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Title: George Eliot's Life, Vol. I (of 3) - as related in her Letters and Journals
Author: Eliot, George, 1819-1880
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "George Eliot's Life, Vol. I (of 3) - as related in her Letters and Journals" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

Transcriber's Note:

This is Volume I of a three volume set:

  Volume I--Unknown
  Volume II--Famous
  Volume III--Sunset

A combined index to the entire set is located at the end of Volume III.

Narrative content written by J. Cross and material quoted from writers
other than George Eliot are interspersed throughout the text. Their
content is placed in block quotes.

Remaining transcriber's notes are located at the end of the text.

       *       *       *       *       *




[Illustration: Portrait of George Eliot. Etched by M. Rajon.]

  _as related in her Letters and Journals_

                J. W. CROSS



                 NEW YORK



     ADAM BEDE. Illustrated. 12mo, Cloth, $1.25.

     DANIEL DERONDA. 2 vols., 12mo, Cloth, $2.50.

     ESSAYS and LEAVES FROM A NOTE-BOOK. 12mo, Cloth, $1.25.

     FELIX HOLT, THE RADICAL. Illustrated. 12mo, Cloth, $1.25.

     MIDDLEMARCH. 2 vols., 12mo, Cloth, $2.50.

     ROMOLA. Illustrated. 12mo, Cloth, $1.25.

     12mo, Cloth, $1.25.


     THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. Illustrated. 12mo, Cloth, $1.25.


HARPER & BROTHERS _will send any of the above volumes by mail, postage
prepaid, to any part of the United States or Canada, on receipt of the
price. For other editions of George Eliot's works published by Harper
& Brothers see advertisement at end of third volume_.


With the materials in my hands I have endeavored to form an
_autobiography_ (if the term may be permitted) of George Eliot. The
life has been allowed to write itself in extracts from her letters and
journals. Free from the obtrusion of any mind but her own, this method
serves, I think, better than any other open to me, to show the
development of her intellect and character.

In dealing with the correspondence I have been influenced by the
desire to make known the woman, as well as the author, through the
presentation of her daily life.

On the intellectual side there remains little to be learned by those
who already know George Eliot's books. In the twenty volumes which she
wrote and published in her lifetime will be found her best and ripest
thoughts. The letters now published throw light on another side of her
nature--not less important, but hitherto unknown to the public--the
side of the affections.

The intimate life was the core of the root from which sprung the
fairest flowers of her inspiration. Fame came to her late in life,
and, when it presented itself, was so weighted with the sense of
responsibility that it was in truth a rose with many thorns, for
George Eliot had the temperament that shrinks from the position of a
public character. The belief in the wide, and I may add in the
beneficent, effect of her writing was no doubt the highest happiness,
the reward of the artist which she greatly cherished: but the joys of
the hearthside, the delight in the love of her friends, were the
supreme pleasures in her life.

By arranging all the letters and journals so as to form one connected
whole, keeping the order of their dates, and with the least possible
interruption of comment, I have endeavored to combine a narrative of
day-to-day life, with the play of light and shade which only letters,
written in various moods, can give, and without which no portrait can
be a good likeness. I do not know that the particular method in which
I have treated the letters has ever been adopted before. Each letter
has been pruned of everything that seemed to me irrelevant to my
purpose--of everything that I thought my wife would have wished to be
omitted. Every sentence that remains adds, in my judgment, something
(however small it may be) to the means of forming a conclusion about
her character. I ought perhaps to say a word of apology for what may
appear to be undue detail of travelling experiences; but I hope that
to many readers these will be interesting, as reflected through George
Eliot's mind. The remarks on works of art are only meant to be records
of impressions. She would have deprecated for herself the attitude of
an art critic.

Excepting a slight introductory sketch of the girlhood, up to the time
when letters became available, and a few words here and there to
elucidate the correspondence, I have confined myself to the work of
selection and arrangement.

I have refrained almost entirely from quoting remembered sayings by
George Eliot, because it is difficult to be certain of complete
accuracy, and everything depends upon accuracy. Recollections of
conversation are seldom to be implicitly trusted in the absence of
notes made at the time. The value of spoken words depends, too, so
much upon the _tone_, and on the circumstances which gave rise to
their utterance, that they often mislead as much as they enlighten,
when, in the process of repetition, they have taken color from another
mind. "All interpretations depend upon the interpreter," and I have
judged it best to let George Eliot be her own interpreter, as far as

I owe thanks to Mr. Isaac Evans, the brother of my wife, for much of
the information in regard to her child-life; and the whole book is a
long record of debts due to other friends for letters. It is not,
therefore, necessary for me to recapitulate the list of names in this
place. My thanks to all are heartfelt. But there is a very special
acknowledgment due to Miss Sara Hennell, to Mrs. Bray, and to the late
Mr. Charles Bray of Coventry, not only for the letters which they
placed at my disposal, but also for much information given to me in
the most friendly spirit. The very important part of the life from
1842 to 1854 could not possibly have been written without their

To Mr. Charles Lewes, also, I am indebted for some valuable letters
and extracts from the journals of his father, besides the letters
addressed to himself. He also obtained for me an important letter
written by George Eliot to Mr. R. H. Hutton; and throughout the
preparation of the book I have had the advantage of his sympathetic
interest, and his concurrence in the publication of all the

Special thanks are likewise due to Messrs. Wm. Blackwood & Sons for
having placed at my disposal George Eliot's long correspondence with
the firm. The letters (especially those addressed to her friend the
late Mr. John Blackwood) throw a light, that could not otherwise have
been obtained, on the most interesting part of her literary career.

To the legal representatives of the late Charles Dickens, of the late
Lord Lytton, and of Mrs. Carlyle; to Mr. J. A. Froude, and to Mr.
Archer Gurney, I owe thanks for leave to print letters written by

For all the defects that there may be in the plan of these volumes I
alone am responsible. The lines were determined and the work was
substantially put into shape before I submitted the manuscript to any
one. While passing the winter in the south of France I had the good
fortune at Cannes to find, in Lord Acton, not only an enthusiastic
admirer of George Eliot, but also a friend always most kindly ready to
assist me with valuable counsel and with cordial, generous sympathy.
He was the first reader of the manuscript, and whatever accuracy may
have been arrived at, particularly in the names of foreign books,
foreign persons, and foreign places, is in great part due to his
friendly, careful help. But of course he has no responsibility
whatever for any of my sins of omission or commission.

By the kind permission of Sir Frederic Burton, I have been enabled to
reproduce as a frontispiece M. Rajon's etching of the beautiful
drawing, executed in 1864, now in the National Portrait Gallery, South

The view of the old house at Rosehill is from a drawing by Mrs. Bray.
It is connected with some of George Eliot's happiest experiences, and
with the period of her most rapid intellectual development.

For permission to use the sketch of the drawing-room at the Priory I
am indebted to the Messrs. Harpers, of New York.

In conclusion, it is in no conventional spirit, but from my heart,
that I bespeak the indulgence of readers for my share of this work. Of
its shortcomings no one can be so convinced as I am myself.

                                                    J. W. C.

  CAMDEN HILL, _December, 1884_.


     Introductory Sketch of Childhood.                     Page 1

     AUGUST, 1838, TO MARCH, 1841.

       Life at Griff                                           28

     MARCH, 1841, TO APRIL, 1846.

       Coventry--Translation of Strauss                        61

     MAY, 1846, TO MAY, 1849.

       Life in Coventry till Mr. Evans's Death                106

     JUNE, 1849, TO MARCH, 1850.

       Geneva                                                 150

     MARCH, 1850, TO JULY, 1854.

       Work in London--Union with Mr. Lewes                   181

     JULY, 1854, TO MARCH, 1855.

       Germany                                                239

     MARCH, 1855, TO DECEMBER, 1857.

       Richmond--"Scenes of Clerical Life"                    273

     APPENDIX                                                 349


       Etched by M. Rajon                         _Frontispiece._

     GRIFF--FRONT VIEW                        _To face p_.      6

     GRIFF--WITH THE FARM OFFICES                  "           12

     HOUSE IN FOLESHILL ROAD, COVENTRY             "           62

     PORTRAIT OF MR. ROBERT EVANS                  "          148

     ROSEHILL                                      "          182



"_Nov. 22, 1819._--Mary Ann Evans was born at Arbury Farm,[1] at five
o'clock this morning."

This is an entry, in Mr. Robert Evans's handwriting, on the page of an
old diary that now lies before me, and records, with characteristic
precision, the birth of his youngest child, afterwards known to the
world as George Eliot. Let us pause for a moment to pay its due homage
to the precision, because it was in all probability to this most
noteworthy quality of her father's nature that the future author was
indebted for one of the principal elements of her own after-success--the
enormous faculty for taking pains. The baby was born on St. Cecilia's
day, and Mr. Evans, being a good churchman, takes her, on the 29th
November, to be baptized in the church at Chilvers Coton--the parish in
which Arbury Farm lies--a church destined to impress itself strongly on
the child's imagination, and to be known by many people in many lands
afterwards as Shepperton Church. The father was a remarkable man, and
many of the leading traits in his character are to be found in Adam Bede
and in Caleb Garth--although, of course, neither of these is a portrait.
He was born in 1773, at Ellaston, in Staffordshire, son of a George
Evans, who carried on the business of builder and carpenter there: the
Evans family having come originally from Northop, in Flintshire. Robert
was brought up to the business; but about 1799, or a little before, he
held a farm of Mr. Francis Newdigate at Kirk Hallam, in Derbyshire, and
became his agent. On Sir Roger Newdigate's death the Arbury estate came
to Mr. Francis Newdigate for his life, and Mr. Evans accompanied him
into Warwickshire, in 1806, in the capacity of agent. In 1801 he had
married Harriott Poynton, by whom he had two children--Robert, born
1802, at Ellaston, and Frances Lucy, born 1805, at Kirk Hallam. His
first wife died in 1809; and on 8th February, 1813, he married
Christiana Pearson, by whom he had three children--Christiana, born
1814; Isaac, born 1816, and Mary Ann, born 1819. Shortly after the last
child's birth, Robert, the son, became the agent, under his father, for
the Kirk Hallam property, and lived there with his sister Frances, who
afterwards married a Mr. Houghton. In March, 1820, when the baby girl
was only four months old, the Evans family removed to Griff, a charming
red-brick, ivy-covered house on the Arbury estate--"the warm little nest
where her affections were fledged"--and there George Eliot spent the
first twenty-one years of her life.

Let us remember what the England was upon which this observant child
opened her eyes.

The date of her birth was removed from the beginning of the French
Revolution by just the same period of time as separates a child, born
this year, 1884, from the beginning of the Crimean War. To a man of
forty-six to-day, the latter event seems but of yesterday. It took
place at a very impressionable period of his life, and the remembrance
of every detail is perfectly vivid. Mr. Evans was forty-six when his
youngest child was born. He was a youth of sixteen when the Revolution
began, and that mighty event, with all its consequences, had left an
indelible impression on him, and the convictions and conclusions it
had fostered in his mind permeated through to his children, and
entered as an indestructible element into the susceptible soul of his
youngest daughter. There are bits in the paper "Looking Backward," in
"Theophrastus Such," which are true autobiography.

"In my earliest remembrance of my father his hair was already gray,
for I was his youngest child, and it seemed to me that advanced age
was appropriate to a father, as, indeed, in all respects I considered
him a parent so much to my honor that the mention of my relationship
to him was likely to secure me regard among those to whom I was
otherwise a stranger--his stories from his life including so many
names of distant persons that my imagination placed no limit to his
acquaintanceship.... Nor can I be sorry, though myself given to
meditative if not active innovation, that my father was a Tory who had
not exactly a dislike to innovators and dissenters, but a slight
opinion of them as persons of ill-founded self-confidence.... And I
often smile at my consciousness that certain Conservative
prepossessions have mingled themselves for me with the influences of
our Midland scenery, from the tops of the elms down to the buttercups
and the little wayside vetches. Naturally enough. That part of my
father's prime to which he oftenest referred had fallen on the days
when the great wave of political enthusiasm and belief in a speedy
regeneration of all things had ebbed, and the supposed millennial
initiative of France was turning into a Napoleonic empire.... To my
father's mind the noisy teachers of revolutionary doctrine were, to
speak mildly, a variable mixture of the fool and the scoundrel; the
welfare of the nation lay in a strong government which could maintain
order; and I was accustomed to hear him utter the word 'government' in
a tone that charged it with awe, and made it part of my effective
religion, in contrast with the word 'rebel,' which seemed to carry the
stamp of evil in its syllables, and, lit by the fact that Satan was
the first rebel, made an argument dispensing with more detailed

This early association of ideas must always be borne in mind, as it is
the key to a great deal in the mental attitude of the future thinker
and writer. It is the foundation of the latent Conservative bias.

The year 1819 is memorable as a culminating period of bad times and
political discontent in England. The nation was suffering acutely from
the reaction after the excitement of the last Napoleonic war. George
IV. did not come to the throne till January, 1820, so that George
Eliot was born in the reign of George III. The trial of Queen Caroline
was the topic of absorbing public interest. Waterloo was not yet an
affair of five years old. Byron had four years, and Goethe had
thirteen years, still to live. The last of Miss Austen's novels had
been published only eighteen months, and the first of the Waverley
series only six years before. Thackeray and Dickens were boys at
school, and George Sand, as a girl of fifteen, was leaving her loved
freedom on the banks of the Indre for the Convent des Anglaises at
Paris. That "Greater Britain" (Canada and Australia), which to-day
forms so large a reading public, was then scarcely more than a
geographical expression, with less than half a million of inhabitants,
all told, where at present there are eight millions; and in the United
States, where more copies of George Eliot's books are now sold than in
any other quarter of the world, the population then numbered less than
ten millions where to-day it is fifty-five millions. Including Great
Britain, these English-speaking races have increased from thirty
millions in 1820 to one hundred millions in 1884; and with the
corresponding increase in education we can form some conception how a
popular English writer's fame has widened its circle.

There was a remoteness about a detached country-house, in the England
of those days, difficult for us to conceive now, with our railways,
penny-post, and telegraphs; nor is the Warwickshire country about
Griff an exhilarating surrounding. There are neither hills nor vales,
no rivers, lakes, or sea--nothing but a monotonous succession of green
fields and hedgerows, with some fine trees. The only water to be seen
is the "brown canal." The effect of such a landscape on an ordinary
observer is not inspiring, but "effective magic is transcendent
nature;" and with her transcendent nature George Eliot has
transfigured these scenes, dear to Midland souls, into many an idyllic
picture, known to those who know her books. In her childhood the great
event of the day was the passing of the coach before the gate of Griff
House, which lies at a bend of the high-road between Coventry and
Nuneaton, and within a couple of miles of the mining village of
Bedworth, "where the land began to be blackened with coal-pits, the
rattle of hand-looms to be heard in hamlets and villages. Here were
powerful men walking queerly, with knees bent outward from squatting
in the mine, going home to throw themselves down in their blackened
flannel and sleep through the daylight, then rise and spend much of
their high wages at the alehouse with their fellows of the Benefit
Club; here the pale, eager faces of hand-loom weavers, men and women,
haggard from sitting up late at night to finish the week's work,
hardly begun till the Wednesday. Everywhere the cottages and the small
children were dirty, for the languid mothers gave their strength to
the loom; pious Dissenting women, perhaps, who took life patiently,
and thought that salvation depended chiefly on predestination, and not
at all on cleanliness. The gables of Dissenting chapels now made a
visible sign of religion, and of a meeting-place to counterbalance the
alehouse, even in the hamlets.... Here was a population not convinced
that old England was as good as possible; here were multitudinous men
and women aware that their religion was not exactly the religion of
their rulers, who might therefore be better than they were, and who,
if better, might alter many things which now made the world perhaps
more painful than it need be, and certainly more sinful. Yet there
were the gray steeples too, and the churchyards, with their grassy
mounds and venerable headstones, sleeping in the sunlight; there were
broad fields and homesteads, and fine old woods covering a rising
ground, or stretching far by the roadside, allowing only peeps at the
park and mansion which they shut in from the working-day world. In
these midland districts the traveller passed rapidly from one phase of
English life to another; after looking down on a village dingy with
coal-dust, noisy with the shaking of looms, he might skirt a parish
all of fields, high hedges, and deep-rutted lanes; after the coach had
rattled over the pavement of a manufacturing town, the scene of riots
and trades-union meetings, it would take him in another ten minutes
into a rural region, where the neighborhood of the town was only felt
in the advantages of a near market for corn, cheese, and hay, and
where men with a considerable banking account were accustomed to say
that 'they never meddled with politics themselves.'"[2]

[Illustration: Griff House--Front view.]

We can imagine the excitement of a little four-year-old girl and her
seven-year-old brother waiting, on bright frosty mornings, to hear the
far-off ringing beat of the horses' feet upon the hard ground, and
then to see the gallant appearance of the four grays, with coachman
and guard in scarlet, outside passengers muffled up in furs, and
baskets of game and other packages hanging behind the boot, as his
majesty's mail swung cheerily round on its way from Birmingham to
Stamford. Two coaches passed the door daily--one from Birmingham at 10
o'clock in the morning, the other from Stamford at 3 o'clock in the
afternoon. These were the chief connecting links between the household
at Griff and the outside world. Otherwise life went on with that
monotonous regularity which distinguishes the country from the town.
And it is to these circumstances of her early life that a great part
of the quality of George Eliot's writing is due, and that she holds
the place she has attained in English literature. Her roots were down
in the pre-railroad, pre-telegraphic period--the days of fine old
leisure--but the fruit was formed during an era of extraordinary
activity in scientific and mechanical discovery. Her genius was the
outcome of these conditions. It would not have existed in the same
form deprived of either influence. Her father was busy both with his
own farm-work and increasing agency business. He was already remarked
in Warwickshire for his knowledge and judgment in all matters relating
to land, and for his general trustworthiness and high character, so
that he was constantly selected as arbitrator and valuer. He had a
wonderful eye, especially for valuing woods, and could calculate with
almost absolute precision the quantity of available timber in a
standing tree. In addition to his merits as a man of business, he had
the good fortune to possess the warm friendship and consistent support
of Colonel Newdigate of Astley Castle, son of Mr. Francis Newdigate of
Arbury, and it was mainly through the colonel's introduction and
influence that Mr. Evans became agent also to Lord Aylesford, Lord
Lifford, Mr. Bromley Davenport, and several others.

His position cannot be better summed up than in the words of his
daughter, writing to Mr. Bray on 30th September, 1859, in regard to
some one who had written of her, after the appearance of "Adam Bede,"
as a "self-educated farmer's daughter."

"My father did not raise himself from being an artisan to be a farmer;
he raised himself from being an artisan to be a man whose extensive
knowledge in very varied practical departments made his services
valued through several counties. He had large knowledge of building,
of mines, of plantations, of various branches of valuation and
measurement--of all that is essential to the management of large
estates. He was held by those competent to judge as _unique_ among
land-agents for his manifold knowledge and experience, which enabled
him to save the special fees usually paid by landowners for special
opinions on the different questions incident to the proprietorship of
land. So far as I am personally concerned I should not write a stroke
to prevent any one, in the zeal of antithetic eloquence, from calling
me a tinker's daughter; but if my father is to be mentioned at all--if
he is to be identified with an imaginary character--my piety towards
his memory calls on me to point out to those who are supposed to speak
with information what he really achieved in life."

Mr. Evans was also, like Adam Bede, noteworthy for his extraordinary
physical strength and determination of character. There is a story
told of him, that one day when he was travelling on the top of a
coach, down in Kent, a decent woman sitting next him complained that a
great hulking sailor on her other side was making himself offensive.
Mr. Evans changed places with the woman, and, taking the sailor by the
collar, forced him down under the seat, and held him there with an
iron hand for the remainder of the stage: and at Griff it is still
remembered that the master, happening to pass one day while a couple
of laborers were waiting for a third to help to move the high, heavy
ladder used for thatching ricks, braced himself up to a great effort,
and carried the ladder alone and unaided from one rick to the other,
to the wide-eyed wonder and admiration of his men. With all this
strength, however, both of body and of character, he seems to have
combined a certain self-distrust, owing, perhaps, to his early
imperfect education, which resulted in a general submissiveness in his
domestic relations, more or less portrayed in the character of Mr.

His second wife was a woman with an unusual amount of natural force; a
shrewd, practical person, with a considerable dash of the Mrs. Poyser
vein in her. Hers was an affectionate, warm-hearted nature, and her
children, on whom she cast "the benediction of her gaze," were
thoroughly attached to her. She came of a race of yeomen, and her
social position was, therefore, rather better than her husband's at
the time of their marriage. Her family are, no doubt, prototypes of
the Dodsons in the "Mill on the Floss." There were three other sisters
married, and all living in the neighborhood of Griff--Mrs. Everard,
Mrs. Johnson, and Mrs. Garner--and probably Mr. Evans heard a good
deal about "the traditions in the Pearson family." Mrs. Evans was a
very active, hard-working woman, but shortly after her last child's
birth she became ailing in health, and consequently her eldest girl,
Christiana, was sent to school, at a very early age, to Miss Lathom's,
at Attleboro, a village a mile or two from Griff, while the two
younger children spent some part of their time every day at the
cottage of a Mrs. Moore, who kept a dame's school close to Griff
gates. The little girl very early became possessed with the idea that
she was going to be a personage in the world; and Mr. Charles Lewes
has told me an anecdote which George Eliot related of herself as
characteristic of this period of her childhood. When she was only four
years old she recollected playing on the piano, of which she did not
know one note, in order to impress the servant with a proper notion of
her acquirements and generally distinguished position. This was the
time when the love for her brother grew into the child's affections.
She used always to be at his heels, insisting on doing everything he
did. She was not, in these baby-days, in the least precocious in
learning. In fact, her half-sister, Mrs. Houghton, who was some
fourteen years her senior, told me that the child learned to read
with some difficulty; but Mr. Isaac Evans says that this was not from
any slowness in apprehension, but because she liked playing so much
better. Mere sharpness, however, was not a characteristic of her mind.
Hers was a large, slow-growing nature; and I think it is, at any rate,
certain that there was nothing of the infant phenomenon about her. In
her moral development she showed, from the earliest years, the trait
that was most marked in her all through life, namely, the absolute
need of some one person who should be all in all to her, and to whom
she should be all in all. Very jealous in her affections, and easily
moved to smiles or tears, she was of a nature capable of the keenest
enjoyment and the keenest suffering, knowing "all the wealth and all
the woe" of a pre-eminently exclusive disposition. She was
affectionate, proud, and sensitive in the highest degree.

The sort of happiness that belongs to this budding-time of life, from
the age of three to five, is apt to impress itself very strongly on
the memory; and it is this period which is referred to in the Brother
and Sister Sonnet, "But were another childhood's world my share, I
would be born a little sister there." When her brother was eight years
old he was sent to school at Coventry, and, her mother continuing in
very delicate health, the little Mary Ann, now five years of age, went
to join her sister at Miss Lathom's school, at Attleboro, where they
continued as boarders for three or four years, coming, occasionally,
home to Griff on Saturdays. During one of our walks at Witley, in
1880, my wife mentioned to me that what chiefly remained in her
recollection about this very early school-life was the difficulty of
getting near enough the fire in winter to become thoroughly warmed,
owing to the circle of girls forming round too narrow a fireplace.
This suffering from cold was the beginning of a low general state of
health; also at this time she began to be subject to fears at
night--"the susceptibility to terror"--which she has described as
haunting Gwendolen Harleth in her childhood. The other girls in the
school, who were all, naturally, very much older, made a great pet of
the child, and used to call her "little mamma," and she was not
unhappy except at nights; but she told me that this liability to have
"all her soul become a quivering fear," which remained with her
afterwards, had been one of the supremely important influences
dominating at times her future life. Mr. Isaac Evans's chief
recollection of this period is the delight of the little sister at his
home-coming for holidays, and her anxiety to know all that he had been
doing and learning. The eldest child, who went by the name of
Chrissey, was the chief favorite of the aunts, as she was always neat
and tidy, and used to spend a great deal of her time with them, while
the other two were inseparable playfellows at home. The boy was his
mother's pet and the girl her father's. They had everything to make
children happy at Griff--a delightful old-fashioned garden, a pond and
the canal to fish in, and the farm-offices close to the house, "the
long cow-shed, where generations of the milky mothers have stood
patiently, the broad-shouldered barns, where the old-fashioned flail
once made resonant music," and where butter-making and cheese-making
were carried on with great vigor by Mrs. Evans.

[Illustration: Griff--with the Farm Offices.]

Any one, about this time, who happened to look through the window on
the left-hand side of the door of Griff House would have seen a pretty
picture in the dining-room on Saturday evenings after tea. The
powerful, middle-aged man with the strongly marked features sits in
his deep, leather-covered arm-chair, at the right-hand corner of the
ruddy fireplace, with the head of "the little wench" between his
knees. The child turns over the book with pictures that she wishes her
father to explain to her--or that perhaps she prefers explaining to
him. Her rebellious hair is all over her eyes, much vexing the pale,
energetic mother who sits on the opposite side of the fire, cumbered
with much service, letting no instant of time escape the inevitable
click of the knitting-needles, accompanied by epigrammatic speech. The
elder girl, prim and tidy, with her work before her, is by her
mother's side; and the brother, between the two groups, keeps assuring
himself by perpetual search that none of his favorite means of
amusement are escaping from his pockets. The father is already very
proud of the astonishing and growing intelligence of his little girl.
From a very early age he has been in the habit of taking her with him
in his drives about the neighborhood, "standing between her father's
knees as he drove leisurely," so that she has drunk in knowledge of
the country and of country folk at all her pores. An old-fashioned
child, already living in a world of her own imagination, impressible
to her finger-tips, and willing to give her views on any subject.

The first book that George Eliot read, so far as I have been able to
ascertain, was a little volume published in 1822, entitled "The
Linnet's Life," which she gave to me in the last year of her life, at
Witley. It bears the following inscription, written some time before
she gave it to me:

"This little book is the first present I ever remember having received
from my father. Let any one who thinks of me with some tenderness
after I am dead take care of this book for my sake. It made me very
happy when I held it in my little hands, and read it over and over
again; and thought the pictures beautiful, especially the one where
the linnet is feeding her young."

It must, I think, have been very shortly after she received this
present that an old friend of the family, who was in the habit of
coming as a visitor to Griff from time to time, used occasionally to
bring a book in his hand for the little girl. I very well remember her
expressing to me deep gratitude for this early ministration to her
childish delights; and Mr. Burne Jones has been kind enough to tell me
of a conversation with George Eliot about children's books, when she
also referred to this old gentleman's kindness. They were agreeing in
disparagement of some of the books that the rising generation take
their pleasure in, and she recalled the dearth of child-literature in
her own home, and her passionate delight and total absorption in
Æsop's Fables (given to her by the aforesaid old gentleman), the
possession of which had opened new worlds to her imagination. Mr.
Burne Jones particularly remembers how she laughed till the tears ran
down her face in recalling her infantine enjoyment of the humor in the
fable of Mercury and the Statue-seller. Having so few books at this
time, she read them again and again, until she knew them by heart. One
of them was a Joe Miller jest-book, with the stories from which she
used greatly to astonish the family circle. But the beginning of her
serious reading-days did not come till later. Meantime her talent for
observation gained a glorious new field for employment in her first
journey from home, which took place in 1826. Her father and mother
took her with them on a little trip into Derbyshire and Staffordshire,
where she saw Mr. Evans's relations, and they came back through
Lichfield, sleeping at the Swan.[3] They were away only a week, from
the 18th to the 24th of May; but "what time is little" to an
imaginative, observant child of seven on her first journey? About this
time a deeply felt crisis occurred in her life, as her brother had a
pony given to him, to which he became passionately attached. He
developed an absorbing interest in riding, and cared less and less to
play with his sister. The next important event happened in her eighth
or ninth year, when she was sent to Miss Wallington's school at
Nuneaton with her sister. This was a much larger school than Miss
Lathom's, there being some thirty girls, boarders. The principal
governess was Miss Lewis, who became then, and remained for many years
after, Mary Ann Evans's most intimate friend and principal
correspondent, and I am indebted to the letters addressed to her from
1836 to 1842 for most of the information concerning that period. Books
now became a passion with the child; she read everything she could lay
hands on, greatly troubling the soul of her mother by the consumption
of candles as well as of eyesight in her bedroom. From a subsequent
letter it will be seen that she was "early supplied with works of
fiction by those who kindly sought to gratify her appetite for

It must have been about this time that the episode occurred in
relation to "Waverley" which is mentioned by Miss Simcox in her
article in the June, 1881, number of the _Nineteenth Century Review_.
It was quite new to me, and, as it is very interesting, I give it in
Miss Simcox's own words: "Somewhere about 1827 a friendly neighbor
lent 'Waverley' to an elder sister of little Mary Ann Evans. It was
returned before the child had read to the end, and, in her distress at
the loss of the fascinating volume, she began to write out the story
as far as she had read it for herself, beginning naturally where the
story begins with Waverley's adventures at Tully Veolan, and
continuing until the surprised elders were moved to get her the book
again." Miss Simcox has pointed out the reference to this in the motto
of the 57th chapter of "Middlemarch:"

       "They numbered scarce eight summers when a name
         Rose on their souls and stirred such motions there
       As thrill the buds and shape their hidden frame
         At penetration of the quickening air:
     His name who told of loyal Evan Dhu,
       Of quaint Bradwardine, and Vich Ian Vor,
     Making the little world their childhood knew
       Large with a land of mountain, lake, and scaur,
     And larger yet with wonder, love, belief
       Towards Walter Scott, who, living far away,
     Sent them this wealth of joy and noble grief.
       The book and they must part, but, day by day,
           In lines that thwart like portly spiders ran,
           They wrote the tale, from Tully Veolan."

Miss Simcox also mentions that "Elia divided her childish allegiance
with Scott, and she remembered feasting with singular pleasure upon an
extract in some stray almanac from the essay in commemoration of
'Captain Jackson and his slender ration of Single Gloucester.' This is
an extreme example of the general rule that a wise child's taste in
literature is sounder than adults generally venture to believe."

We know, too, from the "Mill on the Floss" that the "History of the
Devil," by Daniel Defoe, was a favorite. The book is still religiously
preserved at Griff, with its pictures just as Maggie looked at them.
"The Pilgrim's Progress," also, and "Rasselas" had a large share of
her affections.

At Miss Wallington's the growing girl soon distinguished herself by an
easy mastery of the usual school-learning of her years, and there,
too, the religious side of her nature was developed to a remarkable
degree. Miss Lewis was an ardent Evangelical Churchwoman, and exerted
a strong influence on her young pupil, whom she found very
sympathetically inclined. But Mary Ann Evans did not associate freely
with her schoolfellows, and her friendship with Miss Lewis was the
only intimacy she indulged in.

On coming home for their holidays the sister and brother began, about
this time, the habit of acting charades together before the Griff
household and the aunts, who were greatly impressed with the
cleverness of the performance; and the girl was now recognized in the
family circle as no ordinary child.

Another epoch presently succeeded, on her removal to Miss Franklin's
school at Coventry, in her thirteenth year. She was probably then very
much what she has described her own Maggie at the age of thirteen:

"A creature full of eager, passionate longings for all that was
beautiful and glad; thirsty for all knowledge; with an ear straining
after dreamy music that died away and would not come near to her; with
a blind, unconscious yearning for something that would link together
the wonderful impressions of this mysterious life, and give her soul a
sense of home in it. No wonder, when there is this contrast between
the outward and the inward, that painful collisions come of it."

In _Our Times_ of June, 1881, there is a paper by a lady whose mother
was at school with Mary Ann Evans, which gives some interesting
particulars of the Miss Franklins.

"They were daughters of a Baptist minister who had preached for many
years in Coventry, and who inhabited, during his pastorate, a house in
the chapel-yard almost exactly resembling that of Rufus Lyon in 'Felix
Holt.' For this venerable gentleman Miss Evans, as a schoolgirl, had a
great admiration, and I, who can remember him well, can trace in Rufus
Lyon himself many slight resemblances, such as the 'little legs,' and
the habit of walking up and down when composing. Miss Rebecca Franklin
was a lady of considerable intellectual power, and remarkable for her
elegance in writing and conversation, as well as for her beautiful
calligraphy. In her classes for English Composition Mary Ann Evans
was, from her first entering the school, far in advance of the rest;
and while the themes of the other children were read, criticised, and
corrected in class, hers were reserved for the private perusal and
enjoyment of the teacher, who rarely found anything to correct. Her
enthusiasm for music was already very strongly marked, and her
music-master, a much-tried man, suffering from the irritability
incident to his profession, reckoned on his hour with her as a
refreshment to his wearied nerves, and soon had to confess that he had
no more to teach her. In connection with this proficiency in music, my
mother recalls her sensitiveness at that time as being painfully
extreme. When there were visitors, Miss Evans, as the best performer
in the school, was sometimes summoned to the parlor to play for their
amusement, and though suffering agonies from shyness and reluctance,
she obeyed with all readiness, but, on being released, my mother has
often known her to rush to her room and throw herself on the floor in
an agony of tears. Her schoolfellows loved her as much as they could
venture to love one whom they felt to be so immeasurably superior to
themselves, and she had playful nicknames for most of them. My mother,
who was delicate, and to whom she was very kind, was dubbed by her
'Miss Equanimity.' A source of great interest to the girls, and of
envy to those who lived farther from home, was the weekly cart which
brought Miss Evans new-laid eggs and other delightful produce of her
father's farm."

In talking about these early days, my wife impressed on my mind the
debt she felt that she owed to the Miss Franklins for their excellent
instruction, and she had also the very highest respect for their moral
qualities. With her chameleon-like nature she soon adopted their
religious views with intense eagerness and conviction, although she
never formally joined the Baptists or any other communion than the
Church of England. She at once, however, took a foremost place in the
school, and became a leader of prayer-meetings among the girls. In
addition to a sound English education the Miss Franklins managed to
procure for their pupils excellent masters for French, German, and
music; so that, looking to the lights of those times, the means of
obtaining knowledge were very much above the average for girls. Her
teachers, on their side, were very proud of their exceptionally gifted
scholar; and years afterwards, when Miss Evans came with her father to
live in Coventry, they introduced her to one of their friends, not
only as a marvel of mental power, but also as a person "sure to get
something up very soon in the way of clothing-club or other charitable

This year, 1832, was not only memorable for the change to a new and
superior school, but it was also much more memorable to George Eliot
for the riot which she saw at Nuneaton, on the occasion of the
election for North Warwickshire, after the passing of the great Reform
Bill, and which subsequently furnished her with the incidents for the
riot in "Felix Holt." It was an event to lay hold on the imagination
of an impressionable girl of thirteen, and it is thus described in the
local newspaper of 29th December, 1832:

"On Friday, the 21st December, at Nuneaton, from the commencement of
the poll till nearly half-past two, the Hemingites[4] occupied the
poll; the numerous plumpers for Sir Eardley Wilmot and the adherents
of Mr. Dugdale being constantly interrupted in their endeavors to go
to the hustings to give an honest and conscientious vote. The
magistrates were consequently applied to, and from the representations
they received from all parties, they were at length induced to call in
aid a military force. A detachment of the Scots Greys accordingly
arrived; but it appearing that that gallant body was not sufficiently
strong to put down the turbulent spirit of the mob, a reinforcement
was considered by the constituted authorities as absolutely necessary.
The tumult increasing, as the detachment of the Scots Greys were
called in, the Riot Act was read from the windows of the Newdigate
Arms; and we regret to add that both W. P. Inge, Esq., and Colonel
Newdigate, in the discharge of their magisterial duties, received
personal injuries.

"On Saturday the mob presented an appalling appearance, and but for
the forbearance of the soldiery numerous lives would have fallen a
sacrifice. Several of the officers of the Scots Greys were materially
hurt in their attempt to quell the riotous proceedings of the mob.
During the day the sub-sheriffs at the different booths received
several letters from the friends of Mr. Dugdale, stating that they
were outside of the town, and anxious to vote for that gentleman, but
were deterred from entering it from fear of personal violence. Two or
three unlucky individuals, drawn from the files of the military on
their approach to the poll, were cruelly beaten, and stripped
literally naked. We regret to add that one life has been sacrificed
during the contest, and that several misguided individuals have been
seriously injured."

The term ending Christmas, 1835, was the last spent at Miss
Franklin's. In the first letter of George Eliot's that I have been
able to discover, dated 6th January, 1836, and addressed to Miss
Lewis, who was at that time governess in the family of the Rev. L.
Harper, Burton Latimer, Northamptonshire, she speaks of her mother
having suffered a great increase of pain, and adds--

"We dare not hope that there will be a permanent improvement. Our
anxieties on my mother's account, though so great, have been since
Thursday almost lost sight of in the more sudden, and consequently
more severe, trial which we have been called on to endure in the
alarming illness of my dear father. For four days we had no cessation
of our anxiety; but I am thankful to say that he is now considered out
of danger, though very much reduced by frequent bleeding and very
powerful medicines."

In the summer of this year--1836--the mother died, after a long,
painful illness, in which she was nursed with great devotion by her
daughters. It was their first acquaintance with death; and to a highly
wrought, sensitive girl of sixteen such a loss seems an unendurable
calamity. "To the old, sorrow is sorrow; to the young, it is despair."
Many references will be found in the subsequent correspondence to what
she suffered at this time, all summed up in the old popular phrase,
"We can have but one mother." In the following spring Christiana was
married to Mr. Edward Clarke, a surgeon practising at Meriden, in
Warwickshire. One of Mr. Isaac Evans's most vivid recollections is
that on the day of the marriage, after the bride's departure, he and
his younger sister had "a good cry" together over the break-up of the
old home-life, which of course could never be the same with the mother
and the elder sister wanting.

Twenty-three years later we shall find George Eliot writing, on the
death of this sister, that she "had a very special feeling for
her--stronger than any third person would think likely." The relation
between the sisters was somewhat like that described as existing
between Dorothea and Celia in "Middlemarch"--no intellectual affinity,
but a strong family affection. In fact, my wife told me, that although
Celia was not in any sense a portrait of her sister, she "had Chrissey
continually in mind" in delineating Celia's character. But we must be
careful not to found too much on such _suggestions_ of character in
George Eliot's books; and this must particularly be borne in mind in
the "Mill on the Floss." No doubt the early part of Maggie's
portraiture is the best autobiographical representation we can have of
George Eliot's own feelings in her childhood, and many of the
incidents in the book are based on real experiences of family life,
but so mixed with fictitious elements and situations that it would be
absolutely misleading to trust to it as a true history. For instance,
all that happened in real life between the brother and sister was, I
believe, that as they grew up their characters, pursuits, and tastes
diverged more and more widely. He took to his father's business, at
which he worked steadily, and which absorbed most of his time and
attention. He was also devoted to hunting, liked the ordinary
pleasures of a young man in his circumstances, and was quite satisfied
with the circle of acquaintance in which he moved. After leaving
school at Coventry he went to a private tutor's at Birmingham, where
he imbibed strong High-Church views. His sister had come back from the
Miss Franklins' with ultra-Evangelical tendencies, and their
differences of opinion used to lead to a good deal of animated
argument. Miss Evans, as she now was, could not rest satisfied with a
mere profession of faith without trying to shape her own life--and, it
may be added, the lives around her--in accordance with her
convictions. The pursuit of pleasure was a snare; dress was vanity;
society was a danger.

"From what you know of her, you will not be surprised that she threw
some exaggeration and wilfulness, some pride and impetuosity, even
into her self-renunciation: her own life was still a drama for her, in
which she demanded of herself that her part should be played with
intensity. And so it came to pass that she often lost the spirit of
humility by being excessive in the outward act; she often strove after
too high a flight, and came down with her poor little half-fledged
wings dabbled in the mud.... That is the path we all like when we set
out on our abandonment of egoism--the path of martyrdom and endurance,
where the palm-branches grow, rather than the steep highway of
tolerance, just allowance, and self-blame, where there are no leafy
honors to be gathered and worn."[5]

After Christiana's marriage the entire charge of the Griff
establishment devolved on Mary Ann, who became a most exemplary
housewife, learned thoroughly everything that had to be done, and,
with her innate desire for perfection, was never satisfied unless her
department was administered in the very best manner that circumstances
permitted. She spent a great deal of time in visiting the poor,
organizing clothing-clubs, and other works of active charity. But over
and above this, as will be seen from the following letters, she was
always prosecuting an active intellectual life of her own. Mr. Brezzi,
a well-known master of modern languages at Coventry, used to come over
to Griff regularly to give her lessons in Italian and German. Mr.
M'Ewen, also from Coventry, continued her lessons in music, and she
got through a large amount of miscellaneous reading by herself. In the
evening she was always in the habit of playing to her father, who was
very fond of music. But it requires no great effort of imagination to
conceive that this life, though full of interests of its own, and the
source from whence the future novelist drew the most powerful and the
most touching of her creations, was, as a matter of fact, very
monotonous, very difficult, very discouraging. It could scarcely be
otherwise to a young girl with a full, passionate nature and hungry
intellect, shut up in a farmhouse in the remote country. For there was
no sympathetic human soul near with whom to exchange ideas on the
intellectual and spiritual problems that were beginning to agitate her
mind. "You may try, but you can never imagine what it is to have a
man's force of genius in you, and yet to suffer the slavery of being a
girl."[6] This is a point of view that must be distinctly recognized
by any one attempting to follow the development of George Eliot's
character, and it will always be corrected by the other point of view
which she has made so prominent in all her own writing--the soothing,
strengthening, sacred influences of the home life, the home loves, the
home duties. Circumstances in later life separated her from her
kindred, but among her last letters it will be seen that she wrote to
her brother in May, 1880, that "our long silence has never broken the
affection for you that began when we were little ones"[7]--and she
expresses her satisfaction in the growing prosperity of himself and
all his family. It was a real gratification to her to hear from some
Coventry friends that her nephew, the Rev. Frederic Evans, the present
rector of Bedworth, was well spoken of as a preacher in the old
familiar places, and in our last summer at Witley we often spoke of a
visit to Warwickshire, that she might renew the sweet memories of her
child-days. No doubt, the very monotony of her life at Griff, and the
narrow field it presented for observation of society, added
immeasurably to the intensity of a naturally keen mental vision,
concentrating into a focus what might perhaps have become dissipated
in more liberal surroundings. And though the field of observation was
narrow in one sense, it included very various grades of society. Such
fine places as Arbury, and Packington, the seat of Lord Aylesford,
where she was being constantly driven by her father, affected the
imagination and accentuated the social differences--differences which
had a profound significance for such a sensitive and such an
intellectually commanding character, and which left their mark on it.

"No one who has not a strong natural prompting and susceptibility
towards such things [the signs and luxuries of ladyhood] and has, at
the same time, suffered from the presence of opposite conditions, can
understand how powerfully those minor accidents of rank which please
the fastidious sense can preoccupy the imagination."[8]

The tone of her mind will be seen from the letters written during the
following years, and I remember once, after we were married, when I
was urging her to write her autobiography, she said, half sighing,
half smiling, "The only thing I should care much to dwell on would be
the absolute despair I suffered from of ever being able to achieve
anything. No one could ever have felt greater despair, and a knowledge
of this might be a help to some other struggler"--adding, with a
smile, "but, on the other hand, it might only lead to an increase of
bad writing."


NOVEMBER 22, 1819, TO END OF 1837.

     Birth at Arbury Farm--Baptism--Character of father--His first
     marriage and children--Second marriage and children--Removal
     to Griff--Events at time of birth--Character of country
     about Griff--Coach communication--Father's
     position--Anecdotes of father--Character of mother--Mother's
     family and delicacy--Dame's school--Companionship with
     brother--Miss Lathom's school at Attleboro--Suffers from
     fear--Father's pet--Drives with him--First books read--First
     journey to Staffordshire--Miss Wallington's school at
     Nuneaton--Miss Lewis, governess--Books read--Religious
     impressions--Charade acting--Miss Franklin's school at
     Coventry--Riot at Nuneaton--First letter to Miss
     Lewis--Mother's illness--Mother's death--Sister Christiana
     married to Mr. Clarke--Relations with brother--Housekeeper at
     Griff--Life and studies there.


[1] The farm is also known as the South Farm, Arbury.

[2] "Felix Holt"--Introduction.

[3] See vol. ii. p. 96.

[4] A Mr. Heming was the Radical candidate.

[5] "Mill on the Floss," chap. iii. book iv.

[6] "Daniel Deronda."

[7] See vol. iii.

[8] "Felix Holt," chap. xxxviii. p. 399.


In the foregoing introductory sketch I have endeavored to present the
influences to which George Eliot was subjected in her youth, and the
environment in which she grew up; I am now able to begin the
fulfilment of the promise on the titlepage, that the life will be
related in her own letters; or, rather, in extracts from her own
letters, for no single letter is printed entire from the beginning to
the end. I have not succeeded in obtaining any between 6th January,
1836, and 18th August, 1838; but from the latter date the
correspondence becomes regular, and I have arranged it as a continuous
narrative, with the names of the persons to whom the letters are
addressed in the margin. The slight thread of narrative or explanation
which I have written to elucidate the letters, where necessary, will
hereafter occupy an inside margin, so that the reader will see at a
glance what is narrative and what is correspondence, and will be
troubled as little as possible with marks of quotation or changes of

     The following opening letter of the series to Miss Lewis
     describes a first visit to London with her brother:

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, 18th Aug. 1838.]

Let me tell you, though, that I was not at all delighted with the stir
of the great Babel, and the less so, probably, owing to the
circumstances attending my visit thither. Isaac and I went alone (that
seems rather Irish), and stayed only a week, every day of which we
worked hard at seeing sights. I think Greenwich Hospital interested me
more than anything else.

     Mr. Isaac Evans himself tells me that what he remembers
     chiefly impressed her was the first hearing the great bell of
     St. Paul's. It affected her deeply. At that time she was so
     much under the influence of religious and ascetic ideas that
     she would not go to any of the theatres with her brother, but
     spent all her evenings alone, reading. A characteristic
     reminiscence is that the chief thing she wanted to buy was
     Josephus's "History of the Jews;" and at the same bookshop
     her brother got her this he bought for himself a pair of
     hunting sketches. In the same letter, alluding to the
     marriage of one of her friends, she says:

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, 18th Aug. 1838.]

For my part, when I hear of the marrying and giving in marriage that
is constantly being transacted, I can only sigh for those who are
multiplying earthly ties which, though powerful enough to detach their
hearts and thoughts from heaven, are so brittle as to be liable to be
snapped asunder at every breeze. You will think that I need nothing
but a tub for my habitation to make me a perfect female Diogenes; and
I plead guilty to occasional misanthropical thoughts, but not to the
indulgence of them. Still, I must believe that those are happiest who
are not fermenting themselves by engaging in projects for earthly
bliss, who are considering this life merely a pilgrimage, a scene
calling for diligence and watchfulness, not for repose and amusement.
I do not deny that there may be many who can partake with a high
degree of zest of all the lawful enjoyments the world can offer, and
yet live in near communion with their God--who can warmly love the
creature, and yet be careful that the Creator maintains his supremacy
in their hearts; but I confess that, in my short experience and narrow
sphere of action, I have never been able to attain to this. I find, as
Dr. Johnson said respecting his wine, total abstinence much easier
than moderation. I do not wonder you are pleased with Pascal;[9] his
thoughts may be returned to the palate again and again with increasing
rather than diminished relish. I have highly enjoyed Hannah More's
letters; the contemplation of so blessed a character as hers is very
salutary. "That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who, through
faith and patience, inherit the promises," is a valuable admonition. I
was once told that there was nothing out of myself to prevent my
becoming as eminently holy as St. Paul; and though I think that is too
sweeping an assertion, yet it is very certain we are generally too low
in our aims, more anxious for safety than sanctity, for place than
purity, forgetting that each involves the other, and that, as
Doddridge tells us, to rest satisfied with any attainments in religion
is a fearful proof that we are ignorant of the very first principles
of it. O that we could live only for eternity! that we could realize
its nearness! I know you do not love quotations, so I will not give
you one; but if you do not distinctly remember it, do turn to the
passage in Young's "Infidel Reclaimed," beginning, "O vain, vain, vain
all else eternity," and do love the lines for my sake.

I really feel for you, sacrificing, as you are, your own tastes and
comforts for the pleasure of others, and that in a manner the most
trying to rebellious flesh and blood; for I verily believe that in
most cases it requires more of a martyr's spirit to endure, with
patience and cheerfulness, daily crossings and interruptions of our
petty desires and pursuits, and to rejoice in them if they can be made
to conduce to God's glory and our own sanctification, than even to lay
down our lives for the truth.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, 6th Nov. 1838.]

I can hardly repress a sort of indignation towards second causes. That
your time and energies should be expended in ministering to the petty
interests of those far beneath you in all that is really elevating is
about as _bienséant_ as that I should set fire to a goodly volume to
light a match by! I have had a very unsettled life lately--Michaelmas,
with its onerous duties and anxieties, much company (for us) and
little reading, so that I am ill prepared for corresponding with
profit or pleasure. I am generally in the same predicament with books
as a glutton with his feast, hurrying through one course that I may be
in time for the next, and so not relishing or digesting either; not a
very elegant illustration, but the best my organs of ideality and
comparison will furnish just now.

I have just begun the "Life of Wilberforce," and I am expecting a rich
treat from it. There is a similarity, if I may compare myself with
such a man, between his temptations, or rather _besetments_, and my
own, that makes his experience very interesting to me. O that I might
be made as useful in my lowly and obscure station as he was in the
exalted one assigned to him! I feel myself to be a mere cumberer of
the ground. May the Lord give me such an insight into what is truly
good that I may not rest contented with making Christianity a mere
addendum to my pursuits, or with tacking it as a fringe to my
garments! May I seek to be sanctified wholly! My nineteenth birthday
will soon be here (the 22d)--an awakening signal. My mind has been
much clogged lately by languor of body, to which I am prone to give
way, and for the removal of which I shall feel thankful.

We have had an oratorio at Coventry lately, Braham, Phillips, Mrs.
Knyvett, and Mrs. Shaw--the last, I think, I shall attend. I am not
fitted to decide on the question of the propriety or lawfulness of
such exhibitions of talent and so forth, because I have no soul for
music. "Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he
alloweth." I am a tasteless person, but it would not cost me any
regrets if the only music heard in our land were that of strict
worship, nor can I think a pleasure that involves the devotion of all
the time and powers of an immortal being to the acquirement of an
expertness in so useless (at least in ninety-nine cases out of a
hundred) an accomplishment, can be quite pure or elevating in its

     The above remarks on oratorio are the more surprising
     because, two years later, when Miss Evans went to the
     Birmingham festival, in September, 1840, previous to her
     brother's marriage, she was affected to an extraordinary
     degree, so much so that Mrs. Isaac Evans--then Miss
     Rawlins--told me that the attention of people sitting near
     was attracted by her hysterical sobbing. And in all her later
     life music was one of the chiefest delights to her, and
     especially oratorio.

"Not that her enjoyment of music was of the kind that indicates a
great specific talent; it was rather that her sensibility to the
supreme excitement of music was only one form of that passionate
sensibility which belonged to her whole nature, and made her faults
and virtues all merge in each other--made her affections sometimes an
impatient demand, but also prevented her vanity from taking the form
of mere feminine coquetry and device, and gave it the poetry of

     The next two letters, dated from Griff--February 6th and
     March 5th, 1839--are addressed to Mrs. Samuel Evans, a
     Methodist preacher, the wife of a younger brother of Mr.
     Robert Evans. They are the more interesting from the fact,
     which will appear later, that an anecdote related by this
     aunt during her visit to Griff in 1839 was the germ of "Adam
     Bede." To what extent this Elizabeth Evans resembled the
     ideal character of Dinah Morris will also be seen in its
     place in the history of "Adam Bede."

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Samuel Evans, 6th Feb. 1839.]

I am so unwilling to believe that you can forget a promise, or to
entertain fears respecting your health, that I persuade myself I must
have mistaken the terms of the agreement between us, and that I ought
to have sent you a letter before I considered myself entitled to one
from Wirksworth. However this may be, I feel so anxious to hear of
your well-being in every way, that I can no longer rest satisfied
without using my only means of obtaining tidings of you. My dear
father is not at home to-night, or I should probably have a message of
remembrance to give you from him, in addition to the good news that he
is as well as he has been for the last two years, and even, I think,
better, except that he feels more fatigue after exertion of mind or
body than formerly. If you are able to fill a sheet, I am sure both
uncle and you would in doing so be complying with the precept, "Lift
up the hands that hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees." I need
not tell you that this is a dry and thirsty land, and I shall be as
grateful to you for a draught from your fresh spring as the traveller
in the Eastern desert is to the unknown hand that digs a well for him.
"Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel," seems to be my character,
instead of that regular progress from strength to strength that marks,
even in this world of mistakes, the people that shall, in the heavenly
Zion, stand before God. I shall not only suffer, but be delighted to
receive, the word of exhortation, and I beg you not to withhold it. If
I did not know how little you need human help, I should regret that my
ignorance and want of deep feeling in spiritual things prevent me from
suggesting profitable or refreshing thoughts; but I dare say I took
care to tell you that my desire for correspondence with you was quite
one of self-interest.

I am thankful to tell you that my dear friends here are all well. I
have a faint hope that the pleasure and profit I have felt in your
society may be repeated in the summer: there is no place I would
rather visit than Wirksworth, or the inhabitants of which have a
stronger hold on my affections.

     In the next letter the touch about Mrs. Fletcher's life is

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Samuel Evans, 5th Mch. 1839.]

My dear father is just now so plunged in business, and that of a
fatiguing kind, that I should put your confidence in my love and
gratitude to an unreasonably severe trial if I waited until he had
leisure to unite with me in filling a sheet. You were very kind to
remember my wish to see "Mrs. Fletcher's Life:" I only desire such a
spiritual digestion as has enabled _you_ to derive so much benefit
from its perusal. I am truly glad to hear that you are less
embarrassed with respect to your congregation, etc., than you were
when we saw you. I must protest against your making apologies for
speaking of yourself, for nothing that relates to you can be
uninteresting to me.

The unprofitableness you lament in yourself, during your visit to us,
had its true cause, not in your lukewarmness, but in the little
improvement I sought to derive from your society, and in my lack of
humility and Christian simplicity, that makes me willing to obtain
credit for greater knowledge and deeper feeling than I really possess.
Instead of putting my light under a bushel, I am in danger of
ostentatiously displaying a false one. You have much too high an
opinion, my dear aunt, of my spiritual condition, and of my personal
and circumstantial advantages. My soul seems for weeks together
completely benumbed, and when I am aroused from this torpid state, the
intervals of activity are comparatively short. I am ever finding
excuses for this in the deprivation of outward excitement and the
small scope I have for the application of my principles, instead of
feeling self-abasement under the consciousness that I abuse precious
hours of retirement, which would be eagerly employed in spiritual
exercises by many a devoted servant of God who is struggling with
worldly cares and occupations. I feel that my besetting sin is the one
of all others most destroying, as it is the fruitful parent of them
all--ambition, a desire insatiable for the esteem of my
fellow-creatures. This seems the centre whence all my actions proceed.
But you will perhaps remember, my dear aunt, that I do not attach
much value to a disclosure of religious feelings, owing probably to
the dominant corruption I have just been speaking of, which "turns the
milk of my good purpose all to curd."

     On 16th March, 1839, in a letter to Miss Lewis, there is a
     reference to good spirits, which is of the rarest occurrence
     all through the correspondence:

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, 16th Mch. 1839.]

I am this morning hardly myself, owing to the insuppressible rising of
my animal spirits on a deliverance from sick headache;

     and then the letter continues as to the expediency of reading
     works of fiction, in answer to a question Miss Lewis had

I put out of the question all persons of perceptions so quick, memories
so eclectic and retentive, and minds so comprehensive that nothing less
than omnivorous reading, as Southey calls it, can satisfy their
intellectual man; for (if I may parody the words of Scripture without
profaneness) they will gather to themselves all facts, and heap unto
themselves all ideas. For such persons we cannot legislate. Again, I
would put out of the question standard works, whose contents are matter
of constant reference, and the names of whose heroes and heroines
briefly, and therefore conveniently, describe characters and ideas--such
are "Don Quixote," Butler's "Hudibras," "Robinson Crusoe," "Gil Blas,"
Byron's Poetical Romances, Southey's ditto, etc. Such, too, are Walter
Scott's novels and poems. Such allusions as "He is a perfect Dominie
Sampson," "He is as industrious in finding out antiquities, and about as
successful, as Jonathan Oldbuck," are likely to become so common in
books and conversation that, _always providing_ our leisure is not
circumscribed by duty within narrow bounds, we should, I think, qualify
ourselves to understand them. Shakespeare has a higher claim than this
on our attention; but we have need of as nice a power of distillation as
the bee, to suck nothing but honey from his pages. However, as in life
we must be exposed to malign influences from intercourse with others, if
we would reap the advantages designed for us by making us social beings,
so in books. Having cleared our way of what would otherwise have
encumbered us, I would ask why is one engaged in the instruction of
youth to read, as a purely conscientious and self-denying performance of
duty, works whose value to others is allowed to be doubtful? I can only
imagine two shadows of reasons. Either that she may be able
experimentally to decide on their desirableness for her pupils, or else
that there is a certain power exerted by them on the mind that would
render her a more efficient "tutress" by their perusal. I would not
depreciate the disinterestedness of those who will make trial of the
effect on themselves of a cup suspected poisonous, that they may deter
another from risking life; but it appears to me a work of
supererogation, since there are enough witnesses to its baneful effect
on themselves already to put an end to all strife in the matter. The
Scriptural declaration, "As face answereth to face in a glass, so the
heart of man to man," will exonerate me from the charge of
uncharitableness, or too high an estimation of myself, if I venture to
believe that the same causes which exist in my own breast to render
novels and romances pernicious have their counterpart in that of every
fellow-creature. I am, I confess, not an impartial member of a jury in
this case; for I owe the culprits a grudge for injuries inflicted on
myself. When I was quite a little child I could not be satisfied with
the things around me; I was constantly living in a world of my own
creation, and was quite contented to have no companions, that I might be
left to my own musings, and imagine scenes in which I was chief actress.
Conceive what a character novels would give to these Utopias. I was
early supplied with them by those who kindly sought to gratify my
appetite for reading, and of course I made use of the materials they
supplied for building my castles in the air. But it may be said--"No one
ever dreamed of recommending children to read them: all this does not
apply to persons come to years of discretion, whose judgments are in
some degree matured." I answer that men and women are but children of a
larger growth: they are still imitative beings. We cannot (at least
those who ever read to any purpose at all)--we cannot, I say, help being
modified by the ideas that pass through our minds. We hardly wish to lay
claim to such elasticity as retains no impress. We are active beings
too. We are each one of the _dramatis personæ_ in some play on the stage
of life; hence our actions have their share in the effects of our
reading. As to the discipline our minds receive from the perusal of
fictions, I can conceive none that is beneficial but may be attained by
that of history. It is the merit of fictions to come within the orbit of
probability: if unnatural they would no longer please. If it be said the
mind must have relaxation, "Truth is strange--stranger than fiction."
When a person has exhausted the wonders of truth there is no other
resort than fiction: till then, I cannot imagine how the adventures of
some phantom conjured up by fancy can be more entertaining than the
transactions of real specimens of human nature, from which we may
safely draw inferences. I dare say Mr. James's "Huguenot" would be
recommended as giving an idea of the times of which he writes; but as
well may one be recommended to look at landscapes for an idea of English
scenery. The real secret of the relaxation talked of is one that would
not generally be avowed; but an appetite that wants seasoning of a
certain kind cannot be indicative of health. Religious novels are more
hateful to me than merely worldly ones: they are a sort of centaur or
mermaid, and, like other monsters that we do not know how to class,
should be destroyed for the public good as soon as born. The weapons of
the Christian warfare were never sharpened at the forge of romance.
Domestic fictions, as they come more within the range of imitation, seem
more dangerous. For my part, I am ready to sit down and weep at the
impossibility of my understanding or barely knowing a fraction of the
sum of objects that present themselves for our contemplation in books
and in life. Have I, then, any time to spend on things that never

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, 20th May, 1839.]

You allude to the religious, or rather irreligious, contentions that
form so prominent a feature in the aspect of public affairs--a
subject, you will perhaps be surprised to hear me say, full of
interest to me, and on which I am unable to shape an opinion for the
satisfaction of my mind. I think no one feels more difficulty in
coming to a decision on controverted matters than myself. I do not
mean that I have not preferences; but, however congruous a theory may
be with my notions, I cannot find that comfortable repose that others
appear to possess after having made their election of a class of
sentiments. The other day Montaigne's motto came to my mind (it is
mentioned by Pascal) as an appropriate one for me--"Que
sais-je?"--beneath a pair of balances, though, by-the-bye, it is an
ambiguous one, and may be taken in a sense that I desire to reprobate,
as well as in a Scriptural one, to which I do not refer. I use it in a
limited sense as a representation of my oscillating judgment. On no
subject do I veer to all points of the compass more frequently than on
the nature of the visible Church. I am powerfully attracted in a
certain direction, but, when I am about to settle there,
counter-assertions shake me from my position. I cannot enter into
details, but when we are together I will tell you all my
difficulties--that is, if you will be kind enough to listen. I have
been reading the new prize essay on "Schism," by Professor Hoppus, and
Milner's "Church History," since I last wrote to you: the former ably
expresses the tenets of those who deny that any form of Church
government is so clearly dictated in Scripture as to possess a divine
right, and, consequently, to be binding on Christians; the latter, you
know, exhibits the views of a moderate Evangelical Episcopalian on the
inferences to be drawn from ecclesiastical remains. He equally
repudiates the loud assertion of a _jus divinum_, to the exclusion of
all separatists from the visible Church, though he calmly maintains
the superiority of the evidence in favor of Episcopacy, of a moderate
kind both in power and extent of diocese, as well as the benefit of a
national establishment. I have been skimming the "Portrait of an
English Churchman," by the Rev. W. Gresley: this contains an outline
of the system of those who exclaim of the Anglican Church as the Jews
did of their sacred building (that they do it in as reprehensible a
spirit I will not be the judge), "the temple of the Lord, the temple
of the Lord, the temple of the Lord" is exclusively theirs; while the
authors of the Oxford Tracts go a step further, and evince by their
compliments to Rome, as a dear though erring sister, and their
attempts to give a Romish color to our ordinance, with a very confused
and unscriptural statement of the great doctrine of justification, a
disposition rather to fraternize with the members of a Church carrying
on her brow the prophetical epithets applied by St. John to the
scarlet beast, the mystery of iniquity, than with pious
Nonconformists. It is true they disclaim all this, and that their
opinions are seconded by the extensive learning, the laborious zeal,
and the deep devotion of those who propagate them; but a reference to
facts will convince us that such has generally been the character of
heretical teachers. Satan is too crafty to commit his cause into the
hands of those who have nothing to recommend them to approbation.
According to their dogmas, the Scotch Church and the foreign
Protestant Churches, as well as the non-Episcopalians of our own land,
are wanting in the essentials of existence as part of the Church.

     In the next letter there is the first allusion to authorship,
     but, from the wording of the sentence, the poem referred to
     has evidently not been a first attempt.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, 17th July, 1839.]

I send you some doggerel lines, the crude fruit of a lonely walk last
evening when the words of one of our martyrs occurred to me. You must
be acquainted with the idiosyncrasy of my authorship, which is, that
my effusions, once committed to paper, are like the laws of the Medes
and Persians, that alter not.

"_Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle._"

                                            --2 PETER i. 14.

     "As o'er the fields by evening's light I stray
     I hear a still, small whisper--Come away;
     Thou must to this bright, lovely world soon say

     "The mandate I'd obey, my lamp prepare,
     Gird up my garments, give my soul to pray'r,
     And say to earth, and all that breathe earth's air,

     "Thou sun, to whose parental beam I owe
     All that has gladden'd me while here below,
     Moon, stars, and covenant-confirming bow,

     "Ye verdant meads, fair blossoms, stately trees,
     Sweet song of birds and soothing hum of bees,
     Refreshing odors wafted on the breeze,

     "Ye patient servants of creation's Lord,
     Whose mighty strength is govern'd by his word,
     Who raiment, food, and help in toil afford,

     "Books that have been to me as chests of gold,
     Which, miserlike, I secretly have told,
     And for them love, health, friendship, peace have sold,

     "Blest volume! whose clear truth-writ page once known,
     Fades not before heaven's sunshine or hell's moan,
     To thee I say not, of earth's gifts alone,

     "There shall my new-born senses find new joy,
     New sounds, new sights, my eyes and ears employ,
     Nor fear that word that here brings sad alloy,

     I had a dim recollection that my wife had told me that this
     poem had been printed somewhere. After a long search I found
     it in the _Christian Observer_ for January, 1840. The version
     there published has the two following additional verses, and
     is signed M. A. E.:

          "Ye feebler, freer tribes that people air,
          Ye gaudy insects, making buds your lair,
          Ye that in water shine and frolic there,

          "Dear kindred, whom the Lord to me has given,
          Must the strong tie that binds us now be riven?
          No! say I--only till we meet in heaven,

     The editor of the _Christian Observer_ has added this note:
     "We do not often add a note to a poem: but if St. John found
     no temple in the New Jerusalem, neither will there be any
     need of a Bible; for we shall not then see through a glass
     darkly--through the veil of sacraments or the written
     Word--but face to face. The Bible is God's gift, but not for
     heaven's use. Still, on the very verge of heaven we may cling
     to it, after we have bid farewell to everything earthly: and
     this, perhaps, is what M. A. E. means."

