daniel Defoe; not quite the right
     book for a little girl," said Mr. Riley. "How came it among your
     books, Tulliver?"

     Maggie looked hurt and discouraged, while her father said, "Why,
     it's one o' the books I bought at Partridge's sale. They was all
     bound alike--it's a good binding, you see--and I thought they'd
     be all good books. There's Jeremy Taylor's _Holy Living and
     Dying_ among 'em; I read in it often of a Sunday," (Mr. Tulliver
     felt somehow a familiarity with that great writer because his
     name was Jeremy), "and there's a lot more of 'em, sermons mostly,
     I think; but they've all got the same covers, and I thought they
     were all o' one sample, as you may say. But it seems one mustn't
     judge by th' outside. This is a puzzling world."

     "Well," said Mr. Riley, in an admonitory patronizing tone, as he
     patted Maggie on the head, "I advise you to put by the _History
     of the Devil_, and read some prettier book. Have you no prettier

     "Oh, yes," said Maggie, reviving a little in the desire to
     vindicate the variety of her reading; "I know the reading in this
     book isn't pretty, but I like to look at the pictures, and I make
     stories to the pictures out of my own head, you know. But I've
     got _Æsop's Fables_, and a book about kangaroos and things, and
     the _Pilgrim's Progress_."...

     "Ah! a beautiful book," said Mr. Riley: "you can't read a

     "Well, but there's a great deal about the devil in that," said
     Maggie, triumphantly, "and I'll show you the picture of him in
     his true shape, as he fought with Christian."

     Maggie ran in an instant to the corner of the room, jumped on a
     chair, and reached down from the small bookcase a shabby old copy
     of Bunyan, which opened at once, without the least trouble of
     search, at the picture she wanted.

     "Here he is," she said, running back to Mr. Riley, "and Tom
     colored him for me with his paints when he was at home last
     holidays--the body all black, you know, and the eyes red, like
     fire, because he's all fire inside, and it shines out at his

     "Go, go!" said Mr. Tulliver, peremptorily, beginning to feel
     rather uncomfortable at these free remarks on the personal
     appearance of a being powerful enough to create lawyers; "shut up
     the book, and let's hear no more o' such talk. It is as I
     thought--the child 'ull learn more mischief nor good wi' the
     books. Go--go and see after your mother."

And here are further various hints of Maggie's ways in which we find
clues to many outbursts of her later life.

     "It was a heavy disappointment to Maggie that she was not allowed
     to go with her father in the gig when he went to fetch Tom home
     from the academy; but the morning was too wet, Mrs. Tulliver
     said, for a little girl to go out in her best bonnet. Maggie took
     the opposite view very strongly; and it was a direct consequence
     of this difference of opinion that, when her mother was in the
     act of brushing out the reluctant black crop, Maggie suddenly
     rushed from under her hands and dipped her head in a basin of
     water standing near, in the vindictive determination that there
     should be no more chance of curls that day.

     "Maggie, Maggie," exclaimed Mrs. Tulliver, sitting stout and
     helpless with the brushes on her lap, "what is to become of you
     if you're so naughty? I'll tell your aunt Glegg and your aunt
     Pullet when they come next week, and they'll never love you any
     more. Oh dear, oh dear, look at your clean pinafore, wet from top
     to bottom. Folks 'ull think it's a judgment on me as I've got
     such a child--they'll think I've done summat wicked."

     Before this remonstrance was finished Maggie was already out of
     hearing, making her way toward the great attic that ran under
     the old high-pitched roof, shaking the water from her black
     locks as she ran, like a Skye terrier escaped from his bath. This
     attic was Maggie's favorite retreat on a wet day, when the
     weather was not too cold; here she fretted out all her
     ill-humors, and talked aloud to the worm-eaten floors and the
     worm eaten shelves, and the dark rafters festooned with cobwebs;
     and here she kept a Fetish which she punished for all her
     misfortunes. This was the trunk of a large wooden doll, which
     once stared with the roundest of eyes above the reddest of
     cheeks, but was now entirely defaced by a long career of
     vicarious suffering. Three nails driven into the head
     commemorated as many crises in Maggie's nine years of earthly
     struggle, that luxury of vengeance having been suggested to her
     by the picture of Jael destroying Sisera in the old Bible. The
     last nail had been driven in with a fiercer stroke than usual,
     for the Fetish on that occasion represented aunt Glegg."

But a ray of sunshine on the window of the garret proves too much for
her; she dances down stairs, and after a wild whirl in the sunshine
with Yap the terrier goes up into the mill for a talk with Luke the

     "Maggie loved to linger in the great spaces of the mill, and
     often came out with her black hair powdered to a soft whiteness
     that made her dark eyes flash out with a new fire. The resolute
     din, the unresting motion of the great stones, giving her a dim
     delicious awe as at the presence of an uncontrollable force--the
     meal forever pouring, pouring--the fine white powder softening
     all surfaces, and making the very spider-nets look like a fancy
     lace-work--the sweet, pure scent of the meal--all helped to make
     Maggie feel that the mill was a little world apart from her
     outside, everyday life. The spiders were especially a subject of
     speculation with her. She wondered if they had any relations
     outside the mill, for in that case there must be a painful
     difficulty in their family intercourse--a flat and floury spider,
     accustomed to take his fly well dusted with meal, must suffer a
     little at a cousin's table where the fly was _au naturel_; and
     the lady-spiders must be mutually shocked at each other's
     appearance. But the part of the mill she liked best was the
     topmost story--the corn-hutch, where there were the great heaps
     of grain, which she could sit on and slide down continually. She
     was in the habit of taking this recreation as she conversed with
     Luke, to whom she was very communicative, wishing him to think
     well of her understanding, as her father did. Perhaps she felt it
     necessary to recover her position with him on the present
     occasion, for, as she sat sliding on the heap of grain near which
     he was busying himself, she said, at that shrill pitch which was
     requisite in mill society,

     'I think you never read any book but the Bible--did you Luke?'

     'Nay, miss--an' not much o' that,' said Luke, with great
     frankness. 'I'm no reader, I ain't.'

     'But if I lent you one of my books, Luke? I've not got any _very_
     pretty books that would be easy for you to read, but there's
     _Pug's Tour of Europe_--that would tell you all about the
     different sorts of people in the world, and if you didn't
     understand the reading, the pictures would help you--they show
     the looks and the ways of the people, and what they do. There are
     the Dutchmen, very fat, and smoking, you know--and one sitting on
     a barrel.'

     'Nay, miss, I've no opinion o' Dutchmen. There ben't much good i'
     knowin' about _them_.'

     'But they're our fellow-creatures, Luke--we ought to know about
     our fellow-creatures.'

     'Not much o' fellow-creatures, I think, miss; all I know--my old
     master, as war a knowin' man, used to say, says he, 'If e'er I
     sow my wheat wi'out brinin', I'm a Dutchman,' says he; an' that
     war as much as to say as a Dutchman war a fool, or next door.
     Nay, nay, I arn't goin' to bother mysen about Dutchmen. There's
     fools enoo--an' rogues enoo--wi'out lookin' i' books for 'em.'

     'Oh, well,' said Maggie, rather foiled by Luke's unexpectedly
     decided views about Dutchmen, 'perhaps you would like _Animated
     Nature_ better; that's not Dutchmen, you know, but elephants, and
     kangaroos, and the civet cat, and the sunfish, and a bird sitting
     on its tail--I forget its name. There are countries full of those
     creatures, instead of horses and cows, you know. Shouldn't you
     like to know about them, Luke?'

     'Nay, miss, I'n got to keep count o' the flour an' corn--I can't
     do wi' knowin' so many things besides my work. That's what brings
     folks to the gallows--knowin' every thing but what they'n got to
     get their bread by--An' they're mostly lies, I think, what's
     printed i' the books; them printed sheets are, anyhow, as the men
     cry i' the streets.'

But these are idyllic hours; presently the afternoon comes, Tom
arrives, Maggie has an hour of rapturous happiness over him and a new
fishing-line which he has brought her, to be hers all by herself; and
then comes tragedy. Tom learns from Maggie the death of certain
rabbits which he had left in her charge and which, as might have been
expected, she had forgotten to feed. Here follows a harrowing scene of
reproaches from Tom, of pleadings for forgiveness from Maggie, until
finally Tom appears to close the door of mercy. He sternly insists:
"Last holidays you licked the paint off my lozenge box, and the
holidays before you let the boat drag my fish-line down when I set you
to watch it, and you pushed your head through my kite all for
nothing." "But I didn't mean," said Maggie; "I couldn't help it." "Yes
you could," said Tom, "if you'd minded what you were doing.... And you
shan't go fishing with me to-morrow." With this terrible conclusion
Tom runs off to the mill, while the heart broken Maggie creeps up to
her attic, lays her head against the worm-eaten shelf and abandons
herself to misery.

In the scene which I now read, howbeit planned upon so small a scale,
the absolute insufficiency of justice to give final satisfaction to
human hearts as now constituted, and the inexorable necessity of love
for such satisfaction appear quite as plainly as if the canvas were of
Promethean dimensions.

     "Maggie soon thought she had been hours in the attic, and it must
     be tea-time, and they were all having their tea, and not thinking
     of her. Well, then, she would stay up there and starve
     herself--hide herself behind the tub, and stay there all night;
     and then they would all be frightened, and Tom would be sorry.
     Thus Maggie thought in the pride of her heart, as she crept
     behind the tub; but presently she began to cry again at the idea
     that they didn't mind her being there. If she went down again to
     Tom now, would he forgive her? Perhaps her father would be there,
     and he would take her part. But, then she wanted Tom to forgive
     her because he loved her, and not because his father told him.
     No, she would never go down if Tom didn't come to fetch her. This
     resolution lasted in great intensity for five dark minutes behind
     the tub; but then the need of being loved, the strongest need in
     poor Maggie's nature, began to wrestle with her pride, and soon
     threw it. She crept from behind her tub into the twilight of the
     long attic, but just then she heard a quick footstep on the

In point of fact Tom has been sent from the tea-table for her, and
mounts the attic munching a great piece of plum-cake.

     ... "He went out rather sullenly, carrying his piece of
     plum-cake, and not intending to retrieve Maggie's punishment,
     which was no more than she deserved. Tom was only thirteen, and
     had no decided views in grammar and arithmetic, regarding them
     for the most part as open questions, but he was particularly
     clear and positive on one point, namely, that he would punish
     every body who deserved it; why, he wouldn't have minded being
     punished himself, if he deserved; but then he never _did_ deserve

     It was Tom's step, then, that Maggie heard on the stairs when her
     need of love had triumphed over her pride, and she was going down
     with her swollen eyes and disheveled hair to beg for pity. At
     least her father would stroke her head and say, 'Never mind, my
     wench.' It is a wonderful subduer, this need of love--this hunger
     of the heart--as peremptory as that other hunger by which Nature
     forces us to submit to the yoke, and change the face of the

     But she knew Tom's step, and her heart began to beat violently
     with the sudden shock of hope. He only stood still at the top of
     the stairs and said, 'Maggie, you're to come down.' But she
     rushed to him and clung round his neck, sobbing, 'Oh, Tom, please
     forgive me--I can't bear it--I will always be good--always
     remember things--do love me--please, dear Tom?'

     We learn to restrain ourselves as we get older. We keep apart
     when we have quarreled, express ourselves in well-bred phrases,
     and in this way preserve a dignified alienation, showing much
     firmness on one side, and swallowing much grief on the other. We
     no longer approximate in our behavior to the mere impulsiveness
     of the lower animals, but conduct ourselves in every respect like
     members of a highly civilized society. Maggie and Tom were still
     very much like young animals, and so she could rub her cheek
     against his, and kiss his ear in a random, sobbing way; and there
     were tender fibres in the lad that had been used to answer to
     Maggie's fondling, so that he behaved with a weakness quite
     inconsistent with his resolution to punish her as much as she
     deserved; he actually began to kiss her in return, and say,

     'Don't cry, then, Maggie--here, eat a bit o' cake.' Maggie's sobs
     began to subside, and she put out her mouth for the cake and bit
     a piece; and then Tom bit a piece, just for company; and they ate
     together, and rubbed each other's cheeks, and brows, and noses
     together, while they ate, with a humiliating resemblance to two
     friendly ponies.

     'Come along, Maggie, and have tea,' said Tom at last, when there
     was no more cake except what was down stairs."

Various points of contrast lead me to cite some types of character
which appear to offer instructive comparisons with this picture of the
healthy English boy and girl. Take for example this portrait of the
modern American boy given us by Mr. Henry James, Jr., in his _Daisy
Miller_, which was, I believe, the work that first brought him into
fame. The scene is in Europe. A gentleman is seated in the garden of a
hotel at Geneva, smoking his cigarette after breakfast.

     "Presently a small boy came walking along the path--an urchin of
     nine or ten. The child, who was diminutive for his years, had an
     aged expression of countenance, a pale complexion, and sharp
     little features. He was dressed in Knickerbockers, with red
     stockings, which displayed his poor little spindleshanks; he also
     wore a brilliant red cravat. He carried in his hand a long
     alpenstock, the sharp point of which he thrust into everything
     that he approached--the flower-beds, the garden benches, the
     trains of the ladies' dresses. In front of Winterbourne he
     paused, looking at him with a pair of bright penetrating little

     'Will you give me a lump of sugar?' he asked in a sharp, hard
     little voice--a voice immature, and yet, somehow, not young.

     Winterbourne glanced at the small table near him on which his
     coffee-service rested, and saw that several morsels of sugar
     remained. 'Yes, you may take one,' he answered, 'but I don't
     think sugar is good for little boys.'

     This little boy slipped forward and carefully selected three of
     the coveted fragments, two of which he buried in the pocket of
     his Knickerbockers, depositing the other as promptly in another
     place. He poked his alpenstock lance-fashion into Winterbourne's
     bench, and tried to crack the lump of sugar with his teeth.

     'Oh, blazes; it's har-r-d!' he exclaimed, pronouncing the
     adjective in a peculiar manner.

     Winterbourne had immediately perceived that he might have the
     honor of claiming him as a fellow-countryman. 'Take care you
     don't hurt your teeth,' he said paternally.

     'I haven't got any teeth to hurt. They have all come out. I have
     only got seven teeth. My mother counted them last night, and one
     came out right afterwards. She said she'd slap me if any more
     came out. I can't help it. It's this old Europe. It's the climate
     that makes them come out. In America they didn't come out. It's
     these hotels.'

     Winterbourne was much amused. 'If you eat three lumps of sugar,
     your mother will certainly slap you,' he said.

     'She's got to give me some candy, then,' rejoined his young
     interlocutor. 'I can't git any candy here--any American candy.
     American candy's the best candy.'

     'And are American boys the best little boys?' asked Winterbourne.

     'I don't know. I'm an American boy,' said the child.

     'I see you are one of the best!' laughed Winterbourne.

     'Are you an American man?' pursued this vivacious infant. And
     then on Winterbourne's affirmative reply,--'American men are the
     best,' he declared."