     In the following letter we already see the tendency to draw
     illustrations from science:

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, 4th Sept. 1839.]

I have lately led so unsettled a life, and have been so desultory in
my employments, that my mind, never of the most highly organized
genus, is more than usually chaotic, or, rather, it is like a stratum
of conglomerated fragments, that shows here a jaw and rib of some
ponderous quadruped, there a delicate alto-relievo of some fern-like
plant, tiny shells and mysterious nondescripts incrusted and united
with some unvaried and uninteresting but useful stone. My mind
presents just such an assemblage of disjointed specimens of history,
ancient and modern; scraps of poetry picked up from Shakespeare,
Cowper, Wordsworth, and Milton; newspaper topics; morsels of Addison
and Bacon, Latin verbs, geometry, entomology, and chemistry; reviews
and metaphysics--all arrested and petrified and smothered by the
fast-thickening every-day accession of actual events, relative
anxieties, and household cares and vexations. How deplorably and
unaccountably evanescent are our frames of mind, as various as the
forms and hues of the summer clouds! A single word is sometimes enough
to give an entirely new mould to our thoughts--at least, I find myself
so constituted; and therefore to me it is pre-eminently important to
be anchored within the veil, so that outward things may be unable to
send me adrift. Write to me as soon as you can. Remember Michaelmas is
coming, and I shall be engaged in matters so nauseating to me that it
will be a charity to console me; to reprove and advise me no less.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, 22d Nov. 1839.]

I have emerged from the slough of domestic troubles, or, rather, to
speak quite clearly, "malheurs de cuisine," and am beginning to take a
deep breath in my own element, though with a mortifying consciousness
that my faculties have become superlatively obtuse during my
banishment from it. I have been so self-indulgent as to possess myself
of Wordsworth at full length, and I thoroughly like much of the
contents of the first three volumes, which I fancy are only the low
vestibule of the three remaining ones. I never before met with so many
of my own feelings expressed just as I could like them. The distress
of the lower classes in our neighborhood is daily increasing, from the
scarcity of employment for weavers, and I seem sadly to have
handcuffed myself by unnecessary expenditure. To-day is my 20th

     This allusion to Wordsworth is interesting, as it entirely
     expresses the feeling she had to him up to the day of her
     death. One of the very last books we read together at Cheyne
     Walk was Mr. Frederick Myers's "Wordsworth" in the "English
     Men of Letters," which she heartily enjoyed.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, 23d Mch. 1840.]

I have just received my second lesson in German.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, 2d May, 1840, Friday evening.]

I know you will be glad to think of me as thoroughly employed, as,
indeed, I am to an extent that makes me fear I shall not be able to
accomplish everything well. I have engaged, if possible, to complete
the chart,[11] the plan of which I sketched out last year, by November
next, and I am encouraged to believe that it will answer my purpose to
print it. The profits arising from its sale, if any, will go partly to
Attleboro Church, and partly to a favorite object of my own. Mrs.
Newdigate is very anxious that I should do this, and she permits me to
visit her library when I please, in search of any books that may
assist me. Will you ask Mr. Craig what he considers the best authority
for the date of the apostolical writings? I should like to carry the
chart down to the Reformation, if my time and resources will enable me
to do so. We are going to have a clothing-club, the arrangement and
starting of which are left to me. I am ashamed to run the risk of
troubling you, but I should be very grateful if you could send me an
abstract of the rules by which yours is regulated.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, 21st May, 1840.]

Our house is now, and will be for the next two months, miserably noisy
and disorderly with the musical operations of masons, carpenters, and
painters. You know how abhorrent all this is to my tastes and
feelings, taking all the spice out of my favorite little epithet,
"this working-day world:" I can no longer use it figuratively. How
impressive must the gradual rise of Solomon's Temple have been! each
prepared mass of virgin marble laid in reverential silence. I fancy
Heber has compared it to the growth of a palm. Your nice miniature
chart, which I shall carefully treasure up, has quite satisfied me
that Dr. Pearson, at least, has not realized my conceptions, though it
has left me still dubious as to my own power of doing so. I will just
(if you can bear to hear more of the matter) give you an idea of the
plan, which may have partly faded from your memory. The series of
perpendicular columns will successively contain the Roman emperors,
with their dates, the political and religious state of the Jews, the
bishops, remarkable men, and events in the several churches, a column
being devoted to each of the chief ones, the aspect of heathenism and
Judaism towards Christianity, the chronology of the apostolical and
patristical writings, schisms, and heresies, General Councils, eras of
corruption (under which head the remarks would be general), and I
thought possibly an application of the apocalyptic prophecies, which
would merely require a few figures and not take up room. I think there
must be a break in the chart after the establishment of Christianity
as the religion of the empire, and I have come to a determination not
to carry it beyond the first acknowledgment of the supremacy of the
Pope by Phocas, in 606, when Mohammedanism became a besom of
destruction in the hand of the Lord, and completely altered the aspect
of ecclesiastical history. So much for this, at present, airy
project, about which I hope never to tease you more. Mr. Harper[12]
lent me a little time ago a work by the Rev. W. Gresley, begging me to
read it, as he thought it was calculated to make me a proselyte to the
opinions it advocates. I had skimmed the book before ("Portrait of an
English Churchman"), but I read it attentively a second time, and was
pleased with the spirit of piety that breathes throughout. His last
work is one in a similar style ("The English Citizen"), which I have
cursorily read; and, as they are both likely to be seen by you, I want
to know your opinion of them. Mine is this: that they are sure to have
a powerful influence on the minds of small readers and shallow
thinkers, as, from the simplicity and clearness with which the author,
by his _beau-idéal_ characters, enunciates his sentiments, they
furnish a magazine of easily wielded weapons for _morning-calling_ and
_evening-party_ controversialists, as well as that really honest minds
will be inclined to think they have found a resting-place amid the
footballing of religious parties. But it appears to me that there is
unfairness in arbitrarily selecting a train of circumstances and a set
of characters as a development of a class of opinions. In this way we
might make atheism appear wonderfully calculated to promote social
happiness. I remember, as I dare say you do, a very amiable atheist
depicted by Bulwer in "Devereux;" and for some time after the perusal
of that book, which I read seven or eight years ago,[13] I was
considerably shaken by the impression that religion was not a
requisite to moral excellence.

Have you not alternating seasons of mental stagnation and activity?
just such as the political economists say there must be in a nation's
pecuniary condition--all one's precious specie, Time, going out to
procure a stock of commodities, while one's own manufactures are too
paltry to be worth vending. I am just in that condition--partly, I
think, owing to my not having met with any steel to sharpen my edge
against for the last three weeks. I am going to read a volume of the
Oxford Tracts and the "Lyra Apostolica;" the former I almost shrink
from the labor of conning, but the other I confess I am attracted
towards by some highly poetical extracts that I have picked up in
various quarters. I have just bought Mr. Keble's "Christian Year," a
volume of sweet poetry that perhaps you know. The fields of poesy look
more lovely than ever, now I have hedged myself in the geometrical
regions of fact, where I can do nothing but draw parallels and measure
differences in a double sense.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, 26th May, 1840.]

[14]I will only hint that there seems a probability of my being an
unoccupied damsel, of my being severed from all the ties that have
hitherto given my existence the semblance of a usefulness beyond that
of making up the requisite quantum of animal matter in the universe. A
second important intimation respecting my worthy self is one that, I
confess, I impart without one sigh, though perhaps you will think my
callousness discreditable. It is that Seeley & Burnside have just
published a Chart of Ecclesiastical History, doubtless giving to my
airy vision a local habitation and a name. I console all my little
regrets by thinking that what is thus evidenced to be a desideratum
has been executed much better than if left to my slow fingers and
slower head. I fear I am laboriously doing nothing, for I am beguiled
by the fascination that the study of languages has for my capricious
mind. I could e'en give myself up to making discoveries in the world
of words.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, in London, Whit-Wednesday, June,

May I trouble you to procure for me an Italian book recommended by Mr.
Brezzi--Silvio Pellico's "Le mie Prigioni;" if not, "Storia d'Italia"?
If they are cheap, I should like both.

I shall have, I hope, a little trip with my father next week into
Derbyshire, and this "lark" will probably be beneficial to me; so do
not imagine I am inviting you to come and hear moaning, when you need
all attainable relaxation.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, 23d June, 1840.]

Your letter greeted me last night on my arrival from Staffordshire.
The prospectus of Mr. Henslow's work is as marvellous to my ignorant
conceptions as the prophecies of the wonders of the steam-engine would
have been to some British worthy in the days of Caractacus. I can only
gape as he would probably have done. I hope Mr. H. has not imitated
certain show-keepers, who give so exaggerated a representation of
their giantess, on the outside, that the spectators have
disappointment for their cash within.

If I do not see you, how shall I send your "Don Quixote," which I hope
soon to finish? I have been sadly interrupted by other books that have
taken its scanty allowance of time, or I should have made better haste
with it. Will you try to get me Spenser's "Faery Queen"? the cheapest
edition, with a glossary, which is quite indispensable, together with
a clear and correct type. I have had some treats on my little
excursion, not the least of which was the gazing on some--albeit the
smallest--of the "everlasting hills," and on those noblest children
of the earth, fine, healthy trees, as independent in their beauty as
virtue; set them where you will, they adorn, and need not adornment.
Father indulged me with a sight of Ashborne Church, the finest mere
parish church in the kingdom--in the _interior_; of Alton Gardens,
where I saw actually what I have often seen mentally--the bread-fruit
tree, the fan-palm, and the papyrus; and last, of Lichfield Cathedral,
where, besides the exquisite architectural beauties, both external and
internal, I saw Chantrey's famous monument of the Sleeping Children.
There is a tasteless monument to the learned and brilliant female
pedant of Lichfield, Miss Seward, with a poor epitaph by Sir Walter
Scott. In the town we saw a large monument erected to Johnson's
memory, showing his Titanic body, in a sitting posture, on the summit
of a pedestal which is ornamented with bas-reliefs of three passages
in his life: his penance in Uttoxeter Market, his chairing on the
shoulders of his schoolmates, and his listening to the preaching of
Sacheverel. The statue is opposite to the house in which Johnson was
born--altogether inferior to that in St. Paul's, which shook me almost
as much as a real glance from the literary monarch. I am ashamed to
send you so many ill-clothed nothings. My excuse shall be a state of
head that calls for four leeches before I can attack Mrs. Somerville's
"Connection of the Physical Sciences."

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, July, Monday morning, 1840.]

I write with a very tremulous hand, as you will perceive; both this,
and many other defects in my letter, are attributable to a very mighty
cause--no other than the boiling of currant jelly! I have had much of
this kind of occupation lately, and I grieve to say I have not gone
through it so cheerfully as the character of a Christian who
professes to do _all_, even the most trifling, duty, as the Lord
demands. My mind is consequently run all wild, and bears nothing but
_dog-roses_. I am truly obliged to you for getting me Spenser. How
shall I send to you "Don Quixote," which I have quite finished?

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, 8th July, 1840.]

I believe it is decided that father and I should leave Griff and take
up our residence somewhere in the neighborhood of Coventry, if we can
obtain a suitable house, and this is at present a matter of anxiety.
So you see I am likely still to have a home where I can independently
welcome you. I am really so plunged in an abyss of books, preserves,
and sundry _important trivialities_, that I must send you this bare
proof that I have not cast the remembrance of you to a dusty corner of
my heart. Ever believe that "my heart is as thy heart," that you may
rely on me as a second self, and that I shall, with my usual
selfishness, lose no opportunity of gratifying my duplicate.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, 12th Aug. 1840.]

The Epistle to the Colossians is pre-eminently rich in the coloring
with which it portrays the divine fulness contained in the Saviour,
contrasted with the beggarly elements that a spirit of self-righteousness
would, in some way, mingle with the light of life, the filthy rags it
would tack round the "fine raiment" of his righteousness. I have been
reading it in connection with a train of thought suggested by the reading
of "Ancient Christianity and the Oxford Tracts," by Isaac Taylor, one
of the most eloquent, acute, and pious of writers. Five numbers only
have yet appeared. Have you seen them? If not, I should like to send you
an abstract of his argument. I have gulped it (pardon my coarseness) in a
most reptile-like fashion. I must _chew_ it thoroughly to facilitate its
assimilation with my mental frame. When your pupils can relish Church
history, I venture to recommend the chart lately published by Seeley &
Burnside--far superior in conception to mine--as being more compendious,
yet answering the purpose of presenting epochs as nuclei round which less
important events instinctively cluster.

     Mrs. John Cash of Coventry, who was then Miss Mary Sibree,
     daughter of a Nonconformist minister there, and whose
     acquaintance Miss Evans made a year or two later in Coventry,
     writes in regard to this book of Isaac Taylor's: "In her
     first conversations with my father and mother, they were much
     interested in learning in what high estimation she held the
     writings of Isaac Taylor. My father _thought_ she was a
     little disappointed on hearing that he was a Dissenter. She
     particularly enjoyed his 'Saturday Evening,' and spoke in
     years after to me of his 'Physical Theory of Another Life,'
     as exciting thought and leading speculation further than he
     would have desired. When his 'Ancient Christianity' was
     published in numbers, Miss Evans took it in, and kindly
     forwarded the numbers to us. From the impression made on my
     own mind by unfavorable facts about 'The Fathers,' and from
     her own subsequent references to this work, I am inclined to
     think it had its influence in unsettling her views of

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, 17th Sept. 1840.]

I have thought of you as _the_ one who has ever shown herself so
capable of consideration for my weakness and sympathy in my warm and
easily fastened affections. My imagination is an enemy that must be
cast down ere I can enjoy peace or exhibit uniformity of character.
I know not which of its caprices I have most to dread--that which
incites it to spread sackcloth "above, below, around," or that
which makes it "cheat my eye with blear illusion, and beget strange
dreams" of excellence and beauty in beings and things of only
working-day price. The beautiful heavens that we have lately enjoyed
awaken in me an indescribable sensation of exultation in existence,
and aspiration after all that is suited to engage an immaterial
nature. I have not read very many of Mr. B.'s poems, nor any with much
attention. I simply declare my determination not to feed on the broth
of literature when I can get strong soup--such, for instance, as
Shelley's "Cloud," the five or six stanzas of which contain more
poetic metal than is beat out in all Mr. B.'s pages. You must know I
have had bestowed on me the very pretty cognomen of Clematis, which,
in the floral language, means "mental beauty." I cannot find in my
heart to refuse it, though, like many other appellations, it has
rather the appearance of a satire than a compliment. _Addio!_ I will
send your floral name in my next, when I have received my dictionary.
My hand and mind are wearied with writing four pages of German and a
letter of business.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, 1st Oct. 1840.]

My dear Veronica--which, being interpreted, is "fidelity in
friendship"--Last week I was absent from home from Wednesday to
Saturday, in quest of the "coy maiden," Pleasure--at least, nominally
so, the real motive being rather to gratify another's feeling.[15] I
heard the "Messiah" on Thursday morning at Birmingham, and some
beautiful selections from other oratories of Handel and Haydn on
Friday. With a stupid, drowsy sensation, produced by standing sentinel
over damson cheese and a warm stove, I cannot do better than ask you
to read, if accessible, Wordsworth's short poem on the "Power of
Sound," with which I have just been delighted. I have made an
alteration in my plans with Mr. Brezzi, and shall henceforward take
Italian and German alternately, so that I shall not be liable to the
consciousness of having imperative employment for every interstice of
time. There seems a greater affinity between German and my mind than
Italian, though less new to me, possesses.

I am reading Schiller's "Maria Stuart," and Tasso.

I was pleased with a little poem I learned a week or two ago in
German; and, as I want you to like it, I have just put the idea it
contains into English doggerel, which quite fails to represent the
beautiful simplicity and nature of the original, but yet, I hope, will
give you sufficiently its sense to screen the odiousness of the
translation. _Eccola_:


     "'Where blooms, O my father, a thornless rose?'
       'That can I not tell thee, my child;
     Not one on the bosom of earth e'er grows
       But wounds whom its charms have beguiled.'

     "'Would I'd a rose on my bosom to lie,
       But I shrink from the piercing thorn:
     I long, but I dare not its point defy;
       I long, and I gaze forlorn.'

     "'Not so, O my child--round the stem again
       Thy resolute fingers entwine;
     Forego not the joy for its sister, pain--
       Let the rose, the sweet rose, be thine.'"

Would not a parcel reach you by railway?

     This is the first allusion to the new means of locomotion,
     which would, no doubt, be attracting much interest in the
     Griff household, as valuation was a large part of Mr. Evans's
     business. Long years after, George Eliot wrote:

"Our midland plains have never lost their familiar expression and
conservative spirit for me; yet at every other mile, since I first
looked on them, some sign of world-wide change, some new direction of
human labor, has wrought itself into what one may call the speech of
the landscape.... There comes a crowd of burly navvies with pickaxes
and barrows, and while hardly a wrinkle is made in the fading mother's
face, or a new curve of health in the blooming girl's, the hills are
cut through, or the breaches between them spanned, we choose our
level, and the white steam-pennon flies along it."

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, 27th Oct. 1840.]

My only reason for writing is to obtain a timely promise that you will
spend your holidays chiefly with me, that we may once more meet among
scenes which, now I am called on to leave them, I find to have _grown
in_ to my affections. Carlyle says that to the artisans of Glasgow the
world is not one of blue skies and a green carpet, but a world of
copperas-fumes, low cellars, hard wages, "striking," and whiskey; and
if the recollection of this picture did not remind me that gratitude
should be my reservoir of feeling, that into which all that comes from
above or around should be received as a source of fertilization for my
soul, I should give a lachrymose parody of the said description, and
tell you all-seriously what I now tell you playfully, that mine is too
often a world such as Wilkie can so well paint, a walled-in world
furnished with all the details which he remembers so accurately, and
the least interesting part whereof is often what I suppose must be
designated the intelligent; but I deny that it has even a comparative
claim to the appellation, for give me a three-legged stool, and it
will call up associations--moral, poetical, mathematical--if I do but
ask it, while some human beings have the odious power of contaminating
the very images that are enshrined as our soul's arcana. Their baleful
touch has the same effect as would a uniformity in the rays of
light--it turns all objects to pale lead-color. O how luxuriously
joyous to have the wind of heaven blow on one after being _stived_ in
a human atmosphere--to feel one's heart leap up after the pressure
that Shakespeare so admirably describes: "When a man's wit is not
seconded by the forward chick understanding, it strikes a man as dead
as a large reckoning in a small room." But it is time I check this
Byronic invective, and, in doing so, I am reminded of Corinne's, or
rather Oswald's, reproof--"La vie est un _combat_ pas un _hymne_." We
should aim to be like a plant in the chamber of sickness--dispensing
purifying air even in a region that turns all pale its verdure, and
cramps its instinctive propensity to expand. Society is a wide nursery
of plants, where the hundreds decompose to nourish the future ten,
after giving collateral benefits to their contemporaries destined for
a fairer garden. An awful thought! one so heavy that if our souls
could once sustain its whole weight, or, rather, if its whole weight
were once to drop on them, they would break and burst their tenements.
How long will this continue? The cry of the martyrs heard by St. John
finds an echo in every heart that, like Solomon's, groans under "the
outrage and oppression with which earth is filled." Events are now so
momentous, and the elements of society in so chemically critical a
state, that a drop seems enough to change its whole form.

I am reading Harris's "Great Teacher," and am _innig bewegt_, as a
German would say, by its stirring eloquence, which leaves you no time
or strength for a cold estimate of the writer's strict merits. I wish
I could read some extracts to you. Isaac Taylor's work is not yet
complete. When it is so, I hope to reperuse it. Since I wrote to you I
have had Aimé Martin's work, "L'Education des Mères," lent to me, and
I have found it to be the real Greece whence "Woman's Mission" has
only imported to us a few marbles--but! Martin is a _soi-disant_
rational Christian, if I mistake him not. I send you an epitaph which
he mentions on a tomb in Paris--that of a mother: "Dors en paix, O ma
mère, ton fils t'obeira toujours." I am reading eclectically Mrs.
Hemans's poems, and venture to recommend to your perusal, if unknown
to you, one of the longest ones--"The Forest Sanctuary." I can give it
my pet adjective--exquisite.

I have adopted as my motto, "_Certum pete finem_"--seek a sure

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, 5th Dec. 1840.]

Come when you would best like to do so: if my heart beat at all at the
time, it will be with a more rapid motion than the general, from the
joy of seeing you. I cannot promise you more than calmness when that
flush is past, for I am aweary, aweary--longing for rest, which seems
to fly from my very anticipations. But this wrought-up sensitiveness
which makes me shrink from all contact is, I know, not for
communication or sympathy, and is, from that very character, a kind of
trial best suited for me. Whatever tends to render us ill-contented
with ourselves, and more earnest aspirants after perfect truth and
goodness, is gold, though it come to us all molten and burning, and we
know not our treasure until we have had long smarting.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, 21st Dec. 1840.]

It is impossible, to me at least, to be poetical in cold weather. I
understand the Icelanders have much national poetry, but I guess it
was written in the neighborhood of the boiling springs. I will promise
to be as cheerful and as Christmas-like as my rickety body and
chameleon-like spirits will allow. I am about to commence the making
of mince-pies, with all the interesting sensations characterizing
young enterprise or effort.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, 27th Jan. 1841.]

Happily, the moody, melancholy temperament has some counterbalancing
advantages to those of the sanguine: it _does_ sometimes meet with
results more favorable than it expected, and by its knack of imagining
the pessimus, cheats the world of its power to disappoint. The very
worm-like originator of this coil of sentiment is the fact that you
write more cheerfully of yourself than I had been thinking of you, and
that, _ergo_, I am pleased.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, 11th Feb. 1841.]

On Monday and Tuesday my father and I were occupied with the sale of
furniture at our new house: it is probable that we shall migrate
thither in a month. I shall be incessantly hurried until after our
departure, but at present I have to be grateful for a smooth passage
through contemplated difficulties. Sewing is my staple article of
commerce with the hard trader, Time. Now the wind has veered to the
south I hope to do much more, and that with greater zest than I have
done for many months--I mean, of all kinds.

I have been reading the three volumes of the "Life and Times of Louis
the Fourteenth," and am as eagerly waiting for the fourth and last as
any voracious novel-reader for Bulwer's last. I am afraid I am
getting quite martial in my spirit, and, in the warmth of my sympathy
for Turenne and Condé, losing my hatred of war. Such a conflict
between _individual_ and _moral_ influence is no novelty. But
certainly war, though the heaviest scourge with which the divine wrath
against sin is manifested in Time, has been a necessary vent for
impurities and a channel for tempestuous passions that must have
otherwise made the whole earth, like the land of the devoted
Canaanites, to vomit forth the inhabitants thereof. Awful as such a
sentiment appears, it seems to me that in the present condition of man
(and I do not mean this in the sense that Cowper does), such a
purgation of the body politic is probably essential to its health. A
foreign war would soon put an end to our national humors, that are
growing to so alarming a head.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, 8th Mch. 1841.]

What do you think of the progress of architecture as a subject for

I am just about to set out on a purchasing expedition to Coventry: you
may therefore conceive that I am full of little plans and anxieties,
and will understand why I should be brief. I hope by the close of next
week that we and our effects shall be deposited at Foleshill, and
until then and afterwards I shall be fully occupied, so that I am sure
you will not expect to hear from me for the next six weeks. One little
bit of unreasonableness you must grant me--the request for a letter
from yourself within that time.


AUGUST 18, 1838, TO MARCH 8, 1841.

     Letters to Miss Lewis--First visit to London--Religious
     asceticism--Pascal--Hannah More's letters--Young's "Infidel
     Reclaimed"--Michaelmas visitors--"Life of
     Wilberforce"--Nineteenth birthday--Oratorio at
     Coventry--Religious objections to music--Letters to Mrs.
     Samuel Evans--Religious reflections--Besetting sin
     ambition--Letters to Miss Lewis--Objections to
     fiction-reading--Religious contentions on the nature of the
     visible Church--First poem--Account of books read and studies
     pursued--Wordsworth--Twentieth birthday--German begun--Plan
     of Chart of Ecclesiastical History--Religious
     controversies--Oxford Tracts--"Lyra Apostolica"--"Christian
     Year"--Chart of Ecclesiastical History forestalled--Italian
     begun--Trip to Derbyshire and Staffordshire--"Don
     Quixote"--Spenser's "Faery Queen"--Mrs. Somerville's
     "Connection of the Physical Sciences"--Dislike of
     housekeeping work--Removal to Coventry decided--"Ancient
     Christianity and the Oxford Tracts," by Isaac Taylor, and
     Mrs. John Cash's impression of its effect--Determination not
     to feed on the broth of literature--Visit to Birmingham to
     hear the "Messiah"--Reading Schiller's "Maria Stuart," and
     Tasso--Translation of German poem--Depression of surroundings
     at Griff--Reading Harris's "Great Teacher," Aimé Martin's
     "L'Education des Mères," and Mrs. Hemans's Poems--Selling
     furniture at new house--Sewing--Reading "Life and Times of
     Louis XIV."--Removal to Foleshill road, Coventry.


[9] Given to her as a school prize when she was fourteen.

[10] "Mill on the Floss," chap. v. book vi.

[11] Of ecclesiastical history.

[12] The Squire of Coton.

[13] When she would be thirteen years old.

[14] Written probably in view of her brother's marriage.

[15] Visit to Miss Rawlins, her brother's _fiancée_.

[16] By a curious coincidence, when she became Mrs. Cross, this
actually was her motto.


     New circumstances now created a change almost amounting to a
     revolution in Miss Evans's life. Mr. Isaac Evans, who had
     been associated for some time with his father in the
     land-agency business, married, and it was arranged that he
     should take over the establishment at Griff. This led to the
     removal in March, 1841, of Mr. Robert Evans and his daughter
     to a house on the Foleshill road, in the immediate
     neighborhood of Coventry. The house is still standing,
     although considerably altered--a semi-detached house with a
     good bit of garden round it, and from its upper windows a
     wide view over the surrounding country, the immediate
     foreground being unfortunately, however, disfigured by the
     presence of mills and chimneys. It is town life now instead
     of country life, and we feel the effects at once in the tone
     of the subsequent letters. The friendships now formed with
     Mr. and Mrs. Bray and Miss Sara Hennell particularly, and the
     being brought within reach of a small circle of cultivated
     people generally, render this change of residence an
     exceedingly important factor in George Eliot's development.
     It chanced that the new house was next door to Mrs. Pears', a
     sister of Mr. Bray, and as there had been some acquaintance
     in days gone by between him and the family at Griff, this
     close neighborhood led to an exchange of visits. The
     following extracts from letters to Miss Lewis show how the
     acquaintance ripened, and will give some indications of the
     first impressions of Coventry life:

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, Saturday evening, April, 1841.]

Last evening I mentioned you to my neighbor (Mrs. Pears), who is
growing into the more precious character of a friend. I have seriously
to be thankful for far better health than I have possessed, I think,
for years, and I am imperatively called on to trade diligently with
this same talent. I am likely to be more and more busy, if I succeed
in a project that is just now occupying my thoughts and feelings. I
seem to be tried in a contrary mode to that in which most of my
dearest friends are being tutored--tried in the most dangerous way--by
prosperity. Solomon says, "In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in
the day of adversity consider." It seems to me that a transposition,
_vice versâ_, of the admonitions would be equally salutary and just.
Truly, as the prophet of Selwyn has told us, "Heaven is formidable in
its favors." Not that a wise and grateful reception of blessings
obliges us to stretch our faces to the length of one of Cromwell's
Barebones; nor to shun that joyous, bird-like enjoyment of things
(which, though perishable as to their actual existence, will be
embalmed to eternity in the precious spices of gratitude) that is
distinct from levity and voluptuousness. I am really crowded with
engagements just now, and I have added one to the number of my

[Illustration: House in Foleshill Road, Coventry.]

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, April, 1841]

The whole of last week was devoted to a bride's-maid's[17] duties, and
each day of this has been partially occupied in paying or receiving
visits. I have a calm in sea and sky that I doubt not will ere long be
interrupted. This is not our rest, if we are among those for whom
there remaineth one, and to pass through life without tribulation (or,
as Jeremy Taylor beautifully says, with only such a measure of it as
may be compared to an artificial discord in music, which nurses the
ear for the returning harmony) would leave us destitute of one of the
marks that invariably accompany salvation, and of that fellowship in
the sufferings of the Redeemer which can alone work in us a
resemblance to one of the most prominent parts of his divinely perfect
character, and enable us to obey the injunction, "In patience possess
your souls." I have often observed how, in secular things, active
occupation in procuring the necessaries of life renders the character
indifferent to trials not affecting that one object. There is an
analogous influence produced in the Christian by a vigorous pursuit of
duty, a determination to work while it is day.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, 28th April, 1841.]

One of the penalties women must pay for modern deference to their
intellect is, I suppose, that they must give reasons for their
conduct, after the fashion of men. The days are past for pleading a
woman's reason. The truth is, that the hinderances to my writing have
been like the little waves of the brooks that look so lovely just
now--they have arisen one after another close to my side, but when I
have looked back I have found the ripples too insignificant to be
marked in the distance. My father's longer _séjours_ at home than
formerly, and multiplied acquaintances and engagements, are really
valid excuses for me hitherto, but I do not intend to need them in
future; I hope to be a "snapper-up of unconsidered" moments. I have
just been interrupted by a visit from a lass of fourteen, who has
despoiled me of half an hour, and I am going out to dinner, so that I
cannot follow the famous advice, "Hasten slowly." I suppose that you
framed your note on the principle that a sharp and sudden sound is the
most rousing, but there are _addenda_ about yourself that I want to
know, though I dare not ask for them. I do not feel settled enough to
write more at present. How is it that Erasmus could write volumes on
volumes and multifarious letters besides, while I, whose labors hold
about the same relation to his as an ant-hill to a pyramid or a drop
of dew to the ocean, seem too busy to write a few? A most posing

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, Thursday morning, June, 1841.]

I have of late felt a depression that has disordered the vision of my
mind's eye and made me _alive_ to what is certainly a fact (though my
imagination when I am in health is an adept at concealing it), that I
am _alone_ in the world. I do not mean to be so sinful as to say that
I have not friends _most_ undeservedly kind and tender, and disposed
to form a far too favorable estimate of me, but I mean that I have no
one who enters into my pleasures or my griefs, no one with whom I can
pour out my soul, no one with the same yearnings, the same
temptations, the same delights as myself. I merely mention this as the
impression that obtrudes itself when my body tramples on its
keeper--(a metaphor borrowed from a menagerie of wild beasts, if it
should happen to puzzle you!)--mysterious "connection exquisite of
distant worlds" that we present! A few drops of steel will perhaps
make me laugh at the simple objects that, in gloom and mist, I conjure
into stalking apparitions.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, at Margate, 31st July, 1841.]

I am beginning to be interlaced with multiplying ties of duty and
affection, that, while they render my new home happier, forbid me to
leave it on a pleasure-seeking expedition. I think, indeed, that both
my heart and limbs would leap to behold the great and wide sea--that
old ocean on which man can leave no trace.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, 3d Sept. 1841.]

I have been revelling in Nichol's "Architecture of the Heavens and
Phenomena of the Solar System," and have been in imagination winging
my flight from system to system, from universe to universe, trying to
conceive myself in such a position and with such a visual faculty as
would enable me to enjoy what Young enumerates among the novelties of
the "Stranger" man when he bursts the shell to

     "Behold an infinite of floating worlds
     Divide the crystal waves of ether pure
     In endless voyage without port."

"Hospitable infinity!" Nichol beautifully says. How should I love to
have a thorough-going student with me, that we might read together! We
might each alternately employ the voice and the fingers, and thus
achieve just twice as much as a poor solitary. I am more impressed
than ever with a truth beautifully expressed in "Woman's
Mission"--"Learning is only so far valuable as it serves to enlarge
and enlighten the bounds of conscience." This I believe it eminently
does when pursued humbly and piously, and from a belief that it is a
solemn duty to cultivate every faculty of our nature so far as primary
obligations allow. There is an exhortation of St. Paul's that I should
love to take as my motto: "Finally, my brethren, whatsoever things are
honest" (you know the continuation)--"if there be _any_ virtue, and if
there be any praise, think on these things." I have had to lament
lately that mine is not a _hard-working_ mind--it requires frequent
rest. I am violently in love with the Italian fashion of repeating an
adjective or adverb, and even noun, to give force to expression:
there is so much more fire in it than in our circumlocutory phrases,
our dull "verys" and "exceedinglys" and "extremelys." I strongly
recommend Hallam to you. I shall read it again if I live. When a sort
of haziness comes over the mind, making one feel weary of articulated
or written signs of ideas, does not the notion of a less laborious
mode of communication, of a perception approaching more nearly to
intuition, seem attractive? Nathless, I love words: they are the
quoits, the bows, the staves that furnish the gymnasium of the mind.
Without them, in our present condition, our intellectual strength
would have no implements. I have been rather humbled in thinking that
if I were thrown on an uncivilized island, and had to form a
literature for its inhabitants from my own mental stock, how very
fragmentary would be the information with which I could furnish them!
It would be a good mode of testing one's knowledge to set one's self
the task of writing sketches of all subjects that have entered into
one's studies entirely from the chronicles of memory. The prevalence
of misery and want in this boasted nation of prosperity and glory is
appalling, and really seems to call us away from mental luxury. O to
be doing some little towards the regeneration of this groaning,
travailing creation! I am supine and stupid--overfed with
favors--while the haggard looks and piercing glance of want and
conscious hopelessness are to be seen in the streets.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, 1st Oct. 1841.]

Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I
love--that makes life and nature harmonize. The birds are consulting
about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the
pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one's very
footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give
us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious
autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly
about the earth seeking the successive autumns.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, 2d Nov. 1841.]

I am going, I hope, to-day to effect a breach in the thick wall of
indifference behind which the denizens of Coventry seem inclined to
intrench themselves; but I fear I shall fail.

     This probably refers to the first visit paid by Miss Evans to
     Mr. and Mrs. Bray at their house. They had met in the
     previous May at Mrs. Pears'; but although they were at once
     mutually attracted, the acquaintance does not seem to have
     been immediately prosecuted further. Now, however, any time
     lost in the beginning was quickly made up, and it is
     astonishing how rapidly the most intimate relations were
     formed. Mr. Bray was a ribbon-manufacturer, well-to-do at
     that time, and had a charming house, Rosehill, with a
     beautiful lawn and garden, in the outskirts of Coventry. Only
     a part of his time was occupied with his business, and he had
     much leisure and opportunity, of which he availed himself,
     for liberal self-education and culture. His was a robust,
     self-reliant mind. Already, in 1839, he had published a work
     on the "Education of the Feelings," viewed from the
     phrenological standpoint; and in this year, 1841, appeared
     his most important book, "The Philosophy of Necessity." He
     always remained a sincere and complete believer in the
     science of phrenology. He had married Miss Caroline Hennell,
     sister of the Mr. Charles Hennell who published, in 1838, "An
     Inquiry Concerning the Origin of Christianity"--a remarkable
     book, which was translated into German, Strauss contributing
     a preface to the translation. It will be seen from subsequent
     letters how greatly Miss Evans was interested in this
     book--how much she admired it; and the reading of it,
     combined with the association with her new friends--with the
     philosophical speculations of Mr. Bray, and with Mrs. Bray's
     sympathy in her brother's critical and sceptical
     standpoint--no doubt hastened the change in her attitude
     towards the dogmas of the old religion. In the Analytical
     Catalogue of Mr. Chapman's publications, issued in 1852,
     there is an analysis of Hennell's "Inquiry," done by Miss
     Evans, which may be inserted here, as giving her idea of the
     book eleven years later.

"The first edition of this work appeared in 1838, when the present
strong current of public opinion in favor of free religious discussion
had not yet set in; and it probably helped to generate the tone of
thought exhibited in more recent works of the same class, to which
circumstances have given a wider fame--works which, like the above, in
considering questions of Biblical criticism and the philosophy of
Christianity, combine high refinement, purity of aim, and candor, with
the utmost freedom of investigation, and with a popularity of style
which wins them the attention not only of the learned but of the

"The author opens his inquiry with an historical sketch, extending
from the Babylonish Captivity to the end of the first century, the
design of which is to show how, abstracting the idea of the
miraculous, or any speciality of divine influence, the gradual
development of certain elements in Jewish character, and the train of
events in Jewish history, contributed to form a suitable _nidus_ for
the production of a character and career like that of Jesus, and how
the devoted enthusiasm generated by such a career in his immediate
disciples, rendering it easier for them to modify their ideas of the
Messiah than to renounce their belief in their Master's
Messiahship--the accession of Gentile converts and the destruction of
the last remnant of theocracy, necessitating a wider interpretation of
Messianic hopes--the junction of Christian ideas with Alexandrian
Platonism, and the decrepitude of polytheism, combined to associate
the name of Jesus, his Messiahship, his death and his resurrection,
with a great moral and religious revolution. This historical sketch,
which is under the disadvantage of presenting, synthetically, ideas
based on a subsequent analysis, is intended to meet the difficulty so
often urged, and which might be held to nullify the value of a
critical investigation, that Christianity is a fact for which, if the
supposition of a miraculous origin be rejected, no adequate and
probable causes can be assigned, and that thus, however defective may
be the evidence of the New-Testament history, its acceptance is the
least difficult alternative.

"In the writer's view, the characteristics of the Essene sect, as
traced by Josephus and Philo, justify the supposition that Jesus was
educated in their school of philosophy; but with the elevated belief
and purity of life which belonged to this sect he united the ardent
patriotic ideas which had previously animated Judas of Galilee, who
resisted the Roman authority on the ground that God was the only ruler
and lord of the Jews. The profound consciousness of genius, a
religious fervor which made the idea of the divine ever present to
him, patriotic zeal, and a spirit of moral reform, together with a
participation in the enthusiastic belief of his countrymen that the
long-predicted exaltation of Israel was at hand, combined to produce
in the mind of Jesus the gradual conviction that he was himself the
Messiah, with whose reign that exaltation would commence. He began, as
John the Baptist had already done, to announce 'the kingdom of
heaven,' a phrase which, to the Jewish mind, represented the national
glorification of Israel; and by his preaching, and the influence of
his powerful personality, he won multitudes in Galilee to a
participation in his belief that he was the expected Son of David. His
public entrance into Jerusalem in the guise which tradition associated
with the Messiah, when he sanctioned the homage of the multitude, was
probably the climax of his confidence that a great demonstration of
divine power, in concurrence with popular enthusiasm, would seat him
triumphantly on the throne of David. No such result appearing, his
views of the divine dispensation with respect to himself began to
change, and he felt the presentiment that he must enter on his
Messianic reign through the gates of suffering and death. Viewing
Jesus as a pretender not only to spiritual but to political power, as
one who really expected the subversion of the existing government to
make way for his own kingship (though he probably relied on divine
rather than on human means), he must necessarily have appeared in a
dangerous light to those of his countrymen who were in authority, and
who were anxious at any price to preserve public tranquillity in the
presence of the Roman power, ready to visit with heavy vengeance any
breach of order, and to deprive them of the last remnants of their
independence; and hence the motives for his arrest and execution. To
account for the belief of the disciples in the resurrection of their
Master--a belief which appears to have been sincere--the author thinks
it necessary to suppose a certain nucleus of fact, and this he finds
in the disappearance of the body of Jesus, a point attested by all the
four evangelists. The secret of this disappearance probably lay with
Joseph of Arimathæa and Nicodemus, who were anxious to avoid
implicating themselves with that fermentation of regretful enthusiasm
to which a resort of the disciples to the grave might give rise.
Animated by a belief in the resurrection, which, being more harmless
in the eyes of the authorities than that in a living Messiah, they
were permitted to preach with little molestation; the zeal of the
disciples won many converts; a new impulse was given to their cause by
the accession of Paul, who became the chief missionary of the new
faith, as construed by himself, to the Gentiles; and the concurrence
of the causes indicated above, modifying the early creed of the
apostles, and blending it with trains of thought already prevalent,
bore along Christianity in its conquest over the minds of men until it
became the dominant religion of the Roman world.

"Having sought to show, in this preliminary sketch, that a belief in
miracles is not entailed on us by the fact of the early growth of
Christianity, the author enters on the inquiry whether the claims of
the evangelical writers on our credence are such as to sustain the
miraculous part of their narratives. The answer is in the negative. He
discusses, first, the date and credibility of each Gospel, and
concludes that while Matthew has many marvellous stories, incongruous
in themselves, and not only unsupported but contradicted by the other
evangelists, he nevertheless presents the most comprehensible account
of the career of Jesus; that in Mark, evidently more remote in time
and circumstances, both from his events and from Jewish modes of
thought, the idea conveyed of Jesus is much vaguer and less
explicable; that in Luke there is a still further modification of his
character, which has acquired a tinge of asceticism; while in John the
style of his teaching is wholly changed, and instead of the graphic
parable and the pithy apothegm, he utters long, mystical discourses in
the style of the first epistle bearing the name of the same
evangelist. Mr. Hennell, however, adheres to the conclusion that the
substance of this Gospel came from the apostle John at an advanced
age, when both the events of his early manhood and the scenes of his
native land lay in the far distance. The writer then enters on a
special examination of the Resurrection and Ascension, and the other
miracles in the Gospels and the Acts, and inquires how far they are
sustained by the apostolic Epistles. He examines the prophecies of the
Old Testament supposed to have been fulfilled in Jesus, and also the
predictions of Jesus himself concerning his death and resurrection;
and, finally, he considers the character, views, and doctrine of
Christ. According to him, an impartial study of the conduct and
sayings of Jesus, as exhibited in the Gospels, produces the conviction
that he was an enthusiast and a revolutionist, no less than a reformer
and a moral and religious teacher. Passages are adduced from the Old
Testament, and from the apocryphal and rabbinical writings, to show
that there is scarcely anything absolutely original in the teaching of
Jesus; but, in the opinion of the author, he manifests a freedom and
individuality in the use of his materials, and a general superiority
of tone and selection, which, united with the devotion of his life to
what he held the highest purpose, mark him to be of an order of minds
occurring but at rare intervals in the history of our race.

"Shortly after the appearance of this work it was translated into
German through the instrumentality of Dr. Strauss, who, in the preface
he prefixed to it, says: 'Not sufficiently acquainted with German to
read continuously a learned work in that language, the labors of our
theologians were only accessible to him' (the author of the 'Inquiry')
'so far as they were written in Latin, or translated into English, or
treated of in English writings or periodicals: especially he is
unacquainted with what the Germans have effected in the criticism of
the gospels since Schleiermacher's work on Luke, and even the earlier
commentators he knows but imperfectly. Only so much the more
remarkable is it, however, that both in the principles and in the main
results of his investigation, he is on the very track which has been
entered on among us in recent years.... That at certain periods,
certain modes of thought lie as it were in the atmosphere, ... and
come to light in the most remote places without perceptible media of
communication, is shown, not only by the contents, but by the spirit,
of Mr. Hennell's work. No further traces of the ridicule and scorn
which characterize his countrymen of the deistical school; the subject
is treated in the earnest and dignified tone of the truth-seeker, not
with the rancor of a passionate polemic; we nowhere find him deriving
religion from priestcraft, but from the tendencies and wants of human
nature.... These elevated views, which the learned German of our day
appropriates as the fruit of the religious and scientific advancement
of his nation, this Englishman, to whom most of the means at our
command were wanting, has been able to educe entirely from himself....
An Englishman, a merchant, a man of the world, he possesses, both by
nature and by training, the practical insight, the sure tact, which
lays hold on realities. The solution of problems over which the German
flutters with many circuits of learned formulæ, our English author
often succeeds in seizing at one spring.... To the learned he often
presents things under a surprisingly new aspect; to the unlearned,
invariably under that which is the most comprehensible and

     The reading of Mr. Hennell's book no doubt marks an epoch in
     George Eliot's development; but probably there had been a
     good deal of half-unconscious preparation beforehand (as
     indicated by Mrs. Cash's remarks on Isaac Taylor's work, in
     the last chapter), which was greatly stimulated now by the
     contact with new minds. The following extract from a letter
     to Miss Lewis, dated 13th November, 1841, accurately fixes
     the date of the first acknowledgment by herself that her
     opinions were undergoing so momentous a change.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, 13th Nov. 1841.]

My whole soul has been engrossed in the most interesting of all
inquiries for the last few days, and to what result my thoughts may
lead, I know not--possibly to one that will startle you; but my only
desire is to know the truth, my only fear to cling to error. I venture
to say our love will not decompose under the influence of separation,
unless you excommunicate me for differing from you in opinion.
Think--is there any _conceivable_ alteration in me that would prevent
your coming to me at Christmas? I long to have a friend such as you
are, I think I may say, alone to me, to unburden every thought and
difficulty--for I am still a solitary, though near a city. But we have
the universe to talk with, infinity in which to stretch the gaze of
hope, and an all-bountiful, all-wise Creator in whom to confide--he
who has given us the untold delights of which our reason, our emotion,
our sensations, are the ever-springing sources.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, 8th Dec. 1841.]

What a pity that while mathematics are indubitable, immutable, and no
one doubts the properties of a triangle or a circle, doctrines
infinitely important to man are buried in a charnel-heap of bones over
which nothing is heard but the barks and growls of contention! "Unto
their assembly, mine honor, be not thou united."

     It was impossible for such a nature as Miss Evans's, in the
     enthusiasm of this first great change, to rest satisfied in
     compliance with the old forms, and she was so uneasy in an
     equivocal position that she determined to give up going to
     church. This was an unforgivable offence in the eyes of her
     father, who was a Churchman of the old school, and nearly led
     to a family rupture. He went so far as to put into an agent's
     hands the lease of the house in the Foleshill road, with the
     intention of going to live with his married daughter. Upon
     this, Miss Evans made up her mind to go into lodgings at
     Leamington, and to try to support herself by teaching. The
     first letter to Mrs. Bray refers to this incident:

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Bray, Jan. 1842.]

My guardian angel, Mrs. Pears, has just sent for me to hear your kind
note, which has done my aching limbs a little good. I shall be most
thankful for the opportunity of going to Leamington, and Mrs. Pears is
willing to go too. There is but _one_ woe, that of leaving my dear
father--all else, doleful lodgings, scanty meals, and _gazing-stockism_,
are quite indifferent to me. Therefore do not fear for me when I am
once settled in my home--wherever it may be--and freed from wretched

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Pears, Friday evening, Feb. 1842.]

Far from being weary of your dear little Henry, his matin visits are
as cheering to me as those of any little bird

         "that comes in spite of sorrow,
     And at my window bids good-morrow."

We have not, perhaps, been so systematic as a regular tutor and pupil
would have been, but we crave indulgence for some laxity. I was really
touched that you should think of _me_ while among friends more closely
linked with you in every way. I was beginning to get used to the
conviction that, ivy-like as I am by nature, I must (as we see ivy do
sometimes) shoot out into an isolated tree. Never again imagine that
you need ask forgiveness for speaking or writing to me on subjects to
me more interesting than aught else; on the contrary, believe that I
really enjoy conversation of this nature: blank silence and cold
reserve are the only bitters I care for in my intercourse with you. I
can rejoice in all the joys of humanity; in all that serves to elevate
and purify feeling and action; nor will I quarrel with the million
who, I am persuaded, are with me in intention, though our dialects
differ. Of course, I must desire the ultimate downfall of error, for
no error is innocuous; but this assuredly will occur without my
proselytizing aid, and the best proof of a real love of the
truth--that freshest stamp of divinity--is a calm confidence in its
intrinsic power to secure its own high destiny, that of universal
empire. Do not fear that I will become a stagnant pool by a
self-sufficient determination only to listen to my own echo; to read
the yea, yea, on my own side, and be most comfortably deaf to the nay,
nay. Would that all rejected _practically_ this maxim! To _fear_ the
examination of any proposition appears to me an intellectual and a
moral palsy that will ever hinder the firm grasping of any substance
whatever. For my part, I wish to be among the ranks of that glorious
crusade that is seeking to set Truth's Holy Sepulchre free from a
usurped domination. We shall then see her resurrection! Meanwhile,
although I cannot rank among my principles of action a fear of
vengeance eternal, gratitude for predestined salvation, or a
revelation of future glories as a reward, I fully participate in the
belief that the only heaven here, or hereafter, is to be found in
conformity with the will of the Supreme; a continual aiming at the
attainment of the perfect ideal, the true _logos_ that dwells in the
bosom of the one Father. I hardly know whether I am ranting after the
fashion of one of the Primitive Methodist prophetesses, with a cart
for her rostrum, I am writing so fast. Good-bye, and blessings on you,
as they will infallibly be on the children of peace and virtue.

     Again about the same date in 1842 she writes to Mrs. Bray:

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Bray, Feb. 1842.]

A heart full of love and gratitude to you for all your kindness in
thought and act to me, undeserving. I dare say my manner belies my
feelings: but friendship must live by faith and not by sight, and I
shall be a great gainer by leaving you to interpret my mystic
character without any other key than your own goodness.

     The last letter of the series to Miss Lewis also refers to
     the difficulties of the situation:

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Lewis, 19th Feb. 1842.]

I dare say you have added, subtracted, and divided suppositions until
you think you have a sure product--viz., a good quantum, or, rather,
a bad one, of indifference and forgetfulness, as the representation of
my conduct towards you. If so, revise your arithmetic, for be it known
to you that, having had my propensities, sentiments, and intellect
gauged a second time, I am pronounced to possess a large organ of
"adhesiveness," a still larger one of "firmness," and as large of
"conscientiousness"--hence, if I should turn out a very weathercock
and a most pitiful truckler, you will have data for the exercise of
faith maugre common-sense, common justice, and the testimony of your
eyes and ears.

How do you go on for society, for communion of spirit, the drop of
nectar in the cup of mortals? But why do I say the drop? The mind that
feels its value will get large draughts from some source, if denied it
in the most commonly chosen way.

     "'Mid the rich store of nature's gifts to man
     Each has his loves, close wedded to his soul
     By fine association's golden links.
     As the Great Spirit bids creation teem
     With conscious being and intelligence,
     So man, his miniature resemblance, gives
     To matter's every form a speaking soul,
     An emanation from his spirit's fount,
     The impress true of its peculiar seal.
     Here finds he thy best image, sympathy."

Beautiful egoism, to quote one's own. But where is not this same ego?
The martyr at the stake seeks its gratification as much as the court
sycophant, the difference lying in the comparative dignity and beauty
of the two egos. People absurdly talk of self-denial. Why, there is
none in virtue, to a being of moral excellence: the greatest torture
to such a soul would be to run counter to the dictates of conscience;
to wallow in the slough of meanness, deception, revenge, or
sensuality. This was Paul's idea in the first chapter of 2d Epistle to
Timothy (I think that is the passage).

I have had a weary week. At the beginning more than the usual amount
of _cooled_ glances, and exhortations to the suppression of
self-conceit. The former are so many hailstones that make me wrap more
closely around me the mantle of determinate purpose: the latter are
needful, and have a tendency to exercise forbearance, that well repays
the temporary smart. The heart knoweth its own, whether bitterness or
joy: let us, dearest, beware how we, _even with good intentions_,
press a finger's weight on the already bruised.

     And about the same date she writes to Mrs. Bray:

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Bray, end of Feb. 1842.]

I must relieve my conscience before I go to bed by entering a protest
against every word or accent of discontent that I uttered this
morning. If I have ever complained of any person or circumstance, I do
penance by eating my own words. When my real self has regained its
place, I can shake off my troubles "like dewdrops from the lion's
mane," and then I feel the baseness of imputing my sorrows to others
rather than to my own pitiful weakness. But I do not write for your
forgiveness; that I know I have. I only want to satisfy my indignation
against myself.

     The conclusion of the matter was that Mr. Evans withdrew his
     house from the agent's hands, and his daughter went to stay
     at Griff, with Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Evans, whence she writes
     the following letter to Mrs. Pears:

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Pears, Thursday, Mch. 1842.]

I have just been climbing up some favorite old hills, or rather
hillocks, and if I could see you I should find myself in high
preparation for one of my thorough chats. Oh, if I could transport
myself to your dining-room, where I guess you and Mr. Pears are
sitting in anticipation of tea--carrying on no "holy war," but at
peace with the world and its opinions, or, if ever you do battle, in
the happy ranks of the majority--I could kiss you into sublime
liberality! How are you and your dear husband and children? It seems a
week of years instead of days since you said to me your kind good-bye,
and as I have tried your magnanimity quite long enough to be assured
that you will not let me hear of you without a beseeching letter from
me, I snatch half an hour from a too short day for the generous
purpose of doubly qualifying myself, first, by pouring out the
contents of my gossip-wallet, and then quietly awaiting the news I
want to hear of you. I have here, in every way, abundant and
unlooked-for blessings--delicacy and consideration from all whom I
have seen; and I really begin to recant my old belief about the
indifference of all the world towards me, for my acquaintances of this
neighborhood seem to seek an opportunity of smiling on me in spite of
my heresy. All these things, however, are but the fringe and ribbons
of happiness. They are _ad_herent, not _in_herent; and, without any
affectation, I feel myself to be acquiring what I must hold to be a
precious possession, an independence of what is baptized by the world
external good. There are externals (at least, they are such in common
thought) that I could ill part with--the deep, blue, glorious heavens,
bending as they do over all, presenting the same arch, emblem of a
truer omnipresence, wherever we may be chased, and all the sweet,
peace-breathing sights and sounds of this lovely earth. These, and the
thoughts of the good and great, are an inexhaustible world of delight;
and the felt desire to be one in will and design with the great mind
that has laid open to us these treasures is the sun that warms and
fructifies it. I am more and more impressed with the duty of _finding_
happiness. On a retrospection of the past month, I regret nothing so
much as my own impetuosity both of feeling and judging. I am not
inclined to be sanguine as to my dear father's future determination,
and I sometimes have an intensely vivid consciousness, which I only
allow to be a fleeting one, of all that is painful and that has been
so. I can only learn that my father has commenced his alterations at
Packington, but he only appears to be temporarily acquiescing in my
brother's advice "not to be in a hurry." I do not intend to remain
here longer than three weeks, or, at the very farthest, a month; and,
if I am not then recalled, I shall write for definite directions. I
must have a _home_, not a visiting-place. I wish you would learn
something from my father, and send me word how he seems disposed. I
hope you get long walks on these beautiful days. You would love to
hear the choristers we have here; they are hymning away incessantly.
Can you not drive over and see me? Do come by hook or by crook. Why,
Mr. Pears could almost walk hither. I am becoming very hurried, for
most welcome tea is in the vicinity, and I must be busy after I have
imbibed its inspiration. You will write to me to-morrow, will you not?
and pray insist on Mr. Pears writing an appendix. I had a note from
Mrs. Bray this morning, and I liked it better than my breakfast. So do
give me a little treat on Saturday. Blessings on you and yours, as all
forlorn beggars have said from time immemorial to their benefactors;
but real feeling, you know, will sometimes slip into a hackneyed

     Miss Evans remained for about three weeks at Griff, at the
     end of which time, through the intervention of her brother,
     the Brays, and Miss Rebecca Franklin, the father was very
     glad to receive her again, and she resumed going to church as

     It will be seen from a subsequent noteworthy letter to Miss
     Sara Hennell, dated 19th October, 1843, that Miss Evans's
     views of the best course to be pursued under similar
     circumstances had already undergone considerable
     modifications, and in the last year of her life she told me
     that, although she did not think she had been to blame, few
     things had occasioned her more regret than this temporary
     collision with her father, which might, she thought, have
     been avoided with a little management.

     In July of this year (1842) Miss Sara Hennell--the gifted
     sister of Mrs. Bray--came to Rosehill, and completed the trio
     destined to exert the most important influence over the life
     of George Eliot. The individual characters of these three
     friends, and the relations each bore to their correspondent,
     will unfold themselves in the letters. It is only necessary
     here to say that the two ladies--Cara and Sara, as they are
     always addressed--now became like sisters to Miss Evans, and
     Mr. Bray her most intimate male friend, and the letters to
     them form an almost unbroken chain during all the remainder
     of George Eliot's life.

     To us Miss Sara Hennell is the most important correspondent,
     for it is to her that Miss Evans mainly turns now for
     intellectual sympathy; to Mrs. Bray when she is in pain or
     trouble, and wants affectionate companionship; with Mr. Bray
     she quarrels, and the humorous side of her nature is brought
     out. Every good story goes to him, with a certainty that it
     will be appreciated. With all three it is a beautiful and
     consistent friendship, running like a thread through the woof
     of the coming thirty-eight years. For the next twelve years,
     as will be seen, it is quite the most important thread; and
     although later it naturally became very much less important,
     it was never dropped except for a moment, in 1854, owing to a
     brief misunderstanding of letters, which will appear in its
     due place.

     The following letters to Miss Sara Hennell show what was
     passing from 30th August, 1842, to April, 1843:

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 30th Aug. 1842.]

How I have delighted in the thought that there are beings who are
better than their promises, beyond the regions of waking and sleeping

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, Friday, Sept. 1842.]

I have not yet accounted for my tardiness in writing, which, I assure
you, is no representation of my usual habit, and has been occasioned
only by a week's indisposition, the foster-parent to the ill-favored
offspring of my character and circumstances, gloom and stolidity, and
I could not write to you with such companions to my thought. I am
anxious that you should not imagine me unhappy even in my most
melancholy moods, for I hold all indulgence of sadness that has the
slightest tincture of discontent to be a grave delinquency. I think
there can be few who more truly feel than I that this is a world of
bliss and beauty--that is, that bliss and beauty are the end, the
tendency of creation; and evils are the shadows that are the only
conditions of light in the picture, and I live in much, much

I am beginning to enjoy the "Eneid," though, I suppose, much in the
same way as the uninitiated enjoy wine, compared with the

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 3d Nov. 1842.]

I have been in high displeasure with myself, have thought my soul only
fit for limbo, to keep company with other abortions, and my life the
shallowest, muddiest, most unblessing stream. Having got my head above
this slough of despond, I feel quite inclined to tell you how much
pleasure your letter gave me. You observe in your note that some
persons say the unsatisfied longing we feel in ourselves for something
better than the greatest perfection to be found on earth is a proof
that the true object of our desires lies beyond it. Assuredly, this
earth is not the home of the spirit--it will rest only in the bosom of
the Infinite. But the non-satisfaction of the affections and intellect
being inseparable from the unspeakable advantage of such a mind as
that of man in connection with his corporal condition and _terrene_
destiny, forms not at present an argument with me for the realization
of particular desires.

     The next letter refers to Miss Mary Hennell's[18] last

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 7th Jan. 1843.]

I cannot help wishing to tell you, now that you are in trouble and
anxiety, how dear you are to me, and how the recollection of you is
ever freshening in my mind. You have need of all your cheeriness and
energy; and if they do not fail, I think it almost enviable, as far as
one's self is concerned (not, of course, when the sufferer is
remembered), to have the care of a sick-room, with its twilight and
tiptoe stillness and helpful activity. I have always had a peculiarly
peaceful feeling in such a scene.

     Again, after the death of Miss Mary Hennell, there is a
     letter to her sister Sara:

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, April, 1843.]

We always find that our stock of appreciated good can never be really
diminished. When the chief desire of the eyes is taken, we can afford
a gaze to hitherto unnoticed possessions; and even when the topmost
boughs are lopped, a thousand shoots spring from below with the energy
of new life. So it will be with you; but you cannot yet look beyond
the present, nor is it desirable that you should. It would not be well
for us to overleap one grade of joy or suffering: our life would lose
its completeness and beauty.

     Rosehill not only afforded a pleasant variety in the Coventry
     life, as most visitors to the town, of any note, found their
     way there, but the Brays were also frequently in the habit of
     making little holiday excursions, in many of which Miss Evans
     now joined. Thus we find them in May, 1843, all going to
     Stratford and Malvern, together with Mr. Charles Hennell and
     Miss Sara Hennell, for a week; and again, in July of that
     year the same party, accompanied by Miss Brabant, daughter of
     Dr. Brabant of Devizes, went on a fortnight's tour, visiting
     Tenby, among other places. This trip is chiefly memorable
     from the fact that it was indirectly responsible for Miss
     Evans undertaking the translation of Strauss's "Leben Jesu."
     For Miss Brabant (to whom the translation had been confided
     by Mr. Joseph Parkes of Birmingham and a group of friends)
     became engaged to be married to Mr. Charles Hennell; and
     shortly after her marriage she handed the work over to Miss

     In the next two letters to Miss Sara Hennell there are
     allusions to the approaching marriage, which took place in
     London on 1st November, 1843, the Brays and Miss Evans being

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 16th Sept. 1843.]

Many thanks for procuring me the hymns and anthems. I was right glad
to play "Ancient of Ages" again, and I shall like still better to sing
it with you when we meet. That that is to be so soon, and under
circumstances so joyful, are among the _mirabilia_ of this changing
world. To see and re-see such a cluster of not indifferent persons as
the programme for the wedding gives, will be almost too large a

I saw Robert Owen yesterday, Mr. and Mrs. Bray having kindly asked me
to dine with him, and I think if his system prosper it will be in
spite of its founder, and not because of his advocacy.

     The next letter to Mrs. Bray gives a pleasant glimpse of
     their studies together, and of the little musical society
     that was in the habit of meeting at Rosehill to play
     concerted pieces.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Bray, no date, 1843.]

I only wish you would change houses with the mayor, that I might get
to you when I would. I send you the first part of "Wallenstein," with
the proposition that we should study that in conjunction with the
"Thirty Years' War," as I happen to have a loose copy. We had better
omit the "Lager," and begin "Die Piccolomini." You shall have "Joan of
Arc," my grand favorite, as a _bonne-bouche_ when you have got through
"Wallenstein," which will amply repay you for any trouble in
translating it, and is not more difficult than your reading ought to
be now. I have skimmed Manzoni, who has suffered sadly in being poured
out of silver into pewter. The chapter on Philosophy and Theology is
worth reading. Miss Brabant sent me my "Hyperion" with a note, the
other day. She had put no direction besides Coventry, and the parcel
had consequently been sent to some other Miss Evans, and my choice
little sentimental treasures, alas! exposed to vulgar gaze. Thank you
for the manual, which I have had so long. I trust I did not bestow
those scratches on the cover. I have been trying to find a French book
that you were not likely to have read, but I do not think I have one,
unless it be "Gil Blas," which you are perhaps too virtuous to have
read, though how any one can opine it to have a vicious tendency I am
at a loss to conjecture. They might as well say that to condemn a
person to eat a whole plum-pudding would deprive him of all future
relish for plain food. I have had a visitor ever since Saturday, and
she will stay till Saturday again. I cannot desire that you should
_un_ask Violin and Flute, unless a postponement would be in every way
as agreeable to you and them. If you have them, you will give them
much more pleasure as Piano than I, so do not think of me in the
matter for a moment. Good-bye; and remember to treat your cold as if
it were an orphan's cold, or a widow's cold, or any one's cold but
your own.

     The following is the letter before referred to as containing
     an important and noteworthy declaration of opinion on the
     very interesting question of conformity:

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 9th Oct. 1843.]

The first thing I have to say to you is to entreat that you and Mrs.
Hennell will not perplex yourselves for a moment about my
accommodation during the night. I am so well now that a hearthrug
would be as luxurious a couch as I should need, and I defy anything
short of a kettledrum or my conscience to keep me awake after a long

The subject of your conversation with Miss D---- is a very important
one, and worth an essay. I will not now inflict one of mine on you,
but I will tell you, as briefly as possible, my present opinion, which
you know is contrary to the one I held in the first instance. I am
inclined to think that such a change of sentiment is likely to happen
to most persons whose views on religious matters undergo a change
early in life. The first impulse of a young and ingenuous mind is to
withhold the slightest sanction from all that contains even a mixture
of supposed error. When the soul is just liberated from the wretched
giant's bed of dogmas on which it has been racked and stretched ever
since it began to think, there is a feeling of exultation and strong
hope. We think we shall run well when we have the full use of our
limbs and the bracing air of independence, and we believe that we
shall soon obtain something positive, which will not only more than
compensate us for what we have renounced, but will be so well worth
offering to others that we may venture to proselytize as fast as our
zeal for truth may prompt us. But a year or two of reflection, and the
experience of our own miserable weakness, which will ill afford to
part even with the crutch of superstition, must, I think, effect a
change. Speculative truth begins to appear but a shadow of individual
minds. Agreement between intellects seems unattainable, and we turn to
the _truth of feeling_ as the only universal bond of union. We find
that the intellectual errors which we once fancied were a mere
incrustation have grown into the living body, and that we cannot, in
the majority of cases, wrench them away without destroying vitality.
We begin to find that with individuals, as with nations, the only safe
revolution is one arising out of the wants which their own progress
has generated. It is the quackery of infidelity to suppose that it has
a nostrum for all mankind, and to say to all and singular, "Swallow my
opinions and you shall be whole." If, then, we are debarred by such
considerations from trying to reorganize opinions, are we to remain
aloof from our fellow-creatures on occasions when we may fully
sympathize with the feelings exercised, although our own have been
melted into another mould? Ought we not on every opportunity to seek
to have our feelings in harmony, though not in union, with those who
are often richer in the fruits of faith, though not in reason, than
ourselves? The results of nonconformity in a family are just an
epitome of what happens on a larger scale in the world. An influential
member chooses to omit an observance which, in the minds of all the
rest, is associated with what is highest and most venerable. He cannot
make his reasons intelligible, and so his conduct is regarded as a
relaxation of the hold that moral ties had on him previously. The rest
are infected with the disease they imagine in him. All the screws by
which order was maintained are loosened, and in more than one case a
person's happiness may be ruined by the confusion of ideas which took
the form of principles. But, it may be said, how then are we to do
anything towards the advancement of mankind? Are we to go on
cherishing superstitions out of a fear that seems inconsistent with
any faith in a Supreme Being? I think the best and the only way of
fulfilling our mission is to sow good seed in good (_i.e._, prepared)
ground, and not to root up tares where we must inevitably gather all
the wheat with them. We cannot fight and struggle enough for freedom
of inquiry, and we need not be idle in imparting all that is pure and
lovely to children whose minds are unbespoken. Those who can write,
let them do it as boldly as they like; and let no one hesitate at
proper seasons to make a full _con_fession (far better than
_pro_fession). St. Paul's reasoning about the conduct of the strong
towards the weak, in the fourteenth and fifteenth chapters of Romans,
is just in point. But I have not said half what I meant to say. There
are so many aspects in which the subject might be presented that it is
useless to attempt to exhaust it. I fear I have written very
unintelligibly, for it is rather late, and I am so cold that my
thoughts are almost frozen.

     After Miss Brabant's marriage to Mr. Charles Hennell, Miss
     Evans went to stay for a week or two with Dr. Brabant at
     Devizes, and some time about the beginning of January, 1844,
     the proposition was made for the transfer of the translation
     of Strauss from Mrs. Charles Hennell. At the end of April,
     1844, Mrs. Bray writes to Miss Sara Hennell that Miss Evans
     is "working away at Strauss six pages a day," and the next
     letter from Miss Evans refers to the beginning of the

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, Sunday, May, 1844.]

To begin with business, I send you on the other side the translations
you wished (Strauss), but they are perhaps no improvements on what you
had done. I shall be very glad to learn from you the particulars as to
the mode of publication--who are the parties that will find the funds,
and whether the manuscripts are to be put into the hands of any one
when complete, or whether they are to go directly from me to the
publishers? I was very foolish not to imagine about these things in
the first instance, but ways and means are always afterthoughts with

You will soon be settled and enjoying the blessed spring and summer
time. I hope you are looking forward to it with as much delight as I.
One has to spend so many years in learning how to be happy. I am just
beginning to make some progress in the science, and I hope to disprove
Young's theory that "as soon as we have found the key of life it opes
the gates of death." Every year strips us of at least one vain
expectation, and teaches us to reckon some solid good in its stead. I
never will believe that our youngest days are our happiest. What a
miserable augury for the progress of the race and the destination of
the individual if the more matured and enlightened state is the less
happy one! Childhood is only the beautiful and happy time in
contemplation and retrospect: to the child it is full of deep sorrows,
the meaning of which is unknown. Witness colic and whooping-cough and
dread of ghosts, to say nothing of hell and Satan, and an offended
Deity in the sky, who was angry when I wanted too much plumcake. Then
the sorrows of older persons, which children see but cannot
understand, are worse than all. All this to prove that we are happier
than when we were seven years old, and that we shall be happier when
we are forty than we are now, which I call a comfortable doctrine, and
one worth trying to believe! I am sitting with father, who every now
and then jerks off my attention to the history of Queen Elizabeth,
which he is reading.

     On the 1st July, 1844, there was another little trip with the
     Brays to the Cumberland lakes, this time returning by
     Manchester and Liverpool; and on reaching home, about the
     beginning of August, there is the following letter:

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, Friday, Aug. 1844.]

Can I have the remaining volumes of Strauss, excepting any part that
you may choose to keep for your own use? If you could also send me
such parts of the introduction and first section as you wish me to
look over, I should like to despatch that business at intervals, when
I am not inspired for more thorough labor. Thank you for the
encouragement you sent me. I only need it when my head is weak and I
am unable to do much. Then I sicken at the idea of having Strauss in
my head and on my hands for a lustrum, instead of saying good-bye to
him in a year. When I can work fast I am never weary, nor do I regret
either that the work has been begun or that I have undertaken it. I am
only inclined to vow that I will never translate again, if I live to
correct the sheets for Strauss. My first page is 257.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 31st Oct. 1844.]

Pray tell Mrs. C. Hennell that no apology was needed for the very good
translation she has sent me. I shall be glad to avail myself of it to
the last word, for I am thoroughly tired of my own garb for Strauss's
thoughts. I hope the introduction, etc., will be ready by the end of
November, when I hope to have put the last words to the first volume.
I am awfully afraid of my own translation, and I want you to come and
comfort me. I am relapsing into heathen darkness about everything but
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. "Heaven has sent leanness into my
soul"--for reviling them, I suppose. This lovely autumn! Have you
enjoyed its long shadows and fresh breezes?

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Bray, end of 1844.]

I do not think it was kind to Strauss (I knew he was handsome) to tell
him that a young lady was translating his book. I am sure he must have
some twinges of alarm to think he was dependent on that most
contemptible specimen of the human being for his English reputation.
By the way, I never said that the Canons of the Council of Nice, or
the Confession of Augsburg, or even the Thirty-nine Articles, are
suggestive of poetry. I imagine no _dogmas_ can be. But surely
Christianity, with its Hebrew retrospect and millennial hopes, the
heroism and divine sorrow of its founder, and all its glorious army of
martyrs, might supply, and has supplied, a strong impulse not only to
poetry, but to all the Fine Arts. Mr. Pears is coming home from
Malvern to-night, and the children are coming to tea with me, so that
I have to make haste with my afternoon matters. Beautiful little Susan
has been blowing bubbles, and looking like an angel at sport. I am
quite happy, only sometimes feeling "the weight of all this
unintelligible world."

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Bray, Sunday, beginning of 1845.]

Your books are come for the school, and I have covered them--at least
those that I think you will like for the children; two or three are
quite for grown-up people. What an exquisite little thing that is of
Harriet Martineau's--"The Crofton Boys"! I have had some delightful
crying over it. There are two or three lines in it that would feed
one's soul for a month. Hugh's mother says to him, speaking of people
who have permanent sorrow, "They soon had a new and delicious
pleasure, which none but the bitterly disappointed can feel--the
pleasure of rousing their souls to bear pain, and of _agreeing with
God silently_, when nobody knows what is in their hearts." I received
"Sybil" yesterday quite safely. I am not utterly disgusted with
D'Israeli. The man hath good veins, as Bacon would say, but there is
not enough blood in them.

     The 17th April this year was an interesting day, as Miss
     Evans went with the Brays to Atherstone Hall, and met Harriet
     Martineau for the first time. It will be seen that in later
     years there was considerable intimacy between them.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 29th April, 1845.]

If you think any of my future manuscript too untidy for the printer,
only mark it to that effect, and I will rewrite it, for I do not mind
that mechanical work; and my conscience is rather uneasy lest the
illegibility of my hand should increase materially the expense of the
publication. Do not be alarmed because I am not well just now: I shall
be better very soon, and I am not really disgusted with Strauss. I
only fancy so sometimes, as I do with all earthly things.

     In June Mrs. Bray writes to Miss Hennell that Miss Evans
     "looks all the better of her London trip. I never saw her so
     blooming and buoyant;" but the two next letters show a

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, end of June, (?) 1845.]

Glad am I that some one can enjoy Strauss! The million certainly will
not, and I have ceased to sit down to him with any relish. I should
work much better if I had some proof-sheets coming in to assure me
that my soul-stupefying labor is not in vain. I am more grateful to
you than I can tell you for taking the trouble you do. If it had not
been for your interest and encouragement I should have been almost in
despair by this time.

     And again, a little later:

I begin utterly to despair that Strauss will ever be published, unless
I can imitate the Rev. Mr. Davis, and print it myself. At the very
best, if we go on according to the rate of procedure hitherto, the
book will not be published within the next two years. This seems
dolorous enough to me, whose only real satisfaction just now is some
hope that I am not sowing the wind. It is very laughable that I should
be irritated about a thing in itself so trifling as a translation, but
it is the very triviality of the thing that makes delays provoking.
The difficulties that attend a really grand undertaking are to be
borne, but things should run smoothly and fast when they are not
important enough to demand the sacrifice of one's whole soul. The
second volume is quite ready. The last few sections were written under
anything but favorable circumstances. They are not Strauss's best
thoughts, nor are they put into his translator's best language; but I
have not courage to imitate Gibbon--put my work in the fire and begin

     In July, 1845, there seems to have arisen some difficulty in
     getting in the cash subscriptions for the publication. Mr.
     Charles Hennell and Mr. Joseph Parkes, however, exerted
     themselves in the matter, and £300 was collected, and the
     following letter shows the relief it was to Miss Evans:

[Sidenote: Letter to Charles Hennell, Friday evening, July, 1845.]

Thank you for sending me the good news so soon, and for sympathizing
in my need of encouragement. I have all I want now, and shall go
forward on buoyant wing. I am glad for the work's sake, glad for your
sake, and glad for "the honorable gentleman's" sake, that matters have
turned out so well. Pray think no more of my pens, ink, and paper. I
would gladly give much more towards the work than these and my
English, if I could do so consistently with duty.

     The book now got into the hands of the printers, as will be
     seen from the next letter:

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, Aug. 1845.]

I have just been looking over some of the _revise_, and reading again
your sweet letter to me from Hastings, and an impulse of gratitude
and love will not let me rest without writing you a little note,
though my hand has almost done its possible for the day under this
intense heat. You do not guess how much pleasure it gives me to look
over your pencillings, they prove so clearly that you have really
entered into the meaning of every sentence, and it always gives one
satisfaction to see the evidence of brain-work. I am quite indebted to
you for your care, and I feel greatly the advantage of having a friend
to undertake the office of critic. There is one word I must
mention--Azazel is the word put in the original of the Old Testament
for the scapegoat: now I imagine there is some dubiousness about the
meaning, and that Strauss would not think it right to translate
_scapegoat_, because, from the tenor of his sentence, he appears to
include Azazel with the evil demons. I wonder if it be supposed by any
one that Azazel is in any way a distinct being from the goat. I know
no Hebrew scholar, and have access to no Hebrew lexicon. Have you
asked Mr. Hennell about it?

Your letter describes what I _have_ felt rather than what I feel. It
seems as if my affections were quietly sinking down to temperate, and
I every day seem more and more to value thought rather than feeling. I
do not think this is man's best estate, but it is better than what I
have sometimes known.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, Friday evening, autumn of

I am not ashamed to confess that I should like to be idle with you for
a little while, more than anything else I can think of just now. But,
alas! leathery brain must work at leathery Strauss for a short time
before my butterfly days come. O, how I shall spread my wings then!
Anent the Greek, it would produce very dreadful cold perspirations
indeed in me, if there were anything amounting to a serious error,
but this, I trust, there will not be. You must really expect me, if
not to sleep and snore _aliquando_, at least to nod in the course of
some thousand pages. I should like you to be deliberate over the
_Schluss Abhandlung_. It is the only part on which I have bestowed
much pains, for the difficulty was _piquing_, not piquant.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, no date, 1845.]

I am never pained when I think Strauss right; but in many cases I
think him wrong, as every man must be in working out into detail an
idea which has general truth, but is only one element in a perfect
theory--not a perfect theory in itself.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 25th Sept. 1845.]

I am delighted with the proof. The type and everything else are just
what I wished. To see the first sheet is the next best thing to seeing
the last, which I hope we shall all have done this time next year.
There is a very misty vision of a trip to the Highlands haunting us in
this quarter. The vision would be much pleasanter if Sara were one of
the images in it. You would surely go if we went, and then the thing
would be perfect. I long to see you, for you are becoming a sort of
transfigured existence, a mere ideal to me, and I have nothing to tell
me of your real flesh-and-blood self but sundry very useful little
pencil-marks, and a scrap of Mrs. Bray's notes now and then. So, if
you would have me bear in my memory your own self, and not some aerial
creation that I call by your name, you must make your appearance.

     In October "the misty vision" took palpable shape, and the
     Brays, Miss Hennell, and Miss Evans had a delightful
     fortnight in Scotland, visiting Loch Lomond and Loch Katrine,
     The Trossachs, Stirling, Edinburgh, Melrose, and Abbotsford.
     They were away from the 14th to the 28th, and on returning to
     Coventry Strauss was taken up again. Miss Hennell was reading
     the translation, and aiding with suggestions and corrections.
     The next letter to her seems to be dated in November.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, Nov. 1845.]

Please to tell Mr. Hennell that "habits of thought" is not a
translation of the word _particularismus_. This does not mean national
idiosyncrasy, but is a word which characterizes that idiosyncrasy. If
he decidedly objects to particularism, ask him to be so good as
substitute _exclusiveness_, though there is a shade of meaning in
_particularismus_ which even that does not express. It was because the
word could only be translated by a circumlocution that I ventured to
Anglicize it.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, Tuesday morning, Dec. (?)

I have been idle, and have not done a stroke to the prefaces, but they
shall be sent as soon as possible. Thanks for the copy of the Latin
preface and letter. They are in preconceived harmony with my ideas of
the appropriate.

I will leave the titlepage to you and Mr. Hennell. Thanks for the news
in your last _extra Blatt_. I am glad to find that the theological
organs are beginning to deal with philosophy, but I can hardly imagine
your writer to be a friend with a false cognizance on his shield.
These dear orthodox people talk so simply sometimes that one cannot
help fancying them satirists of their own doctrines and fears, though
they mean manfully to fight against the enemy. I should like if
possible to throw the emphasis on _critically_ in the titlepage.
Strauss means it to be so: and yet I do not know how we can put
anything better than what you say.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, Dec. 1845.]

I send you to-day the conclusion of the chapter you are reading, and,
unless you find anything of importance to be rectified, you need not
return this to me, but may forward the whole to the printer as soon as
you have read it. I am not altogether satisfied with the use of the
word sacrament as applied specifically to the _Abendmahl_. It seems
like a vulgarism to say _the_ sacrament for one thing, and for another
it does not seem _ab_original enough in the life of Jesus; but I know
of no other word that can be substituted. I have altered passover to
paschal meal, but [Greek: tho pascha] is used in the New Testament of
the eating of the lamb _par excellence_. You remember, in the title of
the first section in the _Schluss_--which I had been so careless as to
omit--the expression is "Nothwendiger Uebergang der Kritik in das
Dogma." Now, dogmatism will not do, as that would represent
_Dogmatismus_. "Dogmatik" is the idea, I believe--_i.e._, positive
theology. Is it allowable to say _dogmatics_, think you? I do not
understand how the want of manuscript can be so pressing, as I have
only had one proof for the last fortnight. It seems quite dispiriting
to me now not to see the proofs regularly. I have had a miserable week
of headache, but am better now, and ready for work, to which I must

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 1st Jan. 1846.]

I do pity you, with the drunken Christmas workmen keeping you in this
uncomfortable interregnum. But do not go distraught; the spring will
really come and the birds--many having had to fly across the Atlantic,
which is farther than you have to go to establish yourself. I could
easily give the meaning of the Hebrew word in question, as I know
where to borrow a lexicon. But observe, there are two Hebrew words
untranslated in this proof. I do not think it will do to give the
English in one place and not in another, where there is no reason for
such a distinction, and there is not here, for the note in this proof
sounds just as fee-fo-fum-ish as the other without any translation. I
could not alter the "troublesome," because it is the nearest usable
adjective for _schwierig_, which stands in the German. I am tired of
inevitable _importants_, and cannot bear to put them when they do not
represent the German.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 26th Jan. 1846.]

I have been sadly occupied for the last ten days. My father has been
ill, and has required much attention, and my own head was very
middling for some days, so that I send you but a poor cargo of new
manuscript. Indeed, on looking through the last quire of paper this
morning for the purpose of putting in the Greek, it seemed all very
poor to me, but the subject is by no means inspiring, and no muse
would condescend to visit such an uncertain votary as I have been for
the last week or so. How is it that I have only had one proof this
week? You know we are five hundred pages in advance of the printer, so
you need not be dreadfully alarmed. I have been so pleased to hear
some of your letters read to me, but, alas! I can reflect no pleasure
at this moment, for I have a woful pain and am in a desperate hurry.

     On 14th February, 1846, Mrs. Bray writes to Miss Sara Hennell
     that Miss Evans "says she is Strauss-sick--it makes her ill
     dissecting the beautiful story of the Crucifixion, and only
     the sight of the Christ-image[19] and picture make her endure
     it. Moreover, as her work advances nearer its public
     appearance, she grows dreadfully nervous. Poor thing, I do
     pity her sometimes, with her pale, sickly face and dreadful
     headaches, and anxiety, too, about her father. This illness
     of his has tried her so much, for all the time she had for
     rest and fresh air she had to read to him. Nevertheless, she
     looks very happy and satisfied sometimes in her work."

     And about the end of February there is the following letter
     from Miss Evans:

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, end of Feb. 1846.]

Health and greeting, my Achates, in this veritable spring month. I
shall send you a parcel on Monday with sixty-four new pages of German
for your intellectual man. The next parcel, which will be the LAST, I
shall send on the Monday following, and when you have read to the end,
you may, if you think it desirable, send the whole to me. Your dull
ass does not mend his pace for beating; but he _does_ mend it when he
finds out that he is near his journey's end, and makes you wonder how
he could pretend to find all the previous drawing so hard for him. I
plead guilty to having set off in a regular scamper: but be lenient
and do not scold me if you find all sorts of carelessnesses in these
last hundred pages.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, end of Feb. 1846.]

I have been guilty of the most unpardonable piece of carelessness, for
which I am stretched on a rack of anxiety and mortification. In the
proof that came on Thursday I unwittingly drew out a quarter sheet
with the blotting-paper, and did not discover the mistake until
Saturday morning, when about to correct the last proof. Surely the
printer would discover the absence of the four pages and wait for
them--otherwise I would rather have lost one of my fingers, or all the
hair from my head, than have committed such a _faux pas_. For there
were three very awkward blunders to be corrected. All this vexation
makes a cold and headache doubly intolerable, and I am in a most
purgatorial state on this "good Sunday." I shall send the proofs, with
the unfortunate quarter sheet and an explanation, to-night to Mr.
Chapman, and prithee do thou inquire and see that the right thing is
done. The tears are streaming from my smarting eyes--so farewell.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, Mch. 1846.]

I wish we could get the book out in May--why not? I suppose the
binding could not be all got through--the printing and writing I
should think might be managed in time. Shouldn't I like to fleet the
time away with thee as they did in the Golden Age--after all our toils
to lie reclined on the hills (spiritually), like gods together,
careless of mankind. Sooth to speak, idleness, and idleness with thee,
is just the most tempting mirage you could raise before my mind's
eye--I say mirage, because I am determined from henceforth to believe
in no substantiality for future time, but to live in and love the
present--of which I have done too little. Still, the thought of being
with you in your own home will attract me to that future; for without
all controversy I love thee and miss thee.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, Mch. 1846.]

My soul kisses thee, dear Sara, in gratitude for those dewy thoughts
of thine in this morning's note. My poor adust soul wants such
refreshment. Continue to do me good--hoping for nothing again. I have
had my sister with me all day--an interruption, alas! I cannot write
more, but I should not be happy to let the day pass without saying one
word to thee.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, Mch. 1846.]

The last hundred pages have certainly been totally uninteresting to
me, considered as matter for translation. Strauss has inevitably
anticipated in the earlier part of his work all the principles and
many of the details of his criticism, and he seems fagged himself.
_Mais courage!_ the neck of the difficulty is broken, and there is
really very little to be done now. If one's head would but keep in
anything like thinking and writing order! Mine has robbed me of half
the last fortnight; but I am a little better now, and am saying to
myself _Frisch zu!_ The Crucifixion and the Resurrection are, at all
events, better than the bursting asunder of Judas. I am afraid I have
not made this dull part of Strauss even as tolerable as it might be,
for both body and mind have recoiled from it. Thank you, dearest, for
all your love and patience for me and with me. I have nothing on earth
to complain of but subjective maladies. Father is pretty well, and I
have not a single excuse for discontent through the livelong day.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, end of Mch. 1846.]

As I believe that even your kindness cannot overcome your sincerity, I
will cast aside my fear that your wish to see me in your own home is
rather a plan for my enjoyment than for yours. I believe it would be
an unmixed pleasure to me to be your visitor, and one that I would
choose among a whole bouquet of agreeable possibilities; so I will
indulge myself, and accept the good that the heavens and you offer me.
I am miserably in want of you to stir up my soul and make it shake its
wings, and begin some kind of flight after something good and noble,
for I am in a grovelling, slothful condition, and you are the _only_
friend I possess who has an animating influence over me. I have
written to Mr. Hennell anent the titlepage, and have voted for
_critically examined_, from an entire conviction of its

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, beginning of April, 1846.]

See what it is to have a person _en rapport_ with you, that knows all
your thoughts without the trouble of communication! I am especially
grateful to you for restoring the "therefore" to its right place. I
was about to write to you to get you to remonstrate about this and the
"dispassionate calmness," which I did not at all like; but I thought
you had corrected the prefaces, as the marks against the Latin looked
like yours, so I determined to indulge my _laissez-faire_
inclinations, for I hate stickling and debating unless it be for
something really important. I do really like reading our Strauss--he
is so _klar und ideenvoll_; but I do not know _one_ person who is
likely to read the book through--do you? Next week we will be merry
and sad, wise and nonsensical, devout and wicked, together.

     On 19th April, 1846, Mrs. Bray writes to Miss Hennell that
     Miss Evans is "as happy as you may imagine at her work being
     done. She means to come and read Shakespeare through to us as
     her first enjoyment." And again, on 27th April, that she "is
     delighted beyond measure with Strauss's elegant preface. It
     is just what she likes. And what a nice letter too! The Latin
     is quite beyond me, but the letter shows how neatly he can
     express himself."


MARCH, 1841, TO APRIL, 1846.

     Foleshill--New friends--Mrs. Pears--Coventry life and
     engagements--Letters to Miss Lewis--Brother's
     marriage--Mental depression--Reading Nichol's "Architecture
     of the Heavens and Phenomena of the Solar System"--Makes
     acquaintance with Mr. and Mrs. Bray--Reads Charles Hennell's
     book, "An Inquiry Concerning the Origin of
     Christianity"--Effect of this book--Gives up going to
     church--Family difficulties--Letters to Mrs. Pears--Visit to
     Griff--Returns to Foleshill and resumes going to
     church--Acquaintance with Miss Sara Hennell, and development
     of friendship with her and Mr. and Mrs. Bray--Letters to Miss
     Sara Hennell describing mental characteristics--Attitude
     towards immortality--Death of Miss Mary Hennell--Excursion
     with the Brays, Mr. Charles Hennell, and Miss Hennell to
     Stratford and Malvern, and to Tenby with same party and Miss
     Brabant--Meets Robert Owen--Studies German and music with
     Mrs. Bray--Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, with important
     declaration of opinion in regard to conformity--Mr. Charles
     Hennell's marriage--Stay with Dr. Brabant at
     Devizes--Arrangement for translation of Strauss's "Leben
     Jesu"--Excursion with Brays to the Cumberland lakes,
     returning by Manchester and Liverpool--Weary of
     Strauss--Letter to Mrs. Bray--Poetry of
     Christianity--Admiration of Harriet Martineau's "The Crofton
     Boys"--Trip to London--Despair about publication of
     Strauss--Subscription of £300 for the work--In better
     heart--Minutiæ of Strauss translation--Pains taken with the
     _Schluss Abhandlung_--Opinion of Strauss's work--The book in
     print--Trip to the Highlands--Strauss difficulties--Miss
     Hennell reads the translation and makes
     suggestions--Suffering from headaches and "Strauss-sick"--The
     last MS. of the translation sent to Miss Hennell--Joy at
     finishing--Delighted with Strauss's Preface.


[17] Brother's marriage.

[18] Miss Mary Hennell was the author of "An Outline of the Various
Social Systems founded on the Principle of Co-operation," published in

[19] This was an ivory image she had of the Crucified Christ over the
desk in her study at Foleshill, where she did all her work at that
time--a little room on the first floor, with a charming view over the


     The completion of the translation of Strauss is another
     milestone passed in the life journey of George Eliot, and the
     comparatively buoyant tone of the letters immediately
     following makes us feel that the galled neck is out of the
     yoke for a time. In May, Mrs. Bray had gone away from home
     for a visit, and the next letter is addressed to her.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Bray, Sunday (probably about 6th May),

Do not stay any longer than is necessary to do you good, lest I should
lose the pleasure of loving you, for my affections are always the
warmest when my friends are within an attainable distance. I think I
can manage to keep respectably warm towards you for three weeks
without seeing you, but I cannot promise more. Tell Mr. Bray I am
getting too amiable for this world, and Mr. Donovan's wizard hand
would detect a slight corrugation of the skin on my organs 5 and
6;[20] they are so totally without exercise. I had a lecture from Mr.
Pears on Friday, as well as a sermon this morning, so you need be in
no alarm for my moral health. Do you never think of those Caribs who,
by dint of flattening their foreheads, can manage to see
perpendicularly above them without so much as lifting their heads?
There are some good people who remind me of them. They see everything
so clearly and with so little trouble, but at the price of sad

     On the 26th May Miss Evans went to pay a visit to Mrs. and
     Miss Hennell at Hackney, and she writes from there to Mrs.
     Bray, who was expected to join them in London.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Bray, end of May, 1846.]

I cannot deny that I am very happy without you, but perhaps I shall be
happier with you, so do not fail to try the experiment. We have been
to town only once, and are saving all our strength to "rake" with you;
but we are as ignorant as Primitive Methodists about any of the
amusements that are going. Please to come in a very mischievous,
unconscientious, theatre-loving humor. Everybody I see is very kind to
me, and therefore I think them all very charming; and, having
everything I want, I feel very humble and self-denying. It is only
rather too great a bore to have to write to my friends when I am half
asleep, and I have not yet reached that pitch of amiability that makes
such magnanimity easy. Don't bring us any bad news or any pains, but
only nods and becks and wreathèd smiles.

     They stayed in London till the 5th June, and on the 15th of
     that month the translation of Strauss was published. On the
     2d July Mrs. Bray writes to Miss Hennell that Miss Evans "is
     going to Dover with her father, for a fortnight." In passing
     through Dover on our way to the Continent, in 1880, after our
     marriage, we visited the house they stayed at in 1846, and my
     wife then told me that she had suffered a great deal there,
     as her father's health began to show signs of breaking up. On
     returning to Coventry there is the following letter referring
     to Wicksteed's review of the translation of Strauss, which
     was advertised for the forthcoming number of the _Prospective

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, Thursday, Aug. (?) 1846.]

Do you think it worth my while to buy the _Prospective_ for the sake
of Wicksteed's review--is there anything new in it? Do you know if Mr.
Chapman has any unusual facilities for obtaining cheap classics? Such
things are to be got handsome and second-hand in London--if one knew
but the way. I want to complete Xenophon's works. I have the
"Anabasis," and I might, perhaps, get a nice edition of the
"Memorabilia" and "Cyropædia" in a cheaper way than by ordering them
directly from our own bookseller. I have been reading the "Fawn of
Sertorius."[21] I think you would like it, though the many would not.
It is pure, chaste, and classic, beyond any attempt at fiction I ever
read. If it be Bulwer's, he has been undergoing a gradual
transfiguration, and is now ready to be exalted into the assembly of
the saints. The professor's (Strauss's) letter, transmitted through
you, gave me infinite consolation, more especially the apt and
pregnant quotation from Berosus. Precious those little hidden lakelets
of knowledge in the high mountains, far removed from the vulgar eye,
only visited by the soaring birds of love.

     On 25th September, 1846, Mrs. Bray writes to Miss Hennell
     that Miss Evans "looks very brilliant just now. We fancy she
     must be writing her novel;" and then come the following
     letters, written in October and November:

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, Oct. 1846.]

All the world is bathed in glory and beauty to me now, and thou
sharest in the radiance. Tell me whether I live for you as you do for
me, and tell me how gods and men are treating you. You must send me a
scrap every month--only a scrap with a dozen words in it, just to
prevent me from starving on faith alone--of which you know I have the
minimum of endowment. I am sinning against my daddy by yielding to the
strong impulse I felt to write to you, for he looks at me as if he
wanted me to read to him.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 29th Oct. 1846.]

I do not know whether I can get up any steam again on the subject of
Quinet; but I will try--when Cara comes back, however, for she has run
away with "Christianity" into Devonshire, and I must have the book as
a springing-board. When does the _Prospective_ come out?

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 1st Nov. 1846.]

The review of Strauss contains some very just remarks, though, on the
whole, I think it shallow, and in many cases unfair. The praise it
gives to the translation is just what I should have wished; indeed, I
cannot imagine anything more gratifying in the way of laudation. Is it
not droll that Wicksteed should have chosen one of my interpolations,
or rather paraphrases, to dilate on. The expression "granite," applied
to the sayings of Jesus, is nowhere used by Strauss, but is an
impudent addition of mine to eke out his metaphor. Did you notice the
review of Foster's Life?[22] I am reading the Life, and thinking all
the time how you would like it. It is deeply interesting to study the
life of a genius under circumstances amid which genius is so seldom to
be found. Some of the thoughts in his journal are perfect gems.

     The words of the reviewer of the Strauss translation in the
     _Prospective_ are worth preserving: "A faithful, elegant, and
     scholarlike translation. Whoever reads these volumes without
     any reference to the German must be pleased with the easy,
     perspicuous, idiomatic, and harmonious force of the English
     style. But he will be still more satisfied when, on turning
     to the original, he finds that the rendering is word for
     word, thought for thought, and sentence for sentence. In
     preparing so beautiful a rendering as the present, the
     difficulties can have been neither few nor small in the way
     of preserving, in various parts of the work, the exactness of
     the translation, combined with that uniform harmony and
     clearness of style which imparts to the volumes before us the
     air and spirit of an original. Though the translator never
     obtrudes himself upon the reader with any notes or comments
     of his own, yet he is evidently a man who has a familiar
     knowledge of the whole subject; and if the work be the joint
     production of several hands, moving in concert, the passages
     of a specially scholastic character, at least, have received
     their version from a discerning and well-informed theologian.
     Indeed, Strauss may well say, as he does in the notice which
     he writes for the English edition, that, as far as he has
     examined it, the translation is 'et accurata et perspicua.'"

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, end of Nov. 1846.]

Many things, both outward and inward, have concurred to make this
November far happier than the last. One's thoughts

     "Are widened with the process of the suns;"

and if one is rather doubtful whether one is really wiser or better,
it is some comfort to know that the desire to be so is more pure and
dominant. I have been thinking of that most beautiful passage in
Luke's Gospel--the appearance of Jesus to the disciples at Emmaus. How
universal in its significance! The soul that has hopelessly followed
its Jesus--its impersonation of the highest and best--all in
despondency; its thoughts all refuted, its dreams all dissipated. Then
comes another Jesus--another, but the same--the same highest and best,
only chastened--crucified instead of triumphant--and the soul learns
that this is the true way to conquest and glory. And then there is the
burning of the heart, which assures that "this was the Lord!"--that
this is the inspiration from above, the true comforter that leads unto
truth. But I am not become a Methodist, dear Sara; on the contrary, if
I am pious one day, you may be sure I was very wicked the day before,
and shall be so again the next.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 20th Dec. 1846.]

I have been at Griff for the last week, or I should have written
before. I thank you most heartily for sending me "Heliados"--first,
because I admire it greatly in itself; and, secondly, because it is a
pretty proof that I am not dissociated from your most hallowed
thoughts. As yet I have read it only once, but I promise myself to
read it again and again. I shall not show it to any one, for I hate
"friendly criticism," as much for you as for myself; but you have a
better spirit than I, and when you come I will render "Heliados" up to
you, that others may have the pleasure of reading it.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 18th Feb. 1847.]

Lying in bed this morning, grievously tormented, your "Heliados"
visited me and revealed itself to me more completely than it had ever
done before. How true that "it is only when all portions of an
individual nature, or all members of society, move forward
harmoniously together that religious progress is calm and beneficial!"
I imagine the sorrowful amaze of a child who had been dwelling with
delight on the idea that the stars were the pavement of heaven's
court, and that there above them sat the kind but holy God, looking
like a venerable Father who would smile on his good little ones--when
it was cruelly told, before its mind had substance enough to bear such
tension, that the sky was not real, that the stars were worlds, and
that even the sun could not be God's dwelling, because there were
many, many suns. These ideas would introduce atheism into the child's
mind, instead of assisting it to form a nobler conception of God (of
course I am supposing the bare information given, and left to the
child to work upon); whereas the idea it previously had of God was
perfectly adapted to its intellectual condition, and formed to the
child as perfect an embodiment of the all-good, all-wise, and
all-powerful as the most enlightened philosopher ever formed to

     On 21st April Miss Evans went to London with the Brays, and,
     among other things, heard "Elijah" at Exeter Hall. On
     returning to Coventry she writes:

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 30th April, 1847.]

I did so long to see you after hearing "Elijah," just to exchange an
exclamation of delight. Last night I had a perfect treat, too, in "I
Puritani." Castellar was admirable as Elvira, and Gardoni as a seraph.
N.B.--I liked the Babel less--another sign of age.

     Mention has already been made of Miss Mary Sibree (now Mrs.
     John Cash of Coventry), and as the following genial letter is
     addressed to her, it gives an opportunity for mentioning here
     that Miss Evans had a high regard for all the members of the
     Sibree family. At the end of this year (1847) and the
     beginning of 1848 there will be found an interesting
     correspondence with Miss Sibree's brother, Mr. John Sibree,
     who, in 1849, published a translation of Hegel's "Lectures
     on the Philosophy of History," and in 1880 a volume of poems
     entitled "Fancy, and other Rhymes." The subjoined extract
     from a communication from Mrs. Cash will show upon what terms
     Miss Evans was with the family:

     "It was in the early part of the year 1841 that Miss Franklin
     came to see my mother at our house on the Foleshill
     road--about a mile and a half from Coventry--to tell her, as
     a piece of most interesting news, that an old pupil, of whom
     she herself and her sister Rebecca had always been very
     proud, was coming at the Lady-Day quarter to live at a house
     on the same road--within five minutes' walk of ours. This was
     Miss Evans, then twenty-one years of age. Miss Franklin dwelt
     with much pride on Miss Evans's mental power, on her skill in
     music, etc.; but the great recommendation to my mother's
     interest was the zeal for others which had marked her earnest
     piety at school, where she had induced the girls to come
     together for prayer, and which had led her to visit the poor
     most diligently in the cottages round her own home. Many
     years after, an old nurse of mine told me that these poor
     people had said, after her removal, 'We shall never have
     another Mary Ann Evans.'

     "My mother was asked to second and help her in work of this
     kind. 'She will be sure to get something up very soon,' was
     the last remark I can recall; and on her first visit to us I
     well remember she told us of a club for clothing, set going
     by herself and her neighbor Mrs. Pears, in a district to
     which she said 'the euphonious name of the Pudding-Pits had
     been given.' It was not until the winter of 1841, or early
     in 1842, that my mother first received (not from Miss Evans's
     own lips, but through a mutual friend) the information that a
     total change had taken place in this gifted woman's mind with
     respect to the evangelical religion, which she had evidently
     believed in up to the time of her coming to Coventry, and for
     which, she once told me, she had at one time sacrificed the
     cultivation of her intellect, and a proper regard to personal
     appearance. 'I used,' she said, 'to go about like an owl, to
     the great disgust of my brother; and I would have denied him
     what I now see to have been quite lawful amusements.' My
     mother's grief, on hearing of this change in one whom she had
     begun to love, was very great; but she thought argument and
     expostulation might do much, and I well remember a long
     evening devoted to it, but no more of the subject-matter than
     her indignant refusal to blame the Jews for not seeing in a
     merely spiritual Deliverer a fulfilment of promises of a
     temporal one; and a still more emphatic protest against my
     father's assertion that we had no claim on God. To Miss
     Evans's affectionate and pathetic speech to my mother, 'Now,
     Mrs. Sibree, you won't care to have anything more to do with
     me,' my mother rejoined, 'On the contrary, I shall feel more
     interested in you than ever.' But it was very evident at this
     time that she stood in no _need_ of sympathizing friends;
     that the desire for congenial society, as well as for books
     and larger opportunities for culture, which had led her most
     eagerly to seek a removal from Griff to a home near Coventry,
     had been met beyond her highest expectations. In Mr. and Mrs.
     Bray, and in the Hennell family, she had found friends who
     called forth her interest and stimulated her powers in no
     common degree. This was traceable even in externals--in the
     changed tone of voice and manner--from formality to a
     geniality which opened my heart to her, and made the next
     five years the most important epoch in my life. She gave me
     (as yet in my teens) weekly lessons in German, speaking
     freely on all subjects, but with no attempt to directly
     unsettle my evangelical beliefs, confining herself in these
     matters to a steady protest against the claim of the
     Evangelicals to an exclusive possession of higher motives to
     morality--or even to religion. Speaking to my mother of her
     dearest friend, Mrs. Bray, she said, 'She is the most
     religious person I know.' Of Mr. Charles Hennell, in whose
     writings she had great interest, she said, 'He is a perfect
     model of manly excellence.'

     "On one occasion, at Mr. Bray's house at Rosehill, roused by
     a remark of his on the beneficial influence exercised by
     evangelical beliefs on the moral feelings, she said
     energetically, 'I say it now, and I say it once for all, that
     I am influenced in my own conduct at the present time by far
     higher considerations, and by a nobler idea of duty, than I
     ever was while I held the evangelical beliefs.' When, at
     length, after my brother's year's residence at the Hallé
     University (in 1842-43), my own mind having been much
     exercised in the matter of religion, I felt the moral
     difficulties press heavily on my conscience, and my whole
     heart was necessarily poured out to my 'guide, philosopher,
     and friend,' the steady turning of my attention from
     theoretical questions to a confession of my own want of
     thoroughness in arithmetic, which I pretended to teach; and
     the request that I would specially give attention to this
     study and get my conscience clear about it, and that I would
     not come to her again until my views of religion were also
     clear, is too characteristic of Miss Evans, as I knew her
     during those years, and too much in harmony with the moral
     teaching of George Eliot, to be omitted in reminiscences by
     one to whom that wholesome advice proved a turning-point in
     life. Two things more I cannot omit to mention: one, the
     heightened sense given to me by her of the duty of making
     conversation profitable, and, in general, of using time for
     serious purposes--of the positive immorality of frittering it
     away in ill-natured or in poor, profitless talk; another, the
     debt (so frequently acknowledged by Miss Evans to me) which
     she owed, during the years of her life with her father, to
     the intercourse she enjoyed with her friends at Rosehill. Mr.
     and Mrs. Bray and Miss Hennell, with their friends, were
     _her_ world; and on my saying to her once, as we closed the
     garden-door together, that we seemed to be entering a
     paradise, she said, 'I do indeed feel that I shut the world
     out when I shut that door.' It is consoling to me now to feel
     that in her terrible suffering through her father's illness
     and death, which were most trying to witness, she had such

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Mary Sibree, 10th May, 1847.]

It is worth while to forget a friend for a week or ten days, just for
the sake of the agreeable kind of startle it gives one to be reminded
that one has such a treasure in reserve--the same sort of pleasure, I
suppose, that a poor body feels who happens to lay his hand on an
undreamed-of sixpence which had sunk to a corner of his pocket. When
Mr. Sibree brought me your parcel, I had been to London for a week;
and having been full of Mendelssohn oratorios and Italian operas, I
had just this kind of delightful surprise when I saw your note and the
beautiful purse. Not that I mean to compare you to a sixpence; you are
a bright, golden sovereign to me, with edges all unrubbed, fit to
remind a poor, tarnished, bruised piece, like me, that there are ever
fresh and more perfect coinages of human nature forthcoming. I am very
proud of my purse--first, because I have long had to be ashamed of
drawing my old one out of my pocket; and, secondly, because it is a
sort of symbol of your love for me--and who is not proud to be loved?
For there is a beautiful kind of pride at which no one need frown--I
may call it a sort of impersonal pride--a thrill of exultation at all
that is good and lovely and joyous as a possession of our human

I am glad to think of all your pleasure among friends new and old.
Mrs. D----'s mother is, I dare say, a valuable person; but do not, I
beseech thee, go to old people as oracles on matters which date any
later than their thirty-fifth year. Only trust them, if they are good,
in those practical rules which are the common property of long
experience. If they are governed by one special idea which
circumstances or their own mental bias have caused them to grasp with
peculiar firmness, and to work up into original forms, make yourself
master of their thoughts and convictions, the residuum of all that
long travail which poor mortals have to encounter in their threescore
years and ten, but do not trust their application of their gathered
wisdom; for however just old people may be their _principles_ of
judgment, they are often wrong in their application of them, from an
imperfect or unjust conception of the matter to be judged. Love and
cherish and venerate the old; but never imagine that a worn-out,
dried-up organization can be so rich in inspiration as one which is
full fraught with life and energy. I am not talking like one who is
superlatively jealous for the rights of the old; yet such I am, I
assure thee. I heard Mendelssohn's new oratorio, "Elijah," when I was
in London. It has been performed four times in Exeter Hall to as large
an audience as the building would hold--Mendelssohn himself the
conductor. It is a glorious production, and altogether I look upon it
as a kind of sacramental purification of Exeter Hall, and a
proclamation of indulgence for all that is to be perpetrated there
during this month of May. This is a piece of impiety which you may
expect from a lady who has been guanoing her mind with French novels.
This is the impertinent expression of D'Israeli, who, writing himself
much more detestable stuff than ever came from a French pen, can do
nothing better to bamboozle the unfortunates who are seduced into
reading his "Tancred" than speak superciliously of all other men and
things--an expedient much more successful in some quarters than one
would expect. But _au fond_, dear Mary, I have no impiety in my mind
at this moment, and my soul heartily responds to your rejoicing that
society is attaining a more perfect idea and exhibition of Paul's
exhortation--"Let the same mind be in you which was also in Christ
Jesus." I believe the Amen to this will be uttered more and more
fervently, "Among all posterities for evermore."

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 15th June, 1847.]

Ask me not why I have never written all this weary time. I can only
answer, "All things are full of labor--man cannot utter it"--_et seq._
See the first chapter of Ecclesiastes for my experience.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 16th Sept. 1847.]

I have read the "Inquiry" again with more than interest--with delight
and high admiration. My present impression from it far surpasses the
one I had retained from my two readings about five years ago. With the
exception of a few expressions which seem too little discriminating in
the introductory sketch, there is nothing in its whole tone, from
beginning to end, that jars on my moral sense; and apart from any
opinion of the book as an explanation of the existence of Christianity
and the Christian documents, I am sure that no one, fit to read it at
all, could read it without being intellectually and morally
stronger--the reasoning is so close, the induction so clever, the
style so clear, vigorous, and pointed, and the animus so candid and
even generous. Mr. Hennell ought to be one of the happiest of men that
he has done such a life's work. I am sure if I had written such a book
I should be invulnerable to all the arrows of all spiteful gods and
goddesses. I should say, "None of these things move me, neither count
I my life dear unto myself," seeing that I have delivered such a
message of God to men. The book is full of _wit_, to me. It gives me
that exquisite kind of laughter which comes from the gratification of
the reasoning faculties. For instance: "If some of those who were
actually at the mountain doubted whether they saw Jesus or not, we may
reasonably doubt whether he was to be seen at all there: especially as
the words attributed to him do not seem at all likely to have been
said, from the disciples paying no attention to them." "The disciples
considered her (Mary Magdalene's) words idle tales, and believed them
not." We have thus their example for considering her testimony alone
as insufficient, and for seeking further evidence. To say "Jewish
philosopher" seems almost like saying a round square; yet those two
words appear to me the truest description of Jesus. I think the
"Inquiry" furnishes the utmost that can be done towards obtaining a
_real_ view of the life and character of Jesus, by rejecting as little
as possible from the Gospels. I confess that I should call many things
"shining ether," to which Mr. Hennell allows the solid angularity of
facts; but I think he has thoroughly worked out the problem--subtract
from the New Testament the miraculous and highly improbable, and what
will be the remainder?

     At the end of September Miss Evans and her father went for a
     little trip to the Isle of Wight, and on their return there
     is the following letter:

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 13th Oct. 1847.]

I heartily wish you had been with me to see all the beauties which
have gladdened my soul and made me feel that this earth is as good a
heaven as I ought to dream of. I have a much greater respect for the
Isle of Wight, now I have seen it, than when I knew it only by
report--a compliment which one can seldom very sincerely pay to things
and people that one has heard puffed and bepraised. I do long for you
to see Alum Bay. Fancy a very high precipice, the strata upheaved
perpendicularly in rainbow-like streaks of the brightest maize,
violet, pink, blue, red, brown, and brilliant white, worn by the
weather into fantastic fretwork, the deep blue sky above, and the
glorious sea below. It seems an enchanted land, where the earth is of
more delicate, refined materials than this dingy planet of ours is
wrought out of. You might fancy the strata formed of the compressed
pollen of flowers, or powder from bright insects. You can think of
nothing but Calypsos, or Prosperos and Ariels, and such-like beings.

I find one very great spiritual good attendant on a quiet, meditative
journey among fresh scenes. I seem to have removed to a distance from
myself when I am away from the petty circumstances that make up my
ordinary environment. I can take myself up by the ears and inspect
myself, like any other queer monster on a small scale. I have had many
thoughts, especially on a subject that I should like to work out--"The
superiority of the consolations of philosophy to those of (so-called)
religion." Do you stare?

Thank you for putting me on reading Sir Charles Grandison. I have read
five volumes, and am only vexed that I have not the two last on my
table at this moment, that I might have them for my _convives_. I had
no idea that Richardson was worth so much. I have had more pleasure
from him than from all the Swedish novels together. The morality is
perfect--there is nothing for the new lights to correct.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 27th Nov. 1847.]

How do you like "Lelia," of which you have never spoken one word? I am
provoked with you for being in the least pleased with "Tancred;" but
if you have found out any lofty meaning in it, or any true picturing
of life, tell it me, and I will recant. I have found two new readers
of Strauss. One, a lady at Leamington, who is also reading the
"Inquiry," but likes Strauss better! The other is a gentleman here in
Coventry; he says "it is most clever and ingenious, and that no one
whose faith rests only on the _common_ foundation can withstand it." I
think he may safely say that his faith rests on an _un_common
foundation. The book will certainly give him a lift in the right
direction, from its critical, logical character--just the opposite of
his own. I was interested the other day in talking to a young lady who
lives in a nest of clergymen, her brothers, but not of the evangelical
school. She had been reading Blanco White's life, and seems to have
had her spirit stirred within her, as every one's must be who reads
the book with any power of appreciation. She is unable to account to
herself for the results at which Blanco White arrived with his
earnestness and love of truth; and she asked me if I had come to the
same conclusions.

I think "Live and teach" should be a proverb as well as "Live and
learn." We must teach either for good or evil; and if we use our
inward light as the Quaker tells us, always taking care to feed and
trim it well, our teaching must, in the end, be for good. We are
growing old together--are we not? I am growing happier too. I am
amusing myself with thinking of the prophecy of Daniel as a sort of
allegory. All those monstrous, "rombustical" beasts with their
horns--the horn with eyes and a mouth speaking proud things, and the
little horn that waxed rebellious and stamped on the stars, seem like
my passions and vain fancies, which are to be knocked down one after
the other, until all is subdued into a universal kingdom over which
the Ancient of Days presides--the spirit of love--the Catholicism of
the Universe--if you can attach any meaning to such a phrase. It _has_
a meaning for my sage noddle.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, Jan. 1848.]

I am reading George Sand's "Lettres d'un Voyageur" with great delight,
and hoping that they will some time do you as much good as they do me.
In the meantime, I think the short letter about "Lelia" will interest
you. It has a very deep meaning to my apprehension. You can send back
the pages when you have duly digested them. I once said of you that
yours was a sort of alkali nature which would detect the slightest acid
of falsehood. You began to phiz-z-z directly it approached you. I want
you as a test. I now begin to see the necessity of the arrangement (a
bad word) that love should determine people's fate while they are
young. It is so impossible to admire--"_s'enthousiasmer_" of--an
_individual_ as one gets older.

     Here follows the interesting correspondence, referred to
     before, with Mr. John Sibree:

[Sidenote: Letter to J. Sibree, beginning of 1848.]

Begin your letter by abusing me, according to my example. There is
nothing like a little gunpowder for a damp chimney; and an explosion
of that sort will set the fire of your ideas burning to admiration. I
hate bashfulness and modesties, as Sir Hugh Evans would say; and I
warn you that I shall make no apologies, though, from my habit of
writing only to people who, rather than have nothing from me, will
tolerate nothings, I shall be very apt to forget that you are not one
of those amiably silly individuals. I must write to you _more meo_,
without taking pains or laboring to be _spirituelle_ when Heaven never
meant me to be so; and it is your own fault if you bear with my
letters a moment after they become an infliction. I am glad you detest
Mrs. Hannah More's letters. I like neither her letters, nor her books,
nor her character. She was that most disagreeable of all monsters, a
blue-stocking--a monster that can only exist in a miserably false
state of society, in which a woman with but a smattering of learning
or philosophy is classed along with singing mice and card-playing
pigs. It is some time since I read "Tancred," so that I have no very
vivid recollection of its details; but I thought it very "thin," and
inferior in the working up to "Coningsby" and "Sybil." Young
Englandism is almost as remote from my sympathies as Jacobitism, as
far as its force is concerned, though I love and respect it as an
effort on behalf of the people. D'Israeli is unquestionably an able
man, and I always enjoy his tirades against liberal principles as
opposed to popular principles--the name by which he distinguishes his
own. As to his theory of races, it has not a leg to stand on, and can
only be buoyed up by such windy eloquence as--You chubby-faced,
squabby-nosed Europeans owe your commerce, your arts, your religion,
to the Hebrews--nay, the Hebrews lead your armies: in proof of which
he can tell us that Massena, a second-rate general of Napoleon's, was
a Jew, whose real name was Manasseh. Extermination up to a certain
point seems to be the law for the inferior races--for the rest fusion,
both for physical and moral ends. It appears to me that the law by
which privileged classes degenerate, from continual intermarriage,
must act on a larger scale in deteriorating whole races. The nations
have been always kept apart until they have sufficiently developed
their idiosyncrasies, and then some great revolutionary force has been
called into action, by which the genius of a particular nation becomes
a portion of the common mind of humanity. Looking at the matter
æsthetically, our idea of beauty is never formed on the
characteristics of a single race. I confess the types of the pure
races, however handsome, always impress me disagreeably; there is an
undefined feeling that I am looking not at _man_, but at a specimen of
an order under Cuvier's class Bimana. The negroes certainly puzzle me.
All the other races seem plainly destined to extermination, not
excepting even the Hebrew Caucasian. But the negroes are too
important, physiologically and geographically, for one to think of
their extermination; while the repulsion between them and the other
races seems too strong for fusion to take place to any great extent.
On one point I heartily agree with D'Israeli as to the superiority of
the Oriental races--their clothes are beautiful and their manners are
agreeable. Did you not think the picture of the Barroni family
interesting? I should like to know who are the originals. The
fellowship of race, to which D'Israeli so exultingly refers the
munificence of Sidonia, is so evidently an inferior impulse, which
must ultimately be superseded, that I wonder even he, Jew as he is,
dares to boast of it. My Gentile nature kicks most resolutely against
any assumption of superiority in the Jews, and is almost ready to echo
Voltaire's vituperation. I bow to the supremacy of Hebrew poetry, but
much of their early mythology, and almost all their history, is
utterly revolting. Their stock has produced a Moses and a Jesus; but
Moses was impregnated with Egyptian philosophy, and Jesus is venerated
and adored by us only for that wherein he transcended or resisted
Judaism. The very exaltation of their idea of a national deity into a
spiritual monotheism seems to have been borrowed from the other
Oriental tribes. Everything specifically Jewish is of a low grade.

And do you really think that sculpture and painting are to die out of
the world? If that be so, let another deluge come as quickly as
possible, that a new race of Glums and Gowries may take possession of
this melancholy earth. I agree with you as to the inherent superiority
of music--as that questionable woman, the Countess Hahn-Hahn, says
painting and sculpture are but an idealizing of our actual existence.
Music arches over this existence with another and a diviner. Amen,
too, to that _ideenvoll_ observation of Hegel's. "We hardly know what
it is to feel for human misery until we have heard a shriek; and a
more perfect hell might be made out of sound than out of any
preparation of fire and brimstone." When the tones of our voice have
betrayed peevishness or harshness, we seem to be doubly haunted by the
ghost of our sin; we are doubly conscious that we have been untrue to
our part in the great Handel chorus. But I cannot assent to the notion
that music is to supersede the other arts, or that the highest minds
must necessarily aspire to a sort of Milton blindness, in which the
_tiefste der Sinne_ is to be a substitute for all the rest. I cannot
recognize the truth of all that is said about the necessity of
religious fervor to high art. I am sceptical as to the real existence
of such fervor in any of the greatest artists. Artistic power seems to
me to resemble dramatic power--to be an intimate perception of the
varied states of which the human mind is susceptible, with ability to
give them out anew in intensified expression. It is true that the
older the world gets originality becomes less possible. Great subjects
are used up, and civilization tends evermore to repress individual
predominance, highly wrought agony, or ecstatic joy. But all the
gentler emotions will be ever new, ever wrought up into more and more
lovely combinations, and genius will probably take their direction.

Have you ever seen a head of Christ taken from a statue, by
Thorwaldsen, of Christ scourged? If not, I think it would almost
satisfy you. There is another work of his, said to be very sublime,
of the Archangel waiting for the command to sound the last trumpet.
Yet Thorwaldsen came at the fag end of time.

I am afraid you despise landscape painting; but to me even the works
of our own Stanfield, and Roberts, and Creswick bring a whole world of
thought and bliss--"a sense of something far more deeply interfused."
The ocean and the sky and the everlasting hills are spirit to me, and
they will never be robbed of their sublimity.

[Sidenote: Letter to J. Sibree, beginning of 1848.]

I have tired myself with trying to write cleverly, _invitâ Minervâ_,
and having in vain endeavored to refresh myself by turning over
Lavater's queer sketches of physiognomies, and still queerer judgments
on them, it is a happy thought of mine that I have a virtuous reason
for spending my _ennui_ on you.

I send you a stanza I picked up the other day in George Sand's
"Lettres d'un Voyageur," which is almost the ultimatum of human wisdom
on the question of human sorrow.

     "Le bonheur et le malheur,
     Nous viennent du même auteur,
     Voilà la _ressemblance_.
     Le bonheur nous rend heureux,
     Et le malheur malheureux,
     Voilà la différence."

Ah, here comes a cup of coffee to console me! When I have taken it I
will tell you what George Sand says: "Sais tu bien que tout est dit
devant Dieu et devant les hommes quand l'homme infortuné demande
compte de ses maux et qu'il obtient cette réponse? Qu'y a-t-il de
plus? Rien." But I am not a mocking pen, and if I were talking to you
instead of writing, you would detect some falsity in the ring of my
voice. Alas! the atrabiliar patient you describe is first cousin to
me in my very worst moods, but I have a profound faith that the
serpent's head will be bruised. This conscious kind of false life that
is ever and anon endeavoring to form itself within us and eat away our
true life, will be overcome by continued accession of vitality, by our
perpetual increase in "quantity of existence," as Foster calls it.
Creation is the superadded life of the intellect; sympathy,
all-embracing love, the superadded moral life. These given more and
more abundantly, I feel that all the demons, which are but my own
egotism mopping and mowing and gibbering, would vanish away, and there
would be no place for them,

     "For every gift of noble origin
     Is breathed upon by hope's perpetual breath."

Evils, even sorrows, are they not all negations? Thus matter is in a
perpetual state of decomposition; superadd the principle of life, and
the tendency to decomposition is overcome. Add to this consciousness,
and there is a power of self-amelioration. The passions and senses
decompose, so to speak. The intellect, by its analytic power,
restrains the fury with which they rush to their own destruction; the
moral nature purifies, beautifies, and at length transmutes them. But
to whom am I talking? You know far more _sur ce chapitre_ than I.

Every one talks of himself or herself to me, and I beg you will follow
every one's example in this one thing only. Individuals are precious
to me in proportion as they unfold to me their intimate selves. I have
just had lent me the journal of a person who died some years ago. When
I was less venerable I should have felt the reading of such a thing
insupportable; now it interests me, though it is the simplest record
of events and feelings.

Mary says she has told you about Mr. Dawson and his lecture--miserably
crude and mystifying in some parts, but with a few fine passages. He
is a very delightful man, but not (at least so say my impressions) a
great man. How difficult it is to be great in this world, where there
is a tariff for spiritualities as well as for beeves and cheese and
tallow. It is scarcely possible for a man simply to give out his true
inspiration--the real, profound conviction which he has won by hard
wrestling, or the few-and-far-between pearls of imagination; he must
go on talking or writing by rote, or he must starve. Would it not be
better to take to tent-making with Paul, or to spectacle-making with

[Sidenote: Letter to J. Sibree, Feb. 1848.]

Write and tell you that I join you in your happiness about the French
Revolution? Very fine, my good friend. If I made you wait for a letter
as long as you do me, our little _échantillon_ of a millennium would
be over, Satan would be let loose again, and I should have to share
your humiliation instead of your triumph.

Nevertheless I absolve you, for the sole merit of thinking rightly
(that is, of course, just as I do) about _la grande nation_ and its
doings. You and Carlyle (have you seen his article in last week's
_Examiner_?) are the only two people who feel just as I would have
them--who can glory in what is actually great and beautiful without
putting forth any cold reservations and incredulities to save their
credit for wisdom. I am all the more delighted with your enthusiasm
because I didn't expect it. I feared that you lacked revolutionary
ardor. But no--you are just as _sans-culottish_ and rash as I would
have you. You are not one of those sages whose reason keeps so tight
a rein on their emotions that they are too constantly occupied in
calculating consequences to rejoice in any great manifestation of the
forces that underlie our every-day existence. I should have written a
soprano to your jubilate the very next day, but that, lest I should be
exalted above measure, a messenger of Satan was sent in the form of a
headache, and directly on the back of that a face-ache, so that I have
been a mere victim of sensations, memories, and visions for the last
week. I am even now, as you may imagine, in a very shattered,
limbo-like mental condition.

I thought we had fallen on such evil days that we were to see no
really great movement; that ours was what St. Simon calls a purely
critical epoch, not at all an organic one; but I begin to be glad of
my date. I would consent, however, to have a year clipped off my life
for the sake of witnessing such a scene as that of the men of the
barricades bowing to the image of Christ, "who first taught fraternity
to men." One trembles to look into every fresh newspaper lest there
should be something to mar the picture; but hitherto even the scoffing
newspaper critics have been compelled into a tone of genuine respect
for the French people and the Provisional Government. Lamartine can
act a poem if he cannot write one of the very first order. I hope that
beautiful face given to him in the pictorial newspaper is really his;
it is worthy of an aureole. I am chiefly anxious about Albert, the
operative, but his picture is not to be seen. I have little patience
with people who can find time to pity Louis Philippe and his
moustachioed sons. Certainly our decayed monarchs should be pensioned
off; we should have a hospital for them, or a sort of zoological
garden, where these worn-out humbugs may be preserved. It is but
justice that we should keep them, since we have spoiled them for any
honest trade. Let them sit on soft cushions, and have their dinner
regularly, but, for Heaven's sake, preserve me from sentimentalizing
over a pampered old man when the earth has its millions of unfed souls
and bodies. Surely he is not so Ahab-like as to wish that the
revolution had been deferred till his son's days: and I think that the
shades of the Stuarts would have some reason to complain if the
Bourbons, who are so little better than they, had been allowed to
reign much longer.

I should have no hope of good from any imitative movement at home. Our
working classes are eminently inferior to the mass of the French
people. In France the _mind_ of the people is highly electrified; they
are full of ideas on social subjects; they really desire social
_reform_--not merely an acting out of Sancho Panza's favorite proverb,
"Yesterday for you, to-day for me." The revolutionary animus extended
over the whole nation, and embraced the rural population--not merely,
as with us, the artisans of the towns. Here there is so much larger a
proportion of selfish radicalism and unsatisfied brute sensuality (in
the agricultural and mining districts especially) than of perception
or desire of justice that a revolutionary movement would be simply
destructive, not constructive. Besides, it would be put down. Our
military have no notion of "fraternizing." They have the same sort of
inveteracy as dogs have for the ill-dressed _canaille_. They are as
mere a brute force as a battering-ram; and the aristocracy have got
firm hold of them. And there is nothing in our constitution to
obstruct the slow progress of _political_ reform. This is all we are
fit for at present. The social reform which may prepare us for great
changes is more and more the object of effort both in Parliament and
out of it. But we English are slow crawlers. The sympathy in Ireland
seems at present only of the water-toast kind. The Glasgow riots are
more serious; but one cannot believe in a Scotch Reign of Terror in
these days. I should not be sorry to hear that the Italians had risen
_en masse_, and chased the odious Austrians out of beautiful Lombardy.
But this they could hardly do without help, and that involves another
European war.

Concerning the "tent-making," there is much more to be said, but am I
to adopt your rule and never speak of what I suppose we agree about?
It is necessary to me, not simply to _be_ but to _utter_, and I
require utterance of my friends. What is it to me that I think the
same thoughts? I think them in a somewhat different fashion. No mind
that has any _real_ life is a mere echo of another. If the perfect
unison comes occasionally, as in music, it enhances the harmonies. It
is like a diffusion or expansion of one's own life to be assured that
its vibrations are repeated in another, and words are the media of
those vibrations. Is not the universe itself a perpetual utterance of
the one Being? So I say again, utter, utter, utter, and it will be a
deed of mercy twice blessed, for I shall be a safety-valve for your
communicativeness and prevent it from splitting honest people's brains
who don't understand you; and, moreover, it will be fraught with
ghostly comfort to me.

[Sidenote: Letter to J. Sibree, Sunday evening, later in 1848.]

I might make a very plausible excuse for not acknowledging your kind
note earlier by telling you that I have been both a nurse and invalid;
but, to be thoroughly ingenuous, I must confess that all this would
not have been enough to prevent my writing but for my chronic disease
of utter idleness. I have heard and thought of you with great
interest, however. You have my hearty and not inexperienced sympathy;
for, to speak in the style of Jonathan Oldbuck, I am _haud ignara
mali_. I have gone through a trial of the same genus as yours, though
rather differing in species. I sincerely rejoice in the step you have
taken; it is an absolutely necessary condition for any true
development of your nature. It was impossible to think of your career
with hope, while you tacitly subscribed to the miserable _etiquette_
(it deserves no better or more spiritual name) of sectarianism. Only
persevere; be true, firm, and loving; not too anxious about immediate
usefulness to others--that can only be a result of justice to
yourself. Study mental hygiene. Take long doses of _dolce far niente_,
and be in no great hurry about anything in this 'varsal world! Do we
not commit ourselves to sleep, and so resign all care for ourselves
every night; lay ourselves gently on the bosom of Nature or God? A
beautiful reproach to the spirit of some religionists and ultra good

I like the notion of your going to Germany, as good in every way, for
yourself, body and mind, and for all others. Oh, the bliss of having a
very high attic in a romantic Continental town, such as Geneva, far
away from morning callers, dinners, and decencies, and then to pause
for a year and think _de omnibus rebus et quibusdam aliis_, and then
to return to life, and work for poor stricken humanity, and never
think of self again![23]

I am writing nearly in the dark, with the post-boy waiting. I fear I
shall not be at home when you come home, but surely I shall see you
before you leave England. However that may be, I shall utter a genuine

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 1st Feb. 1848.]