On the other hand compare this intense, dark-eyed Maggie in her garret
and with her flaming ways, with Mrs. Browning's "Aurora Leigh." Aurora
Leigh, too, has her garret, and doubtless her intensity too, blossoms
in that congenial dark and lonesomeness. I read a few lines from Book
1st by way of reminder.

    "Books, books, books!
    I had found the secret of a garret-room
    Piled high with cases in my father's name
    ... Where, creeping in and out
    Among the giant fossils of my past
    Like some small nimble mouse between the ribs
    Of a mastodon, I nibbled here or there
    At this or that box, pulling through the gap
    In heats of terror, haste, victorious joy,
    The first book first. And how I felt it beat
    Under my pillow in the morning's dark,
    An hour before the sun would let me read!
    My books! At last, because the time was ripe,
    I chanced upon the poets."

And here, every reader of _The Mill on the Floss_ will remember how,
at a later period, Maggie chanced upon Thomas à Kempis at a tragic
moment of her existence; and it is fine to see how in describing
situations so alike, the purely elemental differences between the
natures of Mrs. Browning and George Eliot project themselves upon each

The scene in George Eliot concerning Maggie and Thomas à Kempis is too
long to repeat here, but everyone will recall the sober, analytic, yet
altogether vital and thrilling picture of the trembling Maggie, as she
absorbs wisdom from the sweet old mediæval soul. But, on the other
hand, Mrs. Browning sings it out, after this riotous melody:

    "As the earth
    Plunges in fury when the internal fires
    Have reached and pricked her heart,
                And throwing flat
    The marts and temples--the triumphal gates
    And towers of observation--clears herself
    To elemental freedom--thus, my soul,
    At poetry's divine first finger-touch,
    Let go conventions and sprang up surprised,
    Convicted of the great eternities
    Before two worlds.

                 But the sun was high
    When first I felt my pulses set themselves
    For concord; when the rhythmic turbulence
    Of blood and brain swept outward upon words,
    As wind upon the alders, blanching them
    By turning up their under-natures till
    They trembled in dilation. O delight
    And triumph of the poet who would say
    A man's mere 'yes,' a woman's common 'no,'
    A little human hope of that or this,
    And says the word so that it burns you through
    With special revelation, shakes the heart
    Of all the men and women in the world
    As if one came back from the dead and spoke,
    With eyes too happy, a familiar thing
    Become divine i' the utterance!"

I have taken special pleasure in the last sentence of this outburst,
because it restates with a precise felicity at once poetic and
scientific, but from a curiously different point of view, that
peculiar function of George Eliot which I pointed out as appearing in
the very first of her stories, namely, the function of elevating the
plane of all commonplace life into the plane of the heroic by keeping
every man well in mind of the awful _ego_ within him which includes
all the possibilities of heroic action. Now this is what George Eliot
does, in putting before us these humble forms of Tom and Maggie, and
the like: she _says_ these common "yes" and "no" in terms of Tom and
Maggie; and yet says them so that this particular Tom and Maggie burn
you through with a special revelation--though one has known a hundred
Maggies and Toms before. Thus we find the delight and triumph of the
poetic and analytic novelist, George Eliot, precisely parallel to this
delight and triumph of the more exclusively poetic Mrs. Browning, who
says a man's mere "yes," a woman's common "no," so that it shakes the
hearts of all the men and women in the world, etc. Aurora Leigh

    "In those days, though, I never analysed,
    Not even myself, Analysis comes late.
    You catch a sight of nature, earliest;
    In full front sun-face, and your eye-lids wink
    And drop before the wonder of 't; you miss
    The form, through seeing the light. I lived those days,
    And wrote because I lived--unlicensed else;
    My heart beat in my brain. Life's violent flood
    Abolished bounds--and, which my neighbor's field,
    Which mine, what mattered? It is thus in youth!
    We play at leap-frog over the god Time;
    The love within us and the love without
    Are mixed, confounded; if we are loved or love
    We scarce distinguish....
    In that first outrush of life's chariot wheels
    We know not if the forests move, or we."

And now as showing the extreme range of George Eliot's genius, in
regions where perhaps Mrs. Browning never penetrated, let me recall
Sister Glegg and Sister Pullet, as types of women contrasting with
Maggie and Aurora Leigh. You will remember how Mrs. Tulliver has
bidden her three sisters, Mrs. Glegg, Mrs. Pullet, and Mrs. Deane,
with their respective husbands, to a great and typical Dodson dinner,
in order to eat and drink upon the momentous changes impending in
Tom's educational existence:

     "The Dodsons were certainly a handsome family, and Mrs. Glegg was
     not the least handsome of the sisters. As she sat in Mrs.
     Tulliver's arm-chair, no impartial observer could have denied,
     for a woman of fifty, she had a very comely face and figure,
     though Tom and Maggie considered their aunt Glegg as the type of
     ugliness. It is true she despised the advantages of costume; for
     though, as she often observed, no woman had better clothes, it
     was not her way to wear her new things out before her old ones.
     Other women, if they liked, might have their best thread lace in
     every wash, but when Mrs. Glegg did it would be found that she
     had better lace laid by in the right-hand drawer of her
     wardrobe, in the Spotted Chamber, than ever Mrs. Wool of St.
     Ogg's had bought in her life, although Mrs. Wool wore her lace
     before it was paid for. So of her curled fronts. Mrs. Glegg had
     doubtless the glossiest and crispest brown curls in her drawers,
     as well as curls in various degrees of fuzzy laxness; but to look
     out on the week-day world from under a crisp and glossy front
     would be to introduce a most dream-like and unpleasant confusion
     between the sacred and the secular.

     So, if Mrs. Glegg's front to-day was more fuzzy and lax than
     usual, she had a design under it: she intended the most pointed
     and cutting allusion to Mrs. Tulliver's bunches of blonde curls,
     separated from each other by a due wave of smoothness on each
     side of the parting. Mrs. Tulliver had shed tears several times
     at sister Glegg's unkindness on the subject of these unmatronly
     curls, but the consciousness of looking the handsomer for them
     naturally administered support. Mrs. Glegg chose to wear her
     bonnet in the house to-day--untied and tilted slightly, of
     course--a frequent practice of hers when she was on a visit, and
     happened to be in a severe humor; she didn't know what draughts
     there might be in strange houses. For the same reason she wore a
     small sable tippet, which reached just to her shoulders, and was
     very far from meeting across her well-formed chest, while her
     long neck was protected by a _chevaux-de-frise_ of miscellaneous
     frilling. One would need to be learned in the fashions of those
     times to know how far in the rear of them Mrs. Glegg's
     slate-colored silk gown must have been; but, from certain
     constellations of small yellow spots upon it, and a mouldy odor
     about it suggestive of a damp clothes-chest, it was probable that
     it belonged to a stratum of garments just old enough to have come
     recently into wear.

     "Mrs. Glegg held her large gold watch in her hand, with the
     many-doubled chain round her fingers, and observed to Mrs.
     Tulliver, who had just returned from a visit to the kitchen, that
     whatever it might be by other people's clocks and watches, it was
     gone half-past twelve by hers.

     'I don't know what ails sister Pullet,' she continued. 'It used
     to be the way in our family for one to be as early as
     another--I'm sure it was so in my poor father's time--and not for
     one sister to sit half an hour before the others came. But if the
     ways o' the family are altered, it shan't be _my_ fault; I'll
     never be the one to come into a house when all the rest are going
     away. I wonder at sister Deane--she used to be more like me. But
     if you'll take my advice, Bessy, you'll put the dinner forward a
     bit, sooner than put it back, because folks are late as ought to
     ha' known better.'

     The sound of wheels while Mrs. Glegg was speaking was an
     interruption highly welcome to Mrs. Tulliver, who hastened out to
     receive sister Pullet--it must be sister Pullet, because the
     sound was that of a four-wheel.

     Mrs. Glegg tossed her head and looked rather sour about the mouth
     at the thought of the "four-wheel." She had a strong opinion on
     that subject.

     Sister Pullet was in tears when the one-horse chaise stopped
     before Mrs. Tulliver's door, and it was apparently requisite that
     she should shed a few more before getting out; for, though her
     husband and Mrs. Tulliver stood ready to support her, she sat
     still and shook her head sadly as she looked through her tears at
     the vague distance.

     'Why, whatever is the matter, sister?' said Mrs. Tulliver. She
     was not an imaginative woman, but it occurred to her that the
     large toilet-glass in sister Pullet's best bedroom was possibly
     broken for the second time.

     There was no reply but a further shake of the head as Mrs. Pullet
     slowly rose and got down from the chaise, not without casting a
     glance at Mr. Pullet to see that he was guarding her handsome
     silk dress from injury. Mr. Pullet was a small man with a high
     nose, small twinkling eyes, and thin lips, in a fresh-looking
     suit of black, and a white cravat, that seemed to have been tied
     very tight on some higher principle than that of mere personal
     ease. He bore about the same relation to his tall, good-looking
     wife, with her balloon sleeves, abundant mantle, and large
     be-feathered and be-ribboned bonnet, as a small fishing-smack
     bears to a brig with all its sails spread.

     Mrs. Pullet brushed each door-post with great nicety about the
     latitude of her shoulders (at that period a woman was truly
     ridiculous to an instructed eye if she did not measure a yard and
     a half across the shoulders), and having done that, sent the
     muscles of her face in quest of fresh tears as she advanced into
     the parlor where Mrs. Glegg was seated.

     'Well, sister, you're late; what's the matter?' said Mrs. Glegg,
     rather sharply, as they shook hands.

     Mrs. Pullet sat down, lifting up her mantle carefully behind
     before she answered.

     'She's gone,' unconsciously using an impressive figure of

     'It isn't the glass this time, then,' thought Mrs. Tulliver.

     'Died the day before yesterday,' continued Mrs. Pullet; 'an' her
     legs was as thick as my body,' she added with deep sadness, after
     a pause. 'They'd tapped her no end o' times, and the water--they
     say you might ha' swum in it, if you'd liked.'

     'Well, Sophy, it's a mercy she's gone, then, whoiver she may be,'
     said Mrs. Glegg, with the promptitude and emphasis of a mind
     naturally clear and decided; 'but I can't think who you're
     talking of, for my part.'

     'But _I_ know,' said Mrs. Pullet, sighing and shaking her head;
     'and there isn't another such a dropsy in the parish. _I_ know as
     it's old Mrs. Sutton o' the Twentylands.'

     'Well, she's no kin o' yours, nor much acquaintance, as I've ever
     heard of,' said Mrs. Glegg, who always cried just as much as was
     proper when anything happened to her own "kin," but not on other

     'She's so much acquaintance as I've seen her legs when they were
     like bladders.... And an old lady as had doubled her money over
     and over again, and kept it all in her own management to the
     last, and had her pocket with her keys in under her pillow
     constant. There isn't many old _parish's_ like her, I doubt.'

     'And they say she'd took as much physic as 'ud fill a wagon,'
     observed Mr. Pullet.

     'Ah!' sighed Mrs. Pullet, 'she'd another complaint ever so many
     years before she had the dropsy, and the doctors couldn't make
     out what it was. And she said to me, when I went to see her last
     Christmas, she said, 'Mrs. Pullet, if iver you have the dropsy,
     you'll think o' me.' 'She _did_ say so,' added Mrs. Pullet,
     beginning to cry bitterly again; 'those were her very words. And
     she's to be buried o' Saturday, and Pullet's bid to the funeral.'

     'Sophy,' said Mrs. Glegg, unable any longer to contain her spirit
     of rational remonstrance, 'Sophy, I wonder _at_ you, fretting and
     injuring your health about people as don't belong to you. Your
     poor father never did so, nor your aunt Frances neither, nor any
     o' the family, as I ever heard of. You couldn't fret no more than
     this if we'd heard as our cousin Abbott had died sudden without
     making his will.'

     Mrs. Pullet was silent, having to finish her crying, and rather
     flattered than indignant at being upbraided for crying too much.
     It was not every body who could afford to cry so much about their
     neighbors who had left them nothing; but Mrs. Pullet had married
     a gentleman farmer, and had leisure and money to carry her crying
     and every thing else to the highest pitch of respectability.

     'Mrs. Sutton didn't die without making her will, though,' said
     Mr. Pullet, with a confused sense that he was saying something to
     sanction his wife's tears; 'ours is a rich parish, but they say
     there's nobody else to leave as many thousands behind 'em as Mrs.
     Sutton. And she's left no leggicies, to speak on--left it all in
     lump to her husband's nevvy.'

     'There wasn't much good i' being so rich, then,' said Mrs. Glegg,
     'if she'd got none but husband's kin to leave it to. It's poor
     work when that's all you're got to pinch yourself for--not as I'm
     one o' those as 'ud like to die without leaving more money out at
     interest than other folks had reckoned. But it's a poor tale when
     it must go out o' your own family.'

     'I'm sure, sister,' said Mrs. Pullet, who had recovered
     sufficiently to take off her veil and fold it carefully, 'it's a
     nice sort o' man as Mrs. Sutton has left her money to, for he's
     troubled with the asthmy, and goes to bed every night at eight
     o'clock. He told me about it himself--as free as could be--one
     Sunday when he came to our church. He wears a hareskin on his
     chest, and has a trembling in his talk--quite a gentlemanly sort
     o' man. I told him there wasn't many months in the year as I
     wan't under the doctor's hands. And he said, 'Mrs. Pullet, I can
     feel for you.' That was what he said--the very words. 'Ah!'
     sighed Mrs. Pullet, shaking her head at the idea that there were
     but few who could enter fully into her experiences in pink
     mixture and white mixture, strong stuff in small bottles, and
     weak stuff in large bottles, damp boluses at a shilling, and
     draughts at eighteen pence. 'Sister, I may as well go and take my
     bonnet off now. Did you see as the capbox was put out?' she
     added, turning to her husband.

     Mr. Pullet, by an unaccountable lapse of memory, had forgotten
     it, and hastened out, with a stricken conscience, to remedy the

Next day Mrs. Tulliver and the children visit Aunt Pallet: and we have
some further affecting details of that sensitive lady weeping at home
instead of abroad.

     "Aunt Pullet, too, appeared at the doorway, and as soon as her
     sister was within hearing, said, 'Stop the children, for God's
     sake, Bessy; don't let 'em come up the doorsteps; Sally's
     bringing the old mat and the duster to rub their shoes.'

     Mrs. Pullet's front door mats were by no means intended to wipe
     shoes on: the very scraper had a deputy to do its dirty work. Tom
     rebelled particularly against this shoe-wiping, which he always
     considered in the light of an indignity to his sex. He felt it as
     the beginning of the disagreeable incident to a visit at aunt
     Pullet's where he had once been compelled to sit with towels
     wrapped around his boots--a fact which may serve to correct the
     too hasty conclusion that a visit to Garum Firs must have been a
     great treat to a young gentleman fond of animals--fond, that is,
     of throwing stones at them.