In my view there are but two kinds of _regular_ correspondence
possible--one of simple affection, which gives a picture of all the
details, painful and pleasurable, that a loving heart pines after, and
this we carry on through the medium of Cara; or one purely moral and
intellectual, carried on for the sake of ghostly edification, in which
each party has to put salt on the tails of all sorts of ideas on all
sorts of subjects, in order to send a weekly or fortnightly packet, as
so much duty and self-castigation. I have always been given to
understand that such Lady-Jane-Grey-like works were your abhorrence.
However, let me know what you _would_ like--what would make you
continue to hold me in loving remembrance or convince you that you are
a bright evergreen in my garden of pleasant plants. Behold me ready to
tear off my right hand or pluck out my right eye (metaphorically, of
course--I speak to an experienced exegetist, _comme dirait notre_
Strauss), or write reams of letters full of interesting falsehoods or
very dull truths. We have always concluded that our correspondence
should be of the _third_ possible kind--one of impulse, which is
necessarily irregular as the Northern Lights.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 14th April, 1848.]

I am a miserable wretch, with aching limbs and sinking spirits, but
still alive enough to feel the kindness of your last note. I
thoroughly enjoyed your delight in Emerson. I should have liked to see
you sitting by him "with awful eye," for once in your life feeling all
the bliss of veneration. I am quite uncertain about our movements.
Dear father gets on very slowly, if at all. You will understand the
impossibility of my forming any plans for my own pleasure. Rest is
the only thing I can think of with pleasure now.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 20th April, 1848.]

Dear father is so decidedly progressing towards recovery that I am
full of quiet joy--a gentle dawning light after the moonlight of
sorrow. I have found already some of the "sweet uses" that belong only
to what is called trouble, which is, after all, only a deepened gaze
into life, like the sight of the darker blue and the thickening host
of stars when the hazy effect of twilight is gone--as our dear Blanco
White said of death. I shall have less time than I have had at my own
disposal, probably; but I feel prepared to accept life, nay, lovingly
to embrace it, in any form in which it shall present itself.

     Some time in May Mr. Evans and his daughter went to St.
     Leonard's, and remained there till near the end of June. His
     mortal illness had now taken hold of him, and this was a
     depressing time, both for him and for her, as will be seen
     from the following letters:

[Sidenote: Letter to Charles Bray, May, 1848.]

Your words of affection seem to make this earthly atmosphere sit less
heavily on my shoulders, and in gratitude I must send you my thanks
before I begin to read of Henry Gow and Fair Catharine for father's
delectation. In truth, I have found it somewhat difficult to live for
the last week--conscious all the time that the only additions to my
lot worth having must be more strength to love in my own nature; but
perhaps this very consciousness has an irritating rather than a
soothing effect. I have a fit of sensitiveness upon me, which, after
all, is but egotism and mental idleness. The enthusiasm without which
one cannot even pour out breakfast well (at least _I_ cannot) has
forsaken me. You may laugh, and wonder when my enthusiasm has
displayed itself, but that will only prove that you are no seer. I can
never live long without it in some form or other. I possess my soul in
patience for a time, believing that this dark, damp vault in which I
am groping will soon come to an end, and the fresh, green earth and
the bright sky be all the more precious to me. But for the present my
address is Grief Castle, on the River of Gloom, in the Valley of
Dolor. I was amused to find that Castle Campbell in Scotland was
called so. Truly for many seasons in my life I should have been an
appropriate denizen of such a place; but I have faith that unless I am
destined to insanity, I shall never again abide long in that same
castle. I heartily say Amen to your dictum about the cheerfulness of
"large moral regions." Where _thought_ and _love_ are active--thought
the formative power, love the vitalizing--there can be no sadness.
They are in themselves a more intense and extended participation of a
divine existence. As they grow, the highest species of faith grows
too, and all things are possible. I don't know why I should prose in
this way to you. But I wanted to thank you for your note, and all this
selfish grumbling was at my pen's end. And now I have no time to
redeem myself. We shall not stay long away from home, I feel sure.

[Sidenote: Letter to Charles Bray, 31st May, 1848.]

Father has done wonders in the way of walking and eating--for him--but
he makes not the slightest attempt to amuse himself, so that I
scarcely feel easy in following my own bent even for an hour. I have
told you everything now, except that I look amiable in spite of a
strong tendency to look black, and speak gently, though with a strong
propensity to be snappish. Pity me, ye happier spirits that look
amiable and speak gently because ye _are_ amiable and gentle.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 4th June, 1848.]

Alas for the fate of poor mortals, which condemns them to wake up some
fine morning and find all the poetry in which their world was bathed
only the evening before utterly gone!--the hard, angular world of
chairs and tables and looking-glasses staring at them in all its naked
prose! It is so in all the stages of life; the poetry of girlhood
goes, the poetry of love and marriage, the poetry of maternity, and at
last the very poetry of duty forsakes us for a season, and we see
ourselves, and all about us, as nothing more than miserable
agglomerations of atoms--poor tentative efforts of the _Natur Princip_
to mould a personality. This is the state of prostration, the
self-abnegation, through which the soul must go, and to which perhaps
it must again and again return, that its poetry or religion, which is
the same thing, may be a real, ever-flowing river, fresh from the
windows of heaven and the fountains of the great deep--not an
artificial basin, with grotto-work and gold-fish. I feel a sort of
madness growing upon me, just the opposite of the delirium which makes
people fancy that their bodies are filling the room. It seems to me as
if I were shrinking into that mathematical abstraction, a point. But I
am wasting this "good Sunday morning" in grumblings.

[Sidenote: Letter to Charles Bray, 8th June, 1848.]

Poor Louis Blanc! The newspapers make me melancholy; but shame upon me
that I say "poor." The day will come when there will be a temple of
white marble, where sweet incense and anthems shall rise to the memory
of every man and woman who has had a deep _Ahnung_--a presentiment, a
yearning, or a clear vision--of the time when this miserable reign of
Mammon shall end; when men shall be no longer "like the fishes of the
sea," society no more like a face one half of which--the side of
profession, of lip-faith--is fair and God-like; the other half--the
side of deeds and institutions--with a hard, old, wrinkled skin
puckered into the sneer of a Mephistopheles. I worship the man who has
written as the climax of his appeal against society, "L'inegalité des
talents _doit aboutir_ non à l'inegalité des retributions mais à
l'inegalité des devoirs." You will wonder what has wrought me up into
this fury. It is the loathsome fawning, the transparent hypocrisy, the
systematic giving as little as possible for as much as possible that
one meets with here at every turn. I feel that society is training men
and women for hell.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 23d June, 1848.]

All creatures about to moult, or to cast off an old skin, or enter on
any new metamorphosis, have sickly feelings. It was so with me. But
now I am set free from the irritating, worn-out integument. I am
entering on a new period of my life, which makes me look back on the
past as something incredibly poor and contemptible. I am enjoying
repose, strength, and ardor in a greater degree than I have ever
known, and yet I never felt my own insignificance and imperfection so
completely. My heart bleeds for dear father's pains, but it is blessed
to be at hand to give the soothing word and act needed. I should not
have written this description of myself but that I felt your
affectionate letter demanded some I-ism, which, after all, is often
humility rather than pride. Paris, poor Paris--alas! alas!

[Sidenote: Letter to Charles Bray, June, 1848.]

I have read "Jane Eyre," and shall be glad to know what you admire in
it. All self-sacrifice is good, but one would like it to be in a
somewhat nobler cause than that of a diabolical law which chains a man
soul and body to a putrefying carcass. However, the book _is_
interesting; only I wish the characters would talk a little less like
the heroes and heroines of police reports.

     About the beginning of July Miss Evans and her father
     returned to Coventry; and the 13th July was a memorable day,
     as Emerson came to visit the Brays, and she went with them to
     Stratford. All she says herself about it is in this note.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, Friday, July, 1848.]

I have seen Emerson--the first _man_ I have ever seen. But you have
seen still more of him, so I need not tell you what he is. I shall
leave Cara to tell how the day--the Emerson day--was spent, for I have
a swimming head from hanging over the desk to write business letters
for father. Have you seen the review of Strauss's pamphlet in the
_Edinburgh_? The title is "Der Romantiker auf dem Throne der Cäsaren,
oder Julian der Abtrünnige"--a sort of erudite satire on the King of
Prussia; but the reviewer pronounces it to have a permanent value
quite apart from this fugitive interest. The "Romantiker," or
Romanticist, is one who, in literature, in the arts, in religion or
politics, endeavors to revive the dead past. Julian was a romanticist
in wishing to restore the Greek religion and its spirit, when mankind
had entered on the new development. But you have very likely seen the
review. I must copy one passage, translated from the conclusion of
Strauss's pamphlet, lest you should not have met with it. "Christian
writers have disfigured the death-scene of Julian. They have
represented him as furious, blaspheming, despairing, and in his
despair exclaiming, _Thou_ hast conquered, O Galilean!--'[Greek:
nenikekas Galilaie].' This phrase, though false as history, has a
truth in it. It contains a prophecy--to us a consoling prophecy--and
it is this: Every Julian--_i.e._, every great and powerful man--who
would attempt to resuscitate a state of society which has died, will
infallibly be vanquished by the Galilean--for the Galilean is nothing
less than the genius of the future!"

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, Dec. 1848.]

Father's tongue has just given utterance to a thought which has been
very visibly radiating from his eager eyes for some minutes. "I
thought you were going on with the book." I can only bless you for
those two notes, which have emanated from you like so much ambrosial
scent from roses and lavender. Not less am I grateful for the Carlyle
eulogium.[24] I have shed some quite delicious tears over it. This is
a world worth abiding in while one man can thus venerate and love
another. More anon--this from my doleful prison of stupidity and
barrenness, with a yawning trapdoor ready to let me down into utter
fatuity. But I can even yet feel the omnipotence of a glorious chord.
Poor pebble as I am, left entangled among slimy weeds, I can yet hear
from afar the rushing of the blessed torrent, and rejoice that it is
there to bathe and brighten other pebbles less unworthy of the

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, end of 1848.]

Thank you for a sight of our blessed St. Francis's[25] letter. There
is no imaginable moment in which the thought of such a being could be
an intrusion. His soul is a blessed _yea_. There is a sort of
blasphemy in that proverbial phrase, "Too good to be true." The
highest inspiration of the purest, noblest human soul, is the nearest
expression of the truth. Those extinct volcanoes of one's spiritual
life--those eruptions of the intellect and the passions which have
scattered the lava of doubt and negation over our early faith--are
only a glorious Himalayan chain, beneath which new valleys of
undreamed richness and beauty will spread themselves. Shall we poor
earthworms have sublimer thoughts than the universe, of which we are
poor chips--mere effluvia of mind--shall we have sublimer thoughts
than that universe can furnish out into reality? I am living
unspeakable moments, and can write no more.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, Jan. 1849.]

I think of you perpetually, but my thoughts are all aqueous; they will
not crystallize--they are as fleeting as ripples on the sea. I am
suffering perhaps as acutely as ever I did in my life. Breathe a wish
that I may gather strength--the fragrance of your wish will reach me

     The next letter is to Mrs. Houghton, who, it will be
     remembered, was the only daughter by Mr. Evans's first
     marriage. Miss Evans had more intellectual sympathy with this
     half-sister Fanny than with any of the other members of her
     family, and it is a pity that more of the letters to her have
     not been preserved.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Houghton, Sunday evening, 1849.]

I have been holding a court of conscience, and I cannot enjoy my
Sunday's music without restoring harmony, without entering a protest
against that superficial soul of mine which is perpetually
contradicting and belying the true inner soul. I am in that mood
which, in another age of the world, would have led me to put on
sackcloth and pour ashes on my head, when I call to mind the sins of
my tongue--my animadversions on the faults of others, as if I thought
myself to be something when I am nothing. When shall I attain to the
true spirit of love which Paul has taught for all the ages? I want no
one to excuse me, dear Fanny; I only want to remove the shadow of my
miserable words and deeds from before the divine image of truth and
goodness, which I would have all beings worship. I need the Jesuits'
discipline of silence, and though my "evil speaking" issues from the
intellectual point of view rather than the moral--though there may be
gall in the thought while there is honey in the feeling, yet the evil
speaking is wrong. We may satirize character and qualities in the
abstract without injury to our moral nature, but persons hardly ever.
Poor hints and sketches of souls as we are--with some slight,
transient vision of the perfect and the true--we had need help each
other to gaze at the blessed heavens instead of peering into each
other's eyes to find out the motes there.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, Sunday morning, 4th Feb. 1849.]

I have not touched the piano for nearly two months until this morning,
when, father being better, I was determined to play a mass before the
piano is utterly out of tune again. _Write, asking for nothing again_,
like a true disciple of Jesus. I am still feeling rather shattered in
brain and limbs; but do not suppose that I lack inward peace and
strength. My body is the defaulter--_consciously_ so. I triumph over
all things in the spirit, but the flesh is weak, and disgraces itself
by headaches and backaches. I am delighted to find that you mention
Macaulay, because that is an indication that Mr. Hennell has been
reading him. I thought of Mr. H. all through the book, as the only
person I could be quite sure would enjoy it as much as I did myself. I
did not know if it would interest you: tell me more explicitly that it
does. Think of Babylon being unearthed in spite of the prophecies?
Truly we are looking before and after, "au jour d'aujourd'hui," as
Monsieur Bricolin says. Send me the criticism of Jacques the morn's
morning--only beware there are not too many blasphemies against my

Paint soap-bubbles--and never fear but I will find _a_ meaning, though
very likely not your meaning. Paint the Crucifixion in a bubble--after
Turner--and then the Resurrection: I see them now.

There has been a vulgar man sitting by while I have been writing, and
I have been saying parenthetical bits of civility to him to help out
poor father in his conversation, so I have not been quite sure what I
have been saying to you. I have woful aches which take up half my
nervous strength.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 9th Feb. 1849.]

My life is a perpetual nightmare, and always haunted by something to
be done, which I have never the time, or, rather, the energy, to do.
Opportunity is kind, but only to the industrious, and I, alas! am not
one of them. I have sat down in desperation this evening, though dear
father is very uneasy, and his moans distract me, just to tell you
that you have full absolution for your criticism, which I do not
reckon of the impertinent order. I wish you thoroughly to understand
that the writers who have most profoundly influenced me--who have
rolled away the waters from their bed, raised new mountains and spread
delicious valleys for me--are not in the least oracles to me. It is
just possible that I may not embrace one of their opinions; that I may
wish my life to be shaped quite differently from theirs. For instance,
it would signify nothing to me if a very wise person were to stun me
with proofs that Rousseau's views of life, religion, and government
are miserably erroneous--that he was guilty of some of the worst
_bassesses_ that have degraded civilized man. I might admit all this:
and it would be not the less true that Rousseau's genius has sent that
electric thrill through my intellectual and moral frame which has
awakened me to new perceptions; which has made man and nature a fresh
world of thought and feeling to me; and this not by teaching me any
new belief. It is simply that the rushing mighty wind of his
inspiration has so quickened my faculties that I have been able to
shape more definitely for myself ideas which had previously dwelt as
dim _Ahnungen_ in my soul; the fire of his genius has so fused
together old thoughts and prejudices that I have been ready to make
new combinations.

It is thus with George Sand. I should never dream of going to her
writings as a moral code or text-book. I don't care whether I agree
with her about marriage or not--whether I think the design of her plot
correct, or that she had no precise design at all, but began to write
as the spirit moved her, and trusted to Providence for the
catastrophe, which I think the more probable case. It is sufficient
for me, as a reason for bowing before her in eternal gratitude to that
"great power of God manifested in her," that I cannot read six pages
of hers without feeling that it is given to her to delineate human
passion and its results, and (I must say, in spite of your judgment)
some of the moral instincts and their tendencies, with such
truthfulness, such nicety of discrimination, such tragic power, and,
withal, such loving, gentle humor, that one might live a century with
nothing but one's own dull faculties, and not know so much as those
six pages will suggest. The psychological anatomy of Jacques and
Fernande in the early days of their marriage seems quite
preternaturally true--I mean that her power of describing it is
preternatural. Fernande and Jacques are merely the feminine and the
masculine nature, and their early married life an every-day tragedy;
but I will not dilate on the book or on your criticism, for I am so
sleepy that I should write nothing but _bêtises_. I have at last the
most delightful "De imitatione Christi," with quaint woodcuts. One
breathes a cool air as of cloisters in the book--it makes one long to
be a saint for a few months. Verily its piety has its foundations in
the depth of the divine-human soul.

     In March Miss Evans wrote a short notice of the "Nemesis of
     Faith" for the _Coventry Herald_, in which she says:

"We are sure that its author is a bright, particular star, though he
sometimes leaves us in doubt whether he be not a fallen 'son of the

     The paper was sent to Mr. Froude, and on 23d March Mrs. Bray
     writes to Miss Hennell: "Last night at dusk M. A. came
     running in in high glee with a most charming note from
     Froude, naïvely and prettily requesting her to reveal
     herself. He says he recognized her hand in the review in the
     _Coventry Herald_, and if she thinks him a fallen star she
     might help him to rise, but he 'believes he has only been
     dipped in the Styx, and is not much the worse for the bath.'
     Poor girl, I am so pleased she should have this little
     episode in her dull life."

     The next letter again refers to Mr. Froude's books.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, Wednesday, April, 1849.]

Tell me not that I am a mere prater--that feeling never talks. I will
talk, and caress, and look lovingly, until death makes me as stony as
the Gorgon-like heads of all the judicious people I know. What is
anything worth until it is uttered? Is not the universe one great
utterance? Utterance there must be in word or deed to make life of any
worth. Every true pentecost is a gift of utterance. Life is too short
and opportunities too meagre for many deeds--besides, the best
friendships are precisely those where there is no possibility of
material helpfulness--and I would take no deeds as an adequate
compensation for the frigid, glassy eye and hard, indifferent tones
of one's very solid and sensible and conscientious friend. You will
wonder of what this is _à propos_--only of a little bitterness in my
own soul just at this moment, and not of anything between you and me.
I have nothing to tell you, for all the "haps" of my life are so
indifferent. I spin my existence so entirely out of myself that there
is a sad want of proper names in my conversation, and I am becoming a
greater bore than ever. It is a consciousness of this that has kept me
from writing to you. My letters would be a sort of hermit's diary. I
have so liked the thought of your enjoying the "Nemesis of Faith." I
quote Keats's sonnet, _à propos_ of that book. It has made me feel--

           "Like some watcher of the skies
     When a new planet swims into his ken;
     Or like stout Cortez--when with eagle eyes
     He stared at the Pacific, and all his men
     Look'd at each other with a wild surmise--
     Silent, upon a peak in Darien."

You must read "The Shadows of the Clouds." It produces a sort of
palpitation that one hardly knows whether to call wretched or
delightful. I cannot take up the book again, though wanting very much
to read it more closely. Poor and shallow as one's own soul is, it is
blessed to think that a sort of transubstantiation is possible by
which the greater ones can live in us. Egotism apart, another's
greatness, beauty, or bliss is one's own. And let us sing a
_Magnificat_ when we are conscious that this power of expansion and
sympathy is growing, just in proportion as the individual
satisfactions are lessening. Miserable dust of the earth we are, but
it is worth while to be so, for the sake of the living soul--the
breath of God within us. You see I can do nothing but scribble my own
prosy stuff--such chopped straw as my soul is foddered on. I am
translating the "Tractatus Theologico-Politicus" of Spinoza, and seem
to want the only friend that knows how to praise or blame. How
exquisite is the satisfaction of feeling that another mind than your
own sees precisely where and what is the difficulty--and can exactly
appreciate the success with which it is overcome. One knows--_sed
longo intervallo_--the full meaning of the "fit audience though few."
How an artist must hate the noodles that stare at his picture, with a
vague notion that it _is_ a clever thing to be able to paint.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Pears, 10th May, 1849.]

I know it will gladden your heart to hear that father spoke of you the
other day with affection and gratitude. He remembers you as one who
helped to strengthen that beautiful spirit of resignation which has
never left him through his long trial. His mind is as clear and
rational as ever, notwithstanding his feebleness, and he gives me a
thousand little proofs that he understands my affection and responds
to it. These are very precious moments to me; my chair by father's
bedside is a very blessed seat to me. My delight in the idea that you
are being benefited after all, prevents me from regretting you, though
you are just the friend that would complete my comfort. Every addition
to your power of enjoying life is an expansion of mine. I partake of
your ebb and flow. I am going to my post now. I have just snatched an
interval to let you know that, though you have taken away a part of
yourself from me, neither you nor any one else can take the whole.

     It will have been seen from these late letters, that the last
     few months of her father's illness had been a terrible strain
     on his daughter's health and spirits. She did all the nursing
     herself, and Mrs. Congreve (who was then Miss Bury, daughter
     of the doctor who was attending Mr. Evans--and who, it will
     be seen, subsequently became perhaps the most intimate and
     the closest of George Eliot's friends) tells me that her
     father told her at the time that he never saw a patient more
     admirably and thoroughly cared for. The translating was a
     great relief when she could get to it. Under date of 19th
     April, 1849, Mrs. Bray writes to Miss Hennell, "M. A. is
     happy now with this Spinoza to do: she says it is such a rest
     for her mind."

     The next letter to Rosehill pathetically describes how the
     end came at last to Mr. Evans's sufferings:

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, half-past nine, Wednesday morning, 31st
May, 1849.]

Dear friends, Mr. Bury told us last night that he thought father would
not last till morning. I sat by him with my hand in his till four
o'clock, and he then became quieter and has had some comfortable
sleep. He is obviously weaker this morning, and has been for the last
two or three days so painfully reduced that I dread to think what his
dear frame may become before life gives way. My brother slept here
last night, and will be here again to-night. What shall I be without
my father? It will seem as if a part of my moral nature were gone. I
write when I can, but I do not know whether my letter will do to send
this evening.

_P.S._--Father is very, very much weaker this evening.

     Mr. Evans died during that night, 31st May, 1849.

[Illustration: Portrait of Mr. Robert Evans.]


MAY, 1846, TO MAY, 1849.

     Visit to Mrs. Hennell at Hackney--Letters to Mrs.
     Bray--Strauss translation published--Visit to Dover with
     father--Classical books wanted--Pleasure in Strauss's
     letter--Brays suspect novel-writing--Letters to Miss Sara
     Hennell--Good spirits--Wicksteed's review of the Strauss
     translation--Reading Foster's life--Visit to Griff--Child's
     view of God (_à propos_ of Miss Hennell's "Heliados")--Visit
     to London--"Elijah"--Likes London less--The Sibree family and
     Mrs. John Cash's reminiscences--Letter to Miss Mary
     Sibree--Letters to Miss Sara Hennell--Mental
     depression--Opinion of Charles Hennell's "Inquiry"--Visit to
     the Isle of Wight with father--Admiration of
     Richardson--Blanco White--Delight in George Sand's "Lettres
     d'un Voyageur"--Letters to Mr. John Sibree--Opinion of Mrs.
     Hannah More's letters--"Tancred," "Coningsby," and
     "Sybil"--D'Israeli's theory of races--Gentile nature kicks
     against superiority of Jews--Bows only to the supremacy of
     Hebrew poetry--Superiority of music among the arts--Relation
     of religion to art--Thorwaldsen's Christ--Admiration of
     Roberts and Creswick--The intellect and moral nature restrain
     the passions and senses--Mr. Dawson the
     lecturer--Satisfaction in French Revolution of '48--The men
     of the barricade bowing to the image of Christ--Difference
     between French and English working-classes--The need of
     utterance--Sympathy with Mr. Sibree in religious
     difficulties--Longing for a high attic in Geneva--Letters to
     Miss Sara Hennell--Views on correspondence--Mental
     depression--Father's illness--Father better--Goes with him to
     St. Leonard's--Letter to Charles Bray--Depression to be
     overcome by thought and love--Admiration of Louis
     Blanc--Recovery from depression--"Jane Eyre"--Return to
     Coventry--Meets Emerson--Strauss's pamphlet on Julian the
     Apostate--Carlyle's eulogium on Emerson--Francis
     Newman--Suffering from depression--Letter to Mrs.
     Houghton--Self-condemnation for evil speaking--Letters to
     Miss Hennell--Macaulay's History--On the influence of George
     Sand's and Rousseau's writing--Writes review of the "Nemesis
     of Faith" for the _Coventry Herald_--Opinion of the "Nemesis"
     and the "Shadows of the Clouds"--Translating Spinoza's
     "Tractatus Theologico-Politicus"--Letter to Mrs. Pears--The
     consolations of nursing--Strain of father's illness--Father's


[20] Organs of Combativeness.

[21] Afterwards acknowledged by the author, Robert Landor (brother of
Walter Savage Landor), who also wrote the "Fountain of Arethusa," etc.

[22] John Foster, Baptist minister, born 1770, died 1843.

[23] An _Ahnung_--a presentiment--of her own future.

[24] On Emerson.

[25] Francis Newman.


     It fortunately happened that the Brays had planned a trip to
     the Continent for this month of June, 1849, and Miss Evans,
     being left desolate by the death of her father, accepted
     their invitation to join them. On the 11th June they started,
     going by way of Paris, Lyons, Avignon, Marseilles, Nice,
     Genoa, Milan, Como, Lago Maggiore, Martigny, and Chamounix,
     arriving at Geneva in the third week of July. Here Miss Evans
     determined to remain for some months, the Brays returning
     home. Before they went, however, they helped her to settle
     herself comfortably _en pension_, and, as will be seen from
     the following letters, the next eight months were quietly and
     peacefully happy. The _pension_ selected in the first
     instance was the Campagne Plongeon, which stands on a slight
     eminence a few hundred yards back from the road on the route
     d'Hermance, some ten minutes' walk from the Hôtel Métropole.
     From the Hôtel National on the Quai de Mont Blanc one catches
     a pleasant glimpse of it nestling among its trees. A
     good-sized, gleaming white house, with a centre, and gables
     at each side, a flight of steps leading from the middle
     window to the ground. A meadow in front, nicely planted,
     slopes charmingly down to the blue lake, and behind the
     house, on the left-hand side, there is an avenue of
     remarkably fine chestnut-trees, whence there is a magnificent
     view of the Jura mountains on the opposite side of the lake.
     The road to Geneva is very beautiful, by the lake-side,
     bordered with plane-trees. It was a delightful, soothing
     change after the long illness and the painful death of her
     father--after the monotonous dulness, too, of an English
     provincial town like Coventry, where there is little beauty
     of any sort to gladden the soul. In the first months
     following a great loss it is good to be alone for a
     time--alone, especially amidst beautiful scenes--and alone in
     the sense of being removed from habitual associations, but
     yet constantly in the society of new acquaintances, who are
     sufficiently interesting, but not too intimate. The Swiss
     correspondence which follows is chiefly addressed to the
     Brays collectively, and describes the life minutely.

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 27th July, 1840.]

About my comfort here, I find no disagreeables, and have every
physical comfort that I care about. The family seems well-ordered and
happy. I have made another friend, too--an elderly English lady, a
Mrs. Locke, who used to live at Ryde--a pretty old lady with plenty of
shrewdness and knowledge of the world. She began to say very kind
things to me in rather a waspish tone yesterday morning at breakfast.
I liked her better at dinner and tea, and to-day we are quite
confidential. I only hope she will stay; she is just the sort of
person I shall like to have to speak to--not at all "congenial," but
with a character of her own. The going down to tea bores me, and I
shall get out of it as soon as I can, unless I can manage to have the
newspapers to read. The American lady embroiders slippers--the mamma
looks on and does nothing. The marquis and his friends play at whist;
the old ladies sew; and madame says things so true that they are
insufferable. She is obliged to talk to all, and cap their
_niaiseries_ with some suitable observation. She has been very kind
and motherly to me. I like her better every time I see her. I have
quiet and comfort--what more can I want to make me a healthy,
reasonable being once more? I will never go near a friend again until
I can bring joy and peace in my heart and in my face--but remember
that friendship will be easy then.

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 5th Aug. 1849.]

I hope my imagination paints truly when it shows me all of you seated
with beaming faces round the tea-table at Rosehill. I shall be
yearning to know that things as well as people are smiling on you; but
I am sure you will not let me wait for news of you longer than is
necessary. My life here would be delightful if we could always keep
the same set of people; but, alas! I fear one generation will go and
another come so fast that I shall not care to become acquainted with
any of them. My good Mrs. Locke is not going, that is one comfort. She
is quite a mother to me--helps me to buy my candles and do all my
shopping--takes care of me at dinner, and quite rejoices when she sees
me enjoy conversation or anything else. The St. Germains are
delightful people--the marquise really seems to me the most charming
person I ever saw, with kindness enough to make the ultra-politeness
of her manners quite genuine. She is very good to me, and says of me,
"Je m'interesse vivement à mademoiselle." The marquis is the most
well-bred, harmless of men. He talks very little--every sentence seems
a terrible gestation, and comes forth _fortissimo_; but he generally
bestows one on me, and seems especially to enjoy my poor tunes (mind
you, all these trivialities are to satisfy your vanity, not
mine--because you are beginning to be ashamed of having loved me).
The gray-headed gentleman got quite fond of talking philosophy with me
before he went; but, alas! he and a very agreeable young man who was
with him are gone to Aix les Bains. The young German is the Baron de
H----. I should think he is not more than two or three and twenty,
very good-natured, but a most determined enemy to all gallantry. I
fancy he is a Communist; but he seems to have been joked about his
opinions by madame and the rest until he has determined to keep a
proud silence on such matters. He has begun to talk to me, and I think
we should become good friends; but he, too, is gone on an expedition
to Monte Rosa. He is expecting his brother to join him here on his
return, but I fear they will not stay long. The _gouvernante_ is a
German, with a moral region that would rejoice Mr. Bray's eyes. Poor
soul, she is in a land of strangers, and often seems to feel her
loneliness. Her situation is a very difficult one; and "_die Angst_,"
she says, often brings on a pain at her heart. Madame is a woman of
some reading and considerable talent--very fond of politics, a
devourer of the journals, with an opinion ready for you on any subject
whatever. It will be a serious loss to her to part with the St.
Germain family. I fear that they will not stay longer than this month.
I should be quite indifferent to the world that comes or goes if once
I had my boxes with all my books. Last Sunday I went with madame to a
small church near Plongeon, and I could easily have fancied myself in
an Independent chapel at home. The spirit of the sermon was not a whit
more elevated than that of our friend Dr. Harris; the text, "What
shall I do to be saved?" the answer of Jesus being blinked as usual.

To-day I have been to hear one of the most celebrated preachers, M.
Meunier. His sermon was really eloquent--all written down, but
delivered with so much energy and feeling that you never thought of
the book. It is curious to notice how patriotism--_dévouement à la
patrie_--is put in the sermons as the first of virtues, even before
devotion to the Church. We never hear of it in England after we leave
school. The good marquis goes with his family and servants, all nicely
dressed, to the Catholic Church. They are a most orderly set of
people: there is nothing but their language and their geniality and
politeness to distinguish them from one of the best of our English
aristocratic families. I am perfectly comfortable; every one is kind
to me and seems to like me. Your kind hearts will rejoice at this, I
know. Only remember that I am just as much interested in all that
happens to you at Rosehill as you are in what happens to me at
Plongeon. Pray that the motto of Geneva may become mine--"_Post
tenebras lux_."

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 20th Aug. 1849.]

I have no head for writing to-day, for I have been keeping my bed for
the last three days; but I must remember that writing to you is like
ringing a bell hung in the planet Jupiter--it is so weary a while
before one's letters reach. I have been positively sickening for want
of my boxes, and anxiety to hear of my relations. Your kind letter of
this morning has quieted the latter a little; but my boxes, alas! have
not appeared. Do not be alarmed about my health. I have only had a
terrible headache--prolonged, in fact, by the assiduities of the good
people here; for the first day I lay in my bed I had the whole female
world of Plongeon in my bedroom, and talked so incessantly that I was
unable to sleep after it; the consequence, as you may imagine, was
that the next day I was very much worse; but I am getting better, and
indeed it was worth while to be ill to have so many kind attentions.
There is a fresh German family from Frankfurt here just now--Madame
Cornelius and her children. She is the daughter of the richest banker
in Frankfurt, and, what is better, full of heart and mind, with a face
that tells you so before she opens her lips. She has more reading than
the marquise, being German and Protestant; and it is a real
refreshment to talk with her for half an hour. The dear marquise is a
truly devout Catholic. It is beautiful to hear her speak of the
comfort she has in the confessional--for our _têtes-à-tête_ have
lately turned on religious matters. She says I am in a "mauvaise voie
sous le rapport de la religion. Peut être vous vous marierez, et le
mariage, chère amie, sans la foi religieuse!..." She says I have
isolated myself by my studies--that I am too cold and have too little
confidence in the feelings of others towards me--that I do not believe
how deep an interest she has conceived in my lot. She says Signor
Goldrini (the young Italian who was here for a week) told her, when he
had been talking to me one evening, "Vous aimerez cette demoiselle,
j'en suis sûr"--and she has found his prediction true. They are
leaving for their own country on Wednesday. She hopes I shall go to
Italy and see her; and when I tell her that I have no faith that she
will remember me long enough for me to venture on paying her a visit
if ever I should go to Italy again, she shakes her head at my
incredulity. She was born at Genoa. Her father was three years
Sardinian Minister at Constantinople before she was married, and she
speaks with enthusiasm of her life there--"C'est là le pays de la
vraie poésie ou l'on sent ce que c'est que de vivre par le coeur." M.
de H---- is returned from Monte Rosa. He would be a nice person if he
had another soul added to the one he has by nature--the soul that
comes by sorrow and love. I stole his book while he was gone--the
first volume of Louis Blanc's "History of Ten Years." It contains a
very interesting account of the three days of July, 1830. His brother
is coming to join him, so I hope he will not go at present. Tell Miss
Sibree my address, and beg her to write to me all about herself, and
to write on thin paper. I hardly know yet whether I shall like this
place well enough to stay here through the winter. I have been under
the disadvantage of wanting all on which I chiefly depend, my books,
etc. When I have been here another month I shall be better able to
judge. I hope you managed to get in the black velvet dress. The people
dress, and think about dressing, here more even than in England. You
would not know me if you saw me. The marquise took on her the office
of _femme de chambre_ and dressed my hair one day. She has abolished
all my curls, and made two things stick out on each side of my head
like those on the head of the Sphinx. All the world says I look
infinitely better; so I comply, though to myself I seem uglier than
ever--if possible. I am fidgeted to death about my boxes, and that
tiresome man not to acknowledge the receipt of them. I make no apology
for writing all my peevishness and follies, because I want you to do
the same--to let me know everything about you, to the aching of your
fingers--and you tell me very little. My boxes, my boxes! I dream of
them night and day. Dear Mr. Hennell! Give him my heartiest
affectionate remembrances. Tell him I find no one here so spirited as
he: there are no better jokes going than I can make myself. Mrs.
Hennell and Mrs. C. Hennell, too, all are remembered--if even I have
only seen them in England.

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 28th Aug. 1849.]

Mme. de Ludwigsdorff, the wife of an Austrian baron, has been here for
two days, and is coming again. She is handsome, spirited, and
clever--pure English by birth, but quite foreign in manners and
appearance. She, and all the world besides, are going to winter in
Italy. Nothing annoys me now; I feel perfectly at home, and shall
really be comfortable when I have all my little matters about me. This
place looks more lovely to me every day--the lake, the town, the
_campagnes_, with their stately trees and pretty houses, the glorious
mountains in the distance; one can hardly believe one's self on earth;
one might live here, and forget that there is such a thing as want or
labor or sorrow. The perpetual presence of all this beauty has
somewhat the effect of mesmerism or chloroform. I feel sometimes as if
I were sinking into an agreeable state of numbness, on the verge of
unconsciousness, and seem to want well pinching to rouse me. The other
day (Sunday) there was a _fête_ held on the lake--the _fête_ of
Navigation. I went out, with some other ladies, in M. de H----'s boat,
at sunset, and had the richest draught of beauty. All the boats of
Geneva turned out in their best attire. When the moon and stars came
out there were beautiful fireworks sent up from the boats. The
mingling of the silver and the golden rays on the rippled lake, the
bright colors of the boats, the music, the splendid fireworks, and the
pale moon looking at it all with a sort of grave surprise, made up a
scene of perfect enchantment; and our dear old Mont Blanc was there,
in his white ermine robe. I rowed all the time, and hence comes my
palsy. I can perfectly fancy dear Mrs. Pears in her Leamington house.
How beautiful all that Foleshill life looks now, like the distant Jura
in the morning! She was such a sweet, dear, good friend to me. My
walks with her, my little visits to them in the evening--all is
remembered. I am glad you have seen Fanny again; any attention you
show her is a real kindness to me, and I assure you she is worth it.
You know, or, you do not know, that my nature is so chameleon-like I
shall lose all my identity unless you keep nourishing the old self
with letters; so, pray, write as much and as often as you can. It
jumps admirably with my humor to live in two worlds at once in this
way. I possess my dearest friends and my old environment in my
thoughts, and another world of novelty and beauty in which I am
actually moving, and my contrariety of disposition always makes the
world that lives in my thoughts the dearer of the two, the one in
which I more truly dwell. So, after all, I enjoy my friends most when
I am away from them. I shall not say so, though, if I should live to
rejoin you six or seven months hence. Keep me for seven[26] years
longer, and you will find out the use of me, like all other pieces of

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Houghton, 6th Sept. 1849.]

Have I confided too much in your generosity in supposing that you
would write to me first? or is there some other reason for your
silence? I suffer greatly from it--not entirely from selfish reasons,
but in great part because I am really anxious to know all about you,
your state of health and spirits, the aspect of things within and
without you. Did Mr. Bray convey to you my earnest request that you
would write to me? You know of my whereabouts and circumstances from
my good friends at Rosehill, so that I have little to tell you; at
least, I have not spirit to write of myself until I have heard from
you, and have an assurance from yourself that you yet care about me.
Sara (Mrs. Isaac Evans) has sent me word of the sad, sad loss that has
befallen poor Chrissey and Edward--a loss in which I feel that I have
a share; for that angelic little being had great interest for me; she
promised to pay so well for any care spent on her. I can imagine poor
Edward's almost frantic grief, and I dread the effect on Chrissey's
weak frame of her more silent suffering. Anything you can tell me
about them will be read very eagerly. I begin to feel the full value
of a letter; so much so that, if ever I am convinced that any one has
the least anxiety to hear from me, I shall always reckon it among the
first duties to sit down without delay, giving no ear to the
suggestions of my idleness and aversion to letter-writing. Indeed, I
am beginning to find it really pleasant to write to my friends, now
that I am so far away from them; and I could soon fill a sheet to you,
if your silence did not weigh too heavily on my heart. My health is by
no means good yet; seldom good enough not to be a sort of drag on my
mind; so you must make full allowance for too much egotism and
susceptibility in me. It seems to be three years instead of three
months since I was in England and amongst you, and I imagine that all
sorts of revolutions must have taken place in the interim; whereas to
you, I dare say, remaining in your old home and among your every-day
duties, the time has slipped away so rapidly that you are unable to
understand my anxiety to hear from you. I think the climate here is
not particularly healthy; I suppose, from the vicinity of the lake,
which, however, becomes so dear to me that one cannot bear to hear it
accused. Good-bye, dear Fanny; a thousand blessings to you, whether
you write to me or not, and much gratitude if you do.

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 13th Sept. 1849.]

My boxes arrived last Friday. The expense was fr. 150--perfectly
horrible! Clearly, I must give myself for food to the fowls of the air
or the fishes of the lake. It is a consolation to a mind imbued with a
lofty philosophy that, when one can get nothing to eat, one can still
be eaten--the evil is only apparent. It is quite settled that I cannot
stay at Plongeon; I must move into town. But, alas! I must pay fr. 200
per month. If I were there I should see more conversable people than
here. Do you think any one would buy my "Encyclopædia Britannica" at
half-price, and my globes? If so, I should not be afraid of exceeding
my means, and I should have a little money to pay for my piano, and
for some lessons of different kinds that I want to take. The
"Encyclopædia" is the last edition, and cost £42, and the globes
£8 10_s._ I shall never have anywhere to put them, so it is folly to
keep them, if any one will buy them. No one else has written to me,
though I have written to almost all. I would rather have it so than
feel that the debt was on my side. When will you come to me for help,
that I may be able to hate you a little less? I shall leave here as
soon as I am able to come to a decision, as I am anxious to feel
settled, and the weather is becoming cold. This house is like a
bird-cage set down in a garden. Do not count this among my letters. I
am good for nothing to-day, and can write nothing well but bitterness,
so that I will not trust myself to say another word. The Baronne de
Ludwigsdorff seems to have begun to like me very much, and is really
kind; so you see Heaven sends kind souls, though they are by no means
kindred ones. Poor Mrs. Locke is to write to me--has given me a little
ring; says, "Take care of yourself, my child--have some tea of your
own--you'll be quite another person if you get some introductions to
clever people; you'll get on well among a certain set--that's true;"
it is her way to say "that's true" after all her affirmations. She
says, "You won't find any kindred spirits at Plongeon, my dear."

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 20th Sept. 1849.]

I am feeling particularly happy because I have had very kind letters
from my brother and sisters. I am ashamed to fill sheets about myself,
but I imagined that this was precisely what you wished. Pray correct
my mistake, if it be one, and then I will look over the Calvin
manuscripts, and give you some information of really general interest,
suited to our mutual capacities. Mme. Ludwigsdorff is so good to me--a
charming creature--so anxious to see me comfortably settled--petting
me in all sorts of ways. She sends me tea when I wake in the
morning--orange-flower water when I go to bed--grapes--and her maid to
wait on me. She says if I like she will spend the winter after this at
Paris with me, and introduce me to her friends there; but she does not
mean to attach herself to me, because I shall never like her long. I
shall be tired of her when I have sifted her, etc. She says I have
more intellect than _morale_, and other things more true than
agreeable; however, she is "greatly interested" in me; has told me her
troubles and her feelings, she says, in spite of herself; for she has
never been able before in her life to say so much even to her old
friends. It is a mystery she cannot unravel. She is a person of high
culture, according to the ordinary notions of what feminine culture
should be. She speaks French and German perfectly, plays well, and has
the most perfect polish of manner--the most thorough refinement, both
socially and morally. She is tall and handsome, a striking-looking
person, but with a sweet feminine expression when she is with those
she likes; dresses exquisitely; in fine, is all that I am not. I shall
tire you with all this, but I want you to know what good creatures
there are here as elsewhere. Miss F. tells me that the first day she
sat by my side at dinner she looked at me and thought to herself,
"That is a grave lady; I do not think I shall like her much;" but as
soon as I spoke to her, and she looked into my eyes, she felt she
could love me. Then she lent me a book written by her cousin--a
religious novel--in which there is a fearful infidel who will not
believe, and hates all who do, etc. Then she invited me to walk with
her, and came to talk in my room; then invited me to go to the
Oratoire with them, till I began to be uncomfortable under the idea
that they fancied I was evangelical, and that I was gaining their
affection under false pretences; so I told Miss F. that I was going to
sacrifice her good opinion, and confess my heresies. I quite expected,
from their manner and character, that they would forsake me in
horror--but they are as kind as ever. They never go into the _salon_
in the evening, and I have almost forsaken it, spending the evening
frequently in Mme. de Ludwigsdorff's room, where we have some
delightful tea. The tea of the house here is execrable; or, rather, as
Mrs. A. says, "How glad we ought to be that it has no taste at all; it
might have a very bad one!" I like the A.'s; they are very
good-natured. Mrs. A., a very ugly but lady-like little woman, who is
under an infatuation "as it regards" her caps--always wearing the
brightest rose-color or intensest blue--with a complexion not unlike a
dirty primrose glove. The rest of the people are nothing to me,
except, indeed, dear old Mlle. de Phaisan, who comes into my room when
I am ill, with "Qu'est ce que vous avez, ma bonne?" in the tone of the
kindest old aunt, and thinks that I am the most amiable douce
creature, which will give you a better opinion of her charity than her

Dear creatures! no one is so good as you yet. I have not yet found any
one who can bear comparison with you; not in kindness to me--_ça va
sans dire_--but in solidity of mind and in expansion of feeling. This
is a very coarse thing to say, but it came to the end of my pen, and
_litera scripta manet_--at least, when it comes at the end of the
second page. I shall certainly stay at Geneva this winter, and shall
return to England as early as the spring weather will permit, always
supposing that nothing occurs to alter my plans. I am still thin; so
how much will be left of me next April I am afraid to imagine. I shall
be length without breadth. Cara's assurance that you are well and
comfortable is worth a luncheon to me, which is just the thing I am
generally most in want of, for we dine at six now. I love to imagine
you in your home; and everything seems easy to me when I am not
disturbed about the health or well-being of my loved ones. It is
really so; I do not say it out of any sort of affectation, benevolent
or otherwise. I am without carefulness, alas! in more senses than one.
Thank Sara very heartily for her letter. I do not write a special
sheet for her to-day, because I have to write to two or three other
people, but she must not the less believe how I valued a little
private morsel from her; and also that I would always rather she wrote
"from herself" than "to me"--that is my theory of letter-writing. Your
letters are as welcome as Elijah's ravens--I thought of saying the
dinner-bell, only that would be too gross! I get impatient at the end
of the ten days which it takes for our letters to go to and fro; and I
have not the least faith in the necessity for keeping the sheet three
or four days before Mr. Bray can find time to write his meagre bit. If
you see the Miss Franklins, give my love to them; my remembrances to
Mr. and Mrs. Whittem; love to Miss Sibree always. Hearty love to
Clapton[27] and Woodford;[28] and a very diffusive benevolence to the
world in general, without any particular attachment to A or B. I am
trying to please Mr. Bray. Good-bye, dear souls. _Dominus vobiscum._

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, Thursday, 4th Oct. 1849.]

I am anxious for you to know my new address, as I shall leave here on
Tuesday. I think I have at last found the very thing. I shall be the
only lodger. The _appartement_ is _assez joli_, with an alcove, so
that it looks like a sitting-room in the daytime--the people, an
artist of great respectability, and his wife, a most kind-looking,
lady-like person, with two boys, who have the air of being well
educated. They seem very anxious to have me, and are ready to do
anything to accommodate me. I shall live with them--that is, dine with
them; breakfast in my own room. The terms are fr. 150 per month, light
included. M. and Mme. d'Albert are middle-aged, musical, and, I am
told, have _beaucoup d'esprit_. I hope this will not exceed my means
for four or five months. There is a nice, large _salon_ and a good
_salle à manger_. I am told that their society is very good. Mme. de
Ludwigsdorff was about going there a year ago, and it was she who
recommended it to me.

I hope Sara's fears are supererogatory--a proof of a too nervous
solicitude about me, for which I am grateful, though it does me no
good to hear of it. I want encouraging rather than warning and
checking. I believe I am so constituted that I shall never be cured of
my faults except by God's discipline. If human beings would but
believe it, they do me the most good by saying to me the kindest
things truth will permit; and really I cannot hope those will be
superlatively kind. The reason I wished to raise a little extra money
is that I wanted to have some lessons and other means of culture--not
for my daily bread, for which I hope I shall have enough; but, since
you think my scheme impracticable, we will dismiss it. _Au reste_, be
in no anxiety about me. Nothing is going wrong that I know of. I am
not an absolute fool and weakling. When I am fairly settled in my new
home I will write again. My address will be--M. d'Albert Durade, Rue
des Chanoines, No. 107.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Houghton, 4th Oct. 1849.]

The blessed compensation there is in all things made your letter
doubly precious for having been waited for, and it would have inspired
me to write to you again much sooner, but that I have been in
uncertainty about settling myself for the winter, and I wished to send
you my future address. I am to move to my new home on Tuesday the 9th.
I shall not at all regret leaving here; the season is beginning to be
rather sombre, though the glorious chestnuts here are still worth
looking at half the day. You have heard of some of the people whom I
have described in my letters to Rosehill. The dear little old maid,
Mlle. de Phaisan, is quite a good friend to me--extremely prosy, and
full of tiny details; but really people of that calibre are a comfort
to one occasionally, when one has not strength enough for more
stimulating things. She is a sample of those happy souls who ask for
nothing but the work of the hour, however trivial; who are contented
to live without knowing whether they effect anything, but who do
really effect much good, simply by their calm and even _maintien_. I
laugh to hear her say in a tone of remonstrance--"Mme. de Ludwigsdorff
dit qu'elle s'ennuie quand les soirées sont longues: moi, je ne
conçois pas comment on peut s'ennuyer quand on a de l'ouvrage ou des
jeux ou de la conversation." When people who are dressing elegantly
and driving about to make calls every day of their life have been
telling me of their troubles--their utter hopelessness of ever finding
a vein worth working in their future life--my thoughts have turned
towards many whose sufferings are of a more tangible character, and I
have really felt all the old commonplaces about the equality of human
destinies, always excepting those spiritual differences which are
apart not only from poverty and riches, but from individual
affections. Dear Chrissey has found time and strength to write to me,
and very precious her letter was, though I wept over it. "Deep,
abiding grief must be mine," she says, and I know well it must be. The
mystery of trial! It falls with such avalanche weight on the head of
the meek and patient. I wish I could do something of more avail for my
friends than love them and long for their happiness.

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 11th Oct. 1849.]

M. and Mme. d'Albert are really clever people--people worth sitting up
an hour longer to talk to. This does not hinder madame from being an
excellent manager--dressing scrupulously, and keeping her servants in
order. She has hung my room with pictures, one of which is the most
beautiful group of flowers conceivable thrown on an open Bible,
painted by herself. I have a piano which I hire. There is also one in
the _salon_. M. d'Albert plays and sings, and in the winter he tells
me they have parties to sing masses and do other delightful things. In
fact, I think I am just in the right place. I breakfast in my own room
at half-past eight, lunch at half-past twelve, and dine at four or a
little after, and take tea at eight. From the tea-table I have gone
into the _salon_ and chatted until bedtime. It would really have been
a pity to have stayed at Plongeon, out of reach of everything, and
with people so little worth talking to. I have not found out the
_desagrémens_ here yet. It is raining horribly, but this just saves me
from the regret I should have felt at having quitted the chestnuts of
Plongeon. That _campagne_ looked splendid in its autumn dress.

     George Eliot retained so warm an admiration and love for M.
     d'Albert Durade to the end of her life that it seems fitting
     here to mention that he still lives, carrying well the weight
     of eighty winters. He is _conservateur_ of the Athénée--a
     permanent exhibition of works of art in Geneva; and he
     published only last year (1883) a French translation of the
     "Scenes of Clerical Life," having already previously
     published translations of "Adam Bede," "Felix Holt," "Silas
     Marner," and "Romola." The description of his personal
     appearance, in the following letter, still holds good, save
     that the gray hair has become quite white. He lost his wife
     in 1873; and it will be seen from subsequent letters that
     George Eliot kept up a faithful attachment to her to the
     end. They were both friends after her own heart. The old
     apartment is now No. 18, instead of No. 107, Rue des
     Chanoines, and is occupied as the printing-office of the
     _Journal de Genève_. But half of the rooms remain just as
     they were five-and-thirty years ago. The _salon_, wainscoted
     in imitation light-oak panels, with a white China stove, and
     her bedroom opening off it--as she had often described it to
     me; and M. d'Albert has still in his possession the painting
     of the bunch of beautiful flowers thrown on an open Bible
     mentioned in the last letter. He told me that when Miss Evans
     first came to look at the house she was so horrified with the
     forbidding aspect of the stairs that she declared she would
     not go up above the first floor; but when she got inside the
     door she was reconciled to her new quarters. Calvin's house
     is close to the Rue des Chanoines, and she was much
     interested in it. It will be seen that she did some work in
     physics under Professor de la Rive; but she principally
     rested and enjoyed herself during the stay at Geneva. It was
     exactly the kind of life she was in need of at the time, and
     the letters show how much she appreciated it.

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 26th Oct. 1849.]

I languished for your letter before it came, and read it three times
running--judge whether I care less for you than of old. It is the best
of blessings to know that you are well and cheerful; and when I think
of all that might happen in a fortnight to make you otherwise,
especially in these days of cholera and crises, I cannot help being
anxious until I get a fresh assurance that at least five days ago all
was well. Before I say anything about myself, I must contradict your
suspicion that I paint things too agreeably for the sake of giving
you pleasure. I assure you my letters are subjectively true; the
falsehood, if there be any, is in my manner of seeing things. But I
will give you some _vérités positives_, in which, alas! poor
imagination has hitherto been able to do little for the world. Mme.
d'Albert anticipates all my wants, and makes a spoiled child of me. I
like these dear people better and better--everything is so in harmony
with one's moral feeling that I really can almost say I never enjoyed
a more complete _bien être_ in my life than during the last fortnight.
For M. d'Albert, I love him already as if he were father and brother
both. His face is rather haggard-looking, but all the lines and the
wavy gray hair indicate the temperament of the artist. I have not
heard a word or seen a gesture of his yet that was not perfectly in
harmony with an exquisite moral refinement--indeed, one feels a better
person always when he is present. He sings well, and plays on the
piano a little. It is delightful to hear him talk of his friends--he
admires them so genuinely--one sees so clearly that there is no reflex
egotism. His conversation is charming. I learn something every
dinner-time. Mme. d'Albert has less of genius and more of
cleverness--a really lady-like person, who says everything well. She
brings up her children admirably--two nice, intelligent boys;[29]--the
youngest, particularly, has a sort of Lamartine expression, with a
fine head. It is so delightful to get among people who exhibit no
meannesses, no worldlinesses, that one may well be enthusiastic. To me
it is so blessed to find any departure from the rule of giving as
little as possible for as much as possible. Their whole behavior to me
is as if I were a guest whom they delighted to honor. Last night we
had a little knot of their most intimate musical friends, and M. and
Mme. d'Albert introduced me to them as if they wished me to know
them--as if they wished me to like their friends and their friends to
like me. The people and the evening would have been just after your
own hearts. In fact, I have not the slightest pretext for being
discontented--not the shadow of a discomfort. Even the little
housemaid Jeanne is charming; says to me every morning, in the
prettiest voice: "Madame a-t-elle bien dormi cette nuit?"--puts fire
in my _chauffe-pied_ without being told--cleans my rooms most
conscientiously. There--I promise to weary you less for the future
with my descriptions. I could not resist the temptation to speak
gratefully of M. and Mme. d'Albert.

Give my love to Mrs. Pears--my constant, ever-fresh remembrance. My
love to Miss Rebecca Franklin--tell her I have only spun my web to
Geneva; it will infallibly carry me back again across the gulf, were
it twice as great. If Mr. Froude preach the new word at Manchester, I
hope he will preach it so as to do without an after-explanation, and
not bewilder his hearers in the manner of Mephistopheles when he dons
the doctor's gown of Faust. I congratulate you on the new edition,[30]
and promise to read it with a disposition to admire when I am at
Rosehill once more. I am beginning to lose respect for the petty
acumen that sees difficulties. I love the souls that rush along to
their goal with a full stream of sentiment--that have too much of the
positive to be harassed by the perpetual negatives--which, after all,
are but the disease of the soul, to be expelled by fortifying the
principle of vitality.

Good-bye, dear loves; sha'n't I kiss you when I am in England
again--in England! I already begin to think of the journey as an
impossibility. Geneva is so beautiful now, the trees have their
richest coloring. Coventry is a fool to it--but, then, you are at
Coventry, and you are better than lake, trees, and mountains.

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 28th Oct. 1849.]

We have had some delicious autumn days here. If the fine weather last,
I am going up the Salève on Sunday with M. d'Albert. On one side I
shall have a magnificent view of the lake, the town, and the Jura; on
the other, the range of Mont Blanc. The walks about Geneva are
perfectly enchanting. "Ah!" says poor Mlle. de Phaisan, "nous avons un
beau pays si nous n'avions pas ces Radicaux!" The election of the
Conseil d'État is to take place in November, and an _émeute_ is
expected. The actual government is Radical, and thoroughly detested by
all the "respectable" classes. The vice-president of the Conseil and
the virtual head of the government is an unprincipled, clever fellow,
horribly in debt himself, and on the way to reduce the government to
the same position.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 28th Oct. 1849.]

I like my town life vastly. I shall like it still better in the
winter. There is an indescribable charm to me in this form of human
nest-making. You enter a by no means attractive-looking house, you
climb up two or three flights of cold, dark-looking stone steps, you
ring at a very modest door, and you enter a set of rooms, snug, or
comfortable, or elegant. One is so out of reach of intruders, so
undiverted from one's occupations by externals, so free from cold,
rushing winds through hall doors--one feels in a downy nest high up
in a good old tree. I have always had a hankering after this sort of
life, and I find it was a true instinct of what would suit me. Just
opposite my windows is the street in which the Sisters of Charity
live, and, if I look out, I generally see either one of them or a
sober-looking ecclesiastic. Then a walk of five minutes takes me out
of all streets, within sight of beauties that I am sure you too would
love, if you did not share my enthusiasm for the town. I have not
another minute, having promised to go out before dinner--so, dearest,
take my letter as a hasty kiss, just to let you know how constantly I
love you--how, the longer I live and the more I have felt, the better
I know how to value you.

[Sidenote: Letter to Charles Bray, 4th Dec. 1849.]

I write at once to answer your questions about business. Spinoza and I
have been divorced for several months. My want of health has obliged
me to renounce all application. I take walks, play on the piano, read
Voltaire, talk to my friends, and just take a dose of mathematics
every day to prevent my brain from becoming quite soft. If you are
anxious to publish the translation in question I could, after a few
months, finish the "Tractatus Theologico-Politicus" to keep it
company; but I confess to you that I think you would do better to
abstain from printing a translation. What is wanted in English is not
a translation of Spinoza's works, but a true estimate of his life and
system. After one has rendered his Latin faithfully into English, one
feels that there is another yet more difficult process of translation
for the reader to effect, and that the only mode of making Spinoza
accessible to a larger number is to study his books, then shut them,
and give an analysis. For those who read the very words Spinoza wrote
there is the same sort of interest in his style as in the conversation
of a person of great capacity who has led a solitary life, and who
says from his own soul what all the world is saying by rote; but this
interest hardly belongs to a translation.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Bray, 4th Dec. 1849.]

Your letter is very sweet to me, giving me a picture of your quiet
life. How shall I enable you to imagine mine, since you know nothing
of the localities? My good friends here only change for the better.
Mme. d'Albert is all affection; M. d'Albert all delicacy and
intelligence; the friends to whom they have introduced me very kind in
their attentions. In fact, I want nothing but a little more money, to
feel more at ease about my fires, etc. I am in an atmosphere of love
and refinement; even the little servant Jeanne seems to love me, and
does me good every time she comes into the room. I can say anything to
M. and Mme. d'Albert. M. d'A. understands everything, and if madame
does not understand, she believes--that is, she seems always sure that
I mean something edifying. She kisses me like a mother, and I am baby
enough to find that a great addition to my happiness. _Au reste_, I am
careful for nothing; I am a sort of supernumerary spoon, and there
will be no damage to the set if I am lost. My heart-ties are not
loosened by distance--it is not in the nature of ties to be so; and
when I think of my loved ones as those to whom I can be a comforter, a
help, I long to be with them again. Otherwise, I can only think with a
shudder of returning to England. It looks to me like a land of gloom,
of _ennui_, of platitude; but in the midst of all this it is the land
of duty and affection, and the only ardent hope I have for my future
life is to have given to me some woman's duty--some possibility of
devoting myself where I may see a daily result of pure, calm
blessedness in the life of another.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 4th Dec. 1849.]

How do you look? I hope that _bandeau_ of silvery locks is not
widening too fast on the head I love so well--that the eyes are as
bright as ever. Your letter tells me they will beam as kindly as ever
when I see them once more. Never make apologies about your letters, or
your words, or anything else. It is your soul to which I am wedded;
and do I not know too well how the soul is doubly belied--first, by
the impossibility of being in word and act as great, as loving, as
good as it wills to be; and again, by the miserable weaknesses of the
friends who see the words and acts through all sorts of mists raised
by their own passions and preoccupations? In all these matters I am
the chief of sinners, and I am tempted to rejoice in the offences of
my friends, because they make me feel less humiliation. I am quite
satisfied to be at Geneva instead of Paris; in fact, I am becoming
passionately attached to the mountains, the lake, the streets, my own
room, and, above all, the dear people with whom I live.

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 23d Dec. 1849.]

A thousand Christmas pleasures and blessings to you--good resolutions
and bright hopes for the New Year! Amen. People who can't be witty
exert themselves to be pious or affectionate. Henceforth I tell you
nothing whatever about myself; for if I speak of agreeables, and say I
am contented, Mr. Bray writes me word that you are all trying to
forget me. If I were to tell you of disagreeables and privations and
sadness, Sara would write: "If you are unhappy now, you will be so _à
fortiori_ ten years hence." Now, since I have a decided objection to
doses sent by post which upset one's digestion for a fortnight, I am
determined to give you no pretext for sending them. You shall not know
whether I am well or ill, contented or discontented, warm or cold,
fat or thin. But remember that I am so far from being of the same mind
as Mr. Bray, that good news of you is necessary to my comfort. I walk
more briskly, and jump out of bed more promptly, after a letter that
tells me you are well and comfortable, that business is promising,
that men begin to speak well of you, etc. "I am comforted in your
comfort," as saith St. Paul to the troublesome Corinthians. When one
is cabined, cribbed, confined in one's self, it is good to be enlarged
in one's friends. Good Mr. Marshall! We wish to keep even unamiable
people when death calls for them, much more good souls like him. I am
glad he had had one more pleasant visit to Cara for her to think of.
Dear Sara's letter is very charming--not at all physicky--rather an
agreeable draught of _vin sucré_. Dear Mr. Hennell, we shall never
look upon his like.

I am attending a course of lectures on Experimental Physics by M. le
Professeur de la Rive, the inventor, among other things, of
electroplating. The lectures occur every Wednesday and Saturday. It is
time for me to go. I am distressed to send you this shabby last
fragment of paper, and to write in such a hurry, but the days are
really only two hours long, and I have so many things to do that I go
to bed every night miserable because I have left out something I meant
to do. Good-bye, dear souls. Forget me if you like, you cannot oblige
me to forget you; and the active is worth twice of the passive all the
world over! The earth is covered with snow, and the government is
levelling the fortifications.

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 28th Jan. 1850.]

You leave me a long time without news of you, though I told you they
were necessary as a counteractive to the horrors of this terrible
winter. Are you really so occupied as to have absolutely no time to
think of me? I console myself, at least to-day, now we have a blue sky
once more after two months of mist, with thinking that I am excluded
by pleasanter ideas--that at least you are well and comfortable, and I
ought to content myself with that. The fact is, I am much of
Touchstone's mind--in respect my life is at Geneva, I like it very
well, but in respect it is not with you, it is a very vile life. I
have no yearnings to exchange lake and mountains for Bishop Street and
the Radford Fields, but I have a great yearning to kiss you all and
talk to you for three days running. I do not think it will be possible
for me to undertake the journey before the end of March. I look
forward to it with great dread. I see myself looking utterly
miserable, ready to leave all my luggage behind me at Paris for the
sake of escaping the trouble of it. We have had Alboni here--a very
fat siren. There has been some capital acting of comedies by friends
of M. d'Albert--one of them is superior to any professional actor of
comedy I have ever seen. He reads _vaudevilles_ so marvellously that
one seems to have a whole troupe of actors before one in his single
person. He is a handsome man of fifty, full of wit and talent, and he
married about a year ago.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Houghton, 9th Feb. 1850.]

It is one of the provoking contrarieties of destiny that I should have
written my croaking letter when your own kind, consolatory one was on
its way to me. I have been happier ever since it came. After mourning
two or three months over Chrissey's account of your troubles, I can
only dwell on that part of your letter which tells that there is a
little more blue in your sky--that you have faith in the coming
spring. Shall you be as glad to see me as to hear the cuckoo? I mean
to return to England as soon as the Jura is passable without
sledges--probably the end of March or beginning of April. I have a
little _Heimweh_ "as it regards" my friends. I yearn to see those I
have loved the longest, but I shall feel real grief at parting from
the excellent people with whom I am living. I feel they are my
_friends_; without entering into or even knowing the greater part of
my views, they understand my character and have a real interest in me.
I have infinite tenderness from Mme. d'Albert. I call her always
"maman;" and she is just the creature one loves to lean on and be
petted by. In fact, I am too much indulged, and shall go back to
England as undisciplined as ever. This terribly severe winter has been
a drawback on my recovering my strength. I have lost whole weeks from
headache, etc., but I am certainly better now than when I came to Mme.
d'Albert. You tell me to give you these details, so I obey. Decidedly
England is the most comfortable country to be in in winter--at least,
for all except those who are rich enough to buy English comforts
everywhere. I hate myself for caring about carpets, easy-chairs, and
coal fires--one's soul is under a curse, and can preach no truth while
one is in bondage to the flesh in this way; but, alas! habit is the
purgatory in which we suffer for our past sins. I hear much music. We
have a reunion of musical friends every Monday. For the rest, I have
refused _soirées_, which are as stupid and unprofitable at Geneva as
in England. I save all more interesting details, that I may have them
to tell you when I am with you. I am going now to a _séance_ on
Experimental Physics by the celebrated Professor de la Rive. This
letter will at least convince you that I am not eaten up by wolves, as
they have been fearing at Rosehill. The English papers tell of wolves
descending from the Jura and devouring the inhabitants of the
villages, but we have been in happy ignorance of these editors'

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 15th Feb. 1850.]

If you saw the Jura to-day! The snow reveals its forests, ravines, and
precipices, and it stands in relief against a pure blue sky. The snow
is on the mountains only, now, and one is tempted to walk all day,
particularly when one lies in bed till ten, as your exemplary friend
sometimes does. I have had no discipline, and shall return to you more
of a spoiled child than ever. Indeed, I think I am destined to be so
to the end--one of the odious swarm of voracious caterpillars soon to
be swept away from the earth by a tempest. I am getting better bodily.
I have much less headache, but the least excitement fatigues me.
Certainly, if one cannot have a malady to carry one off rapidly, the
only sensible thing is to get well and fat; and I believe I shall be
driven to that alternative. You know that George Sand writes for the
theatre? Her "François le Champi--une Comédie," is simplicity and
purity itself. The seven devils are cast out. We are going to have
more acting here on Wednesday. M. Chamel's talent makes maman's
_soirées_ quite brilliant. You will be amused to hear that I am
sitting for my portrait--at M. d'Albert's request, not mine. If it
turns out well, I shall long to steal it to give to you; but M.
d'Albert talks of painting a second, and in that case I shall
certainly beg one. The idea of making a study of my visage is droll
enough. I have the kindest possible letters from my brother and
sisters, promising me the warmest welcome. This helps to give me
courage for the journey; but the strongest magnet of all is a certain
little group of three persons whom I hope to find together at
Rosehill. Something has been said of M. d'Albert accompanying me to
Paris. I am saddened when I think of all the horrible anxieties of
trade. If I had children, I would make them carpenters and shoemakers;
that is the way to make them Messiahs and Jacob Boehms. As for us, who
are dependent on carpets and easy-chairs, we are reprobates, and shall
never enter into the kingdom of heaven. I go to the Genevese churches
every Sunday, and nourish my heterodoxy with orthodox sermons.
However, there are some clever men here in the Church, and I am
fortunate in being here at a time when the very cleverest is giving a
series of conferences. I think I have never told you that we have a
long German lad of seventeen in the house--the most taciturn and
awkward of lads. He said very naïvely, when I reproached him for not
talking to a German young lady at a _soirée_, when he was seated next
her at table--"Je ne savais que faire de mes jambes." They had placed
the poor _garçon_ against one of those card-tables--all legs, like

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 1st March, 1850.]

The weather is so glorious that I think I may set out on my journey
soon after the 15th. I am not quite certain yet that M. d'Albert will
not be able to accompany me to Paris; in any case, a package of so
little value will get along safely enough. I am so excited at the idea
of the time being so near when I am to leave Geneva--a real grief--and
see my friends in England--a perfectly overwhelming joy--that I can do
nothing. I am frightened to think what an idle wretch I am become. And
you all do not write me one word to tell me you long for me. I have a
great mind to elope to Constantinople, and never see any one any

     It is with a feeling of regret that we take leave of the
     pleasant town of Geneva, its lake and mountains, and its
     agreeable little circle of acquaintance. It was a peacefully
     happy episode in George Eliot's life, and one she was always
     fond of recurring to, in our talk, up to the end of her life.


JUNE, 1849, TO MARCH, 1850.

     Goes abroad with Mr. and Mrs. Bray--Geneva--Life at Campagne
     Plongeon--Letters to Brays describing surroundings--Mrs.
     Locke--The St. Germain family--Anxiety about her boxes with
     books, etc.--Hears M. Meunier preach--Patriotism the first of
     virtues--Mme. Cornelius--Mme. de Ludwigsdorff--"_Fête_ of
     Navigation" on the lake--Demand for letters--Prophetic
     anticipation of position seven years later--Wishes to sell
     some of her books and globes to get music lessons--Letter to
     Mrs. Houghton--Loss of Mrs. Clarke's child--Love of Lake of
     Geneva--Letters to Brays--Mme. Ludwigsdorff wishes her to
     spend winter in Paris--Mlle. de Phaisan--Finds apartment in
     Geneva, No. 107 Rue des Chanoines, with M. and Mme.
     d'Albert--Enjoyment of their society--Remarks on translations
     of Spinoza--Hope of a woman's duty--Attachment to
     Geneva--Yearning for friends at home--Alboni--Private
     theatricals--Portrait by M. d'Albert--Remarks on education of
     children--Leaves Geneva by Jura.


[26] It may be noted as a curious verification of this presentiment
that "Scenes of Clerical Life" were published in 1856--just seven
years later.

[27] Mrs. Hennell.

[28] Mr. and Mrs. C. Hennell.

[29] Mr. Charles Lewes tells me that when he went to stay with the
d'Alberts at Geneva, many years afterwards, they mentioned how much
they had been struck by her extraordinary discernment of the character
of these two boys.

[30] "Philosophy of Necessity," by Charles Bray.


     M. d'Albert and his charge left Geneva towards the end of
     March, and as the railway was not yet opened all the way to
     France, they had to cross the Jura in sledges, and suffered
     terribly from the cold. They joined the railway at Tonnerre,
     and came through Paris, arriving in England on the 23d of
     March. After a day in London, Miss Evans went straight to her
     friends at Rosehill, where she stayed for a few days before
     going on to Griff. It will have been seen that she had set
     her hopes high on the delights of home-coming, and with her
     too sensitive, impressionable nature, it is not difficult to
     understand, without attributing blame to any one, that she
     was pretty sure to be laying up disappointment for herself.
     All who have had the experience of returning from a bright,
     sunny climate to England in March will recognize in the next
     letters the actual presence of the east wind, the leaden sky,
     the gritty dust, and _le spleen_.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, end of Mch. 1850, from

No; I am not in England--I am only nearer the beings I love best. I
try to forget all geography, and that I have placed myself
irretrievably out of reach of nature's brightest glories and beauties
to shiver in a wintry flat. I am unspeakably grateful to find these
dear creatures looking well and happy, in spite of worldly cares, but
your clear face and voice are wanting to me. But I must wait with
patience, and perhaps by the time I have finished my visits to my
relations you will be ready to come to Rosehill again. I want you to
scold me, and make me good. I am idle and naughty--_on ne peut
plus_--sinking into heathenish ignorance and woman's frivolity.
Remember, you are one of my guardian angels.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, beginning of April, 1850, from

Will you send the enclosed note to Mrs. C. Hennell? I am not quite
sure about her direction, but I am anxious to thank her for her
kindness in inviting me. Will you also send me an account of Mr.
Chapman's prices for lodgers, and if you know anything of other
boarding-houses, etc., in London? Will you tell me what you can? I am
not asking you merely for the sake of giving you trouble. I am really
anxious to know. Oh, the dismal weather and the dismal country and the
dismal people. It was some envious demon that drove me across the
Jura. However, I am determined to sell everything I possess, except a
portmanteau and carpet-bag and the necessary contents, and be a
stranger and a foreigner on the earth for evermore. But I must see you
first; that is a yearning I still have in spite of disappointments.

     From Griff she went to stay with her sister, Mrs. Clarke, at
     Meriden, whence she writes:

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Bray, 24th April, 1850.]

Have you any engagement for the week after next? If not, may I join
you on Saturday the 4th, and invite M. d'Albert to come down on the
following Monday? It appears he cannot stay in England longer than
until about the second week in May. I am uncomfortable at the idea of
burdening even your friendship with the entertainment of a person
purely for my sake. It is indeed the greatest of all the great
kindnesses you have shown me. Write me two or three kind words, dear
Cara. I have been so ill at ease ever since I have been in England
that I am quite discouraged. Dear Chrissey is generous and
sympathizing, and really cares for my happiness.

[Illustration: Rosehill.]

     On the 4th of May Miss Evans went to Rosehill, and on the 7th
     M. d'Albert joined the party for a three days' visit. The
     strong affection existing between Mr. and Mrs. Bray and their
     guest, and the more congenial intellectual atmosphere
     surrounding them, led Miss Evans to make her home practically
     at Rosehill for the next sixteen months. She stayed there
     continuously till the 18th November, and, among other things,
     wrote a review of Mackay's "Progress of the Intellect." In
     October Mr. Mackay and Mr. Chapman, the editor of the
     _Westminster Review_, came to stay at Rosehill, and there was
     probably some talk then about her assisting in the editorial
     work of the _Review_, but it was not until the following
     spring that any definite understanding on this subject was
     arrived at. Meantime the article on Mackay's "Progress of the
     Intellect" came out in the January, 1851, number of the
     _Westminster_. It contains the following remarkable passages:

"Our civilization, and yet more, our religion, are an anomalous
blending of lifeless barbarisms, which have descended to us like so
many petrifactions from distant ages, with living ideas, the offspring
of a true process of development. We are in bondage to terms and
conceptions, which, having had their roots in conditions of thought no
longer existing, have ceased to possess any vitality, and are for us
as spells which have lost their virtue. The endeavor to spread
enlightened ideas is perpetually counteracted by these _idola
theatri_, which have allied themselves, on the one hand, with men's
better sentiments, and, on the other, with institutions in whose
defence are arrayed the passions and the interests of dominant
classes. Now, although the teaching of positive truth is the grand
means of expelling error, the process will be very much quickened if
the negative argument serve as its pioneer; if, by a survey of the
past, it can be shown how each age and each race has had a faith and a
symbolism suited to its need and its stage of development, and that
for succeeding ages to dream of retaining the spirit, along with the
forms, of the past, is as futile as the embalming of the dead body in
the hope that it may one day be resumed by the living soul.... It is
Mr. Mackay's faith that divine revelation is not contained exclusively
or pre-eminently in the facts and inspirations of any one age or
nation, but is coextensive with the history of human development, and
is perpetually unfolding itself to our widened experience and
investigation, as firmament upon firmament becomes visible to us in
proportion to the power and range of our exploring-instruments. The
master-key to this revelation is the recognition of the presence of
undeviating law in the material and moral world--of that invariability
of sequence which is acknowledged to be the basis of physical science,
but which is still perversely ignored in our social organization, our
ethics, and our religion. It is this invariability of sequence which
can alone give value to experience, and render education, in the true
sense, possible. The divine yea and nay, the seal of prohibition and
of sanction, are effectually impressed on human deeds and aspirations,
not by means of Greek and Hebrew, but by that inexorable law of
consequences whose evidence is confirmed instead of weakened as the
ages advance; and human duty is comprised in the earnest study of this
law and patient obedience to its teaching. While this belief sheds a
bright beam of promise on the future career of our race, it lights up
what once seemed the dreariest region of history with new interest;
every past phase of human development is part of that education of the
race in which we are sharing; every mistake, every absurdity, into
which poor human nature has fallen, may be looked on as an experiment
of which we may reap the benefit. A correct generalization gives
significance to the smallest detail, just as the great inductions of
geology demonstrate in every pebble the working of laws by which the
earth has become adapted for the habitation of man. In this view
religion and philosophy are not merely conciliated, they are
identical; or, rather, religion is the crown and consummation of
philosophy--the delicate corolla which can only spread out its petals
in all their symmetry and brilliance to the sun when root and branch
exhibit the conditions of a healthy and vigorous life."

     Miss Evans seems to have been in London from the beginning of
     January till the end of March, 1851; and Mr. Chapman made
     another fortnight's visit to Rosehill at the end of May and
     beginning of June. It was during this period that, with Miss
     Evans's assistance, the prospectus of the new series of the
     _Westminster Review_ was determined on and put in shape. At
     the end of July she went with Mrs. Bray to visit Mr. and Mrs.
     Robert Noel, at Bishop Steignton, in Devonshire. Mrs. Bray
     had some slight illness there, and Miss Evans writes:

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 5th Aug. 1851.]

I am grieved indeed if anything might have been written, which has not
been written, to allay your anxiety about Cara. Her letter yesterday
explained what has been the matter. I knew her own handwriting would
be pleasanter to you than any other. I have been talking to her this
morning about the going to London or to Rosehill. She seems to prefer
London. A glance or two at the Exposition, she thinks, would do her no
harm. To-day we are all going to Teignmouth. She seems to like the
idea of sitting by the waves. The sun is shining gloriously, and all
things are tolerably promising. I am going to walk on before the rest
and have a bath.

     They went to London on the 13th of August, saw the Crystal
     Palace, and returned to Rosehill on the 16th. At the end of
     that month, Mr. George Combe (the distinguished phrenologist)
     arrived on a visit, and he and Mrs. Combe became good friends
     to Miss Evans, as will be seen from the subsequent
     correspondence. They came on a second visit to Rosehill the
     following month--Mr. Chapman being also in the house at the
     same time--and at the end of September Miss Evans went to
     stay with the Chapmans at No. 142 Strand, as a boarder, and
     as assistant editor of the _Westminster Review_. A new period
     now opens in George Eliot's life, and emphatically the most
     important period, for now she is to be thrown in contact with
     Mr. Lewes, who is to exercise so paramount an influence on
     all her future, with Mr. Herbert Spencer, and with a number
     of writers then representing the most fearless and advanced
     thought of the day. Miss Frederica Bremer, the authoress, was
     also boarding with the Chapmans at this time, as will be seen
     from the following letters:

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, end of Sept. 1851.]

Mr. Mackay has been very kind in coming and walking out with me, and
that is the only variety I have had. Last night, however, we had an
agreeable enough gathering. Foxton[31] came, who, you know, is
trying, with Carlyle and others, to get a chapel for Wilson at the
West End--in which he is to figure as a seceding clergyman. I enclose
you two notes from Empson (he is the editor of the _Edinburgh Review_)
as a guarantee that I have been trying to work. Again, I proposed to
write a review of Greg for the _Westminster_, not for money, but for
love of the subject as connected with the "Inquiry." Mr. Hickson
referred the matter to Slack again, and he writes that he shall not
have room for it, and that the subject will not suit on this occasion,
so you see I am obliged to be idle, and I like it best. I hope Mr.
Bray is coming soon to tell me everything about you. I think I shall
cry for joy to see him. But do send me a little note on Monday
morning. Mrs. Follen called the other day, in extreme horror at Miss
Martineau's book.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mr. Bray, end of Sept. 1851.]

Dr. Brabant returned to Bath yesterday. He very politely took me to
the Crystal Palace, the theatre, and the Overland Route. On Friday we
had Foxton, Wilson, and some other nice people, among others a Mr.
Herbert Spencer, who has just brought out a large work on "Social
Statics," which Lewes pronounces the best book he has seen on the
subject. You must see the book, if possible. Mr. Chapman is going to
send you Miss Martineau's work, or rather Mr. Atkinson's,[32] which
you must review in the _Herald_. Whatever else one may think of the
book, it is certainly the boldest I have seen in the English language.
I get nothing done here, there are so many _distractions_--moreover, I
have hardly been well a day since I came. I wish I were rich enough
to go to the coast, and have some plunges in the sea to brace me.
Nevertheless do not suppose that I don't enjoy being here. I like
seeing the new people, etc., and I am afraid I shall think the country
rather dull after it. I am in a hurry to-day. I must have two hours'
work before dinner, so imagine everything I have not said, or, rather,
reflect that this scrap is quite as much as you deserve after being so
slow to write to me.

     The reference, in the above letter, to Mr. Lewes must not be
     taken as indicating personal acquaintance yet. It is only a
     quotation of some opinion heard or read. Mr. Lewes had
     already secured for himself a wide reputation in the literary
     world by his "Biographical History of Philosophy," his two
     novels, "Ranthorpe," and "Rose, Blanche, and Violet"--all of
     which had been published five or six years before--and his
     voluminous contributions to the periodical literature of the
     day. He was also, at this time, the literary editor of the
     _Leader_ newspaper, so that any criticism of his would carry
     weight, and be talked about. Much has already been written
     about his extraordinary versatility, the variety of his
     literary productions, his social charms, his talent as a
     _raconteur_, and his dramatic faculty; and it will now be
     interesting, for those who did not know him personally, to
     learn the deeper side of his character, which will be seen,
     in its development, in the following pages.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mr. Bray, end of Sept. 1851.]

I don't know how long Miss Bremer will stay, but you need not wish to
see her. She is to me equally unprepossessing to eye and ear. I never
saw a person of her years who appealed less to my purely instinctive
veneration. I have to reflect every time I look at her that she is
really Frederica Bremer.

Fox is to write the article on the Suffrage, and we are going to try
Carlyle for the Peerage, Ward refusing, on the ground that he thinks
the improvement of the physical condition of the people so
all-important that he must give all his energies to that. He says,
"Life is a bad business, but we must make the best of it;" to which
philosophy I say Amen. Dr. Hodgson is gone, and all the fun with him.

I was introduced to Lewes the other day in Jeff's shop--a sort of
miniature Mirabeau in appearance.[33]

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 2d Oct. (?) 1851.]

Professor Forbes is to write us a capital scientific article, whereat
I rejoice greatly. The Peerage apparently will not "get itself done,"
as Carlyle says. It is not an urgent question, nor does one see that,
if the undue influence of the Peers on the elections for the Commons
were done away with, there would be much mischief from the House of
Lords remaining for some time longer _in statu quo_. I have been
reading Carlyle's "Life of Sterling" with great pleasure--not for its
presentation of Sterling, but of Carlyle. There are racy bits of
description in his best manner, and exquisite touches of feeling.
Little rapid characterizations of living men too--of Francis Newman,
for example--"a man of fine university and other attainments, of the
sharpest cutting and most restlessly advancing intellect, and of the
mildest pious enthusiasm." There is an inimitable description of
Coleridge and his eternal monologue--"To sit as a passive bucket and
be pumped into, whether one like it or not, can in the end be
exhilarating to no creature."

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 15th Oct. 1851.]

All the world is doing its _devoir_ to the great little authoress
(Miss Bremer). I went to the exhibition on Saturday to hear the final
"God save the Queen" and the three times three--"C'êtait un beau
moment." Mr. Greg thought the review "well done, and in a kindly
spirit," but thought there was not much in it--dreadfully true, since
there was only all his book. I think he did not like the apology for
his want of theological learning, which, however, was just the thing
most needed, for the _Eclectic_ trips him up on that score. Carlyle
was very amusing the other morning to Mr. Chapman about the
Exhibition. He has no patience with the prince and "that Cole"
assembling Sawneys from all parts of the land, till you can't get
along Piccadilly. He has been worn to death with bores all summer, who
present themselves by twos and threes in his study, saying, "Here we
are," etc., etc.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 19th Oct. 1851.]

I wish you could see Miss Bremer's albums, full of portraits, flowers,
and landscapes, all done by herself. A portrait of Emerson,
marvellously like; one of Jenny Lind, etc. Last night we had quite a
charming _soirée_--Sir David Brewster and his daughter; Mackay, author
of a work on popular education you may remember to have seen reviewed
in the _Leader_; the Ellises, the Hodgsons, and half a dozen other
nice people. Miss Bremer was more genial than I have seen her--played
on the piano, and smiled benevolently. Altogether, I am beginning to
repent of my repugnance. Mackay approves our prospectus _in toto_. He
is a handsome, fine-headed man, and a "good opinion." We are getting
out a circular to accompany the prospectus. I have been kept
down-stairs by Mr. Mackay for the last two hours, and am hurried, but
it was a necessity to write _ein paar Worte_ to you. Mr. Mackay has
written an account of his book for the catalogue. I have been using my
powers of eloquence and flattery this morning to make him begin an
article on the "Development of Protestantism." Mr. Ellis was
agreeable--really witty. He and Mrs. Ellis particularly cordial to me,
inviting me to visit them without ceremony. I love you all better
every day, and better the more I see of other people. I am going to
one of the Birkbeck schools.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 3rd Nov. 1851.]

I must tell you a story Miss Bremer got from Emerson. Carlyle was very
angry with him for not believing in a devil, and to convert him took
him amongst all the horrors of London--the gin-shops, etc.--and
finally to the House of Commons, plying him at every turn with the
question, "Do you believe in a devil noo?" There is a severe attack on
Carlyle's "Life of Sterling" in yesterday's _Times_--unfair as an
account of the book, but with some truth in its general remarks about
Carlyle. There is an article, evidently by James Martineau, in the
_Prospective_, which you must read, "On the Unity of the Logical and
Intuitive in the Ultimate Grounds of Religious Belief." I am reading
with great amusement (!) J. H. Newman's "Lectures on the Position of
Catholics." They are full of clever satire and description. My table
is groaning with books, and I have done very little with them yet, but
I trust in my star, which has hitherto helped me, to do all I have
engaged to do. Pray remember to send the MS. translation of
Schleiermacher's little book, and also the book itself.

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 15th Nov. 1851.]

When Mr. Noel had finished his farewell visit to-day, Mr. Flower was
announced, so my morning has run away in chat. Time wears, and I don't
get on so fast as I ought, but I must scribble a word or two, else
you will make my silence an excuse for writing me no word of
yourselves. I am afraid Mr. Noel and Mr. Bray have given you a poor
report of me. The last two days I have been a little better, but I
hardly think existing arrangements can last beyond this quarter. Mr.
Noel says Miss L. is to visit you at Christmas. I hope that is a
mistake, as it would deprive me of my hoped-for rest amongst you.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, Monday, 23d Nov. 1851.]

On Saturday afternoon came Mr. Spencer to ask Mr. Chapman and me to go
to the theatre; so I ended the day in a godless manner, seeing the
"Merry Wives of Windsor." You must read Carlyle's denunciation of the
opera, published in the _Keepsake_! The _Examiner_ quotes it at
length. I send you the enclosed from Harriet Martineau. Please to
return it. The one from Carlyle you may keep till I come. He is a
naughty fellow to write in the _Keepsake_, and not for us, after I
wrote him the most insinuating letter, offering him three glorious
subjects. Yesterday we went to Mr. Mackay's, Dr. Brabant being there.

[Sidenote: Letter to Charles Bray, 27th Nov. 1851.]

Carlyle called the other day, strongly recommending Browning, the
poet, as a writer for the _Review_, and saying, "We shall see," about
himself. In other respects we have been stagnating since Monday, and
now I must work, work, work, which I have scarcely done two days
consecutively since I have been here. Lewes says his article on "Julia
von Krüdener"[34] will be glorious. He sat in the same box with us at
the "Merry Wives of Windsor," and helped to carry off the dolorousness
of the play.

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, Tuesday, 22d Dec. 1851.]

Alas! the work is so heavy just for the next three days, all the
revises being yet to come in, and the proof of my own article;[35] and
Mr. Chapman is so overwhelmed with matters of detail, that he has
earnestly requested me to stay till Saturday, and I cannot refuse, but
it is a deep disappointment to me. My heart will yearn after you all.
It is the first Christmas Day I shall have passed without any
Christmas feeling. On Saturday, if you will have me, nothing shall
keep me here any longer. I am writing at a high table, on a low seat,
in a great hurry. Don't you think my style is editorial?

     Accordingly, on Saturday, the 29th December, 1851, she did go
     down to Rosehill, and stayed there till 12th January, when
     she returned to London, and writes:

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Bray, 12th Jan. 1852.]

I had a comfortable journey all alone, except from Weedon to
Blisworth. When I saw a coated animal getting into my carriage, I
thought of all horrible stories of madmen in railways; but his white
neckcloth and thin, mincing voice soon convinced me that he was one of
those exceedingly tame animals, the clergy.

A kind welcome and a good dinner--that is the whole of my history at
present. I am in anything but company trim, or spirits. I can do
nothing in return for all your kindness, dear Cara, but love you, as I
do most heartily. You and all yours, for their own sake first, but if
it were not so, for yours.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 21st Jan. 1852.]

Harriet Martineau called on Monday morning with Mr. Atkinson. Very
kind and cordial. I honor her for her powers and industry, and should
be glad to think highly of her. I have no doubt that she is
fascinating when there is time for talk. We have had two agreeable
_soirées_. Last Monday I was talking and listening for two hours to
Pierre Leroux--a dreamy genius. He was expounding to me his ideas. He
belongs neither to the school of Proudhon, which represents Liberty
only--nor to that of Louis Blanc, which represents Equality only--nor
to that of Cabet, which represents Fraternity. Pierre Leroux's system
is the _synthèse_ which combines all three. He has found the true
_pont_ which is to unite the love of self with love of one's neighbor.
He is, you know, a very voluminous writer. George Sand has dedicated
some of her books to him. He dilated on his views of the "Origin of
Christianity." Strauss deficient, because he has not shown the
_identity of the teaching of Jesus with that of the Essenes_. This is
Leroux's favorite idea. I told him of your brother. He, moreover,
traces Essenism back to Egypt, and thence to India--the cradle of all
religions, etc., etc., with much more, which he uttered with an
unction rather amusing in a _soirée tête-à-tête_. "Est ce que nous
sommes faits pour chercher le bonheur? Est ce là votre idée--dites
moi." "Mais non--nous sommes faits, je pense, pour nous développer le
plus possible." "Ah! c'est ça." He is in utter poverty, going to
lecture--_autrement il faut mourir_. Has a wife and children with him.
He came to London in his early days, when he was twenty-five, to find
work as a printer. All the world was in mourning for the Princess
Charlotte. "Et moi, je me trouvais avoir _un habit vert-pomme_." So he
got no work; went back to Paris; by hook or by crook founded the
_Globe_ journal; knew St. Simon; disagrees with him entirely, as with
all other theorists except Pierre Leroux.

We are trying Mazzini to write on "Freedom _v._ Despotism," and have
received an admirable article on "The New Puritanism,"[36] _i.e._,
"Physical Puritanism," from Dr. Browne, the chemist of Edinburgh,
which, I think, will go in the next number.

I am in a miserable state of languor and low spirits, in which
everything is a trouble to me. I must tell you a bit of Louis Blanc's
English, which Mr. Spencer was reciting the other night. The _petit
homme_ called on some one, and said, "I come to tell you how you are.
I was at you the other day, but you were not."

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 2d Feb. 1852.]

We went to quite a gay party at Mrs. Mackay's on Saturday. Good Mr.
Mackay has been taking trouble to get me to Hastings for my
health--calling on Miss Fellowes, daughter of the "Religion of the
Universe," and inducing her to write me a note of invitation. Sara
will be heartily welcome. Unfortunately, I had an invitation to the
Parkes's, to meet Cobden, on Saturday evening. I was sorry to miss
that. Miss Parkes[37] is a dear, ardent, honest creature; and I hope
we shall be good friends. I have nothing else to tell you. I am
steeped in dulness within and without. Heaven send some lions to-night
to meet Fox, who is coming. An advertisement we found in the _Times_
to-day--"To gentlemen. A _converted_ medical man, of gentlemanly
habits and fond of Scriptural conversation, wishes to meet with a
gentleman of Calvinistic views, thirsty after truth, in want of a
daily companion. A little temporal aid will be expected in return.
Address, Verax!"

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Bray, 8th Feb. 1852.]

We are going to Mr. Ellis's, at Champion Hill, to-morrow evening. I am
better now. Have rid myself of all distasteful work, and am trying to
love the glorious destination of humanity, looking before and after.
We shall be glad to have Sara.

     Miss Sara Hennell arrived on a visit to the Strand next
     day--the 9th February--and stayed till the 17th.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mr. Bray, 16th Feb. 1852.]

I have not merely had a headache--I have been really ill, and feel
very much shattered. We (Miss Evans and Miss Sara Hennell) dined
yesterday at Mrs. Peter Taylor's,[38] at Sydenham. I was not fit to
go, especially to make my _début_ at a strange place; but the country
air was a temptation. The thick of the work is just beginning, and I
am bound in honor not to run away from it, as I have shirked all labor
but what is strictly editorial this quarter.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Bray, 20th Feb. 1852.]

We went to the meeting of the Association for the Abolition of the
Taxes on Knowledge on Wednesday, that I might hear Cobden, in whom I
was wofully disappointed. George Dawson's speech was admirable. I
think it undesirable to fix on a London residence at present, as I
want to go to Brighton for a month or two next quarter. I am seriously
concerned at my languid body, and feel the necessity of taking some
measures to get vigor. Lewes inquired for Sara last Monday, in a tone
of interest. He was charmed with her, as who would not be that has any
taste? Do write to me, dear Cara; I want comforting: this world looks
ugly just now; all people rather worse than I have been used to think
them. Put me in love with my kind again, by giving me a glimpse of
your own inward self, since I cannot see the outer one.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor, 6th Mch. 1852.]

I can sympathize with you in your troubles, having been a housekeeper
myself, and known disappointment in trusted servants. Ah, well! we
have a good share of the benefits of our civilization, it is but fair
that we should feel some of the burden of its imperfections.

Thank you a thousand times for wishing to see me again. I should
really like to see you in your own nice, fresh, healthy-looking home
again; but until the end of March I fear I shall be a prisoner, from
the necessity for constant work. Still, it is possible that I may have
a day, though I am quite unable to say when.

You will be still more surprised at the notice of the _Westminster_ in
_The People_, when you know that Maccoll himself wrote it. I have not
seen it, but had been told of its ill-nature. However, he is too good
a man to write otherwise than sincerely; and our opinion of a book
often depends on the state of the liver!

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Bray, 25th Mch. 1852.]

I had two offers last night--not of marriage, but of music--which I
find it impossible to resist. Mr. Herbert Spencer proposed to take me
on Thursday to hear "William Tell," and Miss Parkes asked me to go
with her to hear the "Creation" on Friday. I have had so little music
this quarter, and these two things are so exactly what I should like,
that I have determined to put off, for the sake of them, my other
pleasure of seeing you. So, pray, keep your precious welcome warm for
me until Saturday, when I shall positively set off by the two o'clock
train. Harriet Martineau has written me a most cordial invitation to
go to see her before July, but that is impossible.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor, 27th Mch. 1852.]

I am grieved to find that you have to pay for that fine temperament
of yours in attacks of neuralgia. Your silence did not surprise me,
after the account you had given me of your domestic circumstances, but
I have wished for you on Monday evenings. Your cordial assurance that
you shall be glad to see me sometimes is one of those pleasant
things--those life-preservers--which relenting destiny sends me now
and then to buoy me up. For you must know that I am not a little
desponding now and then, and think that old friends will die off,
while I shall be left without the power to make new ones. You know how
sad one feels when a great procession has swept by one, and the last
notes of its music have died away, leaving one alone with the fields
and sky. I feel so about life sometimes. It is a help to read such a
life as Margaret Fuller's. How inexpressibly touching that passage
from her journal--"I shall always reign through the intellect, but the
life! the life! O my God! shall that never be sweet?" I am thankful,
as if for myself, that it was sweet at last. But I am running on about
feelings when I ought to tell you facts. I am going on Wednesday to my
friends in Warwickshire for about ten days or a fortnight. When I come
back, I hope you will be quite strong and able to receive visitors
without effort--Mr. Taylor too.

I _did_ go to the _conversazione_; but you have less to regret than
you think. Mazzini's speeches are better read than heard. Proofs are
come, demanding my immediate attention, so I must end this hasty

     On the 3d April Miss Evans went to Rosehill, and stayed till
     the 14th. On her return she writes:

[Sidenote: Letter to Mr. Bray, 17th April, 1852.]

There was an article on the bookselling affair in the _Times_ of
yesterday, which must be the knell of the Association. Dickens is to
preside at a meeting in this house on the subject some day next week.
The opinions on the various articles in the _Review_ are, as before,
ridiculously various. The _Economist_ calls the article on Quakerism
"admirably written." Greg says the article on India is "very
masterly;" while he calls Mazzini's "sad stuff--mere verbiage."

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 21st April, 1852.]

If there is any change in my affection for you it is that I love you
more than ever, not less. I have as perfect a friendship for you as my
imperfect nature can feel--a friendship in which deep respect and
admiration are sweetened by a sort of flesh-and-blood sisterly feeling
and the happy consciousness that I have your affection, however
undeservedly, in return. I have confidence that this friendship can
never be shaken; that it must last while I last, and that the
supposition of its ever being weakened by a momentary irritation is
too contemptibly absurd for me to take the trouble to deny it. As to
your whole conduct to me, from the first day I knew you, it has been
so generous and sympathetic that, if I did not heartily love you, I
should feel deep gratitude--but love excludes gratitude. It is
impossible that I should ever love two women better than I love you
and Cara. Indeed, it seems to me that I can never love any so well;
and it is certain that I can never have any friend--not even a
husband--who would supply the loss of those associations with the past
which belong to you. Do believe in my love for you, and that it will
remain as long as I have my senses, because it is interwoven with my
best nature, and is dependent, not on any accidents of manner, but on
long experience, which has confirmed the instinctive attraction of
earlier days.

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 22d April, 1852.]

Our fortunes here are, as usual, checkered--

     "Twist ye, twine ye, even so
     Mingle human weal and woe."

Grote is very friendly, and has propitiated J. S. Mill, who will write
for us when we want him. We had quite a brilliant _soirée_ yesterday
evening. W. R. Greg, Forster (of Rawdon), Francis Newman, the Ellises,
and Louis Blanc, were the stars of greatest magnitude. I had a
pleasant talk with Greg and Forster. Greg was "much pleased to have
made my acquaintance." Forster, on the whole, appeared to think that
people should be glad to make _his_ acquaintance. Greg is a short man,
but his brain is large, the anterior lobe very fine, and a moral
region to correspond. Black, wiry, curly hair, and every indication of
a first-rate temperament. We have some very nice Americans here--the
Pughs--friends of the Parkes's, really refined, intellectual people.
Miss Pugh, an elderly lady, is a great abolitionist, and was one of
the Women's Convention that came to England in 1840, and was not
allowed to join the Men's Convention. But I suppose we shall soon be
able to say, _nous avons changé tout cela_.

I went to the opera on Saturday--"I Martiri," at Covent Garden--with
my "excellent friend, Herbert Spencer," as Lewes calls him. We have
agreed that we are not in love with each other, and that there is no
reason why we should not have as much of each other's society as we
like. He is a good, delightful creature, and I always feel better for
being with him.

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 2d May, 1852.]

I like to remind you of me on Sunday morning, when you look at the
flowers and listen to music; so I send a few lines, though I have not
much time to spare to-day. After Tuesday I will write you a longer
letter, and tell you all about everything. I am going to the opera
to-night to hear the "Huguenots." See what a fine thing it is to pick
up people who are short-sighted enough to like one.

     On the 4th of May a meeting, consisting chiefly of authors,
     was held at the house in the Strand, for the purpose of
     hastening the removal of the trade restrictions on the
     Commerce of Literature, and it is thus described in the
     following letter:

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 5th May, 1852.]

The meeting last night went off triumphantly, and I saluted Mr.
Chapman with "See the Conquering Hero Comes" on the piano at 12
o'clock; for not until then was the last magnate, except Herbert
Spencer, out of the house. I sat at the door for a short time, but
soon got a chair within it, and heard and saw everything.

Dickens in the chair--a position he fills remarkably well, preserving
a courteous neutrality of eyebrows, and speaking with clearness and
decision. His appearance is certainly disappointing--no benevolence in
the face, and, I think, little in the head; the anterior lobe not by
any means remarkable. In fact, he is not distinguished-looking in any
way--neither handsome nor ugly, neither fat nor thin, neither tall nor
short. Babbage moved the first resolution--a bad speaker, but a great
authority. Charles Knight is a beautiful, elderly man, with a modest
but firm enunciation; and he made a wise and telling speech which
silenced one or two vulgar, ignorant booksellers who had got into the
meeting by mistake. One of these began by complimenting
Dickens--"views held by such worthy and important gentlemen, _which is
your worthy person in the chair_." Dickens looked respectfully
neutral. The most telling speech of the evening was Prof. Tom
Taylor's--as witty and brilliant as one of George Dawson's. Prof.
Owen's, too, was remarkably good. He had a resolution to move as to
the bad effect of the trade restrictions on scientific works, and gave
his own experience in illustration. Speaking of the slow and small
sale of scientific books of a high class, he said, in his silvery,
bland way--alluding to the boast that the retail booksellers
_recommended_ the works of less known authors--"for which limited sale
we are doubtless indebted to the kind recommendation of our friends,
the retail booksellers"--whereupon these worthies, taking it for a
_bonâ fide_ compliment, cheered enthusiastically. Dr. Lankester, Prof.
Newman, Robert Bell, and others, spoke well. Owen has a tremendous
head, and looked, as he was, the greatest celebrity of the meeting.
George Cruikshank, too, made a capital speech, in an admirable moral
spirit. He is the most homely, genuine-looking man; not unlike the
pictures of Captain Cuttle.

I went to hear the "Huguenots" on Saturday evening. It was a rich
treat. Mario and Grisi and Formes, and that finest of orchestras under
Costa. I am going to a concert to-night. This is all very fine, but,
in the meantime, I am getting as haggard as an old witch under London
atmosphere and influences. I shall be glad to have sent me my
Shakespeare, Goethe, Byron, and Wordsworth, if you will be so good as
to take the trouble of packing them.

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, Monday, 12th(?) May, 1852.]

My days have slipped away in a most mysterious fashion
lately--chiefly, I suppose, in long walks and long talks. Our Monday
evenings are dying off--not universally regretted--but we are
expecting one or two people to-night. I have nothing to tell except
that I went to the opera on Thursday, and heard "La Juive," and,
moreover, fell in love with Prince Albert, who was unusually animated
and prominent. He has a noble, genial, intelligent expression, and is
altogether a man to be proud of. I am going next Thursday to see Grisi
in "Norma." She is quite beautiful this season, thinner than she was,
and really younger looking.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 27th May, 1852.]

My brightest spot, next to my love of _old_ friends, is the
deliciously calm, _new_ friendship that Herbert Spencer gives me. We
see each other every day, and have delightful _camaraderie_ in
everything. But for him my life would be desolate enough. What a
wretched lot of old, shrivelled creatures we shall be by and by. Never
mind, the uglier we get in the eyes of others the lovelier we shall be
to each other; that has always been my firm faith about friendship,
and now it is in a slight degree my experience. Mme. d'Albert has sent
me the sweetest letter, just like herself; and I feel grateful to have
such a heart remembering and loving me on the other side of the Jura.
They are very well and flourishing.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, Wednesday, 2d June, 1852.]

I am bothered to death with article-reading and scrap-work of all
sorts: it is clear my poor head will never produce anything under
these circumstances; _but I am patient_. I am ashamed to tease you so,
but I must beg of you to send me George Sand's works; and also I shall
be grateful if you will lend me--what I think you have--an English
edition of "Corinne," and Miss Austen's "Sense and Sensibility."
Harriet Martineau's article on "Niebuhr" will not go in the July
number. I am sorry for it; it is admirable. After all, she is a
_trump_--the only Englishwoman that possesses thoroughly the art of

On Thursday morning I went to St. Paul's to see the charity children
assembled, and hear their singing. Berlioz says it is the finest thing
he has heard in England; and this opinion of his induced me to go. I
was not disappointed; it is worth doing once, especially as we got out
before the sermon. I had a long call from George Combe yesterday. He
says he thinks the _Westminster_, under _my_ management, the most
important means of enlightenment of a literary nature in existence;
the _Edinburgh_, under Jeffrey, nothing to it, etc.!!! I wish _I_
thought so too.

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 21st June, 1852.]

Your joint assurance of welcome strengthens the centripetal force that
would carry me to you; but, on the other hand, sundry considerations
are in favor of the centrifugal force, which, I suppose, will carry me
to Broadstairs or Ramsgate. On the whole, I prefer to keep my visit to
you as a _bonne-bouche_, when I am just in the best physical and
mental state for enjoying it. I hope to get away on Saturday, or on
Wednesday at the latest. I think the third number of the _Review_ will
be capital; thoroughly readable, and yet not frothy.

[Sidenote: Letter to Charles Bray, 23d June, 1852.]

I have assured Herbert Spencer that you will think it a sufficiently
formal answer to the invitation you sent him through Mr. Lewes, if I
tell you that he will prefer waiting for the pleasure of a visit to
you until I am with you--if you will have him then. I spent the
evening at Mr. Parkes's on Monday. Yesterday Herbert Spencer brought
his father to see me--a large-brained, highly informed man, with a
certain quaintness and simplicity, altogether very pleasing.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 25th June, (?) 1852.]

After all, I begin to hope that our next number will be the best yet.
Forbes is good; Froude ditto; and James Martineau, if I may judge from
a glance at a few of his pages, admirable. Lewes has written us an
agreeable article on "Lady Novelists." There is a mysterious
contribution to the independent section. We are hoping that an
article on "Edinburgh Literary Men," yet to come, will be very good.
If not, we shall put in "Niebuhr;" it is capital.

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, end of June, 1852.]

The opera, Chiswick Flower Show, the French play, and the Lyceum, all
in one week, brought their natural consequences of headache and
hysterics--all yesterday. At five o'clock I felt quite sure that life
was unendurable. This morning, however, the weather and I are both
better, having cried ourselves out and used up all our clouds; and I
can even contemplate living six months longer. Was there ever anything
more dreary than this June?

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, Friday morning, 2d July,

I am busy packing to-day, and am going to Mr. Parkes's to dinner. Miss
Parkes has introduced me to Barbara Smith,[39] whose expression I like
exceedingly, and hope to know more of her. I go to Broadstairs on
Saturday. I am sadly in want of the change, and would much rather
present myself to you all when I can do you more credit as a friend.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Bray, 4th July, 1852.]

I warn you against Ramsgate, which is a strip of London come out for
an airing. Broadstairs is perfect; and I have the snuggest little
lodging conceivable, with a motherly good woman and a nice little
damsel of fourteen to wait on me. There are only my two rooms in this
cottage, but lodgings are plentiful in the place. I have a
sitting-room about eight feet by nine, and a bedroom a little larger;
yet in that small space there is almost every comfort. I pay a guinea
a week for my rooms, so I shall not ruin myself by staying a month,
unless I commit excesses in coffee and sugar. I am thinking whether it
would not be wise to retire from the world and live here for the rest
of my days. With some fresh paper on the walls, and an easy-chair, I
think I could resign myself. Come and tell me your opinion.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 16th July, 1852.]

I thought of you last night, when I was in a state of mingled rapture
and torture--rapture at the sight of a glorious evening sky, torture
at the sight and hearing of the belaboring given to the poor donkey
which was drawing me from Ramsgate home.

I had a note from Miss Florence Nightingale yesterday. I was much
pleased with her. There is a loftiness of mind about her which is well
expressed by her form and manner. Glad you are pleased with the
_Westminster_. I do think it a rich number--matter for a fortnight's
reading and thought. Lewes has not half done it justice in the
_Leader_. To my mind the "Niebuhr" article is as good as any of them.
If you could see me in my quiet nook! I am half ashamed of being in
such clover, both spiritually and materially, while some of my friends
are on the dusty highways, without a tuft of grass or a flower to
cheer them. A letter from you will be delightful. We seem to have said
very little to each other lately. But I always know--rejoice to
know--that there is the same Sara for me as there is the same green
earth and arched sky, when I am good and wise enough to like the best

[Sidenote: Letter to Charles Bray, 21st July, 1852.]

Do not be anxious about me--there is no cause. I am profiting, body
and mind, from quiet walks and talks with nature, gathering "lady's
bedstraw" and "rest-harrow," and other pretty things; picking up
shells (not in the Newtonian sense, but literally); reading Aristotle,
to find out what is the chief good; and eating mutton-chops, that I
may have strength to pursue it. If you insist on my writing about
"emotions," why, I must get some up expressly for the purpose. But I
must own I would rather not, for it is the grand wish and object of my
life to get rid of them as far as possible, seeing they have already
had more than their share of my nervous energy. I shall not be in town
on the 2d of August--at least, I pray Heaven to forbid it.

     Mrs. Bray paid a visit to Broadstairs from the 3d to the 12th
     August, and the next letter is addressed to her.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Bray, Thursday, 14th (?) Aug. 1852.]

Are you really the better for having been here? Since you left I have
been continually regretting that I could not make your visit
pleasanter. I was irritable and out of sorts; but you have an
apparatus for secreting happiness--that's it. Providence, seeing that
I wanted weaning from this place, has sent a swarm of harvest-bugs and
lady-birds. These, with the half-blank, half-dissipated feeling which
comes on after having companions and losing them, make me think of
returning to London on Saturday week with more resignation than I have
felt before. I am very well and "plucky"--a word which I propose to
substitute for happy, as more truthful.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor, 19th Aug. 1852.]

For the last two months I have been at this pretty, quiet place, which
"David Copperfield" has made classic, far away from London noise and

I am sorry now that I brought with me Fox's "Lectures," which I had
not managed to read before I left town. But I shall return thither at
the end of next week, and I will at once forward the volume to Gary

One sees no novels less than a year old at the sea-side, so I am
unacquainted with the "Blithedale Romance," except through the
reviews, which have whetted my curiosity more than usual. Hawthorne
is a grand favorite of mine, and I shall be sorry if he do not go on
surpassing himself. It is sad to hear of your only going out to
consult a physician. Illness seems to me the one woe for which there
is no comfort--no compensation. But perhaps you find it otherwise, for
you have a less rebellious spirit than I, and suffering seems to make
you look all the more gentle.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Houghton, 22d Aug. 1852.]

Thinking of you this morning--as I often do, though you may not
suppose so--it was "borne in on my mind" that I must write to you, and
I obey the inspiration without waiting to consider whether there may
be a corresponding desire on your part to hear from me. I live in a
world of cares and joys so remote from the one in which we used to
sympathize with each other that I find positive communication with you
difficult. But I am not unfaithful to old loves--they were sincere,
and they are lasting. I hope you will not think it too much trouble to
write me a little news of yourself. I want very much to know if your
health continues good, and if there has been any change in your
circumstances, that I may have something like a true conception of
you. All is well with me so far as my individuality is concerned, but
I have plenty of friends' troubles to sorrow over. I hope you have
none to add to the number.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 20th Aug. 1852.]

I celebrated my return to London by the usual observance--that is to
say, a violent headache, which is not yet gone, and of course I am in
the worst spirits, and my opinion of things is not worth a straw. I
tell you this that you may know why I only send you this scrap instead
of the long letter which I have _in petto_ for you, and which would
otherwise have been written yesterday.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 2d Sept. 1852.]

Somehow my letters--except those which come under the inexorable
imperative _must_ (the "ought" I manage well enough to shirk)--will
not get written. The fact is, I am in a croaking mood, and I am
waiting and waiting for it to pass by, so if my pen croaks in spite of
my resolutions to the contrary, please to take no notice of it. Ever
since I came back I have felt something like the madness which
imagines that the four walls are contracting and going to crush one.
Harriet Martineau (in a private letter shown to me), with
incomprehensible ignorance, jeers at Lewes for introducing
_psychology_ as a science in his Comte papers. Why, Comte himself
holds psychology to be a necessary link in the chain of science. Lewes
only suggests a change in its relations. There is a great, dreary
article on the Colonies by my side, asking for reading and abridgment,
so I cannot go on scribbling--indeed, my hands are so hot and
tremulous this morning that it will be better for you if I leave off.
Your little loving notes are very precious to me; but I say nothing
about matters of feeling till my good genius has returned from his
excursions; the evil one has possession just now.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Bray, 11th Sept. 1852.]

The week has really yielded nothing worth telling you. I am a few
degrees more wizened and muddle-headed; and the articles for the
_Review_ are, on the whole, unsatisfactory. I fear a discerning public
will think this number a sad falling-off. This is the greater pity,
that said public is patronizing us well at present. Scarcely a day
passes that some one does not write to order the _Review_, as a
permanent subscriber. You may as well expect news from an old spider
or bat as from me. I can only tell you what I think of the "Blithedale
Romance," of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," and the American Fishery
Dispute--all which, I am very sure, you don't want to know. Do have
pity on me, and make a little variety in my life, by all sending me a
scrap--never mind if it be only six lines apiece. Perhaps something
will befall me one day or other. As it is, nothing happens to me but
the ringing of the dinner-bell and the arrival of a proof. I have no
courage to walk out.

[Sidenote: Letter to Charles Bray, 18th Sept. 1852.]

Lewes called on me the other day and told me of a conversation with
Professor Owen, in which the latter declared his conviction that the
cerebrum was not the organ of the mind, but the cerebellum rather. He
founds on the enormous comparative size of brain in the grampus! The
professor has a huge anterior lobe of his own. What would George Combe
say if I were to tell him? But every great man has his paradox, and
that of the first anatomist in Europe ought to be a startling one.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, Saturday, Sept. 1852.]

We shall make a respectable figure after all--nine articles, and two
or three of them good, the rest not bad. The _Review_ has been selling
well lately, in spite of its being the end of the quarter. We have
made splendid provision for January--Froude, Harriet Martineau,
Theodore Parker, Samuel Brown, etc., etc. The autumnal freshness of
the mornings makes me dream of mellowing woods and gossamer threads. I
am really longing for my journey. Bessie Parkes spent last evening
with me, chatting of experience.

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 2d Oct. 1852.]

Pity me--I have had the headache for four days incessantly. But now I
am well, and even the Strand seems an elysium by contrast. I set off
on Tuesday for Edinburgh by express. This is awfully expensive, but it
seems the only way of reaching there alive with my frail body. I have
had the kindest notes from the Combes and from Harriet Martineau.

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 7th Oct. 1852.]

Here I am in this beautiful Auld Reekie once more--hardly recognizing
myself for the same person as the _damozel_ who left it by the coach
with a heavy heart some six years ago. The Combes are all kindness,
and I am in clover--an elegant house, glorious fires, and a
comfortable carriage--in short, just in the circumstances to nourish
sleek optimism, convince one that this is _le meilleur des mondes
possibles_, and make one shudder at the impiety of all who doubt it.
Last evening Mr. Robert Cox came to tea, to be introduced to me as my
_cicerone_ through the lions of Edinburgh. The talk last night was
pleasant enough, though, of course, all the interlocutors besides Mr.
Combe have little to do but shape elegant modes of negation and
affirmation, like the people who are talked to by Socrates in Plato's
dialogues--"Certainly," "that I firmly believe," etc. I have a
beautiful view from my room window--masses of wood, distant hills, the
Firth, and four splendid buildings, clotted far apart--not an ugly
object to be seen. When I look out in the morning, it is as if I had
waked up in Utopia or Icaria, or one of Owen's parallelograms. The
weather is perfect--all the more delightful to me for its northern
sharpness, which is just what I wanted to brace me. I have been out
walking and driving all day, and have only time before dinner to send
this _paar Worte_, but I may have still less time to-morrow.

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 12th Oct. 1852.]

Between the beauty of the weather and the scenery, and the kindness of
good people, I am tipsy with pleasure. But I shall tell you nothing of
what I see and do, because that would be taking off some of the edge
from your pleasure in seeing me. One's dear friend who has nothing at
all to tell one is a bore. Is it not so, honor bright? I enjoy talking
to Mr. Combe; he can tell me many things, especially about men in
America and elsewhere, which are valuable; and, besides, I sometimes
manage to get in more than a negative or affirmative. He and Mrs.
Combe are really affectionate to me, and the mild warmth of their
regard, with the perfect order and elegance of everything about me,
are just the soothing influence to do me good. They urge me to stay
longer, but I shall adhere to my original determination of going to
Miss Martineau's on the 20th, and I do not _mean_ to stay with her
longer than the 25th. We are going to-day to Craigcrook (Jeffrey's
place), a beautiful spot, which old October has mellowed into his
richest tints. Such a view of Edinburgh from it!

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 12th Oct. 1852.]

Those who know the article on Whewell to be Mill's, generally think it
good, but I confess to me it is unsatisfactory. The sun _does_ shine
here, albeit this is the 12th October. I wish you could see the view
from Salisbury Crag.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 19th Oct. 1852.]

Yes, he is an apostle. An apostle, it is true, with a back and front
drawing-room, but still earnest, convinced, consistent, having fought
a good fight, and now peacefully enjoying the retrospect of it. I
shall leave these good friends with regret, almost with repentings,
that I did not determine to pay them a longer visit. I have had a
pleasant note from Miss Martineau this morning, with a vignette of her
house--I suppose to make me like all the better the idea of going

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, Thursday night, 22d Oct. 1852.]

The coach brought me to Miss Martineau's gate at half-past six
yesterday evening, and she was there, with a beaming face, to welcome
me. Mr. Atkinson joined us this morning, and is a very agreeable
addition. There has been an intelligent gentleman visitor to-day, who
is interested in Miss Martineau's building society; and we have been
trudging about, looking at cottages and enjoying the sight of the
mountains, spite of the rain and mist. The weather is not promising,
that is the worst of it. Miss M. is charming in her own home--quite
handsome from her animation and intelligence. She came behind me, put
her hands round me, and kissed me in the prettiest way this evening,
telling me she was so glad she had got me here. I send you her note
that you may have an idea of "The Knoll."

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 24th Oct. 1852.]

We had a fine day yesterday, and went to Borrowdale. I have not been
well since I have been here. Still I manage to enjoy, certainly not
myself, but my companions and the scenery. I shall set off from here
on Tuesday morning, and shall be due at the Coventry station, I
believe, at 5.50.

     After a pleasant ten days' visit to Rosehill, Miss Evans
     returned to London on the 3d November.

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 6th Nov. 1852.]

To get into a first-class carriage, fall asleep, and awake to find
one's self where one would be, is almost as good as having Prince
Hussein's carpet. This was my easy way of getting to London on
Thursday. By 5 o'clock I had unpacked my boxes and made my room tidy,
and then I began to feel some satisfaction in being settled down where
I am of most use just now. After dinner came Herbert Spencer, and
spent the evening. Yesterday morning Mr. Greg called on his way to
Paris, to express his regret that he did not see me at Ambleside. He
is very pleasing, but somehow or other he frightens me dreadfully. I
am going to plunge into Thackeray's novel now ("Esmond").

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, Saturday, Nov. (?) 1852.]

Oh, this hideous fog! Let me grumble, for I have had headache the last
three days, and there seems little prospect of anything else in such
an atmosphere. I am ready to vow that I will not live in the Strand
again after Christmas. If I were not choked by the fog, the time would
trot pleasantly withal, but of what use are brains and friends when
one lives in a light such as might be got in the chimney? "Esmond" is
the most uncomfortable book you can imagine. You remember how you
disliked "François le Champi." Well, the story of "Esmond" is just the
same. The hero is in love with the daughter all through the book, and
marries the mother at the end. You should read the debates on the
opening of Parliament in the _Times_. Lord Brougham, the greatest of
English orators, perpetrates the most delicious _non sequitur_ I have
seen for a long time. "My Lords, I believe that any disturbance of the
repose of the world is very remote, _because it is our undeniable
right and an unquestionable duty_ to be prepared with the means of
defence, should such an event occur." These be thy gods, O Israel!

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, Monday, 20th Nov. 1852.]

I perceive your reading of the golden rule is "Do as you are done by;"
and I shall be wiser than to expect a letter from you another Monday
morning, when I have not earned it by my Saturday's billet. The fact
is, both callers and work thicken--the former sadly interfering with
the latter. I will just tell you how it was last Saturday, and that
will give you an idea of my days. My task was to read an article of
Greg's in the _North British_ on "Taxation," a heap of newspaper
articles, and all that J. S. Mill says on the same subject. When I had
got some way into this _magnum mare_, in comes Mr. Chapman, with a
thick German volume. "Will you read enough of this to give me your
opinion of it?" Then of course I must have a walk after lunch, and
when I had sat down again, thinking that I had two clear hours before
dinner, rap at the door--Mr. Lewes, who, of course, sits talking till
the second bell rings. After dinner another visitor, and so behold me,
at 11 P.M., still very far at sea on the subject of Taxation, but too
tired to keep my eyes open. We had Bryant the poet last evening--a
pleasant, quiet, elderly man. Do you know of this second sample of
plagiarism by D'Israeli, detected by the _Morning Chronicle_?[40] It
is worth sending for its cool impudence. Write me some news about
trade, at all events. I could tolerate even Louis Napoleon, if somehow
or other he could have a favorable influence on the Coventry trade.

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 4th Dec. 1852.]

Another week almost "with the years beyond the flood." What has it
brought you? To me it has brought articles to read--for the most part
satisfactory--new callers, and letters to nibble at my time, and a
meeting of the Association for the Abolition of Taxes on Knowledge. I
am invited to go to the Leigh Smiths on Monday evening to meet Mr.
Robert Noel. Herbert Spencer is invited, too, because Mr. Noel wants
especially to see him. Barbara Smith speaks of Mr. R. Noel as their
"dear German friend." So the Budget is come out, and I am to pay
income-tax. All very right, of course. An enlightened personage like
me has no "ignorant impatience of taxation." I am glad to hear of the
Lectures to Young Men and the banquet of the Laborers' Friend Society.
"Be not weary in well-doing." Thanks to Sara for her letter. She must
not mind paying the income-tax; it is a right principle that Dizzy is
going upon; and with her great conscientiousness she ought to enjoy
being flayed on a right principle.

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 10th Dec. 1852.]

I am not well--all out of sorts--and what do you think I am minded to
do? Take a return ticket, and set off by the train to-morrow 12
o'clock, have a talk with you and a blow over the hill, and come back
relieved on Monday. I the rather indulge myself in this, because I
think I shall not be able to be with you until some time after
Christmas. Pray forgive me for not sending you word before. I have
only just made up my mind.

     This visit to Rosehill lasted only from the 11th to 13th
     December, and the following short note is the next

[Sidenote: Letter to Charles Bray, 19th (?) Dec. 1852.]

I am very wretched to-day on many accounts, and am only able to write
you two or three lines. I have heard this morning that Mr. Clarke is
dangerously ill. Poor Chrissey and her children. Thank you for your
kind letter.

[Sidenote: Letter to Charles Bray, 21st Dec. 1852.]

I dare say you will have heard, before you receive this, that Edward
Clarke is dead. I am to go to the funeral, which will take place on
Friday. I am debating with myself as to what I ought to do now for
poor Chrissey, but I must wait until I have been on the spot and seen
my brother. If you hear no more from me, I shall trust to your
goodness to give me a bed on Thursday night.

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, Christmas Day, 25th Dec. 1852, from

Your love and goodness are a comforting presence to me everywhere,
whether I am ninety or only nine miles away from you. Chrissey bears
her trouble much better than I expected. We hope that an advantageous
arrangement may be made about the practice; and there is a
considerable sum in debts to be collected. I shall return to town on
Wednesday. It would have been a comfort to see you again before going
back, but there are many reasons for not doing so. I am satisfied now
that my duties do not lie _here_, though the dear creatures here will
be a constant motive for work and economy.

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 31st Dec. 1852.]

I arrived here only yesterday. I had agreed with Chrissey that, all
things considered, it was wiser for me to return to town; that I could
do her no substantial good by staying another week, while I should be
losing time as to other matters.

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 7th Jan. 1853.]

I am out of spirits about the _Review_. I should be glad to run away
from it altogether. But one thing is clear, that it would be a great
deal worse if I were not here. This is the only thought that consoles
me. We are thinking of sending Chrissey's eldest boy to Australia. A
patient of his father's has offered to place him under suitable
protection at Adelaide, and I strongly recommend Chrissey to accept
her offer--that is, if she will let it be available a year hence; so I
have bought Sidney's book on Australia, and am going to send it to
Chrissey, to enlighten her about matters there, and accustom her mind
to the subject. You are "jolly," I dare say, as good people have a
right to be. Tell me as much of your happiness as you can, that I may
rejoice in your joy, having none of my own.

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, Jan. 1853.]

I begin to feel for other people's wants and sorrows a little more
than I used to do. Heaven help us! said the old religion; the new one,
from its very lack of that faith, will teach us all the more to help
one another. Tell Sara she is as good as a group of spice-islands to
me; she wafts the pleasantest influences, even from a distance.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 10th Jan. 1853.]

Pray do not lay the sins of the article on the "Atomic Theory" to poor
Lewes's charge. How you could take it for his I cannot conceive. It is
as remote from his style, both of thinking and writing, as anything
can be.

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 18th Jan. 1853.]

This week has yielded nothing to me but a crop of very large
headaches. The pain has gone from my head at last, but I am feeling
very much shattered, and find it easier to cry than to do anything

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor, 1st Feb. 1853.]

My complaint, of which I am now happily rid, was rheumatism in the
right arm; a sufficient reason, you will see, for my employing a
scribe to write that promise which I now fulfil. I am going into the
country, perhaps for a fortnight, so that, if you are kind enough to
come here on Wednesday evening, I shall not have the pleasure of
seeing you. All the more reason for writing to you, in spite of cold
feet and the vilest pens in the world.

Francis Newman is likely to come once or twice in the season; not
more. He has, of course, a multitude of engagements, and many more
attractive ones than a _soirée_ in the Strand.

Never mention me to him in the character of editress. I think--at
least, I am told--that he has no high estimate of woman's powers and
functions. But let that pass. He is a very pure, noble being, and it
is good only to look at such.

The article on "Slavery," in the last number of the
_Westminster_--which I think the best article of them all--is by W. E.
Forster, a Yorkshire manufacturer, who married Dr. Arnold's daughter.
He is a very earnest, independent thinker, and worth a gross of
literary hacks who have the "trick" of writing.

I hope you are interested in the Slavery question, and in America
generally--that cradle of the future. I used resolutely to turn away
from American politics, and declare that the United States was the
last region of the world I should care to visit. Even now I almost
loathe the _common_ American type of character. But I am converted to
a profound interest in the history, the laws, the social and religious
phases of North America, and long for some knowledge of them.

Is it not cheering to think of the youthfulness of this little planet,
and the immensely greater youthfulness of our race upon it? to think
that the higher moral tendencies of human nature are yet only in their
germ? I feel this more thoroughly when I think of that great western
continent, with its infant cities, its huge, uncleared forests, and
its unamalgamated races.

I dare say you have guessed that the article on "Ireland" is Harriet
Martineau's. Herbert Spencer did _not_ contribute to the last number.

_À propos_ of articles, do you see the _Prospective Review_? There is
an admirable critique of Kingsley's "Phaethon" in it, by James
Martineau. But perhaps you may not be as much in love with Kingsley's
genius, and as much "riled" by his faults, as I am.

Of course you have read "Ruth" by this time. Its style was a great
refreshment to me, from its finish and fulness. How women have the
courage to write, and publishers the spirit to buy, at a high price,
the false and feeble representations of life and character that most
feminine novels give, is a constant marvel to me. "Ruth," with all its
merits, will not be an enduring or classical fiction--will it? Mrs.
Gaskell seems to me to be constantly misled by a love of sharp
contrasts--of "dramatic" effects. She is not contented with the
subdued coloring, the half-tints, of real life. Hence she agitates one
for the moment, but she does not secure one's lasting sympathy; her
scenes and characters do not become typical. But how pretty and
graphic are the touches of description! That little attic in the
minister's house, for example, which, with its pure white dimity
bed-curtains, its bright-green walls, and the rich brown of its
stained floor, remind one of a snowdrop springing out of the soil.
Then the rich humor of Sally, and the sly satire in the description of
Mr. Bradshaw. Mrs. Gaskell has, certainly, a charming mind, and one
cannot help loving her as one reads her books.

A notable book just come out is Wharton's "Summary of the Laws
relating to Women." "Enfranchisement of women" only makes creeping
progress; and that is best, for woman does not yet deserve a much
better lot than man gives her.

I am writing to you the last thing, and am so tired that I am not
quite sure whether I finish my sentences. But your divining power will
supply their deficiencies.

     The first half of February was spent in visits to the Brays
     and to Mrs. Clarke, at Attleboro, and on returning to London
     Miss Evans writes:

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Bray, 15th Feb. 1853.]