     The next disagreeable was confined to his feminine companions; it
     was the mounting of the polished oak stairs, which had very
     handsome carpets rolled up and laid by in a spare bedroom, so
     that the ascent of these glossy steps might have served, in
     barbarous times, as a trial by ordeal from which none but the
     most spotless virtue could have come off with unbroken limbs.
     Sophy's weakness about these polished stairs was always a subject
     of bitter remonstrance on Mrs. Glegg's part; but Mrs. Tulliver
     ventured on no comment, only thinking to herself it was a mercy
     when she and the children were safe on the landing.

     'Mrs. Gray has sent home my new bonnet, Bessy,' said Mrs. Pullet,
     in a pathetic tone, as Mrs. Tulliver adjusted her cap.

     'Has she, sister?' said Mrs. Tulliver with an air of much
     interest. 'And how do you like it?'

     'It's apt to make a mess with clothes, taking 'em out and putting
     'em in again,' said Mrs. Pullet, drawing a bunch of keys from her
     pocket and looking at them earnestly, 'but it' ud be a pity for
     you to go away without seeing it. There's no knowing what may

     Mrs. Pullet shook her head slowly at this last serious
     consideration, which determined her to single out a particular

     'I'm afraid it'll be troublesome to you getting it out, sister,'
     said Mrs. Tulliver, 'but I _should_ like to see what sort of a
     crown she's made you.'

     Mrs. Pullet rose with a melancholy air and unlocked one wing of a
     very bright wardrobe, where you may have hastily supposed she
     would find the new bonnet. Not at all. Such a supposition could
     only have arisen from a too superficial acquaintance with the
     habits of the Dodson family. In this wardrobe Mrs. Pullet was
     seeking something small enough to be hidden among layers of
     linen--it was a door key.

     'You must come with me into the best room,' said Mrs. Pullet.

     'May the children too, sister?' inquired Mrs. Tulliver, who saw
     that Maggie and Lucy were looking rather eager.

     'Well,' said aunt Pullet, reflectively, 'it'll perhaps be safer
     for 'em to come--they'll be touching something if we leave 'em

     So they went in procession along the bright and slippery
     corridor, dimly lighted by the semilunar top of the window which
     rose above the closed shutter: it was really quite solemn. Aunt
     Pullet paused and unlocked a door which opened on something still
     more solemn than the passage--a darkened room, in which the outer
     light, entering feebly, showed what looked like the corpses of
     furniture in white shrouds. Everything that was not shrouded
     stood with its legs upward. Lucy laid hold of Maggie's frock, and
     Maggie's heart beat rapidly.

     Aunt Pullet half opened the shutter, and then unlocked the
     wardrobe with a melancholy deliberateness which was quite in
     keeping with the funereal solemnity of the scene. The delicious
     scent of rose leaves that issued from the wardrobe made the
     process of taking out sheet after sheet of silver paper quite
     pleasant to assist at, though the sight of the bonnet at last was
     an anticlimax to Maggie, who would have preferred something more
     preternatural. But few things could have been more impressive to
     Mrs. Tulliver. She looked all round it in silence for some
     moments, and then said emphatically, 'Well, sister, I'll never
     speak against the full crowns again!'

     It was a great concession, and Mrs. Pullet felt it; she felt
     something was due to it.

     'You'd like to see it on, sister?' she said, sadly. 'I'll open
     the shutter a bit farther.'

     'Well, if you don't mind taking off your cap, sister,' said Mrs.

     Mrs. Pullet took off her cap, displaying the brown silk scalp
     with a jutting promontory of curls which was common to the mature
     and judicious women of those times, and, placing the bonnet on
     her head, turned slowly round, like a draper's lay-figure, that
     Mrs. Tulliver might miss no point of view.

     'I've sometimes thought there's a loop too much o' ribbon on this
     left side, sister; what do you think?' said Mrs. Pullet.

     Mrs. Tulliver looked earnestly at the point indicated, and turned
     her head on one side. 'Well, I think it's best as it is; if you
     meddled with it, sister, you might repent.'

     'That's true,' said aunt Pullet, taking off the bonnet and
     looking at it contemplatively.

     'How much might she charge you for that bonnet, sister?' said
     Mrs. Tulliver, whose mind was actively engaged on the possibility
     of getting a humble imitation of this _chef-d-œuvre_ made from
     a piece of silk she had at home.

     Mrs. Pullet screwed up her mouth and shook her head, and then
     whispered, 'Pullet pays for it; he said I was to have the best
     bonnet at Garum church, let the next best be whose it would.'

     She began slowly to adjust the trimmings in preparation for
     returning it to its place in the wardrobe, and her thoughts
     seemed to have taken a melancholy turn, for she shook her head.

     'Ah!' she said at last, 'I may never wear it twice, sister: who

     'Don't talk o' that, sister,' answered Mrs. Tulliver. 'I hope
     you'll have your health this summer.'

     'Ah! but there may come a death in the family, as there did soon
     after I had my green satin bonnet. Cousin Abbott may go, and we
     can't think o' wearing crape less than half a year for him.'

     'That _would_ be unlucky,' said Mrs. Tulliver, entering
     thoroughly into the possibility of an inopportune decease.
     'There's never so much pleasure i' wearing a bonnet the second
     year, especially when the crowns are so chancy--never two summers

     'Ah! it's the way i' this world,' said Mrs. Pullet, returning the
     bonnet to the wardrobe and locking it up. She maintained a
     silence characterized by head-shaking until they had all issued
     from the solemn chamber and were in her own room again. Then,
     beginning to cry, she said: 'Sister, if you should never see that
     bonnet again till I'm dead and gone, you'll remember I showed it
     you this day.'

I sincerely wish it were in my power to develop, alongside of the
types of Maggie Tulliver and Aurora Leigh, a number of other female
figures which belong to the same period of life and literature. I
please myself with calling these the Victorian women. They would
include the name-giving queen, herself, the Eve in Mrs. Browning's
_Drama of Exile_, Princess Ida in Tennyson's _Princess_, Jane Eyre,
Charlotte Bronte, (one of these figures, you observe, is just as real
to us as the other; and I have lost all sense of difference between
actual and literary existence), Mrs. Browning, Dinah Morris, Milly
Barton, Janet Dempster, Florence Nightingale and Sister Dora, Romola,
Dorothea Brooke, Myra, Charlotte Cushman, Mary Somerville and some
others. If we are grateful to our sweet master Tennyson for his _Dream
of Fair Women_, how grateful should we be to an age which has given us
this realization of ideal women, of women who are so strong and so
beautiful, that they have subtly brought about--that I can find no
adjective so satisfactory for them as--"womanly" women. They have
redeemed the whole time. When I hear certain mournful people crying
out that this is a gross and material age, I reply that gross and
material are words that have no meaning as of the epoch of the
Victorian women. When the pessimists accuse the time of small aims and
over-selfishness, I plead the Victorian women. When the
pre-Raphaelites clamor that railroad and telegraph have fatally
scarred the whole face of the picturesque and the ideal among us, I
reply that on the other hand the Victorian women are more beautiful
than any product of times that they call picturesque and ideal.

And it is curiously fine that in some particulars the best expression
of the corresponding attitude which man has assumed toward the
Victorian women in the growth of the times has been poetically
formulated by a woman. In Mrs. Browning's _Drama of Exile_, during
those first insane moments when Eve is begging Adam to banish her for
her transgression, or to do some act of retributive justice upon her,
Adam continually comforts her and finally speaks these words:

              ... I am deepest in the guilt,
    If last in the transgression.... If God
    Who gave the right and joyance of the world
    Both unto thee and me--gave thee to me,
    The best gift last, the last sin was the worst,
    Which sinned against more complement of gifts
    And grace of giving. God! I render back
    Strong benediction and perpetual praise
    From mortal feeble lips (as incense smoke
    Out of a little censer, may fill heaven),
    That Thou, in striking my benumbed hands
    And forcing them to drop all other boons
    Of beauty and dominion and delight,--
    Hast left this well-beloved Eve, this life
    Within life, this best gift, between their palms,
    In gracious compensation.

                  O my God!
    I, standing here between the glory and dark,--
    The glory of thy wrath projected forth
    From Eden's wall, the dark of our distress
    Which settles a step off in that drear world,--
    Lift up to Thee the hands from whence hath fallen
    Only creation's sceptre,--thanking Thee
    That rather Thou hast cast me out with _her_
    Than left me lorn of her in Paradise,
    With angel looks and angel songs around
    To show the absence of her eyes and voice,
    And make society full desertness
    Without her use in comfort!

                  Because with _her_, I stand
    Upright, as far as can be in this fall,
    And look away from earth which doth convict,
    Into her face, and crown my discrowned brow
    Out of her love, and put the thought of her
    Around me, for an Eden full of birds,
    And with my lips upon her lips,--thus, thus,--
    Do quicken and sublimate my mortal breath
    Which cannot climb against the grave's steep sides
    But overtops this grief!"


The fullness of George Eliot's mind at this time may be gathered from
the rapidity with which one work followed another. A book from her pen
had been appearing regularly each year. The _Scenes from Clerical
Life_ had appeared in book form in 1858, _Adam Bede_ was printed in
1859, _The Mill on the Floss_ came out in 1860, and now, in 1861,
followed _Silas Marner, the Weaver of Raveloe_. It is with the
greatest reluctance that I find myself obliged to pass this book
without comment. In some particulars _Silas Marner_ is the most
remarkable novel in our language. On the one hand, when I read the
immortal scene at the Rainbow Inn where the village functionaries, the
butcher, the farrier, the parish clerk and so on are discussing
ghosts, bullocks and other matters over their evening ale, my mind
runs to Dogberry and Verges and the air feels as if Shakspeare were
sitting somewhere not far off. On the other hand, the downright
ghastliness of the young Squire's punishment for stealing the
long-hoarded gold of Silas Marner the weaver, always carries me
straight to that pitiless _Pardoner's Tale_ of Chaucer in which gold
is so cunningly identified with death. I am sure you will pardon me if
I spend a single moment in recalling the plots of these two stories so
far as concerns this point of contact. In Chaucer's _Pardoner's Tale_
three riotous young men of Flanders are drinking one day at a tavern.
In the midst of their merriment they hear the clink of a bell before a
dead body which is borne past the door on its way to burial. They
learn that it is an old companion who is dead; all three become
suddenly inflamed with mortal anger against Death; and they rush forth
resolved to slay him wherever they may find him. Presently they meet
an old man. "Why do you live so long?" they mockingly inquire of him.
"Because," says he,

    "Deth, alas, ne will not han my lif;
    Thus walke I like a resteles caitif,
    And on the ground, which is my modres gate,
    I knocke with my staf erlich and late
    And say to hire 'Leve moder, let me in.'"

"Where is this Death of whom you have spoken?" furiously demand the
three young men. The old man replied, "You will find him under an oak
tree in yonder grove." The three rush forward; and upon arriving at
the oak find three bags full of gold coin. Overjoyed at their good
fortune they are afraid to carry the treasure into town by day lest
they be suspected of robbery. They therefore resolve to wait until
night and in the meantime to make merry. For the latter purpose one of
the three goes to town after food and drink. As soon as he is out of
hearing, the two who remain under the tree resolve to murder their
companion on his return so that they may be the richer by his portion
of the treasure; he, on the other hand, whilst buying his victual in
town, shrewdly drops a great lump of poison into the bottle of drink
he is to carry back so that his companions may perish and he take all.

To make a long story short, the whole plot is carried out. As soon as
he who was sent to town returns, his companions fall upon him and
murder him; they then proceed merrily to eat and drink what he has
brought; the poison does its work; presently all three lie dead under
the oak tree by the side of the gold, and the old man's direction has
come true, and they _have_ found death under that tree. In George
Eliot's story the young English Squire also finds death in finding
gold. You will all remember how Dunstan Cass in returning late at
night from a fox-hunt on foot--for he had killed his horse in the
chase--finds himself near the stone hut where Silas Marner the weaver
has long plied his trade, and where he is known to have concealed a
large sum in gold. The young man is extraordinarily pressed for money;
he resolves to take Marner's gold; the night is dark and misty; he
makes his way through the mud and darkness to the cottage and finds
the door open, Marner being, by the rarest of accidents, away from the
hut. The young man quickly discovers the spot in the floor where the
weaver kept his gold; he seizes the two heavy leathern bags filled
with guineas; and the chapter ends. "So he stepped forward into the
darkness." All this occurs in Chapter IV. The story then proceeds;
nothing more is heard of Dunstan Cass in the village for many years;
the noise of the robbery has long ago died away; Silas Marner has one
day found a golden head of hair lying on the very spot of his floor
where he used to finger his own gold; the little outcast who had
fallen asleep with her head in this position, after having wandered
into Marner's cottage, has been brought up by him to womanhood; when
one day, at a critical period in Silas Marner's existence, it happens
that in draining some lower grounds the pit of an old stone quarry,
which had for years stood filled with rain-water near his house,
becomes dry, and on the bottom is revealed a skeleton with a leathern
bag of gold in each hand. The young man plunging out into the dark,
laden with his treasure, had fallen in and lain for all these years to
be afterwards brought to light as another phase of the frequent
identity between death and gold. Here, too, one is obliged to remember
those doubly dreadful words in _Romeo and Juliet_, where Romeo having
with difficulty bought poison from the apothecary, cries:

    "There is thy gold; worse poison to men's souls,
    Doing more murder in this loathsome world
    Than these poor compounds which thou mayst not sell.
    I sell thee poison, thou hast sold me none.
    Farewell; buy food and get thyself in flesh."

I must also instance one little passing picture in _Silas Marner_
which though extremely fanciful, is yet, a charming type of some of
the greatest and most characteristic work that George Eliot has done.
Silas Marner had been a religious enthusiast of an obscure sect of a
small manufacturing town of England; suddenly a false accusation of
theft in which the circumstantial evidence was strong against him
brings him into disgrace among his fellow-disciples. With his whole
faith in God and man shattered he leaves his town, wanders over to the
village of Raveloe, begins aimlessly to pursue his trade of weaving,
presently is paid for some work in gold; in handling the coin he is
smit with the fascination of its yellow radiance, and presently we
find him pouring out all the prodigious intensity of his nature, which
had previously found a fitter field in religion, in the miser's
passion. Working day and night while yet a young man he fills his two
leathern bags with gold; and George Eliot gives us some vivid pictures
of how, when his day's work would be done, he would brighten up the
fire in his stone hut which stood at the edge of the village, eagerly
lift up the particular brick of the stone floor under which he kept
his treasure concealed, pour out the bright yellow heaps of coin and
run his long white fingers through them with all the miser's ecstasy.
But after he is robbed the utter blank in his soul--and one can
imagine such a blank in such a soul, for he was essentially
religious--becomes strangely filled. One day a poor woman leading her
little golden-haired child is making her way along the road past
Marner's cottage; she is the wife, by private marriage, of the
Squire's eldest son, and after having been cruelly treated by him for
years has now desperately resolved to appear with her child at a great
merry-making which goes on at the Squire's to-day, there to expose all
and demand justice. It so happens however that in her troubles she has
become an opium-taker; just as she is passing Marner's cottage the
effect of an unusually large dose becomes overpowering; she lies down
and falls off into a stupor which this time ends in death. Meantime
the little golden-haired girl innocently totters into the open door of
Marner's cottage during his absence; presently lies down, places her
head with all its golden wealth upon the very brick which Marner used
to lift up in order to bring his gold to light, and so falls asleep,
while a ray of sunlight strikes through the window and illuminates the
little one's head. Marner now returns; he is dazed at beholding what
seems almost to be another pile of gold at the familiar spot on the
floor. He takes this new treasure into his hungry heart and brings up
the little girl who becomes a beautiful woman and faithful daughter to
him. His whole character now changes and the hardness of his previous
brutal misanthropy softens into something at least approaching
humanity. Now, it is fairly characteristic of George Eliot that she
constantly places before us lives which change in a manner of which
this is typical: that is to say, she is constantly showing us intense
and hungry spirits first wasting their intensity and hunger upon that
which is unworthy, often from pure ignorance of anything worthier,
then finding where love _is_ worthy, and thereafter loving larger
loves, and living larger lives.

Is not this substantially the experience of Janet Dempster, of Adam
Bede, replacing the love of Hetty with that of Dinah Morris; of
Romola, of Dorothea, of Gwendolen Harleth?

This last name brings us directly to the work which we were specially
to study to-day. George Eliot's novels have all striking relationships
among themselves which cause them to fall into various groups
according to various points of view. There is one point however from
which her entire work divides itself into two groups, of which one
includes the whole body of her writings up to 1876: the other group
consists solely of _Daniel Deronda_. This classification is based on
the fact that all the works in the first group concern the life of a
time which is past. It is only in _Daniel Deronda_, after she has been
writing for more than twenty years, that George Eliot first ventures
to deal with English society of the present day. To this important
claim upon our interest may be added a further circumstance which will
in the sequel develop into great significance. _Daniel Deronda_ has
had the singular fate of being completely misunderstood to such a
degree that the greatest admirers of George Eliot have even ventured
to call it a failure, while the Philistines have rioted in abusing
Gwendolen Harleth as a weak and rather disagreeable personage, Mirah
and Daniel as unmitigated prigs, and the plot as an absurd attempt to
awaken interest in what is called the religious patriotism of the
Jews. This comparative failure of _Daniel Deronda_ to please current
criticism and even the ardent admirers of George Eliot, so clearly
opens up what is to my view a singular and lamentable weakness in
certain vital portions of the structure of our society that I have
thought I could not render better service than by conducting our
analysis of _Daniel Deronda_ so as to make it embrace some of the most
common of the objections urged against that work. Let us recall in
largest possible outline the movement of _Daniel Deronda_. This can be
done in a surprisingly brief statement. The book really concerns two
people--one is Gwendolen Harleth, a beautiful English girl, brought up
with all those delicate tastes and accomplishments which we understand
when we think of the highest English refinement, wayward--mainly
because she has seen as yet no way that seemed better to follow than
her own--and ambitious, but evidently with that sacred discontent
which desires the best and which will only be small when its horizon
contains but small objects. The other main personage is Daniel
Deronda, who has been brought up as an Englishman of rank, has a
striking face and person, a natural love for all that is beautiful and
noble, a good sense that enables him to see through the banalities of
English political life and to shrink from involving his own existence
in such littleness, and who, after some preliminary account of his
youth in the earlier chapters, is placed before us early in the first
book as a young man of twenty who is seriously asking himself whether
life is worth living.

It so happens however that presently Gwendolen Harleth is found asking
herself the same question. Tempted by a sudden reverse of fortune, by
the chance to take care of her mother, and one must add by her own
desire--guilty enough in such a connection--for plenty of horses to
ride, and for all the other luxurious accompaniments which form so
integral a portion of modern English life; driven, too, by what one
must not hesitate to call the cowardliest shrinking from the name and
position of a governess; conciliated by a certain infinite appearance
of lordliness which in Grandcourt is mainly nothing more than a blasé
brutality which has exhausted desire, Gwendolen accepts the hand of
Grandcourt, quickly discovers him to be an unspeakable brute, suffers
a thousand deaths from remorse and is soon found--as is just
said--wringing her hands and asking if life is worth living.

Now the sole purpose and outcome of the book lie in its answers to the
questions of these two young people. It does answer them, and answers
them satisfactorily. On the one hand, Gwendolen Harleth, in the course
of her married life, is several times thrown with Daniel Deronda; his
loftiness, his straightforwardness, his fervor, his frankness, his
general passion for whatsoever things are large and fine,--in a word,
his goodness--form a complete revelation to her. She suddenly
discovers that life is not only worth living, but that the possibility
of making one's life a good life invests it with a romantic interest
whose depth is infinitely beyond that of all the society-pleasures
which had hitherto formed her horizon. On the other hand, Daniel
Deronda discovers that he is a Jew by birth, and fired by the visions
of a fervent Hebrew friend, he resolves to devote his life and the
wealth that has fallen to him from various sources to the cause of
reëstablishing his people in their former Eastern home. Thus also for
him, instead of presenting the dreary doubt whether it is worth
living, life opens up a boundless and fascinating field for energies
of the loftiest kind.

Place then, clearly before your minds these two distinct strands of
story. One of these might be called _The Repentance of Gwendolen
Harleth_, and this occupies much the larger portion of the work. The
other might be called _The Mission of Daniel Deronda_. These two
strands are, as we have just seen, united into one artistic thread by
the organic purpose of the book which is to furnish a fair and
satisfactory answer to the common question over which these two young
protagonists struggle: "Is life worth living?"

Now the painting of this repentance of Gwendolen Harleth, the
development of this beautiful young aristocrat Daniel Deronda into a
great and strong man consecrated to a holy purpose: all this is done
with such skillful reproduction of contemporary English life, with
such a wealth of flesh-and-blood character, with an art altogether so
subtile, so analytic, yet so warm and so loving withal, that if I were
asked for the most significant, the most tender, the most pious and
altogether the most uplifting of modern books, it seems to me I should
specify _Daniel Deronda_.

It was remarked two lectures ago that Shakspeare had never drawn a
repentance; and if we consider for a single moment what is required in
order to paint such a long and intricate struggle as that through
which our poor, beautiful Gwendolen passed, we are helped towards a
clear view of some reasons at least why this is so. For upon examining
the instances of repentance alleged by those who disagree with me on
this point--as mentioned in my last lecture--I find that the real
difference of opinion between us is, not as to whether Shakspeare ever
drew a repentance, but as to what is a repentance. There certainly are
in Shakspeare pictures of regret for injuries done to loved ones under
mistake or under passion, and sometimes this regret is long-drawn. But
surely such reversal of feeling is only that which would be felt by
any man of ordinarily manful make upon discovering that he had greatly
wronged anyone, particularly a loved one. It is to this complexion
that all the alleged instances of repentances in Shakspeare come at
last. Nowhere do we find any special portrayal of a character engaged
to its utmost depths in that complete subversion of the old by the
new,--that total substitution of some higher motive for the whole
existing body of emotions and desires,--that emergence out of the
twilight world of selfishness into the large and sunlit plains of a
love which does not turn upon self,

    "Which bends not with the remover to remove"
    Nor "alters when it alteration finds."

For example, Leontes, in _Winter's Tale_, who is cited as a chief
instance of Shakspeare's repentances, quite clearly shows by word and
act that his regret is mainly a sense of personal loss, not a change
of character. He is sorrowful not so much because he has sinned as
because he has hurt himself. In Act V. just before the catastrophe
which restores him his wife and daughter, we find him exclaiming:

                            "Good Pauline
                        O that ever I
    Had squared me to thy counsel! Then even now
    I might have looked upon my queen's full eyes
    Have taken treasure from her lips--&c,"

And again in the same scene, where Florizel and Perdita have been
brought before him, he cries:

                      "What might I have been,
    Might I a son and daughter now have looked on
    Such goodly things as you!"

In these it is clear that Leontes is speaking from personal regret;
there is no thought here of that total expansion of an ego into a
burning love of all other egos, implied in the term repentance, as I
have used it. Similarly, King Lear, who has also been cited as an
example of Shakspeare's repentances is simply an example of regret for
the foulest of wrongs done in a moment of silly passion. After the
poor old man, upon regaining his consciousness under Cordelia's tender
ministrations, is captured together with Cordelia, in Scene III of Act
V, Cordelia says, as if to comfort him:

                          "We are not the first
    Who with best meaning have incurred the worst.
    For thee, oppressed king, am I cast down.

    Shall we not see these daughters and these sisters?"
    _Lear._--No, no, no, no! Come let's away to prison;
    We two alone will sing like birds i' the cage;
    When thou dost ask me blessing, I'll kneel down
    And ask of thee forgiveness."

Here, clearly enough, is regret for his injury to Cordelia, but quite
as clearly, no general state of repentance; and in the very few other
words uttered by the old king before the play ends surely nothing
indicating such a state appears. Of all the instances suggested only
one involves anything like the process of character-change which I
have called a repentance, such as Gwendolen Harleth's for example; but
this one, unfortunately, is not drawn by Shakspeare: it is only
mentioned as having occurred. This is the repentance of Duke Frederick
in _As you Like it_. Just at the end of that play, when Orlando and
Rosalind, Oliver, and Celia and all the rest have unraveled all their
complications, and when everything that can be called plot in the play
is finished, the son of old Sir Rowland appears before the company in
the wood and calls out:

    "Let me have audience for a word or two.

* * * *

    Duke Frederick hearing how that every day
    Men of great worth resorted to this forest
    Addressed a mighty power
                        purposely to take
    His brother here and put him to the sword,
    And to the skirts of this wild wood he came,
    Where meeting with an old religious man,
    After some questions with him was converted
    Both from his enterprise and from the world;
    His crown bequeathing to his banished brother,
    And all their lands restored to them again
    That were with him exiled."

Here we have indeed a true repentance, but this is all we have of it;
the passage I have read contains the whole picture.

If we now go on and ask ourselves why these fascinating phenomena of
repentance, which George Eliot has treated with such success, never
engaged Shakspeare's energy, we come at the very first step upon a
limitation of the drama as opposed to the novel which, in the
strongest way, confirms the view I was at such pains to set forth in
my earlier lectures of that necessity for a freer form than the
dramatic, which arises from the more complete relations between modern
personalities and which has really developed the novel out of the

How, for instance, could Shakspeare paint the yeas and nays, the
twists, the turns, the intricacies of Gwendolen Harleth's thought
during the long weeks while she was debating whether she should accept
Grandcourt? The whole action of this drama, you observe, is confined
within the small round head of the girl herself. How could such action
be brought before the audience of a play? The only hope would be in a
prolonged soliloquy, for these are thoughts which no young woman would
naturally communicate to any one; but what audience could stand so
prolonged a soliloquy, even if any character could be found in whom it
would be natural? And sometimes, too, the situation is so subtly
complex that Gwendolen is soliloquizing in such a manner that we, the
audience, hear her while Grandcourt, who is standing by, does not.

     "I used to think archery was a great bore," Grandcourt began. He
     spoke with a fine accent, but with a certain broken drawl, as of
     a distinguished personage with a distinguished cold in his chest.

     "Are you converted to-day?" said Gwendolen.

     (Pause, during which she imagined various degrees and modes of
     opinion about herself that might be entertained by Grandcourt.)

     "Yes, since I saw you shooting. In things of this sort one
     generally sees people missing and simpering."

     "And do you care about the turf? or is that among the things you
     have left off?"

     (Pause, during which Gwendolen thought that a man of extremely
     calm cold manners might be less disagreeable as a husband than
     other men, and not likely to interfere with his wife's

     "You would perhaps like tiger-hunting or pig-sticking. I saw some
     of that for a season or two in the East. Everything here is poor
     stuff after that."

     "You are fond of danger then?"

     (Pause, during which Gwendolen speculated on the probability that
     the men of coldest manners were the most adventurous, and felt
     the strength of her own insight, supposing the question had to be

     "One must have something or other. But one gets used to it."

     "I begin to think I am very fortunate, because everything is new
     to me; it is only that I can't get enough of it. I am not used to
     anything except being dull, which I should like to leave off as
     you have left off shooting."

     (Pause, during which it occurred to Gwendolen that a man of cold
     and distinguished manners might possibly be a dull companion; but
     on the whole, the thought that most persons were dull, and that
     she had not observed husbands to be companions.)

     "Why are you dull?"

     "This is a dreadful neighborhood, there is nothing to be done in
     it. That is why I practised my archery."

     (Pause, during which Gwendolen reflected that the life of an
     unmarried woman who could not go about and had no command of
     anything, must necessarily be dull through all the degrees of
     comparison as time went on.)

     "You have made yourself queen of it. I imagine you will carry the
     first prize."

     "I don't know that. I have great rivals. Did you not observe how
     well Miss Arrowpoint shot?"

     (Pause, wherein Gwendolen was thinking that men had been known to
     choose some one else than the woman they most admired, and
     recalled several experiences of that kind in novels.)

At this point we come upon an element of difference between the novel
and the drama which has not hitherto been fairly appreciated, so far
as I know. Consider for a moment the wholly supernatural power which
is necessarily involved in the project of thus showing the most secret
workings of the mind and heart of this young girl Gwendolen Harleth!
In real life what power less than God's can make me see the deepest
thought and feeling of a fellow-creature? But since the novel is
always a transcript of real, or at any rate of possible, life, you
observe that wherever these workings of heart and brain are thus laid
bare, the tacit supposition is, in plain terms, that God is the
writer, or that the writer is a god. In the drama no supposition is
necessary because here we become acquainted with only such matters as
are shown us in the ordinary way, by scenery or by the speech or
gesture of the actor. This consideration seems to me to lift the novel
to the very highest and holiest plane of creative effort; he who
takes up the pen of the novelist assumes, as to that novel, to take up
along with it the omniscience of God. He proposes, in effect, to bring
about the revelations of Judgment Day long before the trumpet has
sounded. George Eliot shows us the play of Gwendolen Harleth's soul
with the same uncompromising fulness with which the most literal
believer expects to give account of the deeds done in the body at the
last day.

In contemplating this vast ascent from the attitude of the dramatist
to that of the novelist--the dramatist is a man; the novelist--as to
that novel, is a god--we are contemplating simply another phase of the
growth of man from Shakspeare to George Eliot.