I am only just returned to a sense of the real world about me, for I
have been reading "Villette," a still more wonderful book than "Jane
Eyre." There is something almost preternatural in its power.

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 19th Feb. 1853.]

Mrs. Follen showed me a delightful letter which she has had from Mrs.
Stowe, telling all about herself. She begins by saying: "I am a little
bit of a woman, rather more than forty, as withered and dry as a pinch
of snuff; never very well worth looking at in my best days, and now a
decidedly used-up article." The whole letter is most fascinating, and
makes one love her.

"Villette," "Villette"--have you read it?

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 25th Feb. 1853.]

We had an agreeable evening on Wednesday--a Mr. Huxley being the
centre of interest. Since then I have been headachy and in a perpetual
rage over an article that gives me no end of trouble, and will not be
satisfactory after all. I should like to stick red-hot skewers through
the writer, whose style is as sprawling as his handwriting. For the
rest, I am in excellent spirits, though not in the best health or
temper. I am in for loads of work next quarter, but I shall not tell
you what I am going to do.

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 19th Mch. 1853.]

I have been ready to tear my hair with disappointment about the next
number of the _Review_. In short, I am a miserable editor. I think I
shall never have the energy to move--it seems to be of so little
consequence where I am or what I do.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 28th Mch. 1853.]

On Saturday I was correcting proofs literally from morning till night;
yesterday ditto. The _Review_ will be better than I once feared, but
not so good as I once hoped. I suppose the weather has chilled your
charity as well as mine. I am very hard and Mephistophelian just now,
but I lay it all to this second winter. We had a pleasant evening last
Wednesday. Lewes, as always, genial and amusing. He has quite won my
liking, in spite of myself. Of course, Mr. Bray highly approves the
recommendation of the Commissioners on _Divorce_. I have been to
Blandford Square (Leigh Smith's) to an evening party this week. Dined
at Mr. Parkes's on Sunday, and am invited to go there again to-night
to meet the Smiths. Lewes was describing Currer Bell to me yesterday
as a little, plain, provincial, sickly looking old maid. Yet what
passion, what fire in her! Quite as much as in George Sand, only the
clothing is less voluptuous.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 11th April, 1853.]

What do you think of my going to Australia with Chrissey and all her
family?--to settle them, and then come back. I am just going to write
to her, and suggest the idea. One wants _something_ to keep up one's
faith in happiness--a ray or two for one's friends, if not for one's

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Bray, 16th April, 1853.]

We had an agreeable _soirée_ last Wednesday. I fell in love with Helen
Faucit. She is the most poetic woman I have seen for a long time;
there is the ineffable charm of a fine character which makes itself
felt in her face, voice, and manner. I am taking doses of agreeable
follies, as you recommend. Last night I went to the French theatre,
and to-night I am going to the opera to hear "William Tell." People
are very good to me. Mr. Lewes, especially, is kind and attentive, and
has quite won my regard, after having had a good deal of my
vituperation. Like a few other people in the world, he is much better
than he seems. A man of heart and conscience, wearing a mask of
flippancy. When the warm days come, and the bearskin is under the
acacia, you must have me again.

     6th May.--Went to Rosehill and returned on 23d to Strand.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Bray, 17th June, 1853.]

On Wednesday I dined at Sir James Clark's, where the Combes are
staying, and had a very pleasant evening. The Combes have taken
lodgings in Oxford Terrace, where I mean to go. It is better than the
Strand--trees waving before the windows, and no noise of omnibuses.
Last Saturday evening I had quite a new pleasure. We went to see
Rachel again, and sat on the stage between the scenes. When the
curtain fell we walked about and saw the green-room, and all the
dingy, dusty paraphernalia that make up theatrical splendor. I have
not yet seen the "Vashti" of Currer Bell in Rachel, though there was
some approach to it in Adrienne Lecouvreur.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 28th June, 1853.]

On Saturday we will go to Ockley, near Dorking, where are staying Miss
Julia Smith, Barbara Smith, and Bessie Parkes. I shall write to the
Ockley party to-day and tell them of the probability that they will
see you.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Bray, 3d Aug. 1853, from St. Leonards.]

I never felt the delight of the thorough change that the coast gives
one so much as now, and I shall be longing to be off with you again in
October. I am on a delightful hill looking over the heads of the
houses, and having a vast expanse of sea and sky for my only view. The
bright weather and genial air--so different from what I have had for a
year before--make me feel as happy and stupid as a well-conditioned
cow. I sit looking at the sea and the sleepy ships with a purely
animal _bien être_.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mr. Bray, 9th Aug. 1853.]

It would have been a satisfaction to your benevolence to see me
sitting on the beach laughing at the _Herald's_ many jokes, and
sympathizing with your indignation against Judge Maule. It always
helps me to be happy when I know that you are so; but I do not choose
to vindicate myself against doubts of that, because it is unworthy of
you to entertain them. I am going on as well as possible
physically--really getting stout. I should like to have a good laugh
with you immensely. How nice it would be to meet you and Cara on the
beach this evening, and instead of sending you such a miserable
interpreter of one's feelings as a letter, give you the look and the
hand of warm affection! This British Channel really looks as blue as
the Mediterranean to-day. What weather!

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 18th Aug. 1853.]

For the first time in my experience I am positively revelling in the
_Prospective_. James Martineau transcends himself in beauty of imagery
in the article on Sir William Hamilton, but I have not finished him
yet. Yesterday it rained _sans_ intermission, and of course I said
_cui bono?_ and found my troubles almost more than I could bear; but
to-day the sun shines, and there is blue above and blue below,
consequently I find life very glorious, and myself a particularly
fortunate _diavolessa_. The landlord of my lodgings is a German, comes
from Saxe-Weimar, knows well the Duchess of Orleans, and talked to me
this morning of _Mr._ Schiller and _Mr._ Goethe. _À propos_ of Goethe,
there is a most true, discriminating passage about him in the article
on Shakespeare in the _Prospective_. _Mr._ Goethe is one of my
companions here, and I had felt some days before reading the passage
the truth which it expresses.

     Subjoined is the passage from the _Prospective Review_ of
     August, 1853:

     "Goethe's works are too much in the nature of literary
     studies; the mind is often deeply impressed by them, but one
     doubts if the author was. He saw them as he saw the houses of
     Weimar and the plants in the act of metamorphosis. He had a
     clear perception of their fixed condition and their
     successive transitions, but he did not really (at least so it
     seems to us) comprehend their motive power. In a word, he
     appreciated their life but not their liveliness.... And we
     trace this not to a defect in imaginative power--a defect
     which it would be a simple absurdity to impute to Goethe--but
     to the tone of his character and the habits of his mind. He
     moved hither and thither through life, but he was always a
     man apart. He mixed with unnumbered kinds of men, with courts
     and academies, students and women, camps and artists, but
     everywhere he was with them, yet not of them. In every scene
     he was there, and he made it clear that he was there with a
     reserve and as a stranger. He went there _to experience_. As
     a man of universal culture, and well skilled in the order
     and classification of human life, the fact of any one class
     or order being beyond his reach or comprehension seemed an
     absurdity; and it was an absurdity. He thought that he was
     equal to moving in any description of society, and he was
     equal to it; but then, on that account, he was absorbed in

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 19th Sept. 1853.]

As for me, I am in the best health and spirits. I have had a letter
from Mr. Combe to-day, urging me to go to Edinburgh, but I have made
an engagement with Mr. Chapman to do work which will oblige me to
remain in London. Mrs. P. is a very bonny, pleasant-looking woman,
with a smart drawing-room and liberal opinions--in short, such a
friend as self-interest, well understood, would induce one to
cultivate. I find it difficult to meet with any lodgings at once
tolerable and cheap. My theory is to _live_ entirely--that is, pay
rent and find food--out of my positive income, and then work for as
large a surplus as I can get. The next number of the _Review_ will be
better than usual. Froude writes on the "Book of Job"! He at first
talked of an article on the three great _subjective_ poems--Job,
Faust, and Hamlet--an admirable subject--but it has shrunk to the Book
of Job alone.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 1st Oct. 1853.]

I have been busied about my lodgings all afternoon. I am not going to
Albion Street, but to 21 Cambridge Street, Hyde Park Square. I hope
you will be pleased with our present number. If you don't think the
"Universal Postulate" first-rate, I shall renounce you as a critic.
Why don't you write grumbling letters to me when you are out of humor
with life, instead of making me ashamed of myself for ever having
grumbled to you? I have been a more good-for-nothing correspondent
than usual lately; this affair of getting lodgings, added to my other
matters, has taken up my time and thoughts. I have promised to do some
work to-night and to-morrow for a person[41] who is rather more idle
than myself, so I have not a moment to spare.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 22d Oct. 1853.]

I am reading "The Religion of the Heart" (Leigh Hunt's), and am far
more pleased with it than I expected to be. I have just fallen on two
passages with which you will agree. "Parker ... is full of the poetry
of religion; Martineau equally so, with a closer style and incessant
eloquence of expression, perhaps a perilous superabundance of it as
regards the claims of matter over manner; and his assumptions of
perfection in the character of Jesus are so reiterated and peremptory
that in a man of less evident heart and goodness they might almost
look like a very unction of insincerity or of policy, of doubt forcing
itself to seem undoubting. Hennell's 'Christian Theism' is one long,
beautiful discourse proclaiming the great Bible of Creation, and
reconciling Pagan and Christian Philosophy."

Good Sir James Clark stopped me in the Park yesterday, as I was
sauntering along with eyes on the clouds, and made very fatherly
inquiries about me, urging me to spend a quiet evening with him and
Lady Clark next week--which I will certainly do; for they are two
capital people, without any snobbery. I like my lodgings--the
housekeeper cooks charming little dinners for me, and I have not one
disagreeable to complain of at present, save such as are inseparable
from a ground-floor.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mr. Bray, 29th Oct. 1853.]

Last night I saw the first fine specimen of a man in the shape of a
clergyman that I ever met with--Dawes, the Dean of Hereford. He is the
man who has been making the experiment of mingling the middle and
lower classes in schools. He has a face so intelligent and benignant
that children might grow good by looking at it. Harriet Martineau
called yesterday. She is going to her brother's at Birmingham soon.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 3d Nov. 1853.]

Mr. Lewes was at Cambridge about a fortnight ago, and found that
Herbert Spencer was a great deal talked of there for the article on
the "Universal Postulate," as well as other things. Mr. Lewes himself
has a knot of devotees there who make his "History of Philosophy" a
private text-book. Miss Martineau's "Comte" is out now. Do you mean to
_do_ it? or Mr. Lewes's? We can get no one to write an article on
Comte for the next number of the _Westminster_--Bain, our last hope,

[Sidenote: Letter to Mr. Bray, 5th Nov. 1853.]

I think you would find some capital extracts for the _Herald_
(Coventry), in the article on "Church Parties" in the _Edinburgh_. The
_Record_ is attempting a reply to it, in which it talks of the
truculent infidelity of _Voltaire_ AND _Robespierre_! Has A. sent you
his book on the Sabbath? If ever I write a book I will make a present
of it to nobody; it is the surest way of taking off the edge of
appetite for it, if no more. I am as well as possible; and certainly,
when I put my head into the house in the Strand, I feel that I have
gained, or, rather, escaped, a great deal physically by my change.
Have you known the misery of writing with a _tired_ steel pen, which
is reluctant to make a mark? If so, you will know why I leave off.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Houghton, 7th Nov. 1853.]

Chrissey has just sent me a letter, which tells that you have been
suffering severely, and that you are yet very ill. I must satisfy my
own feelings by telling you that I grieve at this, though it will do
you little good to know it. Still, when _I_ am suffering, I do care
for sympathy, and perhaps you are of the same mind. If so, think of me
as your loving sister, who remembers all your kindness to her, all the
pleasant hours she has had with you, and every little particular of
her intercourse with you, however long and far she may have been
removed from you. Dear Fanny, I can never be indifferent to your
happiness or sorrow, and in this present sad affliction my thoughts
and love are with you. I shall tease you with no words about myself
_now_--perhaps by and by it will amuse you to have a longer letter.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mr. Bray, 8th Nov. 1853.]

Hitherto I have been spending £9 per month--at least after that
rate--but I have had frequent guests. I am exceedingly comfortable,
and feel quite at home now. Harriet Martineau has been very
kind--called again on Tuesday, and yesterday sent to invite me to go
to Lady Compton's, where she is staying, on Saturday evening. This,
too, in spite of my having vexed her by introducing Mr. Lewes to her,
which I did as a desirable bit of peacemaking.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 22d Nov. 1853 (thirty-fourth

I begin this year more happily than I have done most years of my life.
"Notre vraie destinée," says Comte, "se compose de _resignation_ et
_d'activité_"--and I seem more disposed to both than I have ever been
before. Let us hope that we shall both get stronger by the year's
activity--calmer by its resignation. I know it may be just the
contrary--don't suspect me of being a canting optimist. We _may_ both
find ourselves at the end of the year going faster to the hell of
conscious moral and intellectual weakness. Still, there is a
possibility--even a probability--the other way. I have not seen
Harriet Martineau's "Comte" yet--she is going to give me a copy--but
Mr. Lewes tells me it seems to him admirably well done. I told Mr.
Chapman yesterday that I wished to give up my connection with the
editorship of the _Westminster_. He wishes me to continue the present
state of things until April. I shall be much more satisfied on many
accounts to have done with that affair; but I shall find the question
of supplies rather a difficult one this year, as I am not likely to
get any money either for "Feuerbach" or for "The Idea of a Future
Life,"[42] for which I am to have "half profits"=0/0!

I hope you will appreciate this _bon-mot_ as I do--"C'est un homme
admirable--il se tait en sept langues!"[43]

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Bray, 2d Dec. 1853.]

I am going to detail all my troubles to you. In the first place, the
door of my sitting-room doesn't quite fit, and a draught is the
consequence. Secondly, there is a piano in the house which has
decidedly entered on its second childhood, and this piano is
occasionally played on by Miss P. with a really enviable _aplomb_.
Thirdly, the knocks at the door startle me--an annoyance inseparable
from a ground-floor room. Fourthly, Mrs. P. scolds the servants
_stringendo e fortissimo_ while I am dressing in the morning.
Fifthly--there is no fifthly. I really have not another discomfort
when I am well, which, alas! I have not been for the last ten days;
so, while I have been up to the chin in possibilities of enjoyment, I
have been too sick and headachy to use them. One thing is needful--a
good digestion.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Bray, 28th Dec. 1853.]

Spent Christmas Day alone at Cambridge Street. How shall I thank you
enough for sending me that splendid barrel of beet-root, so nicely
packed? I shall certainly eat it and enjoy it, which, I fancy, is the
end you sought, and not thanks. Don't suppose that I am looking
miserable--_au contraire_. My only complaints just now are idleness
and dislike-to-getting-up-in-the-morningness, whereby the day is made
too short for what I want to do. I resolve every day to conquer the
flesh the next, and, of course, am a little later in consequence. I
dined with Arthur Helps yesterday at Sir James Clark's--very
snug--only he and myself. He is a sleek man, with close-snipped hair;
has a quiet, humorous way of talking, like his books.

     At the beginning of January, 1854, there was another visit to
     Mrs. Clarke, at Attleboro, for ten days.

[Sidenote: Letter to Charles Bray, 6th Feb. 1854.]

In the last number of the _Scotsman_ which I sent you there was a
report of a speech by Dr. Guthrie at the Education meeting, containing
a passage which I meant to have copied. He is speaking of the
impossibility of teaching morality with the "Bible shut," and says
that in that case the teacher would be obliged to resort to "congruity
and the fitness of things," about which the boy knows nothing more
than that the apple is _fit_ for his mouth. What is wanted to convince
the boy of his sin is, "Thou God seest me," and "Thou bleeding Lamb,
the best morality is love of thee!" Mr. Lewes came a few minutes after
you left, and desired me to tell you that he was sorry to miss you.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Houghton, 6th April, 1854.]

Thank you for your very kind letter, which I received this morning. It
is pleasant to think of you as quite well, and enjoying your

But do you imagine me sitting with my hands crossed, ready to start
for any quarter of the world at the shortest notice. It is not on
those terms that people, not rich, live in London. I shall be deep in
proof-sheets till the end of May, and shall only dismiss them to make
material for new ones. I dare say you will pity me. But, as one of
Balzac's characters says, after maturity, "La vie n'est que l'exercice
d'une habitude dans un milieu préféré;" and I could no more live out
of my _milieu_ than the haddocks I dare say you are often having for

My health is better. I had got into a labyrinth of headaches and
palpitations, but I think I am out of it now, and I hope to keep well.
I am not the less obliged to you, dear Fanny, for wishing to have me
with you. But to leave London now would not be agreeable to me, even
if it were morally possible. To see you again would certainly be a
pleasure, but I hope that will come to pass without my crossing the
Irish Channel.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Bray, Saturday, 18th April, 1854.]

I am rather overdone with the week's work, and the prospect of what is
to come next. Poor Lewes is ill, and is ordered not to put pen to
paper for a month; so I have something to do for him in addition to my
own work, which is rather pressing. He is gone to Arthur Helps, in
Hampshire, for ten days, and I really hope this total cessation from
work, in obedience to a peremptory order, will end in making him
better than he has been for the last year. No opera and no fun for me
for the next month. Happily, I shall have no time to regret it. Plenty
of bright sun on your anemone bed. How lovely your place must look,
with its fresh leaves!

[Sidenote: Letter to Charles Bray, 23d May, 1854.]

It is quite possible that I may wish to go to the Continent, or twenty
other things. Mr. Lewes is going on a walking excursion to Windsor
to-day with his doctor, who pronounces him better, but not yet fit
for work. However, he is obliged to do a little, and must content
himself with an _approximation_ to his doctor's directions. In this
world all things are approximations, and in the system of the Dog Star
too, in spite of Dr. Whewell.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Bray, Friday, no date, 1854.]

My troubles are purely psychical--self-dissatisfaction, and despair of
achieving anything worth the doing. I can truly say they vanish into
nothing before any fear for the happiness of those I love. Thank you
for letting me know how things are, for indeed I could not bear to be
shut out from your anxieties. When I spoke of myself as an island, I
did not mean that I was so exceptionally. We are all islands--

     "Each in his hidden sphere of joy or woe,
       Our hermit spirits dwell and roam apart"--

and this seclusion is sometimes the most intensely felt at the very
moment your friend is caressing you or consoling you. But this
gradually becomes a source of satisfaction instead of repining. When
we are young we think our troubles a mighty business--that the world
is spread out expressly as a stage for the particular drama of our
lives, and that we have a right to rant and foam at the mouth if we
are crossed. I have done enough of that in my time. But we begin at
last to understand that these things are important only to our own
consciousness, which is but as a globule of dew on a rose-leaf, that
at mid-day there will be no trace of. This is no high-flown
sentimentality, but a simple reflection, which I find useful to me
every day. I expect to see Mr. Lewes back again to-day. His poor
head--his only fortune--is not well yet; and he has had the misery of
being _ennuyé_ with idleness, without perceiving the compensating
physical improvement. Still, I hope the good he has been getting has
been greater than he has been conscious of. I expect "Feuerbach" will
be all in print by the end of next week, and there are no skippings,
except such as have been made on very urgent grounds.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Bray, Tuesday, 6th June, 1854.]

Thanks for your assurance of welcome. I will trust to it when the gods
send favorable circumstances. But I see no probability of my being
able to be with you before your other midsummer visitors arrive. I
delight to think that you are all a little more cheery.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Bray, Wednesday, 28th June, 1854.]

I reached the Euston Station as dusty as an old ledger, but with no
other "incommodity." I went to the Lyceum last night to see "Sunshine
through the Clouds,"[44] a wonderfully original and beautiful piece by
Mme. de Girardin, which makes one cry rather too much for pleasure.
Vestris acts finely the bereaved mother, passing through all the
gradations of doubt and hope to the actual recovery of her lost son.
My idea of you is rather bright just now, and really helps to make me
enjoy all that is enjoyable. That is part of the benefit I have had
from my pleasant visit, which was made up of sunshine, green fields,
pleasant looks, and good eatables--an excellent compound. Will you be
so kind as to send my books by railway, _without_ the Shelley?

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Bray, Monday, 4th July, 1854.]

Pray consider the Strauss MSS. waste paper. _I_ shall never want them
again. I dined with your old acquaintance, Dr. Conolly, at Sir James
Clark's, the other day. He took me down to dinner, and we talked of

     The translation of Ludwig Feuerbach's "Wesen des
     Christenthums" was published in July in "Chapman's Quarterly
     Series," with Miss Evans's name on the titlepage as the
     translator, the first and only time her real name appeared in

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 10th July, 1854.]

I am going to pack up the Hebrew Grammar, the Apocryphal Gospels, and
your pretty Titian, to be sent to you. Shall I despatch them by rail
or deposit them with Mr. Chapman, to be asked for by Mr. Bray when he
comes to town? I shall soon send you a good-bye, for I am preparing to
go abroad (?). Herbert Spencer's article on the "Genesis of Science"
is a good one. He will stand in the Biographical Dictionaries of 1854
as "Spencer, Herbert, an original and profound philosophical writer,
especially known by his great work, ... which gave a new impulse to
psychology, and has mainly contributed to the present advanced
position of that science, compared with that which it had attained in
the middle of the last century. The life of this philosopher, like
that of the great Kant, offers little material for the narrator. Born
in the year 1820," etc.

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 20th July, 1854.]

Dear friends--all three--I have only time to say good-bye, and God
bless you. _Poste Restante_, Weimar, for the next six weeks, and
afterwards Berlin. Ever your loving and grateful Marian.

     We have now been led up to the most important event in George
     Eliot's life--her union with Mr. George Henry Lewes. Here, as
     elsewhere, it seems to me to be of the first importance that
     she should speak for herself; and there is, fortunately, a
     letter to Mrs. Bray, dated in September, 1855--fourteen
     months after the event--which puts on record the point of
     view from which she regarded her own action. I give this
     letter here (out of its place as to date); and I may add,
     what, I think, has not been mentioned before, that not only
     was Mr. Lewes's previous family life irretrievably spoiled,
     but his home had been wholly broken up for nearly two years.
     In forming a judgment on so momentous a question, it is,
     above all things, necessary to understand what was actually
     undertaken, what was actually achieved; and, in my opinion,
     this can best be arrived at, not from any outside statement
     or arguments, but by consideration of the whole tenor of the
     life which follows, in the development of which Mr. Lewes's
     true character, as well as George Eliot's, will unfold
     itself. No words that any one else can write, no arguments
     any one else can use, will, I think, be so impressive as the
     life itself.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Bray, 4th Sept. 1855.]

If there is any one action or relation of my life which is, and always
has been, profoundly serious, it is my relation to Mr. Lewes. It is,
however, natural enough that you should mistake me in many ways, for
not only are you unacquainted with Mr. Lewes's real character and the
course of his actions, but also it is several years now since you and
I were much together, and it is possible that the modifications my
mind has undergone may be quite in the opposite direction of what you
imagine. No one can be better aware than yourself that it is possible
for two people to hold different opinions on momentous subjects with
equal sincerity, and an equally earnest conviction that their
respective opinions are alone the truly moral ones. If we differ on
the subject of the marriage laws, I at least can believe of you that
you cleave to what you believe to be good; and I don't know of
anything in the nature of your views that should prevent you from
believing the same of me. _How far_ we differ I think we neither of us
know, for I am ignorant of your precise views; and, apparently, you
attribute to me both feelings and opinions which are not mine. We
cannot set each other quite right in this matter in letters, but one
thing I can tell you in few words. Light and easily broken ties are
what I neither desire theoretically nor could live for practically.
Women who are satisfied with such ties do _not_ act as I have done.
That any unworldly, unsuperstitious person who is sufficiently
acquainted with the realities of life can pronounce my relation to Mr.
Lewes immoral, I can only understand by remembering how subtile and
complex are the influences that mould opinion. But I _do_ remember
this: and I indulge in no arrogant or uncharitable thoughts about
those who condemn us, even though we might have expected a somewhat
different verdict. From the majority of persons, of course, we never
looked for anything but condemnation. We are leading no life of
self-indulgence, except, indeed, that, being happy in each other, we
find everything easy. We are working hard to provide for others better
than we provide for ourselves, and to fulfil every responsibility that
lies upon us. Levity and pride would not be a sufficient basis for
that. Pardon me if, in vindicating myself from some unjust
conclusions, I seem too cold and self-asserting. I should not care to
vindicate myself if I did not love you and desire to relieve you of
the pain which you say these conclusions have given you. Whatever I
may have misinterpreted before, I do not misinterpret your letter this
morning, but read in it nothing else than love and kindness towards
me, to which my heart fully answers yes. I should like never to write
about myself again; it is not healthy to dwell on one's own feelings
and conduct, but only to try and live more faithfully and lovingly
every fresh day. I think not one of the endless words and deeds of
kindness and forbearance you have ever shown me has vanished from my
memory. I recall them often, and feel, as about everything else in the
past, how deficient I have been in almost every relation of my life.
But that deficiency is irrevocable, and I can find no strength or
comfort except in "pressing forward towards the things that are
before," and trying to make the present better than the past. But if
we should never be very near each other again, dear Cara, do bear this
faith in your mind, that I was not insensible or ungrateful to all
your goodness, and that I am one among the many for whom you have not
lived in vain. I am very busy just now, and have been obliged to write
hastily. Bear this in mind, and believe that no meaning is mine which
contradicts my assurance that I am your affectionate and earnest


MARCH, 1850, TO JULY, 1854.

     Return to England with M. d'Albert--Depressing effect of
     change--Visit to Rosehill--Visit to brother and sister at
     Griff and Meriden--Deeper depression--To Rosehill again with
     M. d'Albert--Makes her home there for sixteen months--Reviews
     Mackay's "Progress of the Intellect" in _Westminster_--Meets
     Mr. Chapman, the editor of the _Westminster_--Helps to settle
     Prospectus of new series of the _Review_--Visits Robert Noel
     at Bishop Steignton with Mrs. Bray--Visit to London--Crystal
     Palace--Returns to Rosehill, and meets Mr. and Mrs. George
     Combe--Goes to London as assistant editor of the _Westminster
     Review_--Letters to Brays--Review writing: Dr. Brabant,
     Foxton, Wilson--Meets Mr. Herbert Spencer--Miss
     Martineau--Distractions of London--Low health--Miss
     Bremer--Introduction to Mr. Lewes--Opinion of House of
     Lords--Carlyle's "Life of Sterling"--Carlyle
     anecdotes--Mackay--James Martineau--J. H. Newman's
     Lectures--Translation of Schleiermacher--Letter from
     Carlyle--Intimacy begins with Mr. Lewes--Reviews Carlyle's
     "Sterling" in _Westminster_--Visit to Rosehill--Returns to
     Strand--Harriet Martineau--Pierre Leroux--Louis Blanc--Miss
     Bessie Parkes--Mrs. Peter Taylor--"Margaret Fuller's
     Life"--Description of _Westminster_ reviewers--Growing
     intimacy with Mr. Herbert Spencer--Meeting of authors and
     booksellers at Mr. Chapman's--Admiration of Prince
     Albert--Grisi--Hack work of _Review_--Appreciation of Miss
     Martineau's writings--Singing of charity children at St.
     Paul's--George Combe's opinion of _Westminster_
     editing--Barbara Leigh Smith--Visit to Broadstairs--Florence
     Nightingale--Return to Strand--Depression--Professor Owen on
     the Cerebellum--Visit to Combes at Edinburgh, and to Harriet
     Martineau at Ambleside--Return to London--Reading
     "Esmond"--Lord Brougham's speech--Work in
     Strand--Bryant--Visit to Rosehill--Death of Edward
     Clarke--Visit to widowed sister at Meriden--Return to
     Strand--Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor--Views on
     America--"Ruth"--Visit to Rosehill, and to Mrs. Clarke at
     Attleboro--Return to Strand--Reading "Villette"--Letter from
     Mrs. Stowe to Mrs. Follen--Meets Huxley--Thinks of going to
     Australia to settle Mrs. Clarke--Admiration of Helen
     Faucit--Growing regard for Mr. Lewes--Kindness of Sir James
     Clark--Visit to Ockley--Change to St. Leonard's--Improvement
     in health--Return to Strand--Spencer's "Universal
     Postulate"--Removal to 21 Cambridge Street--Leigh Hunt's
     "Religion of the Heart"--Dawes, Dean of Hereford--Harriet
     Martineau--Comte--Contemplates publishing "The Idea of a
     Future Life"--Meets Arthur Helps--Intimate relations with Mr.
     Lewes--Translation of Feuerbach--Visit to Rosehill--Return to
     London--Feuerbach completed--Estimate of Herbert
     Spencer--Good-bye to Brays--Union with Mr. Lewes--Letter to
     Mrs. Bray thereon.


[31] Frederick Foxton, author of "Popular Christianity: its Transition
State and Probable Development."

[32] "Man's Nature and Development," by Martineau and Atkinson.

[33] This was a merely formal and casual introduction. That George
Eliot was ever brought into close relations with Mr. Lewes was due to
Mr. Herbert Spencer having taken him to call on her in the Strand
later in this year.

[34] Appeared in January, 1852, number of the _Westminster Review_,
No. 1 of the New Series.

[35] Review of Carlyle's "Life of Sterling" in _Westminster_, Jan.

[36] Published in the April, 1852, number of the _Westminster_.

[37] Now Madame Belloc, who remained to the end one of George Eliot's
closest friends.

[38] Mrs. Peter Taylor remained a lifelong and a valued friend of
George Eliot's, and many interesting letters in this volume are
addressed to her. I am glad also to take this opportunity of
expressing my thanks to her for procuring for me two other sets of
correspondence--the letters addressed to Mrs. Beecher Stowe and to
Mrs. William Smith.

[39] Afterwards Madame Bodichon--one of the three or four most
intimate friends of George Eliot, whose name will very often appear in
subsequent pages.

[40] Funeral oration on the Duke of Wellington.

[41] Correcting _Leader_ proofs for Mr. Lewes.

[42] Advertised in 1853-54 as to appear by "Marian Evans" in
"Chapman's Quarterly Series," but never published.

[43] Lord Acton tells me he first heard this _bon-mot_, in 1855,
related of Immanuel Bekker, the philologist.

[44] Translated and adapted from the French, "La joie fait peur," by
Mr. Lewes, under the name of Slingsby Lawrence.


[Sidenote: Journal, 20th July, 1854.]

I said a last farewell to Cambridge Street on 20th July, 1854, and
found myself on board the _Ravensbourne_, bound for Antwerp. The day
was glorious, and our passage perfect. The sunset was lovely, but
still lovelier the dawn as we were passing up the Scheldt between two
and three in the morning. The crescent moon, the stars, the first
faint blush of the dawn reflected in the glassy river, the dark mass
of clouds on the horizon, which sent forth flashes of lightning, and
the graceful forms of the boats and sailing-vessels, painted in
jet-black on the reddish gold of the sky and water, made up an
unforgettable picture. Then the sun rose and lighted up the sleepy
shores of Belgium, with their fringe of long grass, their rows of
poplars, their church spires and farm buildings.

[Sidenote: 21st July.]

The great treat at Antwerp was the sight of the Descent from the
Cross, which, with its pendant, the Elevation of the Cross, has been
undergoing restoration. In the latter the face of Jesus is sublime in
its expression of agony and trust in the Divine. It is certainly the
finest conception of the suffering Christ I have ever seen. The rest
of the picture gave me no pleasure. But in the Descent from the Cross,
color, form, and expression alike impressed me with the sense of
grandeur and beauty. A little miserable copy of the picture placed
near it served as an admirable foil.

[Sidenote: 22d July.]

We went to the museum and saw Rubens's Crucifixion, even more
beautiful to me than the Descent from the Cross. These two pictures
profoundly impressed me with the miserable lack of breadth and
grandeur in the conceptions of our living artists. The reverence for
the old masters is not all humbug and superstition.

[Sidenote: 30th July.]

We breakfasted in the public room at the hotel at Cologne, and were
joined there by Dr. Brabant and Strauss. After a short interview with
them we went on board the steamboat which was to take us to Coblentz.

[Sidenote: Weimar, Description, Aug.-Oct. 1854.]

It was very pretty to look out of the window, when dressing, on a
garden that reminded one of an English village: the town is more like
a huge village, or market-town, than the precincts of a court.

G. called on Schöll, and in the afternoon he (Schöll) came and took us
to the _Schloss_, where we saw the Dichter Zimmer--a suite of rooms
dedicated to Goethe, Schiller, and Wieland. In each room there is the
bust of the poet who is its presiding genius; and the walls of the
Goethe and Schiller rooms are decorated with frescoes representing
scenes from their works. The Wieland room is decorated with arabesques
only. The idea of these rooms is a very pretty one, but the frescoes
are badly executed. I am delighted with Schöll. He is a
bright-looking, well-made man, with his head finely set on his
shoulders, very little like a German. We discovered, after we had
known him some time, that he is an Austrian, and so has more southern
blood in his veins than the heavy Thuringians. His manners are hearty
and cordial, and his conversation really instructive: his ideas are so
thoroughly shaped and so admirably expressed. Sauppe is also a
_Gelehrter_, director of the gymnasium, and editor of a series of
classics which are being brought out; and he is evidently thought a
great deal of in Weimar. We went with the Schölls and Sauppes to
Tiefurt, and saw the queer little _Schloss_ which used to be Amalia's
residence. Tiefurt was a favorite resort of ours, for the walk to it
is a very pleasant one, and the Tiefurt park is a little paradise. The
Ilm is seen here to the best advantage: it is clearer than at Weimar,
and winds about gracefully among fine trees. One of the banks is a
high, steep declivity, which shows the trees in all their perfection.
In autumn, when the yellow and scarlet were at their brightest, these
banks were fairy-like in their beauty. It was here that Goethe and his
court friends got up the performance of "Die Fischerin" by torchlight.

About ten days after our arrival at Weimar we made an excursion to
Ettersburg, one of the duke's summer residences, interesting to us
beforehand as the scene of private theatricals and _sprees_ in the
Goethe days. We carried provisions with us, and Keats's poems. The
morning was one of the brightest and hottest that August ever
bestowed, and it required some resolution to trudge along the
shadeless _chaussée_, which formed the first two or three miles of our
way. One compensating pleasure was the sight of the beautiful mountain
ashes in full berry, which, alternately with cherry-trees, border the
road for a considerable distance. I felt a child's love for the
bunches of coral standing out against the blue sky. The _Schloss_ is a
house of very moderate size, and no pretension of any kind. Two
flights of steps lead up to the door, and the balustrades are
ornamented with beautiful creepers. A tiny sort of piazza under the
steps is ornamented with creepers too, and has pretty earthenware
vases filled with plants hanging from the ceiling. We felt how much
beauty might be procured at small expense in looking at these things.
A beautiful walk through a beech wood took us to the _Mooshütte_,
before which stands the beech whereon Goethe and his friends cut their
names, and from which Goethe denounced Waldemar. We could recognize
some of the initials. With Ettersburg I shall always associate Arthur
Helps, for he was with us on the second and last time we saw it. He
came to Weimar quite unexpectedly on the 29th August, and the next
evening we all three drove to Ettersburg. He said the country just
round Weimar reminded him of Spain. This led him to talk of his
Spanish travels, and he told us some delightful stories in a
delightful way. At one inn he was considerably embarrassed in eating
his dinner by the presence of a handsome woman, who sat directly
opposite to him, resting on her elbows, and fixing her dark eyes on
him with a fearful intensity of interest. This woman was the cook,
anxious to know that her dishes were acceptable to the stranger. Under
this terrible surveillance he did not dare to omit a single dish,
though sorely longing to do so.

Our greatest expedition from Weimar was to Ilmenau. We set out with a
determination to find the Gabel-Bach and Kickel-hahn (Goethe's
residence) without the encumbrance of a guide. We found the man who
inhabits the simple wooden house which used to be Carl August's
hunting-box. He sent a man on with us to show us the way to the
Kickel-hahn, which we at last reached--I with weary legs. There is a
magnificent view of hills from this spot; but Goethe's tiny wooden
house is now closely shut in by fir-trees, and nothing can be seen
from the windows. His room, which forms the upper floor of the house,
is about ten or twelve feet square. It is now quite empty, but there
is an interesting memorial of his presence in these wonderful lines,
written by his own hand, near the window-frame:

     "Ueber allen Gipfeln
     Ist Ruh,
     In allen Wipfeln
     Spürest du
     Kaum einen Hauch;
     Die Vögelein schweigen im Walde.
     Warte nur, balde
     Ruhest du auch."

We wrote our names near one of the windows.

About the middle of September the theatre opened, and we went to hear
"Ernani." Liszt looked splendid as he conducted the opera. The grand
outline of his face and floating hair were seen to advantage as they
were thrown into dark relief by the stage lamps. We were so fortunate
as to have all three of Wagner's most celebrated operas while we were
at Weimar. G., however, had not patience to sit out more than two acts
of "Lohengrin;" and, indeed, I too was weary. The declamation appeared
to me monotonous, and situations, in themselves trivial or
disagreeable, were dwelt on fatiguingly. Without feeling competent to
pass a judgment on this opera as music, one may venture to say that it
fails in one grand requisite of art, based on an unchangeable element
in human nature--the need for contrast. With the "Fliegender
Holländer" I was delighted; the poem and the music were alike
charming. The "Tannhäuser," too, created in me a great desire to hear
it again. Many of the situations, and much of the music, struck me as
remarkably fine. And I appreciated these operas all the better
retrospectively when we saw "Der Freischütz," which I had never
before heard and seen on the stage. The effect of the delicious music,
with which one is so familiar, was completely spoiled by the absence
of recitative, and the terrible _lapsus_ from melody to ordinary
speech. The bacchanalian song seemed simply ridiculous, sung at a
little pot-house table at a party of _two_, one of whom was sunk in
melancholy; and the absurdity reached a _ne plus ultra_ when Caspar
climbed the tree, apparently with the sole purpose of being shot. _À
propos_ of the theatre, we were immensely amused to learn that a fair,
small-featured man, who somehow always looked to me as if he had just
come out of the shell, had come to Weimar to fit himself for a
dramatic writer by going behind the scenes! He had as yet written
nothing, but was going to work in what he considered a _gründlich_

When we passed along the Schiller Strasse, I used to be very much
thrilled by the inscription, "Hier wohnte Schiller," over the door of
his small house. Very interesting it is to see his study, which is
happily left in its original state. In his bedroom we saw his skull
for the first time, and were amazed at the smallness of the
intellectual region. There is an intensely interesting sketch of
Schiller lying dead, which I saw for the first time in the study; but
all pleasure in thinking of Schiller's portraits and bust is now
destroyed to me by the conviction of their untruthfulness. Rauch told
us that he had a _miserabled Stirne_.[45] Waagen says that Tieck the
sculptor told him there was something in Schiller's whole person which
reminded him of a _camel_.

Goethe's house is much more important-looking, but, to English eyes,
far from being the palatial residence which some German writers think
it. The entrance-hall is certainly rather imposing, with its statues
in niches, and broad staircase. The latter was made after his own
design, and was an "after-shine" of Italian tastes. The pictures are
wretched, the casts not much better--indeed, I remember nothing which
seemed intrinsically worth looking at. The MS. of his "Römische
Elegien," written by himself in the Italian character, is to be seen
here; and one likes to look at it better than at most of the other
things. G. had obtained permission from Frau v. Goethe to see the
studio and Schlafzimmer, which are not open to the public, and here
our feelings were deeply moved. We entered first a small room
containing drawers and shelves devoted to his mineralogical
collections. From these we passed into the study. It is rather a dark
room, for there are only two small windows--German windows. A plain
deal table stands in the middle, and near the chair, against this
table, is a high basket, where, I was afterwards told, Goethe used to
put his pocket-handkerchief. A long sort of writing-table and bookcase
united stands against one wall. Here hangs the pin-cushion, just as he
left it, with visiting-cards suspended on threads, and other trifles
which greatness and death have made sacred. Against the opposite wall,
where you enter the bedroom, there is a high writing-desk, on which
stands a little statue of Napoleon in creamy glass. The bedroom is
very small. By the side of the bed stands a stuffed arm-chair, where
he used to sit and read while he drank his coffee in the morning. It
was not until very late in his life that he adopted the luxury of an
arm-chair. From the other side of the study one enters the library,
which is fitted up in a very makeshift fashion, with rough deal
shelves, and bits of paper, with Philosophy, History, etc., written on
them, to mark the classification of the books. Among such memorials
one breathes deeply, and the tears rush to one's eyes. There is one
likeness of Goethe that is really startling and thrilling from the
idea it gives one of perfect resemblance. It is painted on a cup, and
is a tiny miniature, but the execution is so perfect that, on applying
a magnifying glass, every minute stroke has as natural an appearance
as the texture of a flower or the parts of an insect under the

Equally interesting is the _Gartenhaus_, which we used to see almost
every day in our walks. Within, it is a not uncomfortable, homely sort
of cottage; no furniture is left in it, and the family want to sell
it. It stands on a pleasant slope fronting the west, and there is a
charming bit of garden and orchard attached to it. Close to the garden
hedge runs the road which leads to Ober Weimar, and on the other side
of this road a meadow stretches to the trees which border the Ilm. A
bridge nearly opposite the Gartenhaus takes one to the Borkenhaus,
Carl August's little retreat, from which he used to telegraph to
Goethe. The road to Ober Weimar was one of our favorite walks,
especially towards the end of our stay at Weimar, when we were glad of
all the sunshine we could get. Sometimes we used to turn out of it, up
a grove of weeping birches, into the ploughed fields at the top of the
slope on which the Gartenhaus and other little villas stand. Here we
enjoyed many a lovely sunset; one, in particular, was marvellously
splendid. The whole hemisphere was golden, towards the east tinted
with rose-color. From this little height we looked on the plantations
of the park, in their autumnal coloring, the town, with its
steep-roofed church and its castle tower, colored a gay green, the
line of chestnuts along the Belvedere Chaussée, and Belvedere itself
peeping from its nest of trees.

Another very favorite walk of mine was the _Webicht_, a beautiful wood
through which ran excellent carriage-roads and grassy footpaths. How
richly have I enjoyed skirting this wood and seeing, on the other
side, the sky arching grandly down over the open fields, the evening
red flushing the west over the town, and the bright stars come out as
if to relieve the sun in his watch over mortals. And then the winding
road through the Webicht on the side towards Tiefurt, with its tall,
overarching trees now bending their mossy trunks forward, now standing
with stately erectness like lofty pillars; and the charming grassy
paths through the heart of the wood, among its silvery-barked birches!
The Webicht lies towards Tiefurt, and one side of it is bordered by
the road thither. I remember, as we were returning from Tiefurt one
evening, a beautiful effect of the setting sunlight pouring itself
under the trees, and making the road before us almost crimson.

One of our pleasantest acquaintances at Weimar was the French
ambassador, the Marquis de Ferrière, a very favorable specimen of a
Frenchman, but intensely French. His genial soul and perfect
good-humor gave one the same sort of _bien-être_ as a well-stuffed
arm-chair and a warm hearthrug. In the course of conversation,
speaking of Yvan's accounts of his travels (the marquis was first
secretary to the Chinese embassy which Yvan accompanied), he said,
"C'était faux d'un bout à l'autre; mais c'était spirituel, paradoxal,
amusant--enfin _tout ce qu'il fallait pour un journal_." Another day
he observed that the famous words of Napoleon to his Egyptian army,
"Forty centuries look down on you from the summits of these pyramids,"
were characteristic of the French national feeling, as those of
Nelson, "England expects the man to make his duty" were of the
English. This is a fair specimen of the correctness with which one
generally hears English quoted; and we often reminded ourselves that
it was a mirror in which we might see our own German.

Liszt's conversation is charming. I never met with a person whose
manner of telling a story was so piquant. The last evening but one
that he called on us, wishing to express his pleasure in G.'s article
about him, he very ingeniously conveyed that expression in a story
about Spontini and Berlioz. Spontini visited Paris while Liszt was
living there, and haunted the opera--a stiff, self-important
personage, with high shirt-collars, the least attractive individual
imaginable; Liszt turned up his own collars, and swelled out his
person, so as to give us a vivid idea of the man. Every one would have
been glad to get out of Spontini's way--indeed, elsewhere "on feignait
de le croire mort," but at Paris, as he was a member of the Institute,
it was necessary to recognize his existence. Liszt met him at Erard's
more than once. On one of these occasions Liszt observed to him that
Berlioz was a great admirer of his (Spontini's), whereupon Spontini
burst into a terrible invective against Berlioz as a man who, with the
like of him, was ruining art, etc. Shortly after the "Vestale" was
performed, and forthwith appeared an enthusiastic article by Berlioz
on Spontini's music. The next time Liszt met him of the high collars
he said, "You see I was not wrong in what I said about Berlioz's
admiration of you." Spontini swelled in his collars, and replied,
"Monsieur, Berlioz a du talent comme critique!"

Liszt's replies were always felicitous and characteristic. Talking of
Mme. d'Agoult, he told us that when her novel "Nelida" appeared, in
which Liszt himself is pilloried as a delinquent, he asked her, "Mais
pourquoi avez-vous tellement maltraité ce pauvre Lehmann?" The first
time we were asked to breakfast at his house, the Altenburg, we were
shown into the garden, where, in a saloon formed by overarching trees,
the _déjeuner_ was set out. We found Hoffmann von Fallersleben, the
lyric poet, Dr. Schade--a _Gelehrter_, and Cornelius. Presently came a
Herr--or Doctor--Raff, a musician, who has recently published a volume
called "Wagnerfrage." Soon after we were joined by Liszt and the
Princess Marie, an elegant, gentle-looking girl of seventeen, and last
by the Princess Wittgenstein, with her nephew, Prince Eugène, and a
young French artist, a pupil of Scheffer. The princess was tastefully
dressed in a morning-robe of some semi-transparent white material,
lined with orange-color, which formed the bordering and ornamented the
sleeves, a black lace jacket, and a piquant cap set on the summit of
her comb, and trimmed with violet color. When the cigars came, Hoffman
was requested to read some of his poetry, and he gave us a
bacchanalian poem with great spirit. I sat next to Liszt, and my great
delight was to watch him and observe the sweetness of his expression.
Genius, benevolence, and tenderness beam from his whole countenance,
and his manners are in perfect harmony with it. Then came the thing I
had longed for--his playing. I sat near him, so that I could see both
his hands and face. For the first time in my life I beheld real
inspiration--for the first time I heard the true tones of the piano.
He played one of his own compositions--one of a series of religious
fantasies. There was nothing strange or excessive about his manner.
His manipulation of the instrument was quiet and easy, and his face
was simply grand--the lips compressed, and the head thrown a little
backward. When the music expressed quiet rapture or devotion a smile
flitted over his features; when it was triumphant the nostrils
dilated. There was nothing petty or egoistic to mar the picture. Why
did not Scheffer paint him thus, instead of representing him as one of
the three Magi? But it just occurs to me that Scheffer's idea was a
sublime one. There are the two aged men who have spent their lives in
trying to unravel the destinies of the world, and who are looking for
the Deliverer--for the light from on high. Their young fellow-seeker,
having the fresh inspiration of early life, is the first to discern
the herald star, and his ecstasy reveals it to his companions. In this
young Magus, Scheffer has given a portrait of Liszt; but even here,
where he might be expected to idealize unrestrainedly, he falls short
of the original. It is curious that Liszt's face is the type that one
sees in all Scheffer's pictures; at least, in all I have seen.

In a little room which terminates the suite at the Altenburg there is
a portrait of Liszt, also by Scheffer--the same of which the engraving
is familiar to every one. This little room is filled with memorials of
Liszt's triumphs and the worship his divine talent has won. It was
arranged for him by the princess, in conjunction with the Arnims, in
honor of his birthday. There is a medallion of him by Schwanthaler, a
bust by an Italian artist, also a medallion by Rietschl--very
fine--and cabinets full of jewels and precious things--the Weimar
gifts of the great. In the music _salon_ stand Beethoven's and
Mozart's pianos. Beethoven's was a present from Broadwood, and has a
Latin inscription intimating that it was presented as a tribute to his
illustrious genius. One evening Liszt came to dine with us at the Erb
Prinz, and introduced M. Rubinstein, a young Russian, who is about to
have an opera of his performed in Weimar. Our expenses at Weimar,
including wine and washing, were £2 6_s._ per week. Dear Weimar! We
were sorry to say good-bye to it, with its pleasant group of friends.
On the 4th of November, after a stay of just three months, we turned
our backs on it "to seek fresh streets and faces new" at Berlin.

[Sidenote: Berlin, Recollections, Nov. 1854 to Mch. 1855.]

There are certain persons without any physiognomy, the catalogue of
whose features, as, item, a Roman nose, item, a pair of black eyes,
etc., gives you the entire contents of their faces. There is no
difference of opinion about the looks of such people. All the world is
agreed either that they are pretty or ugly. So it is with Berlin.
Every one tells you it is an uninteresting modern city, with broad,
monotonous streets; and when you see it, you cannot for the life of
you get up an emotion of surprise, or make a remark about the place
which you have not heard before.

The day after our arrival was Sunday, 6th November; the sun shone
brightly, and we went to walk in the Linden, elbowing our way among
the _promeneurs endimanchés_, who looked remarkably smart and handsome
after the Thuringians. We had not gone far when we met a nice-looking
old gentleman, with an order round his neck, and a gold-headed cane in
his hand, who exclaimed, on seeing G., "Ist's möglich?" and then bade
him heartily welcome. I saw at once it was the Varnhagen of whom I
had heard so often. His niece, arrayed in smiles and a pink bonnet,
was with him.

For the first six weeks, when the weather permitted, we took long
walks in the Thiergarten, where the straight and uniform avenues of
insignificant trees contrasted very disadvantageously with the
charming variety of our beloved park at Weimar. Still, we now and then
noticed a beautiful wintry effect, especially in the part most remote
from the town, where the trees are finer and the arrangements more
varied. One walk, which skirted the Thiergarten on the right-hand side
coming from the town, we were particularly fond of, because it gave us
on one side an open view, with water and a boat or two, which, touched
by the magic of sunshine, was pleasant to see. At Berlin it was "a day
of small things" with regard to the beautiful, and we made much of

Our little circle of acquaintances was very agreeable and varied.
Varnhagen was a real treasure to G., for his library supplied all the
deficiencies of the public one, where to ask for books was generally
like "sinking buckets into empty wells." He is a man of real culture,
kindliness, and polish (Germanly speaking); and he has besides that
thorough liberalism, social, religious, and political, which sets the
mind at ease in conversation, and delivers it from the fear of running
against some prejudice, or coming suddenly on the sunk fence of some
miserable limitation. The first morning he called on us he talked of
his terrible disappointment in Carlyle, a subject to which he often
returned. He evidently felt an antipathy to the "Teufelsdröckh,"
which, indeed, it was not difficult to understand from the mere
_manière d'étre_ of the two men. They had corresponded for years
before they saw each other; and Varnhagen was, and is, a great
admirer of Carlyle's best work, but he was thoroughly repelled by his
rough, paradoxical talk, and, more justifiably, by the despotic
doctrines which it has been his humor to teach of late. We were amused
to hear that Carlyle said he should think no one could die at Berlin,
"for in beds _without curtains_ what Christian could give up the

At Varnhagen's we met, for the first time, Professor Stahr, who was
there with Fanny Lewald, Fräulein Solmar, Frau Muisch, Dr. Ring, Dr.
Vehse, Gräfin von Kalkreuth, and Director Wilhelm Schadow, author of
"Der Moderne Vasari." We talked of Goethe. Varnhagen brought out
autographs and portraits, and read us an epigram of his own on the
want of liberality which Goethe's family show about opening his house
to the public. He showed us a portrait of Kleist, who shot himself, in
company with Frau Vogel, near an inn on the way to Potsdam. There was
no love-affair between them; they were both thoroughly unhappy--he
poor and hopeless for the future; and she suffering from an incurable
disease. In the evening they both wrote, on a single sheet of paper,
letters to their friends, communicating their intention (this sheet
Varnhagen possesses). Early in the morning they rose, took a cup of
coffee, went to the brink of a piece of water in the neighborhood of
the inn, and there shot themselves.

Du Bois Reymond spoke very decidedly of the German civilization as
inferior to the English.

Varnhagen, when well, is a regular visitor at Fräulein Solmar's, who
for many years has kept an open _salon_ for her friends every evening
but one in the week. Here the three-cornered chair next the sofa was
reserved for him, except when General Pfuhl was there. This General
Pfuhl is a fine specimen of an old soldier, who is at the same time a
man of instruction and of strong social sympathies. He has been in the
service of Prussia, has been within a hair's-breadth of being frozen
to death, "and so following." He spoke French admirably, and always
had something interesting and characteristic to tell or say. His
appreciatory groans, always in the right place, when G. was reading
"Shylock" did us both good, under the chills of a German audience.
Fräulein Solmar is a remarkably accomplished woman--probably between
fifty and sixty, but of that agreeable _Wesen_ which is so free from
anything startling in person or manner, and so at home in everything
one can talk of, that you think of her simply as a delightful
presence, and not as a woman of any particular age. She converses
perfectly in French, well in English, and well also, as we were told,
in Italian. There is not the slightest warmth of manner or expression
in her, but always the same even cheerfulness and intelligence--in
fact, she is the true type of the mistress of the _salon_. During the
first half of our stay in Berlin we went about once a week to her
house; but bad health and bad weather kept us away during the last six
weeks, except for one or two evenings. Baron Sternberg, the novelist,
used frequently to glide in when we were there, and cast strange, cold
glances around, talking quietly to Fräulein Assing or some other lady
who sat in a distant parallel of latitude.

One evening a Frenchman there amused us by saying that he found in
Meyerbeer's "Huguenots" the whole spirit of the epoch of Charles IX.
"Lisez les Chroniques"--"de Froissart?" suggested Mlle. Solmar. "Oui,
quelque chose comme ça; ou bien les Chroniques de Brantôme ou de
_Mérimée_, et vous trouverez que Meyerbeer a parfaitement exprimé tout
cela; du moins c'est ce que je trouve, moi." I said, "Mais peut-être,
Monsieur, c'est votre génie à vous qui a fait entrer les idées dans la
musique." He answered with complacent deprecation. G. looked immovably
serious, but was inwardly tickled by the audacity of my compliment,
and the evident acceptance of it.

A still more interesting acquaintance was Professor Gruppe, who has
written great books on the Greek drama and on Philosophy; has been a
political writer; is a lyric and epic poet; has invented a beautiful
kind of marbled paper for binding books; is an enthusiastic huntsman,
and, withal, the most simple, kind-hearted creature in the world. His
little wife, who is about twenty years younger than himself, seems to
adore him, and it is charming to see the group they and their two
little children make in their dwelling, up endless flights of stairs
in the Leipziger Platz. Very pleasant evenings we had there, chatting
or playing whist, or listening to readings of Gruppe's poems. We used
to find him in a gray cloth _Schlafrock_, which I fancy was once a
great-coat, and a brown velvet cap surmounting his thin gray hairs. I
never saw a combination at all like that which makes up Gruppe's
character. Talent, fertility, and versatility that seem to indicate a
fervid temperament, and yet no scintillation of all this in his talk
and manner; on the contrary, he seems slow at apprehending other
people's ideas, and is of an almost childish _naiveté_ in the value he
attaches to poor jokes, and other trivialities. _À propos_ of jokes,
we noticed that during the whole seven months of our stay in Germany
we never heard one witticism, or even one felicitous idea or
expression, from a German!

Gruppe has a delightful library, with rare books, and books too good
to be rare; and we often applied to him for some of them. He lent me
"Lessing," and that is an additional circumstance to remember with
pleasure in connection with the Laocoon. He one evening gave us an
interesting account of his work on the cosmic system of the Greeks,
and read us a translation, by himself, of one of the Homeric
hymns--Aphrodite--which is very beautiful, a sort of _Gegenstück_ to
"Der Gott und die Bajadere:" and generally we were glad when he took
up the book. He read us a specimen of his epic poem, "Firdusi," which
pleased us. The fable on which this poem is founded is fine. The
sultan had engaged Firdusi to write a great poem on his exploits, and
had promised to pay for this one hundred thousand pieces (gold being
understood). Firdusi had delighted in the thought of this sum, which
he intended to devote to the benefit of his native city. When the poem
was delivered, and the sack of money given to Firdusi, he found that
the pieces were silver! He burst into a song of scorn against the
sultan, and paid the miserable sum to his bath-man. Gruppe thinks
Shakespeare more extensively sold in Germany than any other book,
except the Bible and Schiller! One night we attempted "Brag" or
"Pocher," but Gruppe presently became alarmed at G.'s play, and said
"Das würde an zwölf Groschen reichen." He drew some Jews' faces with a
pen admirably.

We were invited to meet Waagen, whom we found a very intelligent and
amusing man. He told us a story about Goethe, who said of some one, "I
thank thee, Almighty God, that thou hast produced no second edition of
this man!" and an amusing judgment passed on Goethe himself, that he
was "Kein dummer Mann!" Also a story of a lady who went to see him,
as an intellectual adorer, and began to spout to him, as his
masterpiece, "Fest gemauert in der Erden,"[46] etc.

Another pleasant friend was Edward Magnus, the portrait-painter, an
acute, intelligent, kind-hearted man, with real talent in his art. He
was the only German we met with who seemed conscious of his
countrymen's deficiencies. He showed in every possible way a hearty
desire to do us service--sent us books, came to chat with us, showed
us his portraits, and, when we were going away, brought us lithographs
of some paintings of his, that we might carry away a remembrance of
him. He has travelled very extensively, and had much intercourse with
distinguished people, and these means of culture have had some of
their best effects on his fine temperament and direct, truthful mind.
He told us a rich story about Carlyle. At a dinner-party, given by
Magnus in his honor, Wiese and Cornelius were deploring Goethe's want
of evangelical sentiment. Carlyle was visibly uneasy, fumbling with
his dinner-napkin. At last he broke out thus: "Meine Herren kennen sie
die Anekdote von dem Manne der die Sonne lästerte weil sie ihm sein
Cigarre nicht anstecken liess?"[47]

In the little room where we used to be ushered to wait for him there
was a portrait of Thorwaldsen and one of Mendelssohn, both of whom he
knew well. I was surprised to find in his _atelier_ the original of the
portrait of Jenny Lind, with which I was so familiar. He was going to
send it, together with Sontag's portrait, to the exhibition at Paris.
His brother, the chemist, was also a bright, good-natured-looking man.
We were invited to a large evening party at his house, and found very
elegant rooms, with a remarkable assemblage of celebrated men--Johannes
Müller, Du Bois Reymond, Rose, Ehrenberg, etc. Some of the women were
very pretty and well dressed. The supper, brought round on trays, was
well appointed; and altogether the party was well managed.

We spent one evening with Professor Stahr and his wife--Fanny
Lewald--after their marriage. Stahr has a copy of the charming
miniature of Schiller, taken when he was about thirty--a miniature in
the possession of a certain Madame von Kalb. There are the long
_Gänsehals_,[48] the aquiline nose, the blue eyes and auburn hair. It
is a most real and striking portrait. I saw also a portrait and bust of
Madame d'Agoult here, both rather handsome. The first evening Stahr
told us some of the grievances which the Prussians have to bear from
their government, and among the rest the vexatious necessity for a
"concession" or license, before any, the simplest vocation, can be
entered on. He observed, with justice, that the English are apt to
suppose the German Revolution of '48 was mere restlessness and aping of
other nations, when in fact there were real oppressions which the
Germans had to bear, and which they had borne with a patience that
the English would not imitate for a month. By far the most
distinguished-looking man we saw at Berlin, and, indeed, next to Liszt,
in Germany, was Rauch the sculptor. Schöll had given G. a letter for
him, and soon after it had been left at his house he called on us in
the evening, and at once won our hearts by his beautiful person and the
benignant and intelligent charm of his conversation. He is indeed the
finest old man I ever saw--more than seventy-six, I believe, but
perfectly upright, even stately, in his carriage. His features are
harmonious, his complexion has a delicate freshness, his silky white
hair waves gracefully round his high forehead, and his brown eyes beam
with benevolence and intelligence. He is above the common height, and
his stature and beauty together ennoble the gray working surtout and
cap which he wears in his _atelier_ into a picturesque and
distinguished costume. The evening he was with us he talked
delightfully of Goethe, dwelling especially on his lovable nature. He
described very graphically Goethe's way of introducing subjects,
showing plates, etc., bringing in the cast of Schiller's skull, and
talking of it and other little particulars of interest. We went one
morning to his _atelier_, and found him superintending his pupil's work
at a large group representing Moses with his hands held up by Aaron and
Hur. It was extremely interesting to me to see Rauch's original little
clay model of this group, for I had never seen statuary in that first
stage before. The intense expression of entreaty in the face of the
Moses was remarkable. But the spirit of this group is so alien to my
sympathies that I could feel little pleasure in the idea of its
production. On the other hand, my heart leaped at the sight of old
Kant's quaint figure, of which Rauch is commissioned to produce a
colossal statue for Königsberg. In another _atelier_, where the work is
in a different stage, we saw a splendid marble monument, nearly
completed, of the late king of Hanover. Pitiable that genius and
spotless white marble should be thrown away on such human trash! Our
second visit to Rauch's _atelier_ was paid shortly before we left
Berlin. The group of Moses, Aaron, and Hur was clothed up, and the
dark-eyed, olive-complexioned pupil was at work on a pretty little
figure of Hope--a child stepping forward with upturned face, a bunch of
flowers in her hand. In the other _atelier_ we saw a bust of
Schleiermacher, which, with the equestrian statue of Fritz, and its
pedestal, Rauch was going to send to the Paris Exhibition.
Schleiermacher's face is very delicately cut, and indicates a highly
susceptible temperament. The colossal head of Fritz, seen on a level
with one's eye, was perfectly startling from its living expression. One
can't help fancying that the head is thinking and that the eyes are

Dessoir the actor was another pleasant variety in our circle of
acquaintance. He created in us a real respect and regard for him, not
only by his sincere devotion to his art, but by the superiority of
feeling which shone through all the little details of his conduct and
conversation. Of lowly birth, and entirely self-taught, he is by
nature a gentleman. Without a single physical gift as an actor, he
succeeds, by force of enthusiasm and conscientious study, in arriving
at a representation which commands one's attention and feelings. I was
very much pleased by the simplicity with which he one day said,
"Shakespeare ist mein Gott; ich habe keinen anderen Gott:" and indeed
one saw that his art was a religion to him. He said he found himself
inevitably led into singsong declamation by Schiller, but with
Shakespeare it was impossible to be declamatory. It was very agreeable
to have him as a companion now and then in our walks, and to have him
read or discuss Shakespeare for an hour or two in the evening. He told
us an amusing story about his early days. When he was a youth of
sixteen or seventeen, acting at Spandau, he walked to Berlin (about
nine miles) and back in the evening, accompanied by a watchmaker
named Naundorff, an enthusiast for the theatre. On their way Dessoir
declaimed at the top of his voice, and was encouraged by the applause
of his companion to more and more exertion of lungs and limbs, so that
people stared at them, and followed them, as if they thought them two
madmen. This watchmaker was Louis XVII.! Dessoir also imitated
admirably Aldridge's mode of advancing to kill Duncan--like a wild
Indian lurking for a not much wilder beast. He paid us the very pretty
attention of getting up a dinner for us at Dietz's, and inviting
Rötscher and Förster to meet us; and he supplied us with tickets for
the theatre, which, however, was a pleasure we used sparingly. The
first time we went was to see "Nathan der Weise"--a real enjoyment,
for the elegant theatre was new to us, and the scenery was excellent;
better than I saw there on any subsequent occasion. Döring performed
Nathan, and we thus saw him for the first time to great advantage;
for, though he drags down this part, as he does all others, the
character of Nathan sets limits which he cannot overstep; and though
we lose most of its elevation in Döring's acting, we get, _en
revanche_, an admirable ease and naturalness. His fine, clear voice
and perfect enunciation told excellently in the famous monologue, and
in the whole scene with Saladin. Our hearts swelled and the tears came
into our eyes as we listened to the noble words of dear Lessing, whose
great spirit lives immortally in this crowning work of his.

Our great anxiety was to see and hear Johanna Wagner, so we took
tickets for the "Orpheus," which Mlle. Solmar told us she thought her
best part. We were thoroughly delighted both with her and her music.
The caricatures of the Furies, the ballet-girls, and the butcher-like
Greek shades in Elysium, the ugly, screaming Eurydice, and the droll
appearance of Timzek as Amor, in which she looked like a shop-girl who
has donned a masquerade dress impromptu, without changing her
headdress--all these absurdities were rather an amusement than a
drawback to our pleasure; for the Orpheus was perfect in himself, and
looked like a noble horse among mules and donkeys.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 9th Jan. 1855.]