And we reach still another view of that growth when we reflect that
even if Shakspeare could have overcome the merely mechanical
difficulty of presenting a repentance without overmuch soliloquy, he
would probably have found but poorly-paying houses at the Globe
Theatre to witness any drama so purely spiritual as that which George
Eliot has shown us going on upon the little ill-lighted stage of a
young girl's consciousness. Just as we found that the prodigious
advance in the nearness of man to his fellow from the time of Æschylus
to that of George Eliot was implied in the fact that the latter could
gather an interested audience about a couple of commonplace children
(as in _The Mill on the Floss_), whilst the former required the larger
stimulus of Titanic quarrel and angry Jove; so here we have reached an
evidence of still more subtle advance as between the times of
Shakspeare and of George Eliot when we find the latter gathering a
great audience about this little inward, actionless, complex drama of
Gwendolen Harleth, while we reflect that Shakspeare must have his
stimulant passion, his crime, his patriotism, and the like, as the
only attracting motives. In truth I find what seems to be a cunning
indication that George Eliot herself did not feel quite sure of her
audience for this same little play. At the end of Chapter XI., she
breaks off from a description of one of Gwendolen's capricious turns,
and as if in apologetic defense says:

     "Could there be a slenderer, more insignificant thread in human
     history than this consciousness of a girl, busy with her small
     inferences of the way in which she could make her life
     pleasant?--in a time, too, when ideas were with fresh vigor
     making armies of themselves and the universal kinship was
     declaring itself fiercely; ... a time when the soul of man was
     waking to pulses which had for centuries been beating in him
     unheard.... What, in the midst of that mighty drama, are girls
     and their blind visions? They are the Yea or Nay of that good for
     which men are enduring or fighting. In these delicate vessels is
     borne onward through the ages the treasure of human affections."

Thus it appears that for Shakspeare to draw such repentances as
Gwendolen Harleth's was not only difficult from the playwright's point
of view, but premature from the point of view of the world's growth.
In truth, I suspect, if we had time to pursue this matter, that we
should find it leading us into some very instructive views of certain
rugged breaking-off places in Shakspeare. I suppose we must consider
the limitations of his time; though it is just possible there may be
limitations of his genius, also. We should presently find ourselves
asking further how it is that Shakspeare not only never drew a great
reformation, but never painted a great reformer? It seems a natural
question: How is it, that it is Milton, and not Shakspeare, who has
treated the subject of Paradise Lost and Regained; how is it, that
the first-class subject was left for the second-class genius? We all
know how Milton has failed in what he intended with his poem, and how
astonished he would be at finding that the only one of his characters
which has taken any real hold upon the world is his Satan. It seems
irresistible to ask ourselves why might not our most eloquent tongue
have treated our most lofty theme? Or, if we should find special
reasons in the temper of his time why Shakspeare could not or should
not have treated this theme, we may still ask, why did he never paint
for us one of those men who seem too large to be bounded in their
affections merely by limits of country, but who loved and worked for
the whole world, Buddha, Zoroaster, Mahomet, Socrates, Luther; nay,
why may not the master have given us a master's picture of Christopher
Columbus, or even of John Vanini, the scientific martyr; even of the
fantastic Giordano Bruno, who against all warnings boldly wandered
from town to town defending his doctrines until he was burned, in
1600? And if any of the academicians now in my audience should incline
to pursue this strange psychologic literary problem, I make no doubt
that useful light would be cast upon the search if you should consider
along with these questions the further inquiries why Shakspeare never
mentions either of the two topics which must have been foremost in the
talk of his time: namely, America and tobacco. Among all the allusions
to contemporary matter in his plays the nearest he ever comes to
America is the single instance in _The Tempest_, where Ariel is
mentioned as "fetching dew from the still-vexed Bermoothes"
(Bermudas). As for tobacco; although pretty much all London must have
been smoking vigorously about the time Shakspeare was writing _Much
Ado About Nothing_ and _The Merry Wives of Windsor_; although
certainly to a countryman not a great while out of the woods of
Warwickshire it must have been the oddest of sights to see people
sucking at hollow tubes and puffing smoke from their mouths and
nostrils; although, too, the comedies of his contemporaries are often
cloudy with tobacco smoke: nevertheless there is not, so far as my
recollection goes, the faintest allusion to the drinking of tobacco
(as it was then called), in the whole body of his writings. Now all
these omissions are significant because conspicuous; always, in
studying genius, we learn as much from what it has not done, as from
what it has done; and if research should succeed in arranging these
neglects from any common point of view, it is possible that something
new might still be said about Shakspeare.

But, to return to _Daniel Deronda_. A day or two after George Eliot's
death the _Saturday Review_ contained an elaborate editorial summary
of her work. For some special ends, permit me to read so much of it as
relates to the book now under consideration. "_Daniel Deronda_ is
devoted to the whimsical object of glorifying real or imaginary Jewish
aspirations. It cannot be doubted that so fantastic a form of
enthusiasm was suggested by some personal predilection or association.
A devotion to the Jewish cause unaccompanied by any kind of interest
in the Jewish religion is not likely to command general sympathy; but
even if the purpose of the story had been as useful as it is
chimerical and absurd, the inherent fault of didactic fiction would
scarcely have been diminished.... It is significant that when George
Eliot deliberately preferred the function of teaching to her proper
office of amusing she sacrificed her power of instruction as well as
her creative faculty."

Of course, in general, no man in his senses thinks of taking in
serious earnest every proposition in the _Saturday Review_. It is an
odd character which long ago assumed the role of teasing English
society by gravely advancing any monstrous assertions at random and
laughing in its sleeve at the elaborate replies with which these
assertions would be honored by weak and unsuspecting people. But its
position upon this particular point of _Daniel Deronda_ happens to be
supported by similar views among her professed admirers.

Even _The Spectator_ in its obituary notice completely mistakes the
main purpose of _Daniel Deronda_; in declaring that "she takes
religious patriotism for the subject," though as I have just
indicated, surely the final aim of the book is to furnish to two young
modern people a motive sufficient to make life not only worth living
but fascinating; and of the two distinct plots in the book one--and
the one to which most attention is paid--hinges upon Gwendolen
Harleth's repentance, while it is only the other and slighter which is
concerned with what these papers call religious patriotism, and here
the phrase "religious patriotism" if we examine it is not only
meaningless--what is religious patriotism?--but has the effect of
dwarfing the two grand motives which are given to _Daniel Deronda_;
namely religion and patriotism.

Upon bringing together, however, all the objections which have been
urged against _Daniel Deronda_, I think they may be classified and
discussed under two main heads. First it is urged that Daniel Deronda
and Mirah--and even Gwendolen Harleth, after her change of spirit--are
all prigs; secondly, it is urged that the moral purpose of the book
has overweighted the art of it, that what should have been pure nature
and beauty have been obscured by didacticism, thus raising the whole
question of Art for Art's sake which has so mournfully divided the
modern artistic world. This last objection, opening, as it does, the
whole question of how far fervent moral purpose injures the work of
the true artist, is a matter of such living importance in the present
state of our art,--particularly of our literary art; it so completely
sums up all these contributory items of thought which have been
gradually emerging in these lectures regarding the growth of human
personality together with the correlative development of the novel:
and the discussions concerning it are conducted upon such small planes
and from such low and confusing points of view that I will ask to
devote my next lecture to a faithful endeavor to get all the light
possible upon the vexed matter of Art for Art's sake, and to showing
how triumphantly George Eliot's _Daniel Deronda_ seems to settle that
entire debate with the most practical of answers.

Meantime in discussing the other class of objections which we managed
to generalize, to wit that the three main characters in _Daniel
Deronda_ are prigs, a serious difficulty lies in the impossibility of
learning from these objectors exactly what _is_ a prig. And I confess
I should be warned off from any attempt at discussion by this initial
difficulty if I did not find great light thrown on the subject by
discovering that the two objections of prig-ism and that of
didacticism already formulated are really founded upon the same
cunning weakness in our current culture. The truth is George Eliot's
book _Daniel Deronda_, is so sharp a sermon that it has made the whole
English contemporary society uncomfortable. It is curious and
instructive to see how unable all the objectors have been to put their
fingers upon the exact source of this discomfort; so that in their
bewilderment one lays it to prig-ism, another to didacticism, and so
on. That a state of society should exist in which such a piece of
corruption as Grandcourt should be not only the leader but the
crazing fascination and ideal of the most delicate and fastidious
young women in that society; that a state of society should exist in
which those pure young girls whom George Eliot describes as "the
delicate vessels in which man's affections are hoarded through the
ages," should be found manœuvring for this Grandcourt infamy,
plotting to be Grandcourt's wife instead of flying from him in horror;
that a state of society should exist in which such a thing was
possible as a marriage between a Gwendolen Harleth and a Grandcourt;
this was enough to irritate even the thickest-skinned Philistine, and
this George Eliot's book showed with a terrible conclusiveness. Yet
the showing was made so daintily and with so light a hand that, as I
have said, current society did not know, and has not yet recognized
where or how the wound was. We have all read of the miraculous sword
in the German fable whose blade was so keen that when, upon a certain
occasion, its owner smote a warrior with it from crown to saddle, the
warrior nevertheless rode home and was scarcely aware he had been
wounded until, upon his wife opening the door, he attempted to embrace
her and fell into two pieces. Now, as I said, just as _Daniel Deronda_
made people feel uncomfortable by even vaguely revealing a sharp
truth--so, a prig, so far as I can make out, is a person whose
goodness is so genuine, essential and ever-present that all ungenuine
people have a certain sense of discomfort when brought in contact with
it. If the prig-hater be questioned he will not deny the real goodness
of the _Daniel Deronda_ people; he dare not--no one in this age
dare--to wish explicitly that Mirah and Daniel Deronda might be less
good; but as nearly as anything definite can be obtained what he
desires is that the prig should be good in some oily and lubricative
way so as not to jar the nerves of those who are less good. Conform,
conform! seems to be the essential cry of the prig-haters; if you go
to an evening party you wear your dress coat and look like every other
man; but if your goodness amounts to a hump, a deformity, we do not
ask you to cut it off, but at least pad it; if every one grows as big
as you we shall have to enlarge all our drawing-rooms and society will
be disorganized. In short, the cry against the prig turns out to be
nothing more than the old claim for conformity and the conventional.
For one, I never hear these admonitions to conformity without
recalling a comical passage of Tom Hood's in which the fellows of a
Zoological society propose to remedy the natural defects of animal
morphology, such as the humps of dromedaries and the overgrowth of
hair upon lions so as to bring all the grotesqueness of the animal
creation into more conformity with conventional ideas of proportion.
The passage occurs in a pretended report from the keeper of the
animals to the President of the society. After describing the
condition of the various beasts the keeper proceeds:

     Honnerd Sur,--Their is an aggitating skeem of witch I humbly
     approve very hiley. The plan is owen to sum of the Femail
     Fellers,-- ... For instances the Buffloo and Fallo dears and
     cetra to have their horns Gilded and Sheaps is to hav Pink
     ribbings round there nex. The Ostreaches is to have their plums
     stuck in their heds, and the Pecox tales will be always spred out
     on fraime wurks like the hispaliers. All the Bares is to be tort
     to Dance to Wippert's Quadrils and the Lions manes is to be
     subjective to pappers and the curling tongues. The gould and
     silver Fesants is to be Polisht every day with Plait Powder and
     the Cammils and Drumdearis and other defourmed anymills is to be
     paddid to hide their Crukidnes. Mr. Howard is to file down the
     tusks of the wild Bores, and the Spoons of the Spoonbills is to
     maid as like the King's Patten as possible. The elifunt will be
     himbelisht with a Sugger candid Castle maid by Gunter and the
     Flaminggoes will be touched up with Frentch ruge. The Sloath is
     proposed to have an illegant Stait Bed--and the Bever is to ware
     one of Perren's lite Warter Proof Hats--and the Balld Vulters
     baldness will be hided by a small Whig from Trewfits. The Crains
     will be put into trousirs and the Hippotamus tite laced for a
     waste. Experience will dictait menny more imbellishing modes,
     with witch I conclud that I am

                        Your Honners,
                  Very obleeged and humbel former servant,
                                                  STEPHEN HUMPHREYS.

Such is the ideal to which the prig is asked to conform, but after the
first six lectures of this course we are specially in position to see
in all this cry nothing but the old clamor against personality. Upon
us who have traced the growth of personality from Æschylus to George
Eliot and who have found that growth to be the one direction for the
advance of our species this cry comes with little impressiveness.


In the last lecture we obtained a view of George Eliot's _Daniel
Deronda_ as containing two distinct stories, one of which might have
been called _The Repentance of Gwendolen Harleth_, and the other, _The
Mission of Daniel Deronda_; and we generalized the principal
objections against the work into two: namely, that the main characters
were prigs, and that the artistic value of the book was spoiled by its
moral purpose. In discussing the first of these objections we found
that probably both of them might be referred to a common origin; for
examination of precisely what is meant by a prig revealed that he is a
person whose goodness is so downright, so unconforming and so reduced
that it makes the mass of us uncomfortable. Now there can be no
question that so far as the charge of being overloaded with moral
purposes is brought against _Daniel Deronda_, as distinguished from
George Eliot's other works, it is so palpably contrary to all facts in
the case that we may clearly refer it to some fact outside the case:
and I readily find this outside fact in that peculiar home-thrust of
the moral of _Daniel Deronda_ which has rendered it more tangible than
that of any preceding work which concerned time past. You will
remember we found that it was only in _Daniel Deronda_, written in
1876, after thirty years of study and of production, that George Eliot
allowed herself to treat current English society; you will remember
too, how we found that this first treatment revealed among other
things a picture of an unspeakable brute, Grandcourt, throned like an
Indian lama above the multitude, and receiving with a blasé stare,
the special adoration of the most refined young English girls; a
picture which made the worship of the golden calf or the savage dance
around a merely impotent wooden idol, fade into tame blasphemy. No man
could deny the truth of the picture; the galled jade was obliged to
wince; this time it was _my_ withers that were wrung. Thus the moral
purpose of _Daniel Deronda_ which is certainly beyond all comparison
less obtrusive than that of any other book written by George Eliot,
grew by its very nearness, out of all perspective. Though a mere gnat,
it sat on the very eyelash of society and seemed a monster.

In speaking of George Eliot's earlier stories I was at pains to show
how explicitly she avowed their moral purpose; in _Amos Barton_, in
_Janet's Repentance_, in _Adam Bede_, everywhere there is the fullest
avowal of didacticism; on almost every other page one meets those
direct appeals from the author in her own person to the reader, in
which George Eliot indulged more freely than any novelist I know,
enforcing this or that moral view in plain terms of preaching. But it
curiously happens that even these moral 'asides' are conspicuously
absent in _Daniel Deronda_: the most cursory comparison of it in this
particular with _Adam Bede_, for example, reveals an enormous
disproportion in favor of _Deronda_ as to the weight of this
criticism. Yet people who had enthusiastically accepted and extolled
_Adam Bede_, with all its explicitly moralizing passages and its
professedly preaching characters, suddenly found that _Daniel Deronda_
was intolerably priggish and didactic. But resting then on the facts
in the case--easily possible by comparing _Daniel Deronda_ with any
previous work--as to show how this censure of didacticism loses all
momentum as against this particular book; let us advance to the more
interesting, because more general, fact that many people--some in
great sincerity--have preferred this censure against all of George
Eliot's work and against all didactic novels in general. The objection
involved many shades of opinion, and is urged with the most diverse
motives and manner. At one extreme we have the _Saturday Review_
growling that the office of the novelist is to amuse, never to
instruct, that George Eliot, in seeking the latter has even forfeited
the former, and that _Daniel Deronda_ neither amuses nor instructs;
whereupon George Eliot is derisively bid, in substance, to put on the
cap and bells again, and leave teaching to her betters; with a voice,
by the way, wondrously like that with which the _Edinburgh Review_
some years ago cried out to our adorable John Keats, "Back to your
gallipots, young man." From this extreme we have all shades of opinion
to that vague and moderate apprehension much current among young
persons influenced by a certain smart sound in the modern French
phrase _l'Art pour l'Art_, or by the German nickname of
"tendency-books," that a moral intention on the part of an artist is
apt to interfere with the naturalness or intrinsic beauty of his work;
that in art the controlling consideration must always be artistic
beauty; and that artistic beauty is not only distinct from, but often
opposed to moral beauty. Now, to discuss this question _a priori_: to
go forward and establish an æsthetic basis for beauty, involving an
examination which must range from Aristotle to Kant and Burke and Mr.
Grant Allen's physiological theories, would require another course of
lectures quite as long as that which is now ending; so that all I can
hope to do is but to throw, if I can, some light upon this question.
And, so to proceed immediately to that work with some system: permit
me to recall to you in the first place that the requirement has been
from time immemorial that wherever there is contest as between
artistic and moral beauty, unless the moral side prevail, all is lost.
Let any sculptor hew us out the most ravishing combination of tender
curves and spheric softness that ever stood for woman; yet if the lip
have a certain fulness that hints of the flesh, if the brow be
insincere, if in the minutest particular the physical beauty suggest a
moral ugliness, that sculptor--unless he be portraying a moral
ugliness for a moral purpose--may as well give over his marble for
paving-stones. Time, whose judgments are inexorably moral, will not
accept his work. For indeed we may say that he who has not yet
perceived how artistic beauty and moral beauty are convergent lines
which run back into a common ideal origin, and who therefore is not
afire with moral beauty just as with artistic beauty--that he, in
short, who has not come to that stage of quiet and eternal frenzy in
which the beauty of holiness and the holiness of beauty mean one
thing, burn as one fire, shine as one light, within him;--he is not
yet the great artist. Here it is most instructive to note how fine and
beautiful souls of time appear after awhile to lose all sense of
distinction between these terms, Beauty, Truth, Love, Wisdom,
Goodness, and the like. Hear some testimony upon this point: this is a
case for witnesses. Let us call first Keats. Keats does not hesitate
to draw a moral even from his Grecian Urn, and even in the very
climacteric of his most "high sorrowful" song; and that moral effaces
the distinction between truth and beauty. "Cold pastoral" he cries, at
the end of the Ode on a Grecian Urn.

    "When old age shall this generation waste,
    Thou shalt remain in midst of other woe
    Than ours, a friend to man to whom thou say'st
    Beauty is truth, truth, beauty,--that is all
    Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."

Again, bearing in mind this identity of truth and beauty in Keats'
view, observe how Emerson, by strange turns of thought, subtly refers
both truth and beauty to a common principle of the essential relation
of each thing to all things in the universe. Here are the beginning
and end of Emerson's poem called _Each and All_:

    "Little thinks in the field yon red-cloaked clown
    Of thee from the hill-top looking down;
    The sexton tolling his bell at noon
    Deems not that great Napoleon
    Stops his horse and lists with delight
    While his files sweep 'round Alpine height;
    Nor knowest thou what argument
    Thy life to thy neighbor's creed has lent.
    All are needed by each one;
    Nothing is fair or good alone."

Nothing is fair or good alone: that is to say fairness or beauty, and
goodness depend upon relations between creatures; and so, in the end
of the poem, after telling us how he learned this lesson by finding
that the bird-song was not beautiful when away from its proper
relation to the sky and the river and so on, we have this:--

    "Then I said 'I covet truth;
    Beauty is unripe childhood's cheat;
    I leave it behind with the games of youth,'
    As I spoke, beneath my feet
    The ground-pine curled its pretty wreath,
    Running over the club-moss burs;
    I inhaled the violet's breath;
    Around me stood the oaks and firs;
    Pine cones and acorns lay on the ground;
    Over me soared the eternal sky,
    Full of light and of deity;
    Again I saw, again I heard
    The rolling river, the morning bird;
    Beauty through my senses stole,
    I yielded myself to the perfect whole."

But again, here Mrs. Browning, speaking by the mouth of Adam in _The
Drama of Exile_, so far identifies _beauty_ and _love_ as to make the
former depend on the latter; insomuch that Satan, created the most
beautiful of all angels, becomes the most repulsive of all angels from
lack of _love_, though retaining all his original outfit of beauty. In
_The Drama of Exile_, after Adam and Eve have become wise with the
great lessons of grief, love and forgiveness, to them comes Satan,
with such talk as if he would mock them back into their misery; but it
is fine to see how the father of men now instructs the prince of the
angels upon this matter of love and beauty.

    _Eve._--Speak no more with him,
            Beloved! it is not good to speak with him.
            Go from us, Lucifer, and speak no more!
            We have no pardon which thou dost not scorn,
            Nor any bliss, thou seest, for coveting,
            Nor innocence for staining. Being bereft,
            We would be alone. Go.

    _Luc._--Ah! ye talk the same,
            All of you--spirits and clay--go, and depart!
            In Heaven they said so; and at Eden's gate,--
            And here, reiterant, in the wilderness.
            None saith, stay with me, for thy face is fair!
            None saith, stay with me, for thy voice is sweet!
            And yet I was not fashioned out of clay.
            Look on me, woman! Am I beautiful?

    _Eve._--Thou hast a glorious darkness.

    _Luc._--Nothing more?

    _Eve._--I think, no more.

    _Luc._--False Heart--thou thinkest more!
            Thou canst not choose but think it, that I stand
            Most absolute in beauty. As yourselves
            Were fashioned very good at best, so we
            Sprang very beauteous from the creant Word
            Which thrilled behind us, God Himself being moved
            When that august mark of a perfect shape,--
            His dignities of sovran angel-hood,--
            Swept out into the universe,--divine
            With thunderous movements, earnest looks of gods,
            And silver-solemn clash of cymbal-wings!
            Whereof was I, in motion, and in form,
            A part not poorest. And yet,--yet, perhaps,
            This beauty which I speak of is not here,
            As God's voice is not here, nor even my crown
            I do not know. What is this thought or thing
            Which I call beauty? is it thought or thing?
            Is it a thought accepted for a thing?
            Or both? or neither?--a pretext--a word?
            Its meaning flutters in me like a flame
            Under my own breath: my perceptions reel
            For evermore around it, and fall off,
            As if, it, too, were holy.

    _Eve._--Which it is.

    _Adam._--The essence of all beauty, I call love.
             The attribute, the evidence, the end,
             The consummation to the inward sense,
             Of beauty apprehended from without,
             I still call love. As form, when colorless,
             Is nothing to the eye,--that pine-tree there,
             Without its black and green, being all a blank,--
             So, without love, is beauty undiscerned,
             In man or angel. Angel! rather ask
             What love is in thee, what love moves to thee,
             And what collateral love moves on with thee;
             Then shalt thou know if thou art beautiful.

    _Luc._--Love! what is love? I lose it. Beauty and love
            I darken to the image. Beauty--love!

Let us now carry forward this connection between love and beauty in
listening to a further testimony of Emerson's in a poem called _The
Celestial Love_, where, instead of identifying _beauty_ and _truth_
with Keats, we find him making _love_ and _truth_ to be one.

    "Love's hearts are faithful, but not fond,
    Bound for the just but not beyond;
    Not glad, as the low-loving herd,
    Of self in other still preferred
    But they have heartily designed
    The benefit of broad mankind
    And they serve men austerely,
    After their own genius, clearly.
    Without a false humility;
    For this is love's nobility,--
    Not to scatter bread and gold,
    Goods and raiment bought and sold;
    But to hold fast his simple sense,
    And speak the speech of innocence,
    And with hand, and body, and blood,
    To make his bosom-counsel good.
    For he that feeds men serveth few;
    He serves all that dares be true."

And in connection with these lines:--

    "Not glad, as the low-loving herd,
    Of self in other still preferred,"

I must here beg you to observe the quite incalculable advance in the
ideal of love here presented by Emerson, and the ideal which was
thought to be the crown and boast of the classic novel a hundred years
ago, and which is still pointed to with exultation by thoughtless
people. This ideal, by universal voice was held to have been
consummated by Fielding in his character of Squire Allworthy, in the
famous novel, _Tom Jones_. And here it is: we have a dramatic
presentation of Squire Allworthy early on a May morning, pacing the
terrace before his mansion which commanded a noble stretch of country,
and then Fielding glows thus: "In the full blaze of his majesty up
rose the sun, than which one object alone in this lower creation could
be more glorious, and that Mr. Allworthy himself presented--a human
being replete with benevolence, meditating in what manner he might
render himself most acceptable to his Creator by doing most good to
his creatures." Here Mr. Allworthy's benevolence has for its object to
render himself most acceptable to his Creator; his love, in other
words, is only another term for increasing his account in the Bank of
Heaven; a perfect example, in short, of that love of the low-loving
herd which is self in other still preferred.

But now let me once more turn the tube and gain another radiant
arrangement of these kaleidoscopic elements, beauty and love and the
like. In Emerson's poem called "Beauty," which must be distinguished
from the "Ode to Beauty," the relation between love and beauty takes
this turn: "Seyd," he says, "chased beauty

    In flame, in storm, in clouds of air.
    He smote the lake to feed his eye
    With the beryl beam of the broken wave;
    He flung in pebbles well to hear
    The moment's music which they gave.
    Oft pealed for him a lofty tone
    From nodding pole and belting zone.

    He heard a voice none else could hear
    From centred and from errant sphere.
    The quaking earth did quake in rhyme,
    Seas ebbed and flowed in epic chime,
    In dens of passion, pits of woe,
    He saw strong Eros struggling through,
    To sum the doubt and solve the curse
    And beam to the bounds of the universe.
    While thus to love he gave his days
    In loyal worship, scorning praise,"

(where, you observe, love is substituted for beauty, as that to which
he gave his days, in the most naive _assumption_ that the one involved
the other.)

    "While thus to love he gave his days
    In loyal worship, scorning praise,
    How spread their lures for him in vain
    Thieving ambition and paltering gain!
    He thought it happier to be dead,
    To die for Beauty,--than live for bread."

George Eliot has somewhere called this word love a word-of-all-work.
If with another turn I add to these testimonies one from Swedenborg,
in which this same love--which we have just seen to be beauty--which
beauty we just before saw to be truth--is now identified with
_wisdom_: we prove the justice of George Eliot's phrase. In Section X
of his work on the Divine Providence Swedenborg says: "The good of
love is not good any further than it is united to the truth of wisdom;
and the truth of wisdom is not truth any further than it is united to
the good of love;" and he continues in section XIII: "Now because
truth is from good, as wisdom is from love, therefore both taken
together are called love or good; for love in its form is wisdom, and
good in its form is truth."

And finally does not David practically confirm this view where, in
Psalm CXIX. he involves the love of the law of God with wisdom in the
verse: "I understand more than the ancients because I keep thy

But I grieve that there is no time to call more witnesses; for I love
to assemble these lofty spirits and hear them speak upon one topic. Is
it not clear that in the minds of these serious thinkers truth,
beauty, wisdom, goodness, love, appear as if they were but orators of
one and the same essential God?

And if this be true cannot one say with authority to the young
artist,--whether working in stone, in color, in tones or in
character-forms of the novel: so far from dreading that your moral
purpose will interfere with your beautiful creation, go forward in the
clear conviction that unless you are suffused--soul and body, one
might say--with that moral purpose which finds its largest expression
in love--that is, the love of all things in their proper
relation--unless you are suffused with this love do not dare to meddle
with beauty, unless you are suffused with beauty, do not dare to
meddle with love, unless you are suffused with truth, do not dare to
meddle with goodness,--in a word, unless you are suffused with beauty,
truth, wisdom, goodness _and_ love, abandon the hope that the ages
will accept you as an artist.

Of course I leave out of view here all that field of artistic activity
which is merely neutral, which is--not immoral but--merely _un_moral.
The situations in Scott's novels for instance do not in general put us
upon any moral question as between man and man. Or when our own Mr.
Way paints his luminous bunches of grapes, one of which will feed the
palates of a thousand souls though it is never eaten, and thus shows
us how Art repeats the miracle of the loaves and fishes, feeding the
multitude and leaving more of the original provision than was at
first; we have most delightful unmoral art. This is not only
legitimate, but I think among the most beneficent energies of art; it
rests our hearts, it gives us holiday from the Eternal Debate, it
re-creates us for all work.

But now secondly, as to the influence of moral purpose in art: we have
been in the habit, as you will remember, of passing at the earliest
possible moment from abstract discussion to the concrete instance; and
if we now follow that course and inquire,--not whether moral purpose
_may_ interfere with artistic creation,--but whether moral purpose
_has_ interfered with artistic creation, as matter of fact, in the
works of those whom the ages have set in the highest heaven of art, we
get a verdict which seems to leave little room for question. At the
beginning we are met with the fact that the greatest work has always
gone hand in hand with the most fervent moral purpose. For example,
the most poetical poetry of which we know anything is that of the
author of Job, and of David and his fellow psalm-writers. I have used
the expression "most poetical" here with design; for regarded as pure
literature these poems in this particular of poeticalness, of pure
spirituality, lift themselves into a plane not reached by any others.
A single fact in proof of this exceeding poeticalness will suffice: it
is the fact that these poems alone, of all ever written, bear
translation from one language into another without hurt. Surely this
can be said of no other poetic work. If we strike away all allowances
of amateurishness and good fellowship and judge with the
uncompromising truth of the pious artist; how pitiful is Homer as he
appears in even Pope's English; or how subtly does the simplicity of
Dante sink into childishness even with Mr. Longfellow interpreting; or
how tedious and flat fall the cultured sentences of Goethe even in
Taylor's version, which has by many been declared the most successful
translation ever made, not only of _Faust_ but of any foreign poem;
nay, how completely the charm of Chaucer exhales away even when
redacted merely from an older dialect into a later one, by hands so
skillful as those of Dryden and Wordsworth.

Now, it is words and their associations which are untranslatable, not
ideas; there is no _idea_, whether originating in a Hebrew, Greek or
other mind, which cannot be adequately produced as idea in English
words; the reason why Shakspeare and Dante are practically
untranslatable is that recognizing how every word means more than
itself to its native users,--how every word is like the bright head of
a comet drawing behind it a less luminous train of vague associations
which are associations only to those who have used such words from
infancy,--Shakspeare and Dante, I say, have used this fact, and have
constructed poems which necessarily mean more to native hearers than
they can possibly mean to any foreign ear.