Our days are so accurately parcelled out that my time for
letter-writing is rather restricted, and for every letter I write I
have to leave out something which we have learned to think necessary.
We have been to hear "Fidelio" this evening--not well executed, except
so far as the orchestra was concerned; but the divine music positively
triumphs over the defects of execution. One is entirely wrapped in the
_idea_ of the composer. Last week we had "Orpheus and Eurydice," and I
heard, for the first time, at once an opera of Gluck's and Johanna
Wagner. It is one of the glories of Berlin to give Gluck's operas, and
it is also something of a glory to have "die Wagner." She is really a
fine actress and a fine singer; her voice is not ravishing, but she is
mistress of it. I thought of you that evening, and wished you could
hear and see what I know would interest you greatly--I refer rather to
Gluck's opera than to Johanna Wagner. The scene in which Orpheus
(Johanna Wagner) enters Tartarus, is met by the awful Shades, and
charms them into ecstatic admiration till they make way for him to
pass on, is very fine. The voices--except in the choruses--are all
women's voices; and there are only three characters--Orpheus, Amor,
and Eurydice. One wonders that Pluto does not come as a basso; and one
would prefer Mercury as a tenor to Amor in the shape of an ugly
German soprano; but Gluck wished it otherwise, and the music is
delightful. I am reading a charming book by Professor Stahr--who is
one of our acquaintances here--"Torso: Kunst, Künstler, und Kunst
Werke der Alten." It feeds the fresh interest I am now feeling in art.
Professor Stahr is a very erudite man, and, what is very much rarer
among Germans, a good writer, who knows how to select his materials,
and has, above all, a charming talent for description. We saw at his
house the other night the first portrait of Schiller which _convinces_
me of a likeness to him. It is the copy of a miniature which has never
been engraved. The face is less beautiful than that of the ordinary
busts and portraits, but is very remarkable--the eyes blue, the
complexion very fair (the picture was taken in his youth), and the
hair sunny. He has the long "goose-neck" which he describes as
belonging to Carl Moor in the "Robbers," and the forehead is _fuyant_
in correspondence with the skull. The piteous contrast there is
between the anxiety poor Schiller is constantly expressing about a
livelihood--about the thalers he has to pay for this and the thalers
he has to receive for that--and Goethe's perfect ease in that respect!
For the "History of the Netherlands" he got little more than fifteen
shillings per sheet. I am very much interested in Professor Gruppe as
a type of the German _Gelehrter_. He has written books on
everything--on the Greek drama, a great book on the cosmic system of
the Greeks, an epic, numberless lyric poems, etc.; he has a
philosophical work and a history of literature in the press; is
professor of philosophy at the university; is enthusiastic about
boar-hunting, and has written a volume of hunting poems--and _ich
weiss nicht was_. Withal he is as simple as a child. When we go to
see them in the evening we find him wrapped in a moth-eaten gray coat
and a cap on his head. Then he reads us a translation of one of the
Homeric hymns, and goes into the most naïve _impersonal_ ecstasy at
the beauty of his own poetry (which is really good). The other night
he read us part of an epic which is still in MS., and is to be read
before the king--such is the fashion here. And his little wife, who is
about twenty years younger than himself, listens with loving
admiration. Altogether, they and their two little children are a
charming picture.

[Sidenote: Berlin, Recollections, 1854-55.]

We went to only one concert, for which Vivier was kind enough to send
us tickets. It was given by him and Roger, assisted by Arabella
Goddard and Johanna Wagner. Roger's singing of the "Erl King" was a
treat not to be forgotten. He gave the full effect to Schubert's
beautiful and dramatic music; and his way of falling from melody into
awe-struck speech in the final words "_War todt_" abides with one. I
never felt so thoroughly the beauty of that divine ballad before. The
king was present in all his toothlessness and blinkingness; and the
new princess from Anhalt Dessau, young and delicate-looking, was there
too. Arabella Goddard played the "Harmonious Blacksmith" charmingly,
and then Wagner sang badly two ineffective German songs, and Halévy's
duet from the "Reine de Chypre" with Roger.

Vivier is amusing. He says Germans take off their hats on all possible
pretexts--not for the sake of politeness, but _pour être
embarrassants_. They have wide streets, simply to embarrass you, by
making it impossible to descry a shop or a friend. A German always has
_three_ gloves--"On ne sait pas pourquoi." There is a dog-tax in order
to maintain a narrow _trottoir_ in Berlin, and every one who keeps a
dog feels authorized to keep the _trottoir_ and move aside for no one.
If he has two dogs he drives out of the _trottoir_ the man who has
only one: the very dogs begin to be aware of it. If you kick one when
he is off the _trottoir_ he will bear it patiently, but on the
_trottoir_ he resents it vehemently. He gave us quite a bit of Molière
in a description of a mystification at a restaurant. He says to the
waiter--"Vous voyez ce monsieur là. C'est le pauvre M. Colignon." (Il
faut qu'il soit quelq'un qui prend très peu--une tasse de café ou
comme ça, et qui ne dépense pas trop.) "Je suis son ami. Il est fou.
Je le garde. Combien doit-il payer?" "Un franc." "Voilà." Then Vivier
goes out. Presently the so-called M. Colignon asks how much he has to
pay, and is driven to exasperation by the reiterated assurance of the
waiter--"C'est payé, M. Colignon."

The first work of art really worth looking at that one sees at Berlin
is the "Rosse-bändiger" in front of the palace. It is by a sculptor
named Cotes, who made horses his especial study; and certainly, to us,
they eclipsed the famous Colossi at Monte Cavallo, casts of which are
in the new museum.

The collection of pictures at the old museum has three gems, which
remain in the imagination--Titian's Daughter, Correggio's Jupiter and
Io, and his Head of Christ on the Handkerchief. I was pleased also to
recognize among the pictures the one by Jan Steen, which Goethe
describes in the "Wahlverwandschaften" as the model of a _tableau
vivant_, presented by Luciane and her friends. It is the daughter
being reproved by her father, while the mother is emptying her
wine-glass. It is interesting to see the statue of Napoleon, the
worker of so much humiliation to Prussia, placed opposite that of
Julius Cæsar.

They were very happy months we spent at Berlin, in spite of the bitter
cold which came on in January and lasted almost till we left. How we
used to rejoice in the idea of our warm room and coffee as we battled
our way from dinner against the wind and snow! Then came the
delightful long evening, in which we read Shakespeare, Goethe, Heine,
and Macaulay, with German _Pfefferkuchen_ and _Semmels_ at the end to
complete the _noctes cenæque deûm_.

We used often to turn out for a little walk in the evening, when it
was not too cold, to refresh ourselves by a little pure air as a
change from the stove-heated room. Our favorite walk was along the
Linden, in the broad road between the trees. We used to pace to old
Fritz's monument, which loomed up dark and mysterious against the sky.
Once or twice we went along the gas-lighted walk towards Kroll's. One
evening in our last week we went on to the bridge leading to the
Wilhelm Stadt, and there by moon and gas light saw the only bit of
picturesqueness Berlin afforded us. The outline of the Schloss towards
the water is very varied, and a light in one of the windows near the
top of a tower was a happy accident. The row of houses on the other
side of the water was shrouded in indistinctness, and no ugly object
marred the scene. The next day, under the light of the sun, it was
perfectly prosaic.

Our _table d'hôte_ at the Hotel de l'Europe was so slow in its
progress from one course to another, and there was so little
encouragement to talk to our neighbors, that we used to take our books
by way of beguiling the time. Lessing's "Hamburgische Briefe," which I
am not likely to take up again, will thus remain associated in my
memory with my place at the _table d'hôte_. The company here, as
almost everywhere else in Berlin, was sprinkled with officers. Indeed,
the swords of officers threaten one's legs at every turn in the
streets, and one sighs to think how these unproductive consumers of
_Wurst_, with all their blue and scarlet broadcloth, are maintained
out of the pockets of the community. Many of the officers and privates
are startlingly tall; indeed, some of them would match, I should
think, with the longest of Friedrich Wilhelm's _lange Kerle_.

It was a bitterly cold, sleety morning--the 11th of March--when we set
out from Berlin, leaving behind us, alas! G.'s rug, which should have
kept his feet warm on the journey. Our travelling companions to
Cologne were fat Madame Roger, her little daughter, and her dog, and a
queen's messenger--a very agreeable man, who afterwards persuaded
another of the same vocation to join us for the sake of warmth. This
poor man's teeth were chattering with cold, though he was wrapped in
fur; and we, all furless as we were, pitied him, and were thankful
that at least we were not feverish and ill, as he evidently was. We
saw the immortal old town of Wolfenbüttel at a distance, as we rolled
along; beyond this there was nothing of interest in our first day's
journey, and the only incident was the condemnation of poor Madame
Roger's dog to the dog-box, apart from its mistress with her warm
cloaks. She remonstrated in vain with a brutal German official, and it
was amusing to hear him say to her in German, "Wenn sie Deutsch nicht
verstehen können." "Eh bien--prenez la." "Ah! quel satan de pays!" was
her final word, as she held out the shivering little beast.

We stayed at Cologne, and next morning walked out to look at the
cathedral again. Melancholy as ever in its impression upon me! From
Cologne to Brussels we had some rather interesting companions, in two
French artists who were on their way from Russia. Strange beings they
looked to us at first, in their dirty linen, Russian caps, and other
queer equipments; but in this, as in many other cases, I found that a
first impression was an extremely mistaken one--for instead of being,
as I imagined, common, uncultivated men, they were highly intelligent.

At Brussels, as we took our supper, we had the pleasure of looking at
Berlioz's fine head and face, he being employed in the same way on the
other side of the table. The next morning to Calais.

     They were pleasant days those at Weimar and Berlin, and they
     were working days. Mr. Lewes was engaged in completing his
     "Life of Goethe," which had been begun some time before, but
     which was now for the most part rewritten. At Weimar, George
     Eliot wrote the article on Victor Cousin's "Madame de Sablé"
     for the _Westminster Review_. It was begun on 5th August, and
     sent off on 8th September. At Berlin she nearly finished the
     translation of Spinoza's "Ethics"--begun on 5th November--and
     wrote an article on Vehse's "Court of Austria," which was
     begun on 23d January, and finished 4th March, 1855. Besides
     this writing, I find the following among the books that were
     engaging their attention; and in collecting the names from
     George Eliot's Journal, I have transcribed any remarks she
     makes on them:

Sainte-Beuve, Goethe's "Wahlverwandschaften," Rameau's "Neffe,"
"Egmont," "The Hoggarty Diamond," Moore's "Life of Sheridan"--a
first-rate specimen of bad biographical writing; "Götz" and the
"Bürger General," Uhland's poems, "Wilhelm Meister," Rosenkranz on the
Faust Sage, Heine's poems, Shakespeare's plays ("Merchant of Venice,"
"Romeo and Juliet," "Julius Cæsar"--very much struck with the
masculine style of this play, and its vigorous moderation, compared
with "Romeo and Juliet"--"Antony and Cleopatra," "Henry IV.,"
"Othello," "As You Like It," "Lear"--sublimely powerful--"Taming of
the Shrew," "Coriolanus," "Twelfth Night," "Measure for Measure,"
"Midsummer-Night's Dream," "Winter's Tale," "Richard III.," "Hamlet");
Lessing's "Laocoon"--the most un-German of all the German books that
I have ever read. The style is strong, clear, and lively; the thoughts
acute and pregnant. It is well adapted to rouse an interest both in
the classics and in the study of art; "Emilia Galotti" seems to me a
wretched mistake of Lessing's. The Roman myth of Virginius is grand,
but the situation, transported to modern times and divested of its
political bearing, is simply shocking. Read "Briefe über Spinoza"
(Jacobi's), "Nathan der Weise," Fanny Lewald's "Wandlungen," "Minna
von Barnhelm," "Italiänische Reise," the "Residence in Rome;" a
beautiful description of Rome and the Coliseum by moonlight--a fire
made in the Coliseum sending its smoke, silvered by the moonlight,
through the arches of the mighty walls. Amusing story of Goethe's
landlady's cat worshipping Jupiter by licking his beard--a miracle,
in her esteem, explained by Goethe as a discovery the cat had made of
the oil lodging in the undulations of the beard. "Residence in
Naples"--pretty passage about a star seen through a chink in the
ceiling as he lay in bed. It is remarkable that when Goethe gets to
Sicily he is, for the first time in Italy, enthusiastic in his
descriptions of natural beauty. Read Scherr's "Geschichte Deutscher
Cultur und Sitte"--much interested in his sketch of German poetry in
the Middle Ages; "Iphigenia." Looked into the "Xenien," and amused
ourselves with their pointlessness. "Hermann and Dorothea," "Tasso,"
"Wanderjahre"--_à mourir d'ennui_; Heine's "Geständnisse"--immensely
amused with the wit of it in the first fifty pages, but afterwards it
burns low, and the want of principle and purpose make it wearisome.
Lessing's "Hamburgische Briefe." Read Goethe's wonderful observations
on Spinoza. Particularly struck with the beautiful modesty of the
passage in which he says he cannot presume to say that he thoroughly
understands Spinoza. Read "Dichtung und Wahrheit," Knight's "Studies
of Shakespeare." Talked of the "Wahlverwandschaften" with Stahr--he
finding fault with the _dénouement_, which I defended. Read Stahr's
"Torso"--too long-winded a style for reading aloud. Knight's "History
of Painting." Compared several scenes of "Hamlet" in Schlegel's
translation with the original. It is generally very close, and often
admirably well done; but Shakespeare's strong, concrete language is
almost always weakened. For example, "Though this hand were _thicker
than_ itself in brother's blood" is rendered, "Auch um und um in
Bruder's Blut getauchet." The prose speeches of Hamlet lose all their
felicity in the translation. Read Stahr on the Eginetan Sculptures,
"Die Neue Melusine," "West-Östliche Divan," Gervinus on
Shakespeare--found it unsatisfactory; Stahr's "Ein Jahr in
Italien"--the description of Florence excellent. Read the wonderfully
beautiful "Römische Elegien" again, and some of the Venetian
epigrams, Vehse's "Court of Austria"--called on Miss Assing to try and
borrow the book from Varnhagen. He does not possess it, so G. called
on Vehse, and asked him to lend it to me. He was very much pleased to
do so. Read the "Zueignung," the "Gedichte," and several of the
ballads. Looked through Wraxall's "Memoirs." Read Macaulay's "History
of England." Wrote article on Stahr.

     This writing and reading, combined with visiting,
     theatre-going, and opera-going, make a pretty full life for
     these eight months--a striking contrast to the coming months
     of complete social quietness in England. Both lives had their
     attractions, the superficial aspects of which may be summed
     up in a passage from the Journal, dated 13th March, 1855, on
     arrival at the Lord Warden Hotel, at Dover:

English mutton and an English fire were likely to be appreciated by
creatures who had had eight months of Germany, with its questionable
meat and its stove-heated rooms. The taste and quietude of a
first-rate English hotel were also in striking contrast with the heavy
finery, the noise, and the indiscriminate smoking of German inns. But,
after all, Germany is no bad place to live in; and the Germans, to
counterbalance their want of taste and politeness, are at least free
from the bigotry of exclusiveness of their more refined cousins. I
even long to be among them again--to see Dresden and Munich and
Nürnberg and the Rhine country. May the day soon come!


JULY, 1854, TO MARCH, 1855.

     Leaves London with Mr. Lewes for Antwerp--Rubens's
     pictures--Cologne--Dr. Brabant and
     Strauss--Weimar--Schöll--The Dichter
     Zimmer--Sauppe--Tiefurt--Ettersburg--Arthur Helps--Gabel-Bach
     and Kickel-hahn--Liszt--Wagner's operas--"Der
     Freischütz"--Schiller's house--Goethe's
     house--Gartenhaus--Ober Weimar--The Webicht--Marquis de
     Ferrière--Liszt anecdotes--Cornelius--Raff--Princess
     Wittgenstein--Liszt's playing--Scheffer's picture--Expenses
     at Weimar--Leave for Berlin--Meet
     Varnhagen--Thiergarten--Acquaintances in Berlin--Fräulein
     Solmar--Professor Gruppe--Epic of Firdusi--Waagen--Edward
     Magnus--Professor Stahr and Fanny Lewald--Rauch the
     sculptor--Kant's statue--Dessoir the actor--"Nathan der
     Weise"--Döring's acting--Johanna Wagner--Letter to Miss
     Hennell--"Fidelio"--Reading Stahr's "Torso"--Likeness of
     Schiller--Vivier--Roger and Arabella Goddard--The
     Rosse-bändiger--Pictures--Cold in Berlin--View of Schloss
     from bridge--Leave Berlin for England--Books read--Article
     written on "Madame de Sablé"--Translation of Spinoza's
     "Ethics"--Article on Vehse's "Court of Austria"--Article on


[45] A wretched forehead.

[46] First line of Schiller's "Song of the Bell."

[47] "Gentlemen, do you know the story of the man who railed at the
sun because it would not light his cigar?"

[48] Goose-neck.


[Sidenote: Journal, Mch. 1855.]

_March 14._--Took lodgings at 1 Sydney Place, Dover.

_March 15._--A lovely day. As I walked up the Castle hill this
afternoon the town, with its background of softly rounded hills
shrouded in sleepy haze, its little lines of water looking golden in
the sun, made a charming picture. I have written the preface to the
Third Book of "Ethics," read Scherr, and Shakespeare's "Venus and

_March 16._--I read Shakespeare's "Passionate Pilgrim" at breakfast,
and found a sonnet in which he expresses admiration of Spenser (Sonnet

     "Dowland to thee is dear, whose heavenly touch
       Upon the lute doth ravish human sense;
     Spenser to me, whose deep conceit is such
       As, passing all conceit, needs no defence."[49]

I must send word of this to G., who has written in his "Goethe" that
Shakespeare has left no line in praise of a contemporary. I could not
resist the temptation of walking out before I sat down to work. Came
in at half-past ten, and translated Spinoza till nearly one. Walked
out again till two. After dinner read "Two Gentlemen of Verona" and
some of the "Sonnets." That play disgusted me more than ever in the
final scene, where Valentine, on Proteus's mere begging pardon, when
he has no longer any hope of gaining his ends, says: "All that was
mine in Sylvia, I give thee!" Silvia standing by. Walked up the Castle
hill again, and came in at six. Read Scherr, and found an important
hint that I have made a mistake in a sentence of my article on
"Austria" about the death of Franz von Sickingen.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 16th Mch. 1855.]

I dare say you will be surprised to see that I write from Dover. We
left Berlin on the 11th. I have taken lodgings here for a little
while, until Mr. Lewes has concluded some arrangements in London; and,
with the aid of lovely weather, am even enjoying my solitude, though I
don't mind how soon it ends. News of you all at Rosehill--how health
and business and all other things are faring--would be very welcome to
me, if you can find time for a little note of homely details. I am
well and calmly happy--feeling much stronger and clearer in mind for
the last eight months of new experience. We were sorry to leave our
quiet rooms and agreeable friends in Berlin, though the place itself
is certainly ugly, and _am Ende_ must become terribly wearisome for
those who have not a vocation there. We went again and again to the
new museum to look at the casts of the Parthenon Sculptures, and
registered a vow that we would go to feast on the sight of the
originals the first day we could spare in London. I had never cast
more than a fleeting look on them before, but now I can in some degree
understand the effect they produced on their first discovery.

[Sidenote: Journal, 1855.]

_March 25._--A note from Mr. Chapman, in which he asks me to undertake
part of the Contemporary Literature for the _Westminster Review_.

_April 18._--Came to town, to lodgings in Bayswater.

_April 23._--Fixed on lodgings at East Sheen.

_April 25._--Went to the British Museum.

_April 28._--Finished article on "Weimar," for _Fraser_.

     During this month George Eliot was finishing the translating
     and revising of Spinoza's "Ethics," and was still reading
     Scherr's book, Schrader's "German Mythology"--a poor
     book--"The Tempest," "Macbeth," "Niebelungenlied," "Romeo and
     Juliet," article on "Dryden" in the _Westminster_, "Reineke
     Fuchs," "Genesis of Science," Gibbon, "Henry V.," "Henry
     VIII.," first, second, and third parts of "Henry VI.,"
     "Richard II."

_May 2._--Came to East Sheen, and settled in our lodgings.

_May 28._--Sent Belles-lettres section to _Westminster Review_. During
May several articles were written for the _Leader_.

_June 13._--Began Part IV. of Spinoza's "Ethics." Began also to read
Cumming, for article in the _Westminster_. We are reading in the
evenings now Sydney Smith's letters, Boswell, Whewell's "History of
Inductive Sciences," "The Odyssey," and occasionally Heine's
"Reisebilder." I began the second book of the "Iliad," in Greek, this

_June 21._--Finished article on Brougham's "Lives of Men of Letters."

_June 23._--Read "Lucrezia Floriani." We are reading White's "History
of Selborne" in the evening, with Boswell and the "Odyssey."

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 23d June, 1855.]

I have good hope that you will be deeply interested in the "Life of
Goethe." It is a book full of feeling, as well as of thought and
information, and I even think will make you love Goethe as well as
admire him. Eckermann's is a wonderful book, but only represents
Goethe at eighty. We were fortunate enough to be in time to see poor
Eckermann before his _total_ death. His mind was already half gone,
but the fine brow and eyes harmonized entirely with the interest we
had previously felt in him. We saw him in a small lodging, surrounded
by singing birds, and tended by his son--an intelligent youth of
sixteen, who showed some talent in drawing. I have written a
castigation of Brougham for the _Leader_, and shall be glad if your
sympathy goes along with it. Varnhagen has written "Denkwurdigkeiten,"
and all sorts of literature, and is, or, rather was, the husband of
_Rahel_, the greatest of German women.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 21st July, 1855.]

It was surely you who wrote the notice of the _Westminster_ in the
_Herald_ (Coventry) which we received this morning. I am very much
pleased with your appreciation of Mr. Lewes's article. You hardly do
justice to Froude's article on "Spinoza." I don't at all agree with
Froude's own views, but I think his account of Spinoza's doctrines
admirable. Mr. Lewes is still sadly ailing--tormented with tooth and
face ache. This is a terrible trial to us poor scribblers, to whom
health is money, as well as all other things worth having. I have just
been reading that Milton suffered from indigestion--quite an affecting
fact to me. I send you a letter which I have had from Barbara Smith. I
think you will like to see such a manifestation of her strong, noble

     On 1st August, 1855, Mr. Lewes went down to Ramsgate for
     change, taking his three boys with him for a week's holiday.
     Meantime George Eliot was continuing her article-writing, and
     in this week wrote an article for the _Leader_, having
     written one for the same journal three weeks before. On 22d
     August she wrote another article for the _Leader_, and on
     the 24th she finished the one on Cumming for the
     _Westminster_. Mr. C. Lewes tells me that he remembers it was
     after reading this article that his father was prompted to
     say to George Eliot, while walking one day with her in
     Richmond Park, that it convinced him of the true genius in
     her writing. Mr. Lewes was not only an accomplished and
     practised literary critic, but he was also gifted with the
     inborn insight accompanying a fine artistic temperament,
     which gave unusual weight to his judgment. Up to this time he
     had not been quite sure of anything beyond great talent in
     her productions.

     The first three weeks in September were again busily occupied
     in article-writing. She contributed three papers to the
     _Leader_, as well as the Belles-lettres section for the
     October number of the _Westminster_. On the 19th September
     they left East Sheen, and after spending a couple of weeks at
     Worthing for a sea change, they took rooms at 8 Park Shot,
     Richmond, which remained their home for more than three
     years. Here some of George Eliot's most memorable literary
     work was accomplished. Both she and Mr. Lewes were now
     working very hard for what would bring immediate profit, as
     they had to support not only themselves but his children and
     their mother. They had only one sitting-room between them;
     and I remember, in a walk on St. George's Hill, near
     Weybridge, in 1871, she told me that the scratching of
     another pen used to affect her nerves to such an extent that
     it nearly drove her wild. On the 9th October she finished an
     article on Margaret Fuller and Mary Wollstonecraft, and on
     the 12th October one on Carlyle for the _Leader_, and began
     an article on Heine for the January number of the
     _Westminster_. In October there are the following letters to
     the Brays:

[Sidenote: Letter to Charles Bray, Monday, Oct. (?) 1855.]

Since you have found out the "Cumming," I write by to-day's post just
to say that it _is_ mine, but also to beg that you will not mention it
as such to any one likely to transmit the information to London, as we
are keeping the authorship a secret. The article appears to have
produced a strong impression, and that impression would be a little
counteracted if the author were known to be a _woman_. I have had a
letter addressed "to the author of Article No. 4," begging me to print
it separately "for the good of mankind in general!" It is so kind of
you to rejoice in anything I do at all well. I am dreadfully busy
again, for I am going to write an article for the _Westminster Review_
again, besides my other work. We enjoy our new lodgings very
much--everything is the pink of order and cleanliness.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 16th Oct. 1855.]

Why you should object to Herbert Spencer speaking of Sir William
Hamilton's contributions to a theory of perception as "valuable" I am
unable to conceive. Sir William Hamilton has been of service to him as
well as to others; and instead of repressing acknowledgments of merit
in others, I should like them to be more freely given. I see no
dignity, or anything else that is good, in ignoring one's
fellow-beings. Herbert Spencer's views, like every other man's views,
could not have existed without the substratum laid by his
predecessors. But perhaps you mean something that I fail to perceive.
Your bit of theology is very fine. Here is a delicious Hibernicism in
return. In a treatise on consumption, sent yesterday, the writer says:
"There is now hardly any _difference_ on this subject--at least _I_
feel none." Our life has no incidents except such as take place in
our own brains, and the occasional arrival of a longer letter than
usual. Yours are always read aloud and enjoyed. Nevertheless our life
is intensely occupied, and the days are far too short. We are reading
Gall's "Anatomie et Physiologie du Cerveau," and Carpenter's
"Comparative Physiology," aloud in the evenings; and I am trying to
fix some knowledge about plexuses and ganglia in my soft brain, which
generally only serves me to remember that there is something I ought
to remember, and to regret that I did not put the something down in my
note-book. For "Live and learn," we should sometimes read "Live and
grow stupid."

[Sidenote: Letter to Charles Bray, 21st Nov. 1855.]

You will receive by rail to-morrow a copy of the "Life and Works of
Goethe" (published on 1st November), which I hope you will accept as a
keepsake from me. I should have been glad to send it you earlier, but
as Mr. Lewes has sold the copyright of the first edition, he has only
a small number of copies at his disposal, and so I doubted whether I
ought to ask for one. I think you will find much to interest you in
the book. I can't tell you how I value it, as the best product of a
mind which I have every day more reason to admire and love. We have
had much gratification in the expression of individual opinion. The
press is very favorable, but the notices are for the most part too
idiotic to give us much pleasure, except in a pecuniary point of view.
I am going out to-day, for the first time for nearly a fortnight.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 29th Nov. 1855.]

I have just finished a long article on Heine for the _Westminster
Review_, which none of you will like. _En revanche_, Mr. Lewes has
written one on "Lions and Lion Hunters," which you will find amusing.

     On the 12th December the Belles-lettres section for the
     January number of the _Westminster Review_ was finished and
     sent off, and the next entry in the Journal is dated:

[Sidenote: Journal, 1855.]

_Dec. 24, 1855._--For the last ten days I have done little, owing to
headache and other ailments. Began the "Antigone," read Von Bohlen on
"Genesis," and Swedenborg. Mr. Chapman wants me to write an article on
"Missions and Missionaries," for the April number of the
_Westminster_, but I think I shall not have it ready till the July
number. In the afternoon I set out on my journey to see my sister, and
arrived at her house about eight o'clock, finding her and her children

_Dec. 29, 1855._--Returned to Richmond. G. away at Vernon Hill (Arthur
Helps's), having gone thither on Wednesday.

_Dec. 30, 1855._--Read the "Shaving of Shagpat" (George Meredith's).

_Dec. 31, 1855._--Wrote a review of "Shagpat."

[Sidenote: Journal, 1856.]

_Jan. 1, 1856._--Read Kingsley's "Greek Heroes," and began a review of
Von Bohlen.

_Jan. 5, 1856._--G. came home.

_Jan. 6, 1856._--Began to revise Book IV. of Spinoza's "Ethics," and
continued this work through the week, being able to work but slowly.
Finished Kahnis's "History of German Protestantism."

_Jan. 16, 1856._--Received a charming letter from Barbara Smith, with
a petition to Parliament that women may have a right to their

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 18th Jan. 1856.]

I believe there have been at least a thousand copies of the "Goethe"
sold, which is a wonderfully good sale in less than three months for a
thirty-shilling book. We have a charming collection of letters, both
from remarkable acquaintances and remarkable non-acquaintances,
expressing enthusiastic delight in the book--letters all the more
delightful because they are quite spontaneous, and spring from a
generous wish to let the author know how highly the writers value his
work. If you want some idle reading, get the "Shaving of Shagpat,"
which, I think, you will say deserves all the praise I gave it.

[Sidenote: Journal, 1856.]

_Feb. 19, 1856._--Since the 6th January I have been occupied with
Spinoza; and, except a review of Griswold's "American Poets," have
done nothing else but translate the Fifth Book of the "Ethics," and
revise the whole of my translation from the beginning. This evening I
have finished my revision.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 19th Feb. 1856.]

I was so glad to have a little news of you. I should like to hear much
oftener, but our days are so accurately parcelled out among regular
occupations that I rarely manage to do anything not included in the
programme; and, without reading Mrs. Barbauld on the "Inconsistency of
Human Expectations," I know that receiving letters is inconsistent
with not writing any. Have you seen any numbers of the _Saturday
Review_, a new journal, on which "all the talents" are engaged? It is
not properly a newspaper, but--what its title expresses--a political
and literary review. We are delighting ourselves with Ruskin's third
volume, which contains some of the finest writing I have read for a
long time (among recent books). I read it aloud for an hour or so
after dinner; then we jump to the old dramatists, when Mr. Lewes reads
to me as long as his voice will hold out, and after this we wind up
the evening with Rymer Jones's "Animal Kingdom," by which I get a
confused knowledge of branchiæ, and such things--perhaps, on the
whole, a little preferable to total ignorance. These are our
_noctes_--without _cenæ_ for the present--occasionally diversified by
very dramatic singing of Figaro, etc., which, I think, must alarm
"that good man, the clergyman," who sits below us. We have been half
laughing, half indignant, over Alison's new volume of his "History of
Europe," in which he undertakes to give an account of German

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 25th Feb. 1856.]

What you tell me of Harriet Martineau interests me very much. I feel
for her terrible bodily suffering, and think of her with deep respect
and admiration. Whatever may have been her mistakes and weaknesses,
the great and good things she has done far outweigh them; and I should
be grieved if anything in her memoir should cast a momentary shadow
over the agreeable image of her that the world will ultimately keep in
its memory. I wish less of our piety were spent on imaginary perfect
goodness, and more given to real _im_perfect goodness.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, end of Feb. 1856.]

I am very happy for you to keep the sheets, and to get signatures (for
the Women's Petition that they should have legal right to their own
earnings). Miss Barbara Smith writes that she must have them returned
to her before the 1st of March. I am glad you have taken up the cause,
for I do think that, with proper provisos and safeguards, the proposed
law would help to raise the position and character of women. It is one
round of a long ladder stretching far beyond our lives.

     During March, George Eliot wrote only the Belles-lettres
     section for the April number of the _Westminster_, having
     resigned the subject of "Missions" to Harriet Martineau. She
     also wrote two articles for the _Saturday Review_, and two
     for the _Leader_. And there are the following letters in
     March to the Brays, in which allusion is made to their
     leaving the old home at Rosehill, owing to the unsatisfactory
     state of the Coventry business.

[Sidenote: Letter to Charles Bray, 26th Mch. 1856.]

We are flourishing in every way except in health. Mr. Lewes's head is
still infirm, but he manages, nevertheless, to do twice as much work
as other people. I am always a croaker, you know, but my ailments are
of a small kind, their chief symptoms being a muddled brain; and, as
my pen is not of the true literary order which will run along without
the help of brains, I don't get through so much work as I should like.
By the way, when the Spinoza comes out, be so good as not to mention
my name in connection with it. I particularly wish not to be known as
the translator of the "Ethics," for reasons which it would be "too
tedious to mention." You don't know what a severely practical person I
am become, and what a sharp eye I have to the main chance. I keep the
purse, and dole out sovereigns with all the pangs of a miser. In fact,
if you were to feel my bump of acquisitiveness, I dare say you would
find it in a state of inflammation, like the "veneration" of that
clergyman to whom Mr. Donovan said, "Sir, you have recently been
engaged in prayer." I hope you recognized your own wit about the
one-eyed dissenters, which was quoted in the _Leader_ some time ago.
You always said no one did so much justice to your jokes as I did.

[Sidenote: Letter to Charles Bray, 31st Mch. 1856.]

My mind is more rebellious than yours, and I can't help being saddened
by the idea of you and Cara being in any other home than the dear old
one. But I know that your cheerful courage is yet stronger in deed
than in word. Will not business or pleasure bring you to London soon,
and will you not come to see us? We can give you a bed--not a
sumptuous one, but one which you will perhaps not find intolerable for
a night. I know the trip up the Thames is charming, and we should
like to do it with you, but I don't think we can manage it this
summer. We are going to send or take the boys (Mr. Lewes's sons) to
school in Germany at midsummer, and are at present uncertain about our
arrangements. If we can _send_ them, we shall go to the coast as soon
as the warm weather comes, and remain there for three months. But our
plans are not yet crystallized.

[Sidenote: Letter to Charles Bray, 1st April, 1856.]

After I wrote you yesterday morning we had a letter from Germany which
has made Mr. Lewes incline to defer sending the boys thither till next
year. But he is anxious to remove them from their present school: and,
in the course of our consultations on the subject, we thought of Mr.
John Sibree as a person in whom we should feel confidence as to the
moral influence he would exercise as a tutor. The risk of placing
children with entire strangers is terrible. So I tease you with
another letter to ask you if Mr. J. Sibree continues in the same
position as formerly, and if he is still anxious to obtain pupils.
What a delicious day! We are going to have a holiday at the Zoological

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 7th April, 1856.]

Thank you for taking the trouble to write me a full account of matters
so interesting to me. I hope you will be able thoroughly to enjoy this
last precious summer on the pretty lawn, where it is one of my
pleasures on sunshiny days to think of you all strolling about or
seated on the Bearskin. We are very thankful for the Hofwyl circular,
and have almost decided to send the two eldest boys there. But it is
necessary to weigh all things carefully before coming to a
determination; as, not being either swindlers or philanthropists, we
don't like to incur obligations which there is not a reasonable
certainty of our being able to meet. I am much obliged to Mr. Bray,
too, for sending Mr. John Sibree's letter. Mr. Lewes had already
received an answer from him declining his proposition, but we were
interested to read his very characteristic letter to his sister, which
proved to Mr. Lewes that I had given him a correct description of the

     The next few weeks are, perhaps, the most signally important
     and interesting of all in George Eliot's development. There
     are unmistakable signs of the rising of the sap of creative

     In the middle of April Mr. Herbert Spencer, who had been
     abroad for some time, returned to England, and dined with
     them at Park Shot on the 15th, and on the 18th they went with
     him to Sydenham. On the 22d April George Eliot began her
     article on Young; and on the 29th she began to read Riehl's
     book,[50] on which she was to write another article for the
     _Westminster_. On the 8th of May they set off for Ilfracombe,
     and we have the following "recollections" of that place:

[Sidenote: Ilfracombe, Recollections, 1856.]

It was a cold, unfriendly day--the 8th of May--on which we set out for
Ilfracombe with our hamper of glass jars, which we meant for our
sea-side vivarium. We had to get down at Windsor, and were not sorry
that the interval was long enough to let us walk round the castle,
which I had never seen before except from a distance. The famous
"slopes," the avenues in the park, and the distant landscape, looked
very lovely in the fresh and delicate greens of spring; and the castle
is surely the most delightful royal residence in the world. We took
our places from Windsor all the way to Exeter; and at Bristol, where
we had to wait three hours, the misery of my terrible headache was
mitigated by the interest we felt in seeing the grand old Church of
St. Mary Redcliffe, forever associated with the memory of Chatterton.

     "It stands, the maestrie of a human hand,
     The pride of Bristowe and the western land."

It was cheering, the next morning after our arrival at Ilfracombe, to
get up with a head rather less aching, and to walk up and down the
little garden of Runnymede Villa in the bright sunshine. I had a great
deal of work before me--the writing of an article on Riehl's book,
which I had not half read, as well as the article on Belles-lettres;
but my head was still dizzy, and it seemed impossible to sit down to
writing at once in these new scenes, so we determined to spend the day
in explorations.

From our windows we had a view of the higher part of the town, and
generally it looked uninteresting enough; but what is it that light
cannot transfigure into beauty? One evening, after a shower, as the
sun was setting over the sea behind us, some peculiar arrangement of
clouds threw a delicious evening light on the irregular cluster of
houses, and merged the ugliness of their forms in an exquisite flood
of color--as a stupid person is made glorious by a noble deed. A
perfect rainbow arched over the picture. From one end of the Capstone
we have an admirable bit for a picture. In the background rises old
Helesborough, jutting out far into the sea--rugged and rocky as it
fronts the waves, green and accessible landward; in front of this
stands Lantern Hill, a picturesque mass of green and gray, surmounted
by an old bit of building that looks as if it were the habitation of
some mollusk that had secreted its shell from the material of the
rock; and quite in the foreground, contrasting finely in color with
the rest, are some lower perpendicular rocks of dark-brown tints,
patched here and there with vivid green. In hilly districts, where
houses and clusters of houses look so tiny against the huge limbs of
mother earth, one cannot help thinking of man as a parasitic
animal--an epizoan making his abode in the skin of the planetary
organism. In a flat country, a house or a town looks imposing; there
is nothing to rival it in height, and we may imagine the earth a mere
pedestal for us. But when one sees a house stuck on the side of a
great hill, and, still more, a number of houses, looking like a few
barnacles, clustered on the side of a great rock, we begin to think of
the strong family likeness between ourselves and all other building,
burrowing, house-appropriating, and shell-secreting animals. The
difference between a man with his house and a mollusk with its shell
lies in the number of steps or phenomena interposed between the fact
of individual existence and the completion of the building. Whatever
other advantages we may have over mollusks and insects in our
habitations, it is clear that their architecture has the advantage of
ours in beauty--at least, considered as the architecture of the
species. Look at man in the light of a shell-fish, and it must be
admitted that his shell is generally ugly; and it is only after a
great many more "steps or phenomena" that he secretes here and there a
wonderful shell in the shape of a temple or a palace.

On our first zoophyte hunt it was characteristic of the wide difference
there is between having eyes and _seeing_, that in this region of
sea-anemones, where the Mesembryanthemum especially is as plenty as
blackberries, we climbed about for two hours without seeing one
anemone, and went in again with scarcely anything but a few stones and
weeds to put into our jars. On our next hunt, however, after we had
been out some time, G. exclaimed, "I see an anemone!" and we were
immensely excited by the discovery of this little red Mesembryanthemum,
which we afterwards disdained to gather, as much as if it had been a
nettle. It was a _crescendo_ of delight when we found a "strawberry,"
and a _fortissimo_ when I, for the first time, saw the pale,
fawn-colored tentacles of an _Anthea cereus_ viciously waving like
little serpents in a low-tide pool. But not a polype for a long, long
while could even G. detect, after all his reading; so necessary is it
for the eye to be educated by objects as well as ideas. Every day I
gleaned some little bit of naturalistic experience, either through G.'s
calling on me to look through the microscope, or from hunting on the
rocks; and this in spite of my preoccupation with my article, which I
worked at considerably _à contre-coeur_, despairing of it ever being
worth anything. When at last, by the 17th of June, both my articles
were despatched, I felt delightfully at liberty, and determined to pay
some attention to seaweeds, which I had never seen in such beauty as at
Ilfracombe. For hitherto I had been chiefly on chalky and sandy shores,
where there were no rock-pools to show off the lovely colors and forms
of the algæ. There are tide-pools to be seen almost at every other step
on the shore at Ilfracombe; and I shall never forget their appearance
when we first arrived there. The _Corallina officinalis_ was then in
its greatest perfection, and with its purple-pink fronds threw into
relief the dark olive fronds of the Laminariæ on one side, and the
vivid green of the Ulva and Enteromorpha on the other. After we had
been there a few weeks the Corallina was faded; and I noticed the
_Mesagloia vermicularis_ and the _M. virescens_, which look very lovely
in the water, from the white cilia, which make the most delicate fringe
to their yellow-brown, whip-like fronds, and some of the common
Polysiphoniæ. These tide-pools made me quite in love with seaweeds, so
I took up Landsborough's book and tried to get a little more light on
their structure and history.

Our zoological expeditions alternated with delicious inland walks. I
think the country looked its best when we arrived. It was just that
moment in spring when the leaves are in full leaf, but still keep
their delicate varieties of coloring, and that _transparency_ which
belongs only to this season. And the furze was in all its golden
glory! It was almost like the fading away of the evening red, when the
furze blossoms died off from the hills, and the only contrast left was
that of the marly soil with the green crops and woods. The primroses
were the contemporaries of the furze, and sprinkled the sides of the
hills with their pale stars almost as plentifully as daisies or
buttercups elsewhere. But the great charm of all Devonshire lanes is
the springs that you detect gurgling in shady recesses, covered with
liverwort, with here and there waving tufts of fern and other
broad-leaved plants that love obscurity and moisture.

We seemed to make less of our evenings at Ilfracombe than we have ever
done elsewhere. We used often to be tired with our hunting or walking;
and we were reading books which did not make us take them up very
eagerly--Gosse's "Rambles on the Devonshire Coast," for example;
Trench's "Calderon," and other volumes, taken up in a desultory way.
One bit of reading we had there, however, which interested me deeply.
It was Masson's "Life of Chatterton," which happily linked itself with
the impressions I had received from the sight of the old church at

Mr. Tugwell's (the curate) acquaintance was a real acquisition to us,
not only because he was a companion and helper in zoological pursuits,
but because to know him was to know of another sweet nature in the
world. It is always good to know, if only in passing, a charming human
being; it refreshes one like flowers and woods and clear brooks. One
Sunday evening we walked up to his pretty house to carry back some
proofs of his, and he induced us to go in and have coffee with him. He
played on his harmonium, and we chatted pleasantly. The last evening
of our stay at Ilfracombe he came to see us in Mrs. Webster's
drawing-room, and we had music till nearly eleven o'clock--a pleasant

We only twice took the walk beyond Watermouth towards Berrynarbor. The
road lies through what are called the "Meadows," which look like a
magnificent park. A stream, fringed with wild-flowers and willows,
runs along the valley, two or three yards from the side of the road.
This stream is clear as crystal, and about every twenty yards it falls
over a little artificial precipice of stones. The long grass was
waving in all the glory of June, before the mower has come to make it
suffer a "love change" from beauties into sweet odors; and the slopes
on each side of us were crowned or clothed with fine trees. The last
time we went through these meadows was on our last day at Ilfracombe.
Such sunlight and such deep peace on the hills and by the stream!
Coming back, we rested on a gate under the trees, and a blind man came
up to rest also. He told us, in his slow way, what a fine, "healthy
spot" this was--yes, a very healthy spot--a healthy spot. And then we
went on our way, and saw his face no more.

I have talked of the Ilfracombe lanes without describing them, for to
describe them one ought to know the names of all the lovely
wild-flowers that cluster on their banks. Almost every yard of these
banks is a "Hunt" picture--a delicious crowding of mosses and delicate
trefoil and wild strawberries and ferns great and small. But the
crowning beauty of the lanes is the springs that gush out in little
recesses by the side of the road--recesses glossy with liverwort and
feathery with fern. Sometimes you have the spring when it has grown
into a brook, either rushing down a miniature cataract by the
lane-side, or flowing gently as a "braided streamlet" across your
path. I never before longed so much to know the names of things as
during this visit to Ilfracombe. The desire is part of the tendency
that is now constantly growing in me to escape from all vagueness and
inaccuracy into the daylight of distinct, vivid ideas. The mere fact
of naming an object tends to give definiteness to our conception of
it. We have then a sign which at once calls up in our minds the
distinctive qualities which mark out for us that particular object
from all others.

We ascended the Tors only twice; for a tax of 3_d._ per head was
demanded on this luxury, and we could not afford a sixpenny walk very
frequently: yet the view is perhaps the very finest to be had at
Ilfracombe. Bay behind bay, fringed with foam, and promontory behind
promontory, each with its peculiar shades of purple light--the sweep
of the Welsh coast faintly visible in the distance, and the endless
expanse of sea, flecked with ships, stretching on our left.

[Sidenote: Ilfracombe, Recollections, June, 1856.]

One evening we went down to the shore through the "Tunnels" to see the
sunset. Standing in the "Ladies' Cove," we had before us the sharp
fragments of rock jutting out of the waves and standing black against
the orange and crimson sky. How lovely to look into that brilliant
distance and see the ship on the horizon seeming to sail away from the
cold and dim world behind it right into the golden glory! I have
always that sort of feeling when I look at sunset; it always seems to
me that there in the West lies a land of light and warmth and love.

On the 26th of June we said good-bye to Ilfracombe. The sight of the
cockle-women at Swansea, where we had to wait, would make a fine
subject for a painter. One of them was the grandest woman I ever
saw--six feet high, carrying herself like a Greek warrior, and
treading the earth with unconscious majesty. Her face was
weather-beaten and wizened, but her eyes were bright and piercing, and
the lines of her face, with its high cheek-bones, strong and
characteristic. The guard at the railway station told us that one of
the porters had been insolent the other day to a cockle-woman, and
that she immediately pitched him off the platform into the road below!

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 6th June, 1856.]

When we arrived here I had not even read a great book on which I had
engaged to write a long article by the beginning of this month; so
that between work and zoology and bodily ailments my time has been
full to overflowing. We are enchanted with Ilfracombe. I really think
it is the loveliest sea-place I ever saw, from the combination of fine
rocky coast with exquisite inland scenery. But it would not do for any
one who can't climb rocks and mount perpetual hills; for the
peculiarity of this country is, that it is all hill and no valley.
You have no sooner got to the foot of one hill than you begin to mount
another. You would laugh to see our room decked with yellow
pie-dishes, a _foot-pan_, glass jars and phials, all full of
zoophytes, or mollusks, or anellides--and, still more, to see the
eager interest with which we rush to our "preserves" in the morning to
see if there has been any mortality among them in the night. We have
made the acquaintance of a charming little zoological curate here, who
is a delightful companion on expeditions, and is most good-natured in
lending and giving apparatus and "critturs" of all sorts. Mr.
Pigott[51] is coming here with his yacht at the end of June, and we
hope then to go to Clovelly--Kingsley's Clovelly--and perhaps other
places on the coast that we can't reach on foot. After this we mean to
migrate to Tenby, for the sake of making acquaintance with its
mollusks and medusæ.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Peter Taylor, 8th June, 1856.]

I received your kind letter only yesterday, but I write a few words in
answer at once, lest, as it so often happens, delay should beget

It is never too late to write generous words, and although
circumstances are not likely to allow of our acquiring a more intimate
knowledge of each other from personal intercourse, it will always be a
pleasant thought to me that you have remembered me kindly, and
interpreted me nobly. You are one of the minority who know how to "use
their imagination in the service of charity."

I have suffered so much from misunderstanding created by letters, even
to old friends, that I never write on private personal matters, unless
it be a rigorous duty or necessity to do so. Some little phrase or
allusion is misinterpreted, and on this false basis a great fabric of
misconception is reared, which even explanatory conversations will not
remove. Life is too precious to be spent in this weaving and unweaving
of false impressions, and it is better to live quietly on under some
degree of misrepresentation than to attempt to remove it by the
uncertain process of letter-writing.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 29th June, 1856.]

Yes, indeed, I do remember old Tenby days, and had set my heart on
being in the very same house again; but, alas! it had just been let.
It is immensely smartened up, like the place generally, since those
old times, and is proportionately less desirable for quiet people who
have no flounces and do not subscribe to new churches. Tenby looks
insignificant in picturesqueness after Ilfracombe; but the two objects
that drew us hither, zoology and health, will flourish none the worse
for the absence of tall precipices and many-tinted rocks. The air is
delicious--soft, but not sultry--and the sands and bathing such as are
to be found nowhere else. St. Catherine's Rock, with its caverns, is
our paradise. We go there with baskets, hammers and chisels, and jars
and phials, and come home laden with spoils. Altogether, we are
contented to have been driven away from Ilfracombe by the cold wind,
since a new place is new experience, and Mr. Lewes has never been here
before. To me there is the additional pleasure--half melancholy--of
recalling all the old impressions and comparing them with the new. I
understand your wish to have as much of Rosehill as possible this
year, and I am so glad that you will associate a visit from Herbert
Spencer with this last summer. I suppose he is with you now. If so,
give him my very evil regards, and tell him that because he has not
written to us we will diligently _not_ tell him a great many things
he would have liked to know. We have a project of going into St.
Catherine's caverns with lanterns, some night when the tide is low,
about eleven, for the sake of seeing the zoophytes preparing for their
midnight revels. The Actiniæ, like other belles, put on their best
faces on such occasions. Two things we have lost by leaving Ilfracombe
for which we have no compensation--the little zoological curate, Mr.
Tugwell, who is really one of the best specimens of the clergyman
species I have seen; and the pleasure of having Miss Barbara Smith
there for a week, sketching the rocks, and putting our love of them
into the tangible form of a picture. We are looking out now for Mr.
Pigott in his yacht; and his amiable face will make an agreeable
variety on the sands. I thought "Walden"[52] (you mean "Life in the
Woods," don't you?) a charming book, from its freshness and sincerity
as well as for its bits of description. It is pleasant to think that
Harriet Martineau can make so much of her last days. Her energy and
her habit of useful work are admirable.

     During the stay at Ilfracombe and Tenby not much literary
     work was done, except the articles on Young and on Riehl's
     book. There was a notice of Masson's Essays and the
     Belles-lettres section for the July number of the
     _Westminster_, and a review for the _Leader_. There is
     mention, too, of the reading of Beaumarchais' "Memoirs,"
     Milne Edwards's "Zoology," Harvey's sea-side book, and
     "Coriolanus," and then comes this significant sentence in her

[Sidenote: Journal, 1856.]

_July 20, 1856._--The fortnight has slipped away without my being
able to show much result for it. I have written a review of the
"Lover's Seat," and jotted down some recollections of Ilfracombe;
besides these trifles, and the introduction to an article already
written, I have done no _visible_ work. But I have absorbed many ideas
and much bodily strength; indeed, I do not remember ever feeling so
strong in mind and body as I feel at this moment. On Saturday, the
12th, Barbara Smith arrived, and stayed here till Wednesday morning.
We enjoyed her society very much, but were deeply touched to see that
three years had made her so much older and sadder. Her activity for
great objects is admirable; and contact with her is a fresh
inspiration to work while it is day. We have now taken up Quatrefages
again. The "Memoirs" of Beaumarchais yielded me little fruit. Mr.
Chapman invites me to contribute to the _Westminster_ for this
quarter. I am anxious to begin my fiction-writing, and so am not
inclined to undertake an article that will give me much trouble, but,
at all events, I will finish my article on Young.

_July 21._--We had a delightful walk on the north sands, and hunted
with success. A sunny, happy day.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 29th July, 1856.]

Glad to hear at last some news of your Essay--hoping to hear more and
better by and by. I didn't like to think that your labor would be
thrown away, except so far as it must do good to yourself by clearing
up your ideas. Not that your ideas were muddy, but the last degree of
clearness can only come by writing. Mr. Pigott is with us just now,
and we are meditating a nocturnal visit to St. Catherine's caves with
him. Our visit to Tenby has been very useful zoologically, but we are
not otherwise greatly in love with the place. It seems tame and vulgar
after Ilfracombe.

[Sidenote: Letter to Charles Bray, 6th Aug. 1856.]

Thank you for your kind note,[53] so like yourself. Such things
encourage me, and help me to do better. I never think what I write is
good for anything till other people tell me so, and even then it
always seems to me as if I should never write anything _else_ worth
reading. Ah, how much good we may do each other by a few friendly
words, and the opportunities for them are so much more frequent than
for friendly deeds! We want people to feel with us more than to act
for us. Mr. Lewes sends his kind regards to you. He, too, was very
pleased with your letter, for he cares more about getting approbation
for me than for himself. _He_ can do very well without it.

     On the 8th August they left Tenby, and on 9th arrived at
     Richmond "with terrible headache, but enjoyed the sense of
     being 'at home' again." On the 18th, "walked in Kew Park, and
     talked with G. of my novel. Finished 'César Birotteau'
     aloud." On the 25th August Mr. Lewes set off for Hofwyl, near
     Berne, taking his two eldest boys, Charles and Thornton, to
     place them at school there. He returned on 4th September, and
     in his absence George Eliot had been busy with her article on
     "Silly Novels by Lady Novelists." This was finished on the
     12th September, and on the 19th she sent off the
     Belles-lettres section for the October number of the

     We have now arrived at the period of the new birth, and,
     fortunately, in the following memorandum, we have George
     Eliot's own words as to how it came about:

[Sidenote: How I came to write fiction.]

September, 1856, made a new era in my life, for it was then I began to
write fiction. It had always been a vague dream of mine that some time
or other I might write a novel; and my shadowy conception of what the
novel was to be, varied, of course, from one epoch of my life to
another. But I never went further towards the actual writing of the
novel than an introductory chapter describing a Staffordshire village
and the life of the neighboring farm-houses; and as the years passed
on I lost any hope that I should ever be able to write a novel, just
as I desponded about everything else in my future life. I always
thought I was deficient in dramatic power, both of construction and
dialogue, but I felt I should be at my ease in the descriptive parts
of a novel. My "introductory chapter" was pure description, though
there were good materials in it for dramatic presentation. It happened
to be among the papers I had with me in Germany, and one evening at
Berlin something led me to read it to George. He was struck with it as
a bit of concrete description, and it suggested to him the possibility
of my being able to write a novel, though he distrusted--indeed,
disbelieved in--my possession of any dramatic power. Still, he began
to think that I might as well try some time what I could do in
fiction, and by and by, when we came back to England, and I had
greater success than he ever expected in other kinds of writing, his
impression that it was worth while to see how far my mental power
would go towards the production of a novel, was strengthened. He began
to say very positively, "You must try and write a story," and when we
were at Tenby he urged me to begin at once. I deferred it, however,
after my usual fashion with work that does not present itself as an
absolute duty. But one morning, as I was thinking what should be the
subject of my first story, my thoughts merged themselves into a dreamy
doze, and I imagined myself writing a story, of which the title was
"The Sad Fortunes of the Reverend Amos Barton." I was soon wide awake
again and told G. He said, "Oh, what a capital title!" and from that
time I had settled in my mind that this should be my first story.
George used to say, "It may be a failure--it may be that you are
unable to write fiction. Or, perhaps, it may be just good enough to
warrant your trying again." Again, "You may write a _chef-d'oeuvre_ at
once--there's no telling." But his prevalent impression was, that
though I could hardly write a _poor_ novel, my effort would want the
highest quality of fiction--dramatic presentation. He used to say,
"You have wit, description, and philosophy--those go a good way
towards the production of a novel. It is worth while for you to try
the experiment."

We determined that if my story turned out good enough we would send it
to Blackwood; but G. thought the more probable result was that I
should have to lay it aside and try again.

But when we returned to Richmond I had to write my article on "Silly
Novels," and my review of Contemporary Literature for the
_Westminster_, so that I did not begin my story till September 22.
After I had begun it, as we were walking in the park, I mentioned to
G. that I had thought of the plan of writing a series of stories,
containing sketches drawn from my own observation of the clergy, and
calling them "Scenes from Clerical Life," opening with "Amos Barton."
He at once accepted the notion as a good one--fresh and striking; and
about a week afterwards, when I read him the first part of "Amos," he
had no longer any doubt about my ability to carry out the plan. The
scene at Cross Farm, he said, satisfied him that I had the very
element he had been doubtful about--it was clear I could write good
dialogue. There still remained the question whether I could command
any pathos; and that was to be decided by the mode in which I treated
Milly's death. One night G. went to town on purpose to leave me a
quiet evening for writing it. I wrote the chapter from the news
brought by the shepherd to Mrs. Hackit, to the moment when Amos is
dragged from the bedside, and I read it to G. when he came home. We
both cried over it, and then he came up to me and kissed me, saying,
"I think your pathos is better than your fun."

     The story of the "Sad Fortunes of Amos Barton" was begun on
     22d September and finished on the 5th November, and I subjoin
     the opening correspondence between Mr. Lewes and Mr. John
     Blackwood, to exhibit the first effect it produced:

[Sidenote: Letter from G. H. Lewes, to John Blackwood, 6th Nov. 1856.]

     "I trouble you with a MS. of 'Sketches of Clerical Life'
     which was submitted to me by a friend who desired my good
     offices with you. It goes by this post. I confess that before
     reading the MS. I had considerable doubts of my friend's
     powers as a writer of fiction; but, after reading it, these
     doubts were changed into very high admiration. I don't know
     what you will think of the story, but, according to my
     judgment, such humor, pathos, vivid presentation, and nice
     observation have not been exhibited (in this style) since the
     'Vicar of Wakefield;' and, in consequence of that opinion, I
     feel quite pleased in negotiating the matter with you.

     "This is what I am commissioned to say to you about the
     proposed series. It will consist of tales and sketches
     illustrative of the actual life of our country clergy about a
     quarter of a century ago--but solely in its _human_, and not
     at all in its _theological_ aspects; the object being to do
     what has never yet been done in our literature, for we have
     had abundant religious stories, polemical and doctrinal, but
     since the 'Vicar' and Miss Austen, no stories representing
     the clergy like every other class, with the humors, sorrows,
     and troubles of other men. He begged me particularly to add,
     that--as the specimen sent will sufficiently prove--the tone
     throughout will be sympathetic, and not at all antagonistic.

     "Some of these, if not all, you may think suitable for
     'Maga.' If any are sent of which you do not approve, or which
     you do not think sufficiently interesting, these he will
     reserve for the separate republication, and for this purpose
     he wishes to retain the copyright. Should you only print one
     or two, he will be well satisfied; and still better, if you
     should think well enough of the series to undertake the
     separate republication."

[Sidenote: Letter from John Blackwood, to G. H. Lewes, 12th Nov.

     "I am happy to say that I think your friend's reminiscences
     of Clerical Life will do. If there is any more of the series
     written I should like to see it, as, until I saw more, I
     could not make any decided proposition for the publication of
     the tales, in whole or in part, in the Magazine. This first
     specimen, 'Amos Barton,' is unquestionably very pleasant
     reading. Perhaps the author falls into the error of trying
     too much to explain the characters of his actors by
     description instead of allowing them to evolve in the action
     of the story; but the descriptions are very humorous and
     good. The death of Milly is powerfully done, and affected me
     much. I am not sure whether he does not spoil it a little by
     specifying so minutely the different children and their
     names. The wind-up is perhaps the lamest part of the story;
     and there, too, I think the defect is caused by the
     specifications as to the fortunes of parties of whom the
     reader has no previous knowledge, and cannot, consequently,
     feel much interest. At first, I was afraid that in the
     amusing reminiscences of childhood in church there was a want
     of some softening touch, such as the remembrance of a father
     or mother lends, in after-years, to what was at the time
     considerable penance.

     "I hate anything of a sneer at real religious feeling as
     cordially as I despise anything like cant, and I should think
     this author is of the same way of thinking, although his
     clergymen, with one exception, are not very attractive
     specimens of the body. The revulsion of feeling towards poor
     Amos is capitally drawn, although the asinine stupidity of
     his conduct about the countess had disposed one to kick him.

     "I dare say I shall have a more decided opinion as to the
     merits of the story when I have looked at it again and
     thought over it; but in the meantime I am sure that there is
     a happy turn of expression throughout, also much humor and
     pathos. If the author is a new writer, I beg to congratulate
     him on being worthy of the honors of print and pay. I shall
     be very glad to hear from you or him soon."

[Sidenote: Letter from G. H. Lewes to John Blackwood, Saturday, Nov.

     "I have communicated your letter to my clerical friend, who,
     though somewhat discouraged by it, has taken my advice, and
     will submit the second story to you when it is written. At
     present he has only written what he sent you. His avocations,
     he informs me, will prevent his setting to work for the next
     three weeks or so, but as soon as he is at liberty he will

     "I rate the story much higher than you appear to do, from
     certain expressions in your note, though you too appreciate
     the humor and pathos and the happy turn of expression. It
     struck me as being fresher than any story I have read for a
     long while, and as exhibiting, in a high degree, that faculty
     which I find to be the rarest of all--viz., the dramatic

     "At the same time I told him that I thoroughly understood
     your editorial caution in not accepting from an unknown hand
     a series on the strength of one specimen."

[Sidenote: Letter from John Blackwood to G. H. Lewes, 18th Nov. 1856.]

     "I was very far from intending that my letter should convey
     anything like disappointment to your friend. On the contrary,
     I thought the tale very good, and intended to convey as much.
     But I dare say I expressed myself coolly enough. Criticism
     would assume a much soberer tone were critics compelled
     _seriously to act_ whenever they expressed an opinion.
     Although not much given to hesitate about anything, I always
     think twice before I put the decisive mark 'In type for the
     Magazine' on any MS. from a stranger. Fancy the intense
     annoyance (to say nothing of more serious considerations) of
     publishing, month after month, a series about which the
     conviction gradually forces itself on you that you have made
     a total blunder.

     "I am sorry that the author has no more written, but if he
     cares much about a speedy appearance, I have so high an
     opinion of this first tale that I will waive my objections,
     and publish it without seeing more--not, of course,
     committing myself to go on with the other tales of the series
     unless I approved of them. I am very sanguine that I will
     approve, as, in addition to the other merits of 'Amos,' I
     agree with you that there is great freshness of style. If you
     think also that it would stimulate the author to go on with
     the other tales with more spirit, I will publish 'Amos' at
     once. He could divide into two parts. I am blocked up for
     December, but I could start him in January.

     "I am glad to hear that your friend is, as I supposed, a
     clergyman. Such a subject is best in clerical hands, and some
     of the pleasantest and least-prejudiced correspondents I have
     ever had are English clergymen.

     "I have not read 'Amos Barton' a second time, but the
     impression on my mind of the whole character, incidents, and
     feeling of the story is very distinct, which is an excellent

[Sidenote: Letter from G. H. Lewes to John Blackwood, Saturday, Nov.

     "Your letter has greatly restored the shaken confidence of my
     friend, who is unusually sensitive, and, unlike most writers,
     is more anxious about _excellence_ than about appearing in
     print--as his waiting so long before taking the venture
     proves. He is consequently afraid of failure, though not
     afraid of obscurity; and by failure he would understand that
     which I suspect most writers would be apt to consider as
     success--so high is his ambition.

     "I tell you this that you may understand the sort of shy,
     shrinking, ambitious nature you have to deal with. I tried
     to persuade him that you really _did_ appreciate his story,
     but were only hesitating about committing yourself to a
     series; and your last letter has proved me to have been
     right--although, as he never contemplated binding you to the
     publication of any portion of the series to which you might
     object, he could not at first see your position in its true

     "All is, however, clear now. He will be gratified if you
     publish 'Amos Barton' in January, as it will give him ample
     time to get the second story ready, so as to appear when
     'Barton' is finished, should you wish it. He is anxious,
     however, that you should publish the general title of 'Scenes
     of Clerical Life;' and I think you may do this with perfect
     safety, since it is quite clear that the writer of 'Amos
     Barton' is capable of writing at least one more story
     suitable to 'Maga;' and two would suffice to justify the
     general title.

     "Let me not forget to add that when I referred to 'my
     clerical friend,' I meant to designate the writer of the
     clerical stories--not that he was a clericus. I am not at
     liberty to remove the veil of anonymity, even as regards
     social position. Be pleased, therefore, to keep the whole
     secret, and not even mention _my_ negotiation, or in any way
     lead guessers (should any one trouble himself with such a
     guess--_not_ very likely) to jump from me to my friend."

     On Christmas Day, 1856, "Mr. Gilfil's Love-Story" was begun,
     and during December and January the following are mentioned
     among the books read: The "Ajax" of Sophocles, Miss
     Martineau's "History of the Peace," Macaulay's "History"
     finished, Carlyle's "French Revolution," Burke's "Reflections
     on the French Revolution," and "Mansfield Park."