But this Hebrew poetry which I have mentioned is so purely composed of
ideas which are universal, essential, fundamental to the personality
of man, instantly recognizable by every soul of every race,--that they
remain absolutely great, absolutely artistic, in whatever language
they are couched.

For example: if one climbs up for a moment out of that vagueness with
which Biblical expressions, for various reasons, are apt to fall upon
many ears, so that one may consider the clean and virgin quality of
ideas clarified from all factitious charm of word and of
association,--what could be more nearly perfect as pure literature
than this:

      "The entrance of Thy words giveth light;
    it giveth understanding unto the simple.
        I opened my mouth and panted;
    for I longed for Thy commandments.
        Deliver me from the oppression of man:
    so will I keep Thy precepts.
        Order my steps in Thy word,
    and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.
        Make Thy face to shine upon Thy servant;
    and teach me Thy statutes.
        Rivers of waters run down my eyes
    because they kept not Thy law."

Or this:

        "I will lift up mine eyes to the hills
    whence cometh my help.
        My help cometh from the Lord
    which made heaven and earth.
        The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade
    upon thy right hand.
        The sun shall not smite thee by day,
    nor the moon by night.
        The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil:
    He shall preserve thy soul.
        The Lord shall preserve thy going out
    and thy coming in from this time forth
    even for evermore."

Or this, of Isaiah's:

     "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened and the ears of the
     deaf unstopped.

     Then the lame shall leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb
     _shall_ sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and
     streams in the desert. And the parched ground shall become a
     pool, and the thirsty land springs of water.

     In the habitations of dragons where each lay shall be grass with
     reeds and rushes.... No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous
     beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the
     redeemed shall walk there;

     And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with
     songs of everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy
     and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."

Or this, from the author of _Job_:

     "Surely there is a vein for the silver and a place for gold where
     they fine it....

     As for the earth, out of it cometh bread: and under it is turned
     up as it were fire.

     But where shall wisdom be found?

     And where is the place of understanding?

     ... The depth saith, it is not in me: and the sea saith, it is
     not with me.

     ... Destruction and death say, we have heard the fame thereof
     with our ears; God understandeth the ways thereof and he knoweth
     the place thereof. For he looketh to the ends of the earth, and
     seeth under the _whole_ heaven;

     ... When He made a decree for the rain and a way for the
     lightning of the thunder:

    Then did He see it and declare it;
    He prepared it, yea, and searched it out.
    And unto man He said: "Behold the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;
        and to depart from evil is understanding."

Here it is apparent enough that the moral purpose with which these
writers were beyond all question surcharged, instead of interfering
with the artistic value of their product, has spiritualized the art of
it into an intensity which burns away all limitations of language and
sets their poems as indestructible monuments in the hearts of the
whole human race.

If we descend to the next rank of poetry I have only to ask you to
observe how, in Shakspeare, just as the moral purpose becomes loftier
the artistic creations become lovelier. Compare, for example, the
forgiveness and reconciliation group of plays as they have been
called, _Winter's Tale_, _Henry VIII_, and _The Tempest_, (which must
have been written late in Shakspeare's life when the moral beauty of
large forgiveness seems to have taken full possession of his fancy,
and when the moral purpose of displaying that beauty to his fellow-men
seemed to have reigned over his creative energy): compare, I say,
these plays with earlier ones, and it seems to me that all the main
creations are more distinctly artistic, more spiritually beautiful,
lifted up into a plane of holy ravishment which is far above that of
all the earlier plays. Think of the dignity and endless womanly
patience of Hermione, of the heavenly freshness and morning quality of
Perdita, of the captivating roguery of Autolycus, in _Winter's Tale_;
of the colossal forgiveness of Queen Katherine in _Henry VIII_, of the
equally colossal pardon of Prospero, of the dewy innocence of Miranda,
of the gracious and graceful ministrations of Ariel, of the
grotesqueries of Caliban and Trinculo, of the play of ever-fresh
delights and surprises which make the drama of _The Tempest_ a lone
and music-haunted island among dramas! Everywhere in these latter
plays I seem to feel the brooding of a certain sanctity which breathes
out of the larger moral purpose of the period.

Leaving these illustrations, for which time fails, it seems to me that
we have fairly made out our case against these objections if, after
this review of the connection between moral purpose and artistic
creation we advance thirdly to the fact--of which these objectors seem
profoundly oblivious--that the English novel at its very beginning
announces itself as the vehicle of moral purposes. You will remember
that when discussing Richardson and Fielding, the first English
novelists, I was at pains to show how carefully they sheltered their
works behind the claim of this very didacticism. Everywhere in
_Pamela_, _Clarissa Harlowe_, _Tom Jones_, in the preface, sometimes
in the very title-page, it is ostentatiously set up that the object of
the book is to improve men's _moral_ condition by setting before them
plain examples of vice and virtue.

Passing by, therefore, the absurdity of the statement that the proper
office of the novelist is to amuse, and that when George Eliot
pretended to do more, and to instruct, she necessarily failed to do
either; it is almost as odd to find that the very objectors who urge
the injurious effect of George Eliot's moral purpose upon her work are
people who swear by Richardson and Fielding, utterly forgetting that
if moral purpose is a detriment to _Daniel Deronda_, it is simply
destruction to _Clarissa Harlowe_ and _Tom Jones_.

And lastly upon this point, when I think of the crude and hasty
criticism which confines this moral purpose in _Daniel Deronda_ to the
pushing forward of Deronda's so-called religious patriotism in
endeavoring to re-establish his people in the ancient seat of the
Hebrews,--a view which I call crude and hasty because it completely
loses sight of the much more prominent and important moral purpose of
the book, namely, the setting forth of Gwendolen Harleth's repentance;
when, I say, I hear these critics not only assume that Deronda's
mission is _the_ moral purpose of this book, but even belittle that by
declaring that George Eliot's enthusiasm for the rehabilitation of the
Jews must have been due to a chance personal acquaintance of hers with
some fervid Jew who led her off into these chimerical fancies; and
when, I find this tone prevailing not only with the Philistines, but
among a great part of George Eliot's otherwise friends and lovers:
then I am in a state of amazement which precludes anything like
critical judgment on my part. As for me, no Jew--not even the poorest
shambling clothes-dealer in Harrison street--but startles me
effectually out of this work-a-day world: when I look upon the face
of a Jew, I seem to receive a message which has come under the whole
sea of time from the further shore of it: this wandering person, who
without a home in any nation has yet made a literature which is at
home in every nation, carries me in one direction to my mysterious
brethren, the cavemen and the lake dwellers, in the other direction to
the carpenter of Bethlehem, climax of our race. And now, to gather
together these people from the four ends of the earth, to rehabilitate
them in their thousand-fold consecrated home after so many ages of
wandering, to re-make them into a homologous nation at once the newest
and the oldest upon the earth, to endow the 19th Century with that
prodigious momentum which all the old Jewish fervor and spirituality
and tenacity would acquire in the backward spring from such long ages
of restraint and oppression, and with the mighty accumulation of
cosmopolitan experiences; the bare suggestion would seem enough to
stir the blood of the most ungentle Gentile.

But I must hasten to complete the account of George Eliot's personal
existence which we suspended at the point where she had come to London
in 1851.

She had been persuaded to this step by Dr. Chapman, who was at that
time editor of the _Westminster Review_, and who asked her to come and
help him to conduct that publication. At this time she must have been
one of the most captivating companions imaginable. She knew French,
German and Italian, and had besides a good knowledge of Latin, Greek,
Russian and Hebrew. She was a really good player of the piano, and had
some proficiency on the organ; she had already mixed in some of the
best society of London, for, in 1841, her father had moved to
Foleshill, near Coventry, and here she quickly became intimate in the
household of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Bray, where she met such people as
Emerson, George Combe, Mr. Froude, and many other noted ones of the
literary circles which the Brays delighted in drawing about them; her
mind had been enlarged by the treasures of the Continent which she
visited with her life-long friends, the Brays, in 1849, after the
death of her father, remaining at Geneva after the Brays returned to
England; she had all that homely love which comes with the successful
administration of breakfast, dinner and supper, for her sisters and
brothers had all married, and she lived alone with her father after
his removal to Coventry in 1841, and kept his house for him from that
time until his death, not only with great daughterly devotion but, it
is said, with great success as a domestic manager; besides thus
knowing the mysteries of good coffee and good bread she was widely
versed in theology, philosophy and the movements of modern science:
all of which equipment was permeated with a certain intensity which
struck every one who came near her. With this endowment she came to
London in 1851, as I have said, by Dr. Chapman's invitation, and took
up her residence at Dr. Chapman's house. Here she immediately began to
meet George H. Lewes, Carlyle, Mill and Herbert Spencer. Of her
relations to Lewes it seems to me discussion is not now possible. It
is known that Lewes' wife had once left him, that he had generously
condoned the offense and received her again, and that in a year she
again eloped; the laws of England make such a condonation preclude
divorce; Lewes was thus prevented from legally marrying again by a
technicality of the law which converted his own generosity into a
penalty; under these circumstances George Eliot, moved surely by pure
love, took up her residence with him, and according to universal
account, not only was a faithful wife to him for twenty years until
his death, but was a devoted mother to his children. That her failure
to go through the form of marriage was not due to any contempt for
that form, as has sometimes been absurdly alleged, is conclusively
shown by the fact that when she married Mr. Cross, a year and a half
after Lewes' death, the ceremony was performed according to the
regular rites of the Church of England.

The most congenial of George Eliot's acquaintances during these early days
at the Chapman's in London was Mr. Herbert Spencer. For a long time indeed
the story went the rounds that Mr. Spencer had been George Eliot's tutor;
but you easily observe that when she met him at this time in London she was
already thirty-one years old, long past her days of tutorship. The story
however has authoritatively been denied by Mr. Spencer himself. That George
Eliot took pleasure in his philosophy, that she was especially conversant
with his _Principles of Psychology_, and that they were mutually-admiring
and mutually-profitable friends, seems clear enough; but I cannot help
regarding it a serious mistake to suppose that her novels were largely
determined by Mr. Spencer's theory of evolution, as I find asserted by a
recent critic who ends an article with the declaration that "the writings
of George Eliot must be regarded, I think, as one of the earliest triumphs
of the Spencerian method of studying personal character and the laws of
social life."

This seems to me so far from being true that many of George Eliot's
characters appear like living objections to the theory of evolution.
How could you, according to this theory, evolve the moral stoutness
and sobriety of Adam Bede, for example, from _his_ precedent
conditions, to wit, his drunken father and querulous mother? How
could you evolve the intensity and intellectual alertness of Maggie
Tulliver from _her_ precedent conditions, to wit, a flaccid mother,
and a father wooden by nature and sodden by misfortune? Though surely
influenced by circumstances her characters everywhere seem to flout
evolution in the face.

But the most pleasant feature connected with the intercourse of George
Eliot and Herbert Spencer is that it appears to have been Mr. Spencer
who first influenced her to write novels instead of heavy essays in
_The Westminster_. It is most instructive to note that this was done
with much difficulty. Only after long resistance, after careful
thought, and indeed after actual trial was George Eliot persuaded that
her gift lay in fiction and not in philosophy; for it was pending the
argument about the matter that she quietly wrote _Scenes from Clerical
Life_ and caused them to be published with all the precaution of
anonymousness, by way of actual test.

As to her personal habits I have gleaned that her manuscript was
wonderfully beautiful and perfect, a delight to the printers, without
blot or erasure, every letter carefully formed; that she read the
Bible every day and that one of her favorite books was Thomas à Kempis
on _The Imitation of Christ_; that she took no knowledge at
secondhand; that she had a great grasp of business, that she worked
slowly and with infinite pains, meditating long over her subject
before beginning; that she was intensely sensitive to criticism; that
she believed herself a poet in opposition to the almost unanimous
verdict of criticism which had pronounced _The Spanish Gypsy_,
_Agatha_ and _The Legend of Jubal_ as failing in the gift of song,
though highly poetic; that the very best society in London--that is to
say in the world--was to be found at her Sunday afternoon receptions
at the Priory, Regent's Park, where she and Mr. Lewes lived so long;
and that she rarely left her own home except when tempted by a fine
painting or some unusually good performance of music.

I have given here a list of complete works, with dates of publication,
as far as I have been able to gather. I believe this is nearly

Translation of Strauss' _Leben Jesu_, 1846; contributions to
Westminster Review, from about 1850, during several years; translation
of Feuerbach's _Essence of Christianity_, 1854; _Scenes of Clerical
Life_, Blackwood's Magazine, 1857,--book-form 1858; _Adam Bede_, 1859;
_The Mill on the Floss_, 1860; _The Lifted Veil_, Blackwood's
Magazine, 1860; _Silas Marner_, 1861; _Romola_, Cornhill Magazine,
book-form, 1863; _Felix Holt_, 1866; _The Spanish Gypsy_, 1868:
_Address to Workmen_, Blackwood's Magazine, 1868; _Agatha_, 1869; _How
Lisa loved the king_, Blackwood's Magazine, 1869; _Middlemarch_, 1871;
_The Legend of Jubal_, 1874; _Daniel Deronda_, 1876; The _Impressions
of Theophrastus Such_, 1879; and said to have left a translation of
_Spinoza's Ethics_, not yet published.

As the mind runs along these brief phrases in which I have with a
purposed brevity endeavored to flash the whole woman before you, and
as you supplement that view with this rapid summary of her literary
product,--the details of fact seem to bring out the extraordinary
nature of this woman's endowment in such a way that to add any general
eulogium would be necessarily to weaken the picture. There is but one
fact remaining so strong and high as not to be liable to this
objection, which seems to me so characteristic that I cannot do better
than close this study with it. During all her later life the central
and organic idea which gave unity to her existence was a burning love
for her fellow-men. I have somewhere seen that in conversation she
once said to a friend: "What I look to is a time when the impulse to
help our fellows shall be as immediate and as irresistible as that
which I feel to grasp something firm if I am falling," and the
narrator of this speech adds that at the end of it she grasped the
mantel-piece as if actually saving herself from a fall, with an
intensity which made the gesture most eloquent.

You will observe that of the two commandments in which the Master
summed up all duty and happiness--namely, to love the Lord with all
our heart, and to love our neighbor as ourself, George Eliot's whole
life and work were devoted to the exposition of the latter. She has
been blamed for devoting so little attention to the former; as for me,
I am too heartily grateful for the stimulus of human love which
radiates from all her works to feel any sense of lack or regret. This,
after all--the general stimulus along the line of one's whole
nature--is the only true benefit of contact with the great. More than
this is hurtful. Now a days, you do not want an author to tell you how
many times a day to pray, to prescribe how many inches wide shall be
the hem of your garment. This the Master never did; too well He knew
the growth of personality which _would_ settle these matters, each for
itself; too well He knew the subtle hurt of all such violations of
modern individualism; and after our many glimpses of the heartiness
with which George Eliot recognized the fact and function of human
personality one may easily expect that she never attempted to teach
the world with a rule and square, but desired only to embody in living
forms those prodigious generalizations in which the Master's
philosophy, considered purely as a philosophy, surely excelled all
other systems.

In fine, if I try to sum up the whole work of this great and beautiful
spirit which has just left us in the light of all the various views I
have presented in these lectures, where we have been tracing the
growth of human personality from Æschylus, through Plato, Socrates,
the contemporary Greek mind, through the Renaissance, Shakspeare,
Richardson and Fielding, down to Dickens, and our author, I find all
the numerous threads of thought which have been put before you
gathered into one, if I say that George Eliot shows man what he may
be, in terms of what he is.

       *       *       *       *       *

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     it illuminates a historical period that was in the dark.... It is
     in many respects the most original contribution to American
     fiction."--_Hartford Courant._

OLD CREOLE DAYS. One vol., 16mo, extra cloth, $1.00.

     "These charming stories attract attention and commendation by
     their quaint delicacy of style, their faithful delineation of
     Creole character, and a marked originality. The careful rendering
     of the dialect reveals patient study of living models; and to any
     reader whose ear is accustomed to the broken English, as heard in
     parts of our city every day, its truth to nature is
     striking."--_New Orleans Picayune._

MADAME DELPHINE. One vol., square 12mo, cloth, 75 cents.

     "This is one of the books in which the reader feels a kind of
     personal interest and is sorry that he cannot continue the
     acquaintance of their people after the volume is
     closed."--_Philadelphia Inquirer._

       *       *       *       *       *


ROXY. One vol., 12mo, cloth, with twelve full-page illustrations from
original designs by WALTER SHIRLAW. Price, $1.50.

     "One of the ablest of recent American novels, and indeed in all
     recent works of fiction."--_The London Spectator._

THE CIRCUIT RIDER. A Tale of the Heroic Age. One vol., 12mo, extra
cloth, illustrated with over thirty characteristic drawings by G. G.
WHITE and SOL. EYTINGE. Price $1.50.

     "The best American story, and the most thoroughly American one
     that has appeared for years."--_Philadelphia Evening Bulletin._

       *       *       *       *       *


FALCONBERG. A Novel. Illustrated. One vol., $1.50.

     "It is a good story, out of the ordinary rut, and wholly
     enjoyable."--_Chicago Inter-Ocean._

GUNNAR. A Tale of Norse Life. One vol., square 12mo, $1.25.

     "This little book is a perfect gem of poetic prose; every page is
     full of expressive and vigorous pictures of Norwegian life and
     scenery. _Gunnar_ is simply beautiful as a delicate, clear, and
     powerful picture of peasant life in Norway."--_Boston Post._

ILKA ON THE HILL-TOP, and Other Stories. One vol., square 12mo, $1.00.

     "Mr. Boyesen's stories possess a sweetness, a tenderness, and a
     drollery that are fascinating, and yet they are no more
     attractive than they are strong."--_Home Journal._

TALES FROM TWO HEMISPHERES. A New Edition. One vol., square 12mo,

     "The charm of Mr. Boyesen's stories lies in their strength and
     purity; they offer, too, a refreshing escape from the subtlety
     and introspection of the present form of fiction. They are robust
     and strong without caricature or sentimentality."--_Chicago

QUEEN TITANIA. One vol., square 12mo, $1.00.

     "One of the most pure and lovable creations of modern
     fiction."--_Boston Sunday Herald._

     "The story is a thoroughly charming one, and there is much
     ingenuity in the plot."--_The Critic._

GUERNDALE. By J. S. of Dale. 1 vol., 12mo, $1.25.

     "The author of 'Guerndale' has given us a story such as we have
     not had in this country since the time of Hawthorne."--_Boston

CUPID, M. D. A Story. By AUGUSTUS M. SWIFT. 1 vol., 12mo, $1.00

     "It is an extremely simple story, with a great and moving
     dramatic struggle in the heart of it."--_The Independent._


KNIGHTS OF TO-DAY; or Love and Science. By CHARLES BARNARD. One vol.,
12mo, $1.00.

THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN MAGO; or, A Phœnician Expedition, B.C.
1000. BY LEON CAHUN. With 73 illustrations by P. Philippoteaux.
Translated from the French by Ellen E. Frewer. One vol., 8vo, $2.50.

One vol., 12mo, $1.50.

SAXE HOLM'S STORIES. Two Series. Each one vol., 12mo, $1.50.

HANDICAPPED. By MARION HARLAND. One vol., 12mo, $1.50.

DR. JOHNS. Being a Narrative of Certain Events in the Life of an
Orthodox Minister in Connecticut. By DONALD G. MITCHELL. Two vols.,
12mo, $3.50.

THE COSSACKS. A Story of Russian Life. Translated by Eugene Schuyler,
from the Russian of Count Leo Tolstoy. One vol., 12mo, $1.25.

RUDDER GRANGE. By FRANK R. STOCKTON. A New and Enlarged Edition. One
vol., 16mo, paper, 60 cents; cloth, $1.25.

THE SCHOOLMASTER'S TRIAL; or, Old School and New. By A. PERRY. One
vol., 12mo, Second Edition, $1.00.

       *       *       *       *       *


_New Edition in Handsome Binding. Each one vol. 12mo, uniform. Extra
Cloth, $1.25 per vol._

     "These delightful works well deserve their great success.... Not
     only is the _couleur locale_ admirably preserved, but the very
     spirit of those who took part in the events is
     preserved."--_President Andrew D. White, LL.D._

FRIEND FRITZ. A Tale of the Banks of the Lauter. Including a Story of
College Life.--"MAÎTRE NABLOT."

     "'Friend Fritz' is a charmingly sunny and refreshing
     story."--_N.Y. Tribune._

THE CONSCRIPT. A Tale of the French War of 1813. With four full-page

     "It is hardly fiction--it is history in the guise of fiction, and
     that part of history which historians hardly write, concerning
     the disaster, the ruin, the sickness, the poverty, and the utter
     misery and suffering which war brings upon the
     people."--_Cincinnati Daily Commercial._

WATERLOO. A Story of the Hundred Days. Being a Sequel to "The
Conscript." With four full-page illustrations.

     "Written in that charming style of simplicity which has made the
     ERCKMANN-CHATRIAN works popular in every language in which they
     have been published."--_New York Daily Herald._

THE PLEBISCITE. The Miller's Story of the War. A vivid Narrative of
Events in connection with the great Franco-Prussian War of 1871.

THE BLOCKADE OF PHALSBURG. An Episode of the Fall of the First French
Empire. With four full-page illustrations and a portrait of the

     "Not only are they interesting historically, but intrinsically a
     pleasant, well-constructed plot, serving in each case to connect
     the great events which they so graphically treat, and the style
     being as vigorous and charming as it is pure and
     refreshing."--_Philadelphia Daily Inquirer._

INVASION OF FRANCE IN 1814. With the Night March past Phalsburg. With
a Memoir of the Authors. With four full-page illustrations.

     "All their novels are noted for the same admirable
     qualities--simple and effective realism of plot, incident and
     language, and a disclosure of the horrid individual aspects of
     war. They are absolutely perfect of their kind."--_N. Y. Evening

MADAME THERESE, or, the Volunteers of '92. With four full-page

     "It is a boy's story--that is, supposed to be written by a
     boy--and has all the freshness, the unconscious simplicity and
     _naïveté_ which the imagined authorship should imply; while
     nothing more graphic, more clearly and vividly pictorial, has
     been brought before the public for many a day."--_Boston

       *       *       *       *       *


_Books and Reading._

BY NOAH PORTER, LL.D., President of Yale College.

     _With an appendix giving valuable directions for courses of
     reading, prepared by_ JAMES M. HUBBARD, _late of the Boston
     Public Library_.

1 vol., crown 8vo., $2.00.

It would be difficult to name any American better qualified than
President Porter to give advice upon the important question of "What
to Read and How to Read." His acquaintance with the whole range of
English literature is most thorough and exact, and his judgments are
eminently candid and mature. A safer guide, in short, in all literary
matters, it would be impossible to find.

     "The great value of the book lies not in prescribing courses of
     reading, but in a discussion of principles, which lie at the
     foundation of all valuable systematic reading."--_The Christian

     "Young people who wish to know what to read and how to read it,
     or how to pursue a particular course of reading, cannot do better
     than begin with this book, which is a practical guide to the
     whole domain of literature, and is full of wise suggestions for
     the improvement of the mind."--_Philadelphia Bulletin._

     "President Porter himself treats of all the leading departments
     of literature of course with abundant knowledge, and with what is
     of equal importance to him, with a very definite and serious
     purpose to be of service to inexperienced readers. There is no
     better or more interesting book of its kind now within their
     reach."--_Boston Advertiser._

     "President Noah Porter's 'Books and Reading' is far the most
     practical and satisfactory treatise on the subject that has been
     published. It not only answers the questions 'What books shall I
     read?' and 'How shall I read them?' but it supplies a large and
     well-arranged catalogue under appropriate heads, sufficient for a
     large family or a small public library."--_Boston Zion's Herald._

       *       *       *       *       *

_The Boy's Froissart._




One Volume, crown 8vo, extra cloth,--$3.00.

     "_As you read of the fair knights and the foul knights--for
     Froissart tells of both--it cannot but occur to you that somehow
     it seems harder to be a good knight now-a-days than it was
     then.... Nevertheless the same qualities which made a manful
     fighter then, make one now. To speak the very truth, to perform a
     promise to the utmost, to reverence all women, to maintain right
     and honesty, to help the weak; to treat high and low with
     courtesy, to be constant to one love, to be fair to a bitter foe,
     to despise luxury, to pursue simplicity, modesty and gentleness
     in heart and bearing, this was in the oath of the young knight
     who took the stroke upon him in the fourteenth century, and this
     is still the way to win love and glory in the
     nineteenth._"--EXTRACT FROM THE PREFACE.


     "There is no reason why Sir John Froissart should not become as
     well known to young readers as Robinson Crusoe
     himself."--_Literary World._

     "Though Mr. Lanier calls his edition of Froissart a book for
     boys, it is a book for men as well, and many there be of the
     latter who will enjoy its pages."--_N. Y. Eve. Mail._

     "We greet this book with positive enthusiasm, feeling that the
     presentation of Froissart in a shape so tempting to youth is a
     particularly worthy task, particularly well done."--_N. Y. Eve.

     "The book is romantic, poetical, and full of the real adventure
     which is so much more wholesome, than the sham which fills so
     much of the stimulating juvenile literature of the
     day."--_Detroit Free Press._

     "That boy will be lucky who gets Mr. Sidney Lanier's 'Boy's
     Froissart' for a Christmas present this year. There is no better
     and healthier reading for boys than 'Fine Sir John;' and this
     volume is so handsome, so well printed, and so well illustrated
     that it is a pleasure to look it over."--_Nation._

     "Mr. Sidney Lanier, in editing a boy's version of Froissart, has
     not only opened to them a world of romantic and poetic legend of
     the chivalric and heroic sort, but he has given them something
     which ennobles and does not poison the mind. Old Froissart was a
     gentleman every inch; he hated the base, the cowardly, the
     paltry; he loved the knightly, the heroic, the gentle, and this
     spirit breathes through all his chronicles. There is a
     genuineness, too, about his writings that gives them a literary
     value."--_Baltimore Gazette._

     "In his work of editing the famous knightly chronicle that Sir
     Walter Scott declared inspired him with more enthusiasm than even
     poetry itself, Mr. Lanier has shown, naturally, a warm
     appreciativeness and also a nice power of discrimination. He has
     culled the choicest of the chronicles, the most romantic, and at
     the same time most complete, and has digested them into an
     orderly compact volume, upon which the publishers have lavished
     fine paper, presswork and binding, and that is illustrated by a
     number of cuts."--_Philadelphia Times._

[**asterism] _For sale by all booksellers, or will be sent, post-paid,
upon receipt of price, by_


       *       *       *       *       *

_The Boy's King Arthur._

Being Sir THOMAS MALORY'S History of King Arthur and his Knights of
the Round Table.

Edited, with an Introduction, by SIDNEY LANIER.

With 12 Illustrations by ALFRED KAPPES.

One vol., 8vo, extra cloth,--$3.00.

Two famous books--The History of King Arthur, and the inexhaustible
Chronicles of Froissart--have furnished nearly all those stories of
chivalry and knightly adventure that are scattered through all
literatures, and that have been the favorite reading of boyhood for
hundreds of years. Boys of the last few generations, however,--even
though the separate stories in some form will never die out,--have
lost sight of the two great sources themselves, which were in danger
of becoming utterly hidden under cumbrous texts and labored

Last year Mr. Sidney Lanier opened one of these sources again by the
publication of his _Boy's Froissart_. He has now performed the same
office for the noble old English of Sir Thomas Malory's History of
King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table; and under the title of
_The Boy's King Arthur_, has given the _Froissart_ a companion, which
perhaps even surpasses it. However familiar the Arthurian heroes may
be to him, as mere names encountered in poetry and scattered legends,
not one boy in ten thousand will be prepared for the endless
fascination of the great stories in their original shape, and vigor of
language. He will have something of the feeling with which, at their
first writing, as Mr. Lanier says in his preface "the fascinated world
read of Sir Lancelot du Lake, of Queen Guenever, of Sir Tristram, of
Queen Isolde, of Merlin, of Sir Gawaine, of the Lady of the Lake, of
Sir Galahad, and of the wonderful search for the Holy Cup, called the
'Saint Graal.'"

The _Boy's King Arthur_, like the _Froissart_, will have Mr. Alfred
Kappes's vigorous and admirable illustrations; and the subject here
has given him, if possible, even greater opportunity to embody the
spirit of the knightly stories which he has caught so thoroughly.

[**asterism]_The above book for sale by all booksellers, or will be
sent, upon receipt of price, by_


       *       *       *       *       *

_THE Science of English Verse._


1 vol., crown 8vo.--$2.00.

This work marks a distinctly new phase in the study of English
literature--a study to which it is certainly the most noteworthy
American contribution made in many years. It embodies opinions
thoughtfully held, and the results of a well-known thorough
scholarship; and, in spite of its striking originality, it is not in
any sense the mere putting forth of a theory.

Mr. Lanier combats vigorously the false methods which have become
traditional in English prosody, and exposes them in a study of our
older poetry which, with all the peculiar charm of Mr. Lanier's clear
style, is not less attractive to the general reader than valuable for
its results. But the most striking and interesting portion of the book
to every student of letters is the author's presentation of his own
suggestions for a truer method; his treatment of verse almost entirely
as analogous with music--and this not figuratively, but as really
governed by the same laws, little modified. His forcible and very
skillful use of the most modern investigations in acoustics in
supporting this position, makes the book not only a contribution to
literature, but, in the best sense, to physical science; and it is in
this union of elements that the work shows an altogether new direction
of thought.

[**asterism] _This book is for sale by all booksellers, or will be
sent post-paid upon receipt of price, by_


       *       *       *       *       *

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