[Sidenote: Letter from John Blackwood, to the author of "Amos Barton,"
29th Dec. 1856.]

     "Along with this I send a copy of the January number of the
     Magazine, in which you will find the first part of 'Amos
     Barton.' It gives me very great pleasure to begin the number
     with 'Amos,' and I put him in that position because his
     merits well entitle him to it, and also because it is a vital
     point to attract public attention to the _first_ part of a
     series, to which end being the first article of the first
     number of the year may contribute.

     "I have already expressed to our friend Mr. Lewes the very
     high opinion I entertain of 'Amos,' and the expectations I
     have formed of the series, should his successors prove equal
     to him, which I fully anticipate.

     "It is a long time since I have read anything so fresh, so
     humorous, and so touching. The style is capital, conveying so
     much in so few words.

     "Those who have seen the tale here are chiefly members of my
     own family, and they are all enthusiastic in praise.

     "You may recollect that I expressed a fear that in the
     affecting and highly wrought scene of poor Milly's death, the
     attempt to individualize the children by reiterating their
     names weakened the effect, as the reader had not been
     prepared to care for them individually, but simply as a
     group--the children of Milly and the sorrow-stricken curate.
     My brother says, 'No. Do not advise the author to touch
     anything so exquisite.' Of course you are the best judge.

     "I now send proof of the conclusion of 'Amos,' in
     acknowledgment of which, and of the first part, I have the
     pleasure of enclosing a check for £52 10_s._--fifty guineas.

     "If the series goes on as I anticipate, there is every
     prospect that a republication as a separate book, at some
     time or other, will be advisable. We would look upon such
     republication as a joint property, and would either give you
     a sum for your interest in it, or publish on the terms of one
     half of the clear profits, to be divided between author and
     publisher, as might be most agreeable to you.

     "I shall be very glad to hear from you, either direct or
     through Mr. Lewes; and any intelligence that the successors
     of 'Amos' are taking form and substance will be very

     "I shall let you know what the other contributors and the
     public think of 'Amos' as far as I can gather a verdict, but
     in the meantime I may congratulate you on having achieved a
     preliminary success at all events."

[Sidenote: Letter from the author of "Amos Barton" to John Blackwood,
Jan. 1857.]

Your letter has proved to me that the generous editor and
publisher--generous both in word and in deed--who makes the author's
path smooth and easy, is something more than a pleasant tradition. I
am very sensitive to the merits of checks for fifty guineas, but I am
still more sensitive to that cordial appreciation which is a guarantee
to me that my work was worth doing for its own sake.

If the "Scenes of Clerical Life" should be republished, I have no
doubt we shall find it easy to arrange the terms. In the meantime, the
most pressing business is to make them worth republishing.

I think the particularization of the children in the deathbed scene
has an important effect on the imagination. But I have removed all
names from the "conclusion" except those of Patty and Dickey, in whom,
I hope, the reader has a personal interest.

I hope to send you the second story by the beginning of February. It
will lie, for the most part, among quite different scenes and persons
from the last--opening in Shepperton once more, but presently moving
away to a distant spot and new people, whom, I hope, you will not like
less than "Amos" and his friends. But if any one of the succeeding
stories should seem to you unsuitable to the pages of "Maga," it can
be reserved for publication in the future volume, without creating any

Thank you very warmly for the hearty acceptance you have given to my
first story.

[Sidenote: Journal, 1857.]

The first part of "Amos Barton" appeared in the January number of
_Blackwood_. Before the appearance of the Magazine, on sending me the
proof, Mr. John Blackwood already expressed himself with much greater
warmth of admiration; and when the first part had appeared he sent me
a charming letter, with a check for fifty guineas, and a proposal
about republication of the series. When the story was concluded he
wrote me word how Albert Smith had sent him a letter saying he had
never read anything that affected him more than Milly's death, and,
added Blackwood, "The men at the club seem to have mingled their tears
and their tumblers together. It will be curious if you should be a
member and be hearing your own praises." There was clearly no
suspicion that I was a woman. It is interesting, as an indication of
the value there is in such conjectural criticism generally, to
remember that when G. read the first part of "Amos" to a party at
Helps's, they were all sure I was a clergyman--a Cambridge man.
Blackwood seemed curious about the author, and, when I signed my
letter "George Eliot," hunted up some old letters from Eliot
Warburton's brother to compare the handwritings, though, he said,
"'Amos' seems to me not in the least like what that good artilleryman
would write."

[Sidenote: Letter to John Blackwood, 4th Feb. 1857.]

Thank you for fulfilling your promise to let me know something of the
criticisms passed on my story. I have a very moderate respect for
"opinions of the press," but the private opinions of intelligent
people may be valuable to me.

In reference to artistic presentation much adverse opinion will, of
course, arise from a dislike to the _order_ of art rather than from a
critical estimate of the execution. Any one who detests the Dutch
school in general will hardly appreciate fairly the merits of a
particular Dutch painting. And against this sort of condemnation one
must steel one's self as one best can. But objections which point out
to me any vice of manner, or any failure in producing an intended
effect, will be really profitable. For example, I suppose my
scientific illustrations must be at fault, since they seem to have
obtruded themselves disagreeably on one of my readers. But if it be a
sin to be at once a man of science and a writer of fiction, I can
declare my perfect innocence on that head, my scientific knowledge
being as superficial as that of the most "practised writers." I hope
to send you a second story in a few days, but I am rather behindhand
this time, having been prevented from setting to work for some weeks
by other business.

Whatever may be the success of my stories, I shall be resolute in
preserving my _incognito_, having observed that a _nom de plume_
secures all the advantages without the disagreeables of reputation.
Perhaps, therefore, it will be well to give you my prospective name,
as a tub to throw to the whale in case of curious inquiries; and
accordingly I subscribe myself, best and most sympathizing of editors,
yours very truly, GEORGE ELIOT.

     I may mention here that my wife told me the reason she fixed
     on this name was that George was Mr. Lewes's Christian name,
     and Eliot was a good, mouth-filling, easily pronounced word.

[Sidenote: Letter to John Blackwood, 18th Feb. 1857.]

First let me thank you very heartily for your letter of the 10th.
Except your own very cordial appreciation, which is so much beyond a
mere official acceptance, that little fact about Albert Smith has
gratified me more than anything else in connection with the effect of
"Amos." If you should happen to hear an opinion from Thackeray, good
or bad, I should like to know it.

You will see that I have availed myself of your suggestions on points
of language. I quite recognize the justice of your criticisms on the
French phrases. They are not in keeping with my story.

But I am unable to alter anything in relation to the delineation or
development of character, as my stories always grow out of my
psychological conception of the _dramatis personæ_. For example, the
behavior of Caterina in the gallery is essential to my conception of
her nature, and to the development of that nature in the plot. My
artistic bent is directed not at all to the presentation of eminently
irreproachable characters, but to the presentation of mixed human
beings in such a way as to call forth tolerant judgment, pity, and
sympathy. And I cannot stir a step aside from what I _feel_ to be
_true_ in character. If anything strikes you as untrue to human nature
in my delineations, I shall be very glad if you will point it out to
me, that I may reconsider the matter. But, alas! inconsistencies and
weaknesses are not untrue. I hope that your doubts about the plot will
be removed by the further development of the story. Meanwhile, warmest
thanks for your encouraging letters.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 24th Feb. 1857.]

I am the more inclined to think that I shall admire your book because
you are suspected of having given undue preponderance to the Christian
argument: for I have a growing conviction that we may measure true
moral and intellectual culture by the comprehension and veneration
given to all forms of thought and feeling which have influenced large
masses of mankind--and of all intolerance the intolerance calling
itself philosophical is the most odious to me.

[Sidenote: Letter to John Blackwood, 1st Mch. 1857.]

Thank you for the copy of "Maga" and for the accompanying check. One
has not many correspondents whose handwriting has such agreeable
associations as yours.

I was particularly pleased with that extract you were so good as to
send me from Mr. Swayne's letter. Dear old "Goldie" is one of my
earliest and warmest admirations, and I don't desire a better fate
than to lie side by side with him in people's memories.

     The Rev. Mr. Swayne had written to Blackwood saying that
     "Amos," in its charming tendencies, reminded him of the
     "Vicar of Wakefield." Blackwood had written, much delighted
     with the two first parts of "Mr. Gilfil's Love-Story," which
     were sent to him together.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 2d Mch. 1857.]

I began, oddly enough you will perhaps think, by reading through the
"Answers of Infidelity,"[54] those being the most interesting parts of
the book to me. Some of your own passages I think very admirable--some
of them made me cry, which is always a sign of the highest pleasure
writing can give me. But in many of the extracts, I think, Infidelity
cuts a very poor figure. Some are feeble, some _bad_, and terribly
discrepant in the tone of their thought and feeling from the passages
which come fresh from your own mind. The disadvantage arising from the
perpetual shifting of the point of view is a disadvantage, I suppose,
inseparable from the plan, which I cannot admire or feel to be
effective, though I can imagine it may be a serviceable form of
presentation to some inquirers. The _execution_ I do admire. I think it
shows very high and rare qualities of mind--a self-discipline and
largeness of thought which are the highest result of culture. The
"Objections of Christianity," which I have also read, are excellently
put, and have an immense advantage over the "Answers of Infidelity" in
their greater homogeneity. The first part I have only begun and glanced
through, and at present have no other observation to make than that I
think you might have brought a little more artillery to bear on
Christian morality. But nothing is easier than to find fault--nothing
so difficult as to _do_ some real work.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 5th Mch. 1857.]

I think I wrote very brusquely and disagreeably to you the other day,
but the impertinence was altogether in the form and not at all in
the feeling. I always have uncomfortable sensations after writing
objections and criticisms when they relate to things I substantially
admire. It is inflicting a hurt on my own veneration.

I showed the passage on the eye, p. 157, to Herbert Spencer, and he
agrees with us that you have not stated your idea so as to render it a
logical argument against design. You appear to imply that development
and gradation in organs and functions are opposed to that conception,
which they are not. I suppose you are aware that we all three hold the
conception of creative design to be untenable. We only think you have
not made out a good case against it.

Thank you for sending me some news of Harriet Martineau. I have often
said lately, "I wonder how she is."

[Sidenote: Letter to John Blackwood, 14th Mch. 1857.]

I am glad you retain a doubt in favor of the _dagger_, and wish I
could convert you to entire approval, for I am much more satisfied
when your feeling is thoroughly with me. But it would be the death of
my story to substitute a dream for the real scene. Dreams usually play
an important part in fiction, but rarely, I think, in actual life.

So many of us have reason to know that criminal impulses may be felt
by a nature which is nevertheless guarded by its entire constitution
from the commission of crime, that I can't help hoping that my
Caterina will not forfeit the sympathy of all my readers.

The answer you propose to give to curious inquirers is the best
possible. For several reasons I am very anxious to retain my
_incognito_ for some time to come, and, to an author not already
famous, anonymity is the highest _prestige_. Besides, if George Eliot
turns out a dull dog and an ineffective writer--a mere flash in the
pan--I, for one, am determined to cut him on the first intimation of
that disagreeable fact.

The fates have willed that this shall be a very melancholy story, and
I am longing to be a little merrier again.

     On the 16th March Mr. Lewes and George Eliot started for
     Plymouth, Penzance, and the Scilly Isles, and we have the
     following recollections of their stay there:

[Sidenote: Recollections, Scilly Isles, March-May, 1857.]

I had never before seen a granite coast, and on the southern side of
the island of St. Mary's one sees such a coast in its most striking
and characteristic forms. Rectangular crevices, the edges of which
have been rounded by weather, give many of the granite masses a
resemblance to bales of wool or cotton heaped on each other; another
characteristic form is the mushroom-shaped mass, often lying poised on
the summits of more cubical bowlders or fragments; another is the
immense flat platform stretching out like a pier into the sea; another
the oval basins formed by the action of the rain-water on the summits
of the rocks and bowlders. The coloring of the rocks was very various
and beautiful; sometimes a delicate grayish-green, from the shaggy
byssus which clothes it, chiefly high up from the water; then a light,
warm brown; then black; occasionally of a rich yellow; and here and
there purplish. Below the rocks, on the coast, are almost everywhere
heaps of white bowlders, sometimes remarkably perfect ovals, and
looking like huge eggs of some monstrous bird. Hardly any weed was to
be seen on the granite, except here and there in a rock-pool, green
with young ulva; and no barnacles incrust the rock, no black mussels,
scarcely any limpets. The waves that beat on this coast are clear as
crystal, and we used to delight in watching them rear themselves like
the horses of a mighty sea-god as they approached the rocks on which
they were broken into eddies of milky foam. Along a great part of this
southern coast there stretch heathy or furzy downs, over which I used
to enjoy rambling immensely; there is a sense of freedom in those
unenclosed grounds that one never has in a railed park, however
extensive. Then, on the north side of the island, above Sandy Bar,
what a view we used to get of the opposite islands and reefs, with
their delicious violet and yellow tints--the tall ship or two anchored
in the Sound, changing their aspect like living things, and when the
wind was at all high the white foam prancing round the reefs and
rising in fountain-like curves above the screen of rocks!

Many a wet and dirty walk we had along the lanes, for the weather was
often wet and almost always blustering. Now and then, however, we had
a clear sky and a calm sea, and on such days it was delicious to look
up after the larks that were soaring above us, or to look out on the
island and reef studded sea. I never enjoyed the lark before as I
enjoyed it at Scilly--never felt the full beauty of Shelley's poem on
it before. A spot we became very fond of towards the close of our stay
was Carne Lea, where, between two fine, jutting piles of granite,
there was a soft down, gay with the pretty pink flowers of the thrift,
which, in this island, carpets the ground like greensward. Here we
used to sit and lie in the bright afternoons, watching the silver
sunlight on the waves--bright silver, not golden--it is the morning
and evening sunlight that is golden. A week or two after our arrival
we made the acquaintance of Mr. Moyle, the surgeon, who became a
delightful friend to us, always ready to help with the contents of his
surgery or anything else at his command. We liked to have him come and
smoke a cigar in the evening, and look in now and then for a little
lesson in microscopy. The little indications of the social life at
Scilly that we were able to pick up were very amusing. I was
repeatedly told, in order to make me aware who Mr. Hall was, that he
married a Miss Lemon. The people at St. Mary's imagine that the
lawyers and doctors at Penzance are a sort of European characters that
every one knows. We heard a great deal about Mr. Quill, an Irishman,
the Controller of the Customs; and one day, when we were making a call
on one of the residents, our host said two or three times, at
intervals, "I wish you knew Quill!" At last, on our farewell call, we
saw the distinguished Quill, with his hair plastered down, his
charming smile, and his trousers with a broad stripe down each leg.
Our host amused us by his contempt for curs: "Oh, I wouldn't have a
cur--there's nothing to look at in a cur!"[55]

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Bray, 5th April, 1857.]

The smallest details, written in the hastiest way, that will enable me
to imagine you as you are, are just what I want; indeed, all I care
about in correspondence. We are more and more in love with these
little islands. There is not a tree to be seen, but there are grand
granite hills on the coast, such as I never saw before, and
furze-covered hills with larks soaring and singing above them, and
zoological wonders on the shore to fill our bottles and our souls at
once. For some time I have been unusually weak and knock-up-able. Our
landlady is an excellent woman, but, like almost all peculiarly
domestic women, has not more than rudimentary ideas of cooking; and in
an island where you can get nothing but beef, except by sending to
Penzance, that supreme science has its maximum value. She seems to
think eating a purely arbitrary procedure--an abnormal function of mad
people who come to Scilly; and if we ask her what the people live on
here, is quite at a loss to tell us, apparently thinking the question
relates to the abstruser portion of natural history. But I insist,
and give her a culinary lecture every morning, and we do, in the end,
get fed. Altogether our life here is so far better than the golden age
that we work as well as play. That is the happy side of things. But
there is a very sad one to me which I shall not dwell upon--only tell
you of. More than a week ago I received the news that poor Chrissey
had lost one of her pretty little girls of fever; that the other
little one--they were the only two she had at home with her--was also
dangerously ill, and Chrissey herself and her servant apparently
attacked by typhus too. The thought of her in this state is a
perpetual shadow to me in the sunshine.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 16th April, 1857.]

I shudder at entering on such great subjects (as "Design") in letters;
my idle brain wants lashing to work, like a negro, and will do nothing
under a slighter stimulus. We are enjoying a retrogression to
old-fashioned reading. I rush on the slightest pretext to Sophocles,
and am as excited about blind old Oedipus as any young lady can be
about the latest hero with magnificent eyes. But there is _one_ new
book we have been enjoying, and so, I hope, have you--the "Life of
Charlotte Brontë." Deeply affecting throughout; in the early part
romantic, poetic, as one of her own novels; in the later years tragic,
especially to those who know what sickness is. Mrs. Gaskell has done
her work admirably, both in the industry and care with which she has
gathered and selected her material, and in the feeling with which she
has presented it. There is one exception, however, which I regret very
much. She sets down Branwell's conduct entirely to remorse. Remorse
may make sad work with a man, but it will not make such a life as
Branwell's was in the last three or four years, unless the germs of
vice had sprouted and shot up long before, as it seems clear they had
in him. What a tragedy!--that picture of the old father and the three
sisters trembling, day and night, in terror at the possible deeds of
their drunken, brutal son and brother! That is the part of the life
which affects me most.

[Sidenote: Letter to Isaac P. Evans, 16th April, 1857.]

I have been looking anxiously for some further tidings of Chrissey
since your last letter, which told me that she and Kate were better,
though not out of danger. I try to hope that no news is good news; but
if you do not think it troublesome to write, I shall be thankful to
have that hope changed into certainty.

Meanwhile, to save multiplying letters--which I know you are not fond
of--I mention now what will take no harm from being mentioned rather
prematurely. I should like Chrissey to have £15 of my next half-year's
income, due at the beginning of June, to spend in taking a change of
air as soon as she is able to do so; and perhaps, if it were desirable
for her to leave before the money has been paid in, you would be so
kind as to advance it for a few weeks. I am writing, of course, in
ignorance of her actual state; but I should think it must be good for
her, as soon as she is able to move, to leave that fever-infected
place for a time, and I know the money must have gone very fast in
recent expenses. I only suggest the change of air as the thing that I
should think best for Chrissey; but, in any case, I should like her to
have the money, to do what she pleases with it. If she is well enough
please to give her the enclosed note, in which I have suggested to her
what I have just written to you.

I am much obliged to you for your last letter, and shall be still more
so if you will write me word of Chrissey's present condition.

[Sidenote: Letter to John Blackwood, 1st May, 1857.]

Thank you for the pleasant notes of impressions concerning my story,
sent to me through Lewes.

I will pay attention to your caution about the danger of huddling up
my stories. Conclusions are the weak point of most authors, but some
of the fault lies in the very nature of a conclusion, which is at best
a negation.

There must be something wrong in the winding-up of "Amos," for I have
heard of two persons who are disappointed with the conclusion. But the
story never presented itself to me as possible to be protracted after
Milly's death. The drama ends there.

I am thinking of writing a short epilogue to "Mr. Gilfil's
Love-Story," and I will send it you with the proof from Jersey, where,
on a strict promise that I am not to be dissected, I shall shortly
join our friend Lewes.

The third story will be very different from either of the preceding,
which will perhaps be an advantage, as poor Tina's sad tale was
necessarily rather monotonous in its effects.

     The epilogue to "Mr. Gilfil" was written sitting on the
     Fortification Hill, Scilly Isles, one sunshiny morning.

[Sidenote: Jersey, Recollections, 1857.]

It was a beautiful moment (12th May) when we came to our lodgings at
Gorey. The orchards were all in blossom--and this is an island of
orchards. They cover the slopes; they stretch before you in shady,
grassy, indefinite extent through every other gateway by the roadside;
they flourish in some spots almost close to the sea. What a contrast
to the Scilly Isles! There you stand on the hills like a sparrow on
the housetop; here you are like the same sparrow when he is hopping
about on the branches with green above him, green below, and green
all round. Gorey stands in Granville Bay, where the grand old castle
of Mont Orgueil stands and keeps guard on a fine rocky promontory
overlooking the little harbor dotted with fishing craft. There is a
charming piece of common, or down, where you can have the quietest,
easiest walking, with a carpet of minute wild-flowers that are not
hindered from flourishing by the sandy rain of the coast. I delighted
extremely in the brownish-green softness of this undulating common,
here and there varied with a patch of bright green fern--all the
prettier for two little homesteads set down upon it, with their
garden-fence and sheltering trees. It was pretty in all lights, but
especially the evening light, to look round at the castle and harbor,
the village and the scattered dwellings peeping out from among trees
on the hill. The castle is built of stone which has a beautiful
pinkish-gray tint, and the bright green ivy hangs oblique curtains on
its turreted walls, making it look like a natural continuation or
outgrowth of the rocky and grassy height on which it stands. Then the
eye wanders on to the right and takes in the church standing half-way
down the hill, which is clothed with a plantation, and shelters the
little village, with its cloud of blue smoke; still to the right, and
the village breaks off, leaving nothing but meadows in front of the
slope that shuts out the setting sun, and only lets you see a hint of
the golden glory that is reflected in the pink, eastern clouds.

The first lovely walk we found inland was the Queen's Fern Valley,
where a broad strip of meadow and pasture lies between two high slopes
covered with woods and ferny wilderness. When we first saw this valley
it was in the loveliest spring-time; the woods were a delicious
mixture of red and tender green and purple. We have watched it losing
that spring beauty and passing into the green and flowery luxuriance
of June, and now into the more monotonous summer tint of July.

When the blossoms fell away from the orchards my next delight was to
look at the grasses mingled with the red sorrel; then came the white
umbelliferous plants, making a border or inner frame for them along
the hedgerows and streams. Another pretty thing here is the luxuriance
of the yellow iris, that covers large pieces of moist ground with its
broad blades. Everywhere there are tethered cows, looking at you with
meek faces--mild-eyed, sleek, fawn-colored creatures, with delicate,
downy udders.

Another favorite walk of ours was round by Mont Orgueil, along the
coast. Here we had the green or rocky slope on one side of us, and on
the other the calm sea stretching to the coast of France, visible on
all but the murkiest days. But the murky days were not many during our
stay, and our evening walks round the coast usually showed us a
peaceful, scarcely rippled sea, plashing gently on the purple pebbles
of the little scalloped bays. There were two such bays within the
boundary of our sea-side walk in that direction, and one of them was a
perpetual wonder to us, in the luxuriant verdure of meadows and
orchards and forest-trees that sloped down to the very shore. No
distressed look about the trees as if they were ever driven harshly
back by the winter winds--it was like an inland slope suddenly carried
to the coast.

As for the inland walks, they are inexhaustible. The island is one
labyrinth of delicious roads and lanes, leading you by the most
charming nooks of houses with shady grounds and shrubberies,
delightful farm homesteads, and trim villas.

It was a sweet, peaceful life we led here. Good creatures, the Amys,
our host and hostess, with their nice boy and girl, and the little
white kid--the family pet. No disagreeable sounds to be heard in the
house, no unpleasant qualities to hinder one from feeling perfect love
to these simple people. We have had long rambles and long readings.
But our choice of literature has been rather circumscribed in this
out-of-the-way place. The "Life of George Stephenson" has been a real
profit and pleasure. I have read Draper's "Physiology" aloud for grave
evening hours, and such books as Currer Bell's "Professor," Mlle.
d'Auny's "Mariage en Province," and Miss Ferrier's "Marriage," for
lighter food. The last, however, we found ourselves unable to finish,
notwithstanding Miss Ferrier's high reputation. I have been getting a
smattering of botany from Miss Catlow and from Dr. Thomson's little
book on wild-flowers, which have created at least a longing for
something more complete on the subject.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 22d May, 1857.]

Such hedgerows in this island! Such orchards, white against the green
slopes, and shady walks by the woodside, with distracting
wild-flowers. We enjoy the greenery and variety of this bushy island
all the better for our stay on bare Scilly, which we had gone to and
fro upon till we knew it by heart. Our little lodgings are very
snug--only 13_s._ a week--a nice little sitting-room, with a workroom
adjoining for Mr. Lewes, who is at this moment in all the bliss of
having discovered a parasitic worm in a cuttlefish. We dine at five,
and our afternoons are almost exhausted in rambling. I hope to get up
my strength in this delicious quiet, and have fewer interruptions to
work from headache than I have been having since Christmas. I wonder
if I should have had the happiness of seeing Cara if I had been at
Richmond now. I would rather see her than any one else in the
world--except poor Chrissey. Tell me when you have read the life of
Currer Bell. Some people think its revelations in bad taste--making
money out of the dead, wounding the feelings of the living, etc. What
book is there that some people or other will not find abominable? We
thought it admirable, cried over it, and felt the better for it. We
read Cromwell's letters again at Scilly with great delight.

     In May Mr. Lewes writes to Mr. John Blackwood: "We were both
     amused with the divination of the Manx seer and his friend
     Liggers." This is the first mention of the individual, whose
     real name was Liggins of Nuneaton, who afterwards became
     notorious for laying claim to the authorship of the "Scenes
     of Clerical Life" and "Adam Bede."

     "Janet's Repentance" had been begun on the 18th April, and
     the first three parts were finished in Jersey. In reference
     to the "Scenes of Clerical Life" there are the following
     entries in the Journal:

[Sidenote: Journal, 1857.]

_May 2._--Received letter from Blackwood expressing his approbation of
Part IX. of "Mr. Gilfil's Love-Story." He writes very pleasantly, says
the series is attributed by many to Bulwer, and that Thackeray thinks
highly of it. This was a pleasant fillip to me, who am just now ready
to be dispirited on the slightest pretext.

_May 21._--The other day we had a pleasant letter from Herbert
Spencer, saying that he had heard "Mr. Gilfil's Love-Story" discussed
by Baynes and Dallas, as well as previously by Pigott, all expressing
warm approval, and curiosity as to the author.

_May 26._--Received a pleasant letter from Blackwood, enclosing one
from Archer Gurney to the author of "Mr. Gilfil's Love-Story."

     I subjoin this letter, as it is the first she received in her
     character of a creative author, and it still bears a pencil
     memorandum in her writing: "This letter he brought up to me
     at Jersey after reading it, saying, with intense joy, 'Her
     fame is beginning.'"

[Sidenote: Letter from Rev. Archer Gurney, to the author of "Mr.
Gilfil's Love-Story," 14th May, 1857.]

            "BUCKINGHAM (BUCKS), _Thursday, 14th May, 1857_.

     "Sir,--Will you consider it impertinent in a brother author
     and old reviewer to address a few lines of earnest sympathy
     and admiration to you, excited by the purity of your style,
     originality of your thoughts, and absence of all vulgar
     seeking for effect in those 'Scenes of Clerical Life' now
     appearing in _Blackwood_? If I mistake not much, your muse of
     invention is no hackneyed one, and your style is too peculiar
     to allow of your being confounded with any of the already
     well-known writers of the day. Your great and characteristic
     charm is, to my mind, Nature. You frequently, indeed, express
     what I may call brilliant ideas, but they always seem to come
     unsought for, never, as in Lytton, for instance, to be
     elaborated and placed in the most advantageous light. I
     allude to such brief aphoristic sayings as 'Animals are such
     agreeable friends, they ask no questions, they pass no
     criticisms'--'All with that brisk and cheerful air which a
     sermon is often observed to produce when it is quite
     finished.' By-the-bye. I am one of the cloth, and might take
     exception to certain hints, perhaps, but these are dubious.
     What I see plainly I admire honestly, and trust that more
     good remains behind. Will you always remain equally natural?
     That is the doubt. Will the fear of the critic, or the
     public, or the literary world, which spoils almost every one,
     never master you? Will you always write to please yourself,
     and preserve the true independence which seems to mark a real
     supremacy of intellect? But these questions are, I fear,
     impertinent. I will conclude. Pardon this word of greeting
     from one whom you may never see or know, and believe me your
     earnest admirer,

                                              ARCHER GURNEY.

     "The Author of
       'Mr. Gilfil's Love-Story.'"

[Sidenote: Journal, 1857.]

_June._--Blackwood writes from London that he hears nothing but
approval of "Mr. Gilfil's Love-Story." Lord Stanley, among other
people, had spoken to him about the "Clerical Scenes," at Bulwer's,
and was astonished to find Blackwood in the dark as to the author.

[Sidenote: Letter to John Blackwood, 2d June, 1857.]

I send you by the same post with this the first part of my third
story, which I hope will not disappoint you. The part is, I think,
rather longer than my parts have usually been, but it would have been
injurious to the effect of the story to pause earlier.

Pleasant letters like yours are the best possible stimulus to an
author's powers, and if I don't write better and better the fault will
certainly not lie in my editor, who seems to have been created in
pre-established harmony with the organization of a susceptible

This island, too, with its grassy valleys and pretty, indented coast
is not at all a bad haunt for the Muses, if, as one may suppose, they
have dropped their too scanty classical attire, and appear in long
dresses and brown hats, like decent Christian women likely to inspire
"Clerical Scenes."

Moreover, having myself a slight zoological weakness, I am less
alarmed than most people at the society of a zoological maniac. So
that, altogether, your contributor is in promising circumstances, and
if he doesn't behave like an animal in good condition, is clearly
unworthy of his keep.

I am much gratified to have made the conquest of Professor Aytoun; but
with a parent's love for the depreciated child, I can't help standing
up for "Amos" as better than "Gilfil."

Lewes seems to have higher expectations from the third story than from
either of the preceding; but I can form no judgment myself until I
have quite finished a thing, and see it aloof from my actual self. I
can only go on writing what I feel, and waiting for the proof that I
have been able to make others feel.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Bray, 5th June, 1857.]

Richmond is _not_ fascinating in "the season" or through the summer.
It is hot, noisy, and haunted with Cockneys; but at other times we
love the Park with an increasing love, and we have such a kind, good
landlady there, that it always seems like going home when we return to
Park Shot. She writes to us: "I hope you will make your fortune--but
you must always live with me," which, considering that she gets less
out of us than other lodgers, is a proof of affection in a landlady.
Yes! we like our wandering life at present, and it is fructifying, and
brings us material in many ways; but we keep in perspective the idea
of a cottage among green fields and cows, where we mean to settle
down (after we have once been to Italy), and buy pots and kettles and
keep a dog. Wherever we are we work hard--and at work which brings
_present_ money; for we have too many depending on us to be
_dilettanti_ or idlers.

I wish it to be understood that I should never invite any one to come
and see me who did not ask for the invitation.

You wonder how my face has changed in the last three years. Doubtless
it is older and uglier, but it ought not to have a bad expression, for
I never have anything to call out my ill-humor or discontent, which
you know were always ready enough to come on slight call, and I have
everything to call out love and gratitude.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. John Cash (Miss Mary Sibree), 6th June,

Your letter was very sweet to me. The sense of my deficiencies in the
past often presses on me with a discouraging weight, and to know that
any one can remember me lovingly, helps me to believe that there has
been some good to balance the evil. I like to think of you as a happy
wife and mother; and since Rosehill must have new tenants, I like to
think that you and yours are there rather than any one else, not only
because of my own confidence in your nature, but because our dear
friends love you so much as a neighbor. You know I can never feel
otherwise than sorry that they should not have ended their days in
that pretty home; but the inevitable regret is softened as much as
possible by the fact that the home has become yours.

It is very nice to hear that Mrs. Sibree can relish anything of my
writing. She was always a favorite with me; and I remember very
vividly many pleasant little conversations with her. Seventy-two! How
happy you are to have a dear, aged mother, whose heart you can

I was a good deal touched by the letter your brother wrote to you
about accepting, or, rather, declining, more pupils. I feel sure that
his sensitive nature has its peculiar trials and struggles in this
strange life of ours, which some thick-skinned mortals take so easily.

I am very happy--happy in the highest blessing life can give us, the
perfect love and sympathy of a nature that stimulates my own to
healthful activity. I feel, too, that all the terrible pain I have
gone through in past years, partly from the defects of my own nature,
partly from outward things, has probably been a preparation for some
special work that I may do before I die. That is a blessed hope, to be
rejoiced in with trembling. But even if that hope should be
unfulfilled, I am contented to have lived and suffered for the sake of
what has already been. You see your kind letter has made me inclined
to talk about myself, but, as we do not often have any communication
with each other, I know it will be a gratification to your sympathetic
nature to have a few direct words from me that will assure you of my
moral well-being.

I hope your little ones are just like you--just as fair and

[Sidenote: Journal, June, 1857.]

I sent off the first part of "Janet's Repentance," but to my
disappointment Blackwood did not like it so well--seemed to
misunderstand the characters, and to be doubtful about the treatment
of clerical matters. I wrote at once to beg him to give up printing
the story if he felt uncomfortable about it, and he immediately sent a
very anxious, cordial letter, saying the thought of putting a stop to
the series "gave him quite a turn:" he "did not meet with George
Eliots every day"--and so on.

[Sidenote: Letter to John Blackwood, 11th June, 1857.]

I am not much surprised and not at all hurt by your letter received
to-day with the proof. It is a great satisfaction--in fact, my only
satisfaction--that you should give me your judgment with perfect
frankness. I am able, I think, to enter into an editor's doubts and
difficulties, and to see my stories in some degree from your point of
view as well as my own. My answer is written after considering the
question as far as possible on all sides, and as I feel that I shall
not be able to make any other than _superficial_ alterations in the
proof, I will, first of all, say what I can in explanation of the
spirit and future course of the present story.

The collision in the drama is not at all between "bigoted
churchmanship" and evangelicalism, but between _ir_religion and
religion. Religion in this case happens to be represented by
evangelicalism; and the story, so far as regards the _persecution_, is
a real bit in the religious history of England, that happened about
eight-and-twenty years ago. I thought I had made it apparent in my
sketch of Milby feelings, on the advent of Mr. Tryan, that the
conflict lay between immorality and morality--irreligion and religion.
Mr. Tryan will carry the reader's sympathy. It is through him that
Janet is brought to repentance. Dempster's vices have their natural
evolution in deeper and deeper moral deterioration (though not without
softening touches), and death from intemperance. Everything is
softened from the fact, so far as art is permitted to soften and yet
to remain essentially true.

My sketches, both of Churchmen and Dissenters, with whom I am almost
equally acquainted, are drawn from close observation of them in real
life, and not at all from hearsay or from the descriptions of
novelists. If I were to undertake to alter language or character. I
should be attempting to represent some vague conception of what may
possibly exist in other people's minds, but has no existence in my
own. Such of your marginal objections as relate to a mere detail I can
meet without difficulty by alteration; but as an artist I should be
utterly powerless if I departed from my own conceptions of life and
character. There is nothing to be done with the story, but either to
let Dempster and Janet and the rest be as I _see_ them, or to renounce
it as too painful. I am keenly alive at once to the scruples and
alarms an editor may feel, and to my own utter inability to write
under cramping influence, and on this double ground I should like you
to consider whether it will not be better to close the series for the
Magazine _now_. I dare say you will feel no difficulty about
publishing a volume containing the story of "Janet's Repentance," and
I shall accept that plan with no other feeling than that you have been
to me the most liberal and agreeable of editors, and are the man of
all others I would choose for a publisher.

My irony, so far as I understand myself, is not directed against
opinions--against any class of religious views--but against the vices
and weaknesses that belong to human nature in every sort of clothing.
But it is possible that I may not affect other minds as I intend and
wish to affect them, and you are a better judge than I can be of the
degree in which I may occasionally be offensive. I should like _not_
to be offensive--I should like to touch every heart among my readers
with nothing but loving humor, with tenderness, with belief in
goodness. But I may have failed in this case of "Janet," at least so
far as to have made you feel its publication in the Magazine a
disagreeable risk. If so, there will be no harm done by closing the
series with No. 2, as I have suggested. If, however, I take your
objections to be deeper than they really are--if you prefer inserting
the story in spite of your partial dissatisfaction, I shall, of
course, be happy to appear under "Maga's" wing still.

When I remember what have been the successes in fiction, even as
republications from "Maga," I can hardly believe that the public will
regard my pictures as exceptionally coarse. But in any case there are
too many prolific writers who devote themselves to the production of
pleasing pictures, to the exclusion of all disagreeable truths, for me
to desire to add to their number. In this respect, at least, I may
have some resemblance to Thackeray, though I am not conscious of being
in any way a disciple of his, unless it constitute discipleship to
think him, as I suppose the majority of people with any intellect do,
on the whole the most powerful of living novelists.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 8th June, 1857.]

I feel every day a greater disinclination for theories and arguments
about the origin of things in the presence of all this mystery and
beauty and pain and ugliness that floods one with conflicting

We are reading "Aurora Leigh" for the third time, with more enjoyment
than ever. I know no book that gives me a deeper sense of communion
with a large as well as beautiful mind. It is in process of appearing
in a third edition, and no wonder.

If I live five years longer the positive result of my existence on the
side of truth and goodness will outweigh the small negative good that
would have consisted in my not doing anything to shock others, and I
can conceive no consequences that will make me repent the past. Do not
misunderstand me, and suppose that I think myself heroic or great in
any way. Far enough from that! Faulty, miserably faulty I am--but
least of all faulty where others most blame.

     On the 24th July the pleasant sojourn at Jersey came to an
     end. The travellers returned to 8 Park Shot, Richmond, where
     Miss Sara Hennell paid them a visit at the end of the month,
     and Dr. and Mrs. Bodichon (_née_ Miss Barbara L. Smith) came
     on the 4th of August. On the 12th August there is an entry in
     the Journal, "Finished the 'Electra' of Sophocles, and began
     Æschylus's 'Agamemnon,'" and then come the following letters:

[Sidenote: Letter to John Blackwood, Tuesday, 17th Aug. 1857.]

Lewes has just given me your letter of the 15th, with the accompanying
one from the Rev. W. P. Jones.

Mr. Tryan is not a portrait of any clergyman, living or dead. He is an
ideal character, but I hope probable enough to resemble more than one
evangelical clergyman of his day.

If Mr. Jones's deceased brother was like Mr. Tryan so much the better,
for in that case he was made of human nature's finer clay. I think you
will agree with me that there are few clergymen who would be
depreciated by an identification with Mr. Tryan. But I should rather
suppose that the old gentleman, misled by some similarity in outward
circumstances, is blind to the discrepancies which must exist where no
portrait was intended. As to the rest of my story, so far as its
elements were suggested by real persons, those persons have been, to
use good Mr. Jones's phrase, "long in eternity."

I think I told you that a persecution of the kind I have described
did actually take place, and belongs as much to the common store of
our religious history as the Gorham Controversy, or as Bishop
Blomfield's decision about wax candles. But I only know the _outline_
of the real persecution. The details have been filled in from my
imagination. I should consider it a fault which would cause me lasting
regret if I had used reality in any other than the legitimate way
common to all artists, who draw their materials from their observation
and experience. It would be a melancholy result of my fictions if I
gave _just_ cause of annoyance to any good and sensible person. But I
suppose there is no perfect safeguard against erroneous impressions or
a mistaken susceptibility. We are all apt to forget how little there
is about us that is unique, and how very strongly we resemble many
other insignificant people who have lived before us. I shouldn't
wonder if several nieces of pedantic maiden ladies saw a portrait of
their aunt in Miss Pratt, but I hope they will not think it necessary,
on that ground, to increase the already troublesome number of your

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 19th Aug. 1857.]

We went to see Rosa Bonheur's picture the other day. What power! That
is the way women should assert their rights. Writing is part of my
religion, and I can write no word that is not prompted from within. At
the same time I believe that almost all the best books in the world
have been written with the hope of getting money for them.

[Sidenote: Letter to John Blackwood, 1st Sept. 1857.]

Unless there be any strong reason to the contrary, I should like to
close the series with this story. According to my calculation, which,
however, may be an erroneous one, the three stories will make two good
volumes--_i.e._, good as to bulk.

I have a subject in my mind which will not come under the limitations
of the title "Clerical Life," and I am inclined to take a large canvas
for it and write a novel.

In case of my writing fiction for "Maga" again, I should like to be
considerably beforehand with my work, so that you can read a
thoroughly decisive portion before beginning to print.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 21st Sept. 1857.]

The days are very peaceful--peacefully busy. One always feels a deeper
calm as autumn comes on. I should be satisfied to look forward to a
heaven made up of long autumn afternoon walks, quite delivered from
any necessity of giving a judgment on the woman question, or of
reading newspapers about Indian mutinies. I am so glad there are
thousands of good people in the world who have very decided opinions,
and are fond of working hard to enforce them. I like to feel and think
everything and do nothing, a pool of the "deep contemplative" kind.

Some people _do_ prosper--that is a comfort. The rest of us must fall
back on the beatitudes--"Blessed are the poor"--that is Luke's
version, you know, and it is really, on the whole, more comforting
than Matthew's. I'm afraid there are few of us who can appropriate the
blessings of the "poor in spirit."

We are reading one of the most wonderful books in French or any other
literature--Monteil's "Histoire des Français des divers États"--a
history written on an original plan. If you see any account of it,
read that account.

[Sidenote: Letter to John Blackwood, Saturday, 17th Oct. 1857.]

I am very much gratified that my Janet has won your heart and kept up
your interest in her to the end.

My new story haunts me a good deal, and I shall set about it without
delay. It will be a country story--full of the breath of cows and the
scent of hay. But I shall not ask you to look at it till I have
written a volume or more, and then you will be able to judge whether
you will prefer printing it in the Magazine, or publishing it as a
separate novel when it is completed.

By the way, the sheets of the "Clerical Scenes" are not come, but I
shall not want to make any other than verbal and literal corrections,
so that it will hardly be necessary for me to go through the sheets
_and_ the proofs, which I must, of course, see.

I enclose a titlepage with a motto. But if you don't like the motto, I
give it up. I've not set my heart on it.

I leave the number of copies to be published, and the style of getting
up, entirely to your discretion. As to the terms, I wish to retain the
copyright, according to the stipulation made for me by Lewes when he
sent "Amos Barton;" and whatever you can afford to give me for the
first edition I shall prefer having as a definite payment rather than
as half profits.

You stated, in a letter about "Amos Barton," your willingness to
accede to either plan, so I have no hesitation in expressing my

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 20th Oct. 1857.]

"Open to conviction," indeed! I should think so. I am open to
conviction on all points except dinner and debts. I hold that the one
must be eaten and the other paid. These are my only prejudices.

I _was_ pleased with Mr. Call.[56] He is a man one really cares to
talk to--has thoughts, says what he means, and listens to what others
say. We should quite like to see him often. And I cannot tell you how
much I have felt Mrs. Call's graceful as well as kind behavior to me.
Some months ago, before the new edition of the "Biographical History
of Philosophy" came out, Mr. Lewes had a letter from a working-man at
Leicester, I think, who said that he and some fellow-students met
together, on a Sunday, to read the book aloud and discuss it. He had
marked some errors of the press and sent them to Mr. Lewes for his new
edition. Wasn't that pretty?

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 30th Oct. 1857.]

"Conscience goes to the hammering in of nails" is my gospel. There can
be no harm in preaching _that_ to women at any rate. But I should be
sorry to undertake any more specific enunciation of doctrine on a
question so entangled as the "woman question." The part of the
Epicurean gods is always an easy one; but because I prefer it so
strongly myself, I the more highly venerate those who are struggling
in the thick of the contest. "La carrière ouverte aux taléns," whether
the talents be feminine or masculine, I am quite confident is a right
maxim. Whether "La carrière ouverte à la Sottise" be equally just when
made equally universal, it would be too much like "taking sides" for
me to say.

     There are only three entries in the journal for October.

[Sidenote: Journal, Oct. 1857.]

_Oct. 9._--Finished "Janet's Repentance." I had meant to carry on the
series, and especially I longed to tell the story of the "Clerical
Tutor," but my annoyance at Blackwood's want of sympathy in the first
part (although he came round to admiration at the third part)
determined me to close the series and republish them in two volumes.

_Oct. 22._--Began my new novel, "Adam Bede."

_Oct. 29._--Received a letter from Blackwood offering me £120 for the
first edition of "Scenes of Clerical Life."

[Sidenote: Letter to John Blackwood, 30th Oct. 1857.]

I am quite contented with the sum (£120) you offer me for the edition,
being thoroughly confident of your disposition to do the best you can
for me. I perceive your hope of success for the "Scenes" is not
strong, and you certainly have excellent means of knowing the
probabilities in such a case.

I am not aware that the motto has been used before, but if you suspect
it, we had better leave it out altogether. A stale motto would hardly
be an ornament to the titlepage.

[Sidenote: Letter to Mrs. Bray, 1st Nov. 1857.]

How I wish I could get to you by some magic, and have one walk over
the hill with you again. Letters are poor things compared with five
minutes of looking and speaking, and one kiss. Nevertheless, I do like
to have a little letter now and then, though I don't for a moment ask
it if you have no spontaneous impulse to give it. I can't help losing
belief that people love me--the unbelief is in my nature, and no sort
of fork will drive it finally out. I can't help wondering that you can
think of _me_ in the past with much pleasure. It all seems so painful
to me--made up of blunders and selfishness--and it only comes back
upon me as a thing to be forgiven. That is honest, painful truth, and
not sentimentality. But I am thankful if others found more good than I
am able to remember.

[Sidenote: Letter to John Blackwood, 7th Nov. 1857.]

It is pleasant to have the first sheet of one's proof--to see one's
paragraphs released from the tight-lacing of double columns, and
expanding themselves at their ease.

I perceive clearly the desirableness of the short number--for my
observation of literary affairs has gone far enough to convince me
that neither critical judgment nor practical experience can guarantee
any opinion as to rapidity of sale in the case of an unknown author;
and I shudder at the prospect of encumbering my publisher's

My new story is in progress--slow progress at present. A little
sunshine of success would stimulate its growth, I dare say. Unhappily,
I am as impressionable as I am obstinate, and as much in need of
sympathy from my readers as I am incapable of bending myself to their
tastes. But if I can only find a public as cordial and agreeable in
its treatment of me as my editor, I shall have nothing to wish. Even
my thin skin will be comfortable then. The page is not a shabby one,
after all; but I fear the fact of two volumes instead of three is a
fatal feature in my style in the eyes of librarians.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 9th Nov. 1857.]

One is glad to have one's book (_à propos_ of review of Lewes's
"History of Philosophy") spoken well of by papers of good circulation,
because it is possible, though not certain, that such praise may help
the sale; but otherwise it is hardly worth while to trouble one's self
about newspaper reviews, unless they point out some error, or present
that very rare phenomenon, a true appreciation, which is the most
delicious form in which sympathy can reach one. So much sectarian
feeling usually arises in discussions on the subject of phrenology
that I confess the associations of the word are not agreeable to me.
The last refuge of intolerance is in not tolerating the intolerant;
and I am often in danger of secreting that sort of venom.

[Sidenote: Letter to Charles Bray, 15th Nov. 1857.]

It is pleasant to have a kind word now and then, when one is not near
enough to have a kind glance or a hearty shake by the hand. It is an
old weakness of mine to have no faith in affection that does not
express itself; and when friends take no notice of me for a long while
I generally settle down into the belief that they have become
indifferent or have begun to dislike me. That is not the best mental
constitution; but it might be worse--for I don't feel obliged to
dislike _them_ in consequence. I, for one, ought not to complain if
people think worse of me than I deserve, for I have very often reason
to be ashamed of my thoughts about others. They almost always turn out
to be better than I expected--fuller of kindness towards me at least.
In the fundamental doctrine of your book (the philosophy of
necessity)--that mind presents itself under the same conditions of
invariableness of antecedent and consequent as all other phenomena
(the only difference being that the true antecedent and consequent are
proportionately difficult to discover as the phenomena are more
complex)--I think you know that I agree. And every one who knows what
science means must also agree with you that there can be no social
science without the admission of that doctrine. I dislike extremely a
passage in which you appear to consider the disregard of individuals
as a lofty condition of mind. My own experience and development deepen
every day my conviction that our moral progress may be measured by the
degree in which we sympathize with individual suffering and individual
joy. The fact that in the scheme of things we see a constant and
tremendous sacrifice of individuals, is, it seems to me, only one of
the many proofs that urge upon us our total inability to find in our
own natures a key to the Divine mystery. I could more readily turn
Christian, and worship Jesus again, than embrace a Theism which
professes to explain the proceedings of God. But I don't feel at all
wise in these matters. I have a few strong impressions which serve me
for my own support and guidance, but do not in the least qualify me to
speak as a theorist.

Mr. Lewes sends you his kind remembrances, and will not like you any
the worse for cutting him up. He has had to perform that office for
his own friends sometimes. I suppose phrenology is an open question,
on which everybody has a right to speak his mind. Mr. Lewes, feeling
the importance of the subject, desired to give it its due place in his
"History of Philosophy," and, doing so, he must, of course, say what
_he_ believes to be the truth, not what other people believe to be the
truth. If you will show where he is mistaken, you will be doing him a
service as well as phrenology. His arguments may be bad; but I will
answer for him that he has not been guilty of any intentional
unfairness. With regard to their system, phrenologists seem to me to
be animated by the same sort of spirit as that of religious
dogmatists, and especially in this--that in proportion as a man
approximates to their opinions without identifying himself with them,
they think him offensive and contemptible. It is amusing to read from
the opposite side complaints against Mr. Lewes for giving too high a
position to phrenology, and a confident opinion that "phrenologists,
by their ridiculous pretensions, merit all the contempt that has been
thrown on them." Thus doctors differ! But I am much less interested in
crusades for or against phrenology than in your happiness at Ivy
Cottage.[57] Happiness means all sorts of love and good feeling; and
that is the best result that can ever come out of science. Do you
know Buckle's "History of Civilization"? I think you would find it a
suggestive book.

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 24th Nov. 1857.]

Anniversaries are sad things--to one who has lived long and done
little. Herbert Spencer dined with us the other day--looks well, and
is brimful of clever talk as usual. His volume of "Essays" is to come
out soon. He is just now on a crusade against the notion of "species."
We are reading Harriet Martineau's history with edification, and
otherwise feeding our souls, which flourish very well, notwithstanding
November weather.

[Sidenote: Journal, 1857.]

_Nov. 28._--A glorious day, still autumnal and not wintry. We have had
a delicious walk in the Park, and I think the coloring of the scenery
is more beautiful than ever. Many of the oaks are still thickly
covered with leaves of a rich yellow-brown; the elms, golden
sometimes, still with lingering patches of green. On our way to the
Park the view from Richmond hill had a delicate blue mist over it,
that seemed to hang like a veil before the sober brownish-yellow of
the distant elms. As we came home, the sun was setting on a fog-bank,
and we saw him sink into that purple ocean--the orange and gold
passing into green above the fog-bank, the gold and orange reflected
in the river in more sombre tints. The other day, as we were coming
home through the Park, after having walked under a sombre, heavily
clouded sky, the western sun shone out from under the curtain, and lit
up the trees and grass, thrown into relief on a background of dark
purple cloud. Then, as we advanced towards the Richmond end of the
Park, the level, reddening rays shone on the dry fern and the distant
oaks, and threw a crimson light on them. I have especially enjoyed
this autumn, the delicious greenness of the turf, in contrast with
the red and yellow of the dying leaves.

_Dec. 6_ (_Sunday_).--Finished the "Agamemnon" to-day. In the evenings
of late we have been reading Harriet Martineau's "Sketch of the
British Empire in India," and are now following it up with Macaulay's
articles on Clive and Hastings. We have lately read Harriet
Martineau's Introduction to the "History of the Peace."

_Dec. 8._--I am reading "Die Familie," by Riehl, forming the third
volume of the series, the two first of which, "Land und Volk" and "Die
Bürgerliche Gesellschaft," I reviewed for the _Westminster_.

A letter from Blackwood to-day tells us that Major Blackwood, during
his brother's absence in England, having some reasons, not specified,
for being more hopeful about the "Clerical Scenes," resolved to
publish 1000 instead of 750; and in consequence of this Blackwood
promises to pay me an additional £60 when 750 shall have been sold
off. He reports that an elderly clergyman has written to him to say
that "Janet's Repentance" is exquisite--another vote to register along
with that of Mrs. Nutt's rector, who "cried over the story like a

_Dec. 10._--Major Blackwood called--an unaffected, agreeable man. It
was evident to us, when he had only been in the room a few minutes,
that he knew I was George Eliot.

[Sidenote: Letter to John Blackwood, 11th Dec. 1857.]

Lewes has read to me your last kind letter, and I am not insensible to
the "practical cheerer" it contains. But I rejoice with trembling at
the additional 250, lest you should have to repent of them.

I have certainly had a good deal of encouragement to believe that
there are many minds, both of the more cultured sort and of the
common novel-reading class, likely to be touched by my stories; but
the word "many" is very elastic, and often shrinks frightfully when
measured by a financial standard.

When one remembers how long it was before Charles Lamb's Essays were
known familiarly to any but the elect few, the very strongest
assurance of merit or originality--supposing one so happy as to have
that assurance--could hardly do more than give the hope of _ultimate_

[Sidenote: Letter to Miss Sara Hennell, 13th Dec. 1857.]

Our affairs are very prosperous just now, making sunshine in a shady,
or, rather, in a foggy place. It is a great happiness to me that Mr.
Lewes gets more and more of the recognition he deserves; pleasant
letters and speeches have been very numerous lately, especially about
his "Sea-side Studies," which have appeared in _Blackwood_, and are
soon to appear--very much improved and enlarged--in a separate volume.
Dear Carlyle writes, _à propos_ of his "Friedrich:" "I have had such a
fourteen months as was never appointed me before in this
world--sorrow, darkness, and disgust my daily companions; and no
outlook visible, except getting a detestable business turned off, or
else being driven mad by it." That is his exaggerated way of speaking;
and writing is always painful to him. Do you know he is sixty-two! I
fear this will be his last book. Tell Mr. Bray I am reading a book of
Riehl's, "The Family," forming the sequel to his other volumes. He
will be pleased to hear that so good a writer agrees with him on
several points about the occupations of women. The book is a good one;
and if I were in the way of writing articles, I should write one on
it. There is so much to read, and the days are so short! I get more
hungry for knowledge every day, and less able to satisfy my hunger.
Time is like the Sibylline leaves, getting more precious the less
there remains of it. That, I believe, is the correct allusion for a
fine writer to make on the occasion.

[Sidenote: Letter to John Blackwood, 15th Dec. 1857.]

I give up the motto, because it struck you as having been used before;
and though I copied it into my note-book when I was re-reading
"Amelia" a few months ago, it is one of those obvious quotations which
never _appear_ fresh, though they may actually be made for the first

I shall be curious to know the result of the subscription.

There are a few persons to whom I should like a copy of the volume to
be sent, and I enclose a list of them.

[Sidenote: Journal, 1857.]

_Dec. 17._--Read my new story to G. this evening as far as the end of
the third chapter. He praised it highly. I have finished "Die
Familie," by Riehl--a delightful book. I am in the "Choephoræ" now. In
the evenings we are reading "History of the Thirty Years' Peace" and
Béranger. Thoroughly disappointed in Béranger.

_Dec. 19_ (_Saturday_).--Alone this evening with very thankful, solemn
thoughts--feeling the great and unhoped-for blessings that have been
given me in life. This last year, especially, has been marked by
inward progress and outward advantages. In the spring George's
"History of Philosophy" appeared in the new edition; his "Sea-side
Studies" have been written with much enjoyment, and met with much
admiration, and now they are on the verge of being published with
bright prospects. Blackwood has also accepted his "Physiology of
Common Life;" the "Goethe" has passed into its third German edition;
and, best of all, G.'s head is well. I have written the "Scenes of
Clerical Life"--my first book; and though we are uncertain still
whether it will be a success as a separate publication, I have had
much sympathy from my readers in _Blackwood_, and feel a deep
satisfaction in having done a bit of faithful work that will perhaps
remain, like a primrose root in the hedgerow, and gladden and chasten
human hearts in years to come.

[Sidenote: Letter to the Brays, 23d Dec. 1857.]

Buckle's is a book full of suggestive material, though there are some
strangely unphilosophic opinions mixed with its hardy philosophy. For
example, he holds that there is no such thing as _race_ or _hereditary
transmission_ of qualities! (I should tell you, at the same time, that
he is a necessitarian and a physiological-psychologist.) It is only by
such negations as these that he can find his way to the position which
he maintains at great length--that the progress of mankind is
dependent entirely on the progress of knowledge, and that there has
been no intrinsically moral advance. However, he presents that side of
the subject which has, perhaps, been least adequately dwelt on.

[Sidenote: Journal, 1857.]

_Dec. 25_ (_Christmas Day_).--George and I spent this lovely day
together--lovely as a clear spring day. We could see Hampstead from
the Park so distinctly that it seemed to have suddenly come nearer to
us. We ate our turkey together in a happy _solitude à deux_.

_Dec. 31_ (_the last night of 1857_).--The dear old year is gone with
all its _Weben_ and _Streben_. Yet not gone either; for what I have
suffered and enjoyed in it remains to me an everlasting possession
while my soul's life remains. This time last year I was alone, as I am
now, and dear George was at Vernon Hill. I was writing the
introduction to "Mr. Gilfil's Love-Story." What a world of thoughts
and feelings since then! My life has deepened unspeakably during the
last year: I feel a greater capacity for moral and intellectual
enjoyment, a more acute sense of my deficiencies in the past, a more
solemn desire to be faithful to coming duties, than I remember at any
former period of my life. And my happiness has deepened too; the
blessedness of a perfect love and union grows daily. I have had some
severe suffering this year from anxiety about my sister, and what will
probably be a final separation from her--there has been no other real
trouble. Few women, I fear, have had such reason as I have to think
the long, sad years of youth were worth living for the sake of middle
age. Our prospects are very bright too. I am writing my new novel. G.
is full of his "Physiology of Common Life." He has just finished
editing Johnston, for which he is to have 100 guineas, and we have
both encouragement to think that our books just coming out, "Sea-side
Studies" and "Scenes of Clerical Life," will be well received. So
good-bye, dear 1857! May I be able to look back on 1858 with an equal
consciousness of advancement in work and in heart.


MARCH, 1855, TO DECEMBER, 1857.

     Return to England--Dover--Bayswater--East Sheen--Books
     read--Articles written--Letters to Miss Hennell--"Life of
     Goethe"--Froude's article on
     Spinoza--Article-writing--"Cumming"--8 Park Shot,
     Richmond--Letter to Charles Bray--Effect of article on
     Cumming--Letter to Miss Hennell--Reading on
     Physiology--Article on Heine--Review for _Leader_,
     etc.--Books read--Visit to Mrs. Clarke at Attleboro--Sale of
     "Life of Goethe"--"Shaving of Shagpat"--Spinoza's "Ethics,"
     translation finished--The _Saturday
     Review_--Ruskin--Alison--Harriet Martineau--Women's
     earnings--Articles and reviews--Wishes not to be known as
     translator of the "Ethics"--Article on Young begun--Visit to
     Ilfracombe--Description--Zoophyte hunting--Finished articles
     on Young and Riehl--Naturalistic experience--Delightful
     walks--Rev. Mr. Tugwell--Devonshire lanes and
     springs--Tendency to scientific
     accuracy--Sunsets--Cocklewomen at Swansea--Letters to Miss
     Hennell and Mrs. Peter Taylor--Tenby--Zoology--Thoreau's
     "Walden"--Feeling strong in mind and body--Barbara Leigh
     Smith comes to Tenby--George Eliot anxious to begin her
     fiction-writing--Mr. E. F. S. Pigott--Return to Richmond--Mr.
     Lewes takes his boys to Hofwyl--George Eliot writes article
     on "Silly Novels by Lady Novelists"--"How I came to write
     fiction"--Correspondence between Mr. Lewes and Mr. John
     Blackwood about MS. of "Amos Barton"--"Mr. Gilfil's
     Love-Story" begun--Books read--Letter from John Blackwood to
     the author of "Amos Barton," sending copy of the January,
     1857, number of the Magazine and fifty
     guineas--Reply--Blackwood's admiration--Albert Smith's
     appreciation--Letters to Blackwood--Name of George Eliot
     assumed--Dutch school in art--Artistic bent--Letter to Miss
     Hennell--Intolerance--Letter to John Blackwood on Mr. Swayne
     comparing writing to Goldsmith's--Letter to Miss Hennell on
     essay "Christianity and Infidelity"--Letter to
     Blackwood--Caterina and the dagger scene--Trip to Penzance
     and the Scilly Isles--Description of St. Mary's--Mr. Moyle,
     the surgeon--Social Life--Letter to Mrs. Bray, anxiety about
     sister--Letter to Miss Sara Hennell--"Life of Charlotte
     Brontë"--Letter to Isaac P. Evans--Mrs. Clarke's
     illness--Letter to Blackwood--Conclusions of
     stories--Jersey--Description of Gorey--Delightful
     walks--Reading Draper's "Physiology"--Miss Catlow and Dr.
     Thomson on wild-flowers--"Life of George Stephenson"--Letter
     to Miss Hennell--Life in Jersey--Liggins appears on the
     scene--"Janet's Repentance"--Series attributed to
     Bulwer--Thackeray thinks highly of it--Letter from Herbert
     Spencer about "Mr. Gilfil"--Letter from Archer Gurney--Lord
     Stanley thinks highly of the "Scenes"--Letter to Blackwood,
     with First Part of "Janet's Repentance"--Letter to Mrs.
     Bray--Richmond--Expression of face--Letter to Mrs. John
     Cash--Happiness in her life and hope in her work--Chilled by
     Blackwood's want of enthusiasm about "Janet"--Letter to John
     Blackwood on "Janet"--Letter to Miss Sarah Hennell--"Aurora
     Leigh"--Return to Richmond--Letter to John Blackwood on
     "Janet"--Letters to Miss Hennell--Rosa Bonheur--Thought not
     action--Mr. and Mrs. Call--Letter to John Blackwood--Haunted
     by new story--Letter to Charles Bray--"The Woman
     Question"--Close of "Clerical Scenes" series--"Adam Bede"
     begun--Receives £120 for first edition of "Scenes of Clerical
     Life"--Letter to Mrs. Bray--Unbelief in people's love--Letter
     to John Blackwood--Sheets of "Clerical Scenes"--Letter to
     Miss Hennell--Newspaper criticism--Letter to Charles
     Bray--"The Philosophy of Necessity"--Sympathy with
     individuals--Objection to Theism--Phrenology--Happiness the
     best result that can ever come out of science--Letters to
     Miss Hennell--Reading Riehl's "The Family"--Hunger for
     Knowledge--Buckle's "History of Civilization"--Autumn days at
     Richmond--Reading the "Agamemnon"--Harriett Martineau's
     "Sketch of the British Empire in India"--Macaulay's essays on
     Clive and Hastings--Major Blackwood calls and suspects
     identity of George Eliot--Reading the "Choephoræ"--"History
     of the Thirty Years' Peace," and Béranger--Thankfulness in
     reviewing experience of 1857.


[49] G. writes that this sonnet is Barnwell's.--[Note written later.]

[50] "Land und Volk."

[51] Mr. Edward Smyth Pigott, who remained to the end of their lives a
very close and much valued friend of Mr. Lewes and George Eliot.

[52] By Thoreau.

[53] About the article on Riehl's book, "The Natural History of German

[54] "Baillie Prize Essay on Christianity and Infidelity: an
Exposition of the Arguments on both Sides." By Miss Sara Hennell.

[55] "Mill on the Floss," chap. iii. book iv. Bob Jakin.

[56] Mr. W. M. W. Call, author of "Reverberations and other Poems,"
who married Mr. Charles Hennell's widow--formerly Miss Brabant. As
will be seen from the subsequent correspondence, Mr. and Mrs. Call
remained among the Lewes's warm friends to the end, and Mr. Call is
the author of an interesting paper on George Eliot in the _Westminster
Review_ of July, 1881.

[57] The Brays' new house at Coventry.


As this volume is going through the press, I have to thank Mrs. John
Cash of Coventry for the following valuable additional information in
regard to the important subject of Miss Evans's change of religious
belief in 1841-42, and for her further general recollections of the
Coventry period of George Eliot's life:

I was sixteen years of age in 1841; and, as I have already stated, my
first remembrance of Miss Evans is of her call on my father and
mother, with their friend and neighbor Mrs. Pears, when in
conversation she gave expression to her great appreciation of the
writings of Isaac Taylor. The controversy raised by the "Tracts for
the Times," which gave occasion for the publication of Mr. Taylor's
"Ancient Christianity," being now remote, I give the following extract
from a footnote in Trench's "Notes on the Parables," to show the
influence such a work as Mr. Taylor's would be likely to exercise on
the mind of one who esteemed its author; and also the feeling it
excited against an eminently religious man, by revelations which he
desired and believed would serve the cause of New Testament
Christianity. The note is on the "Tares." The quotation, containing
the reference, is from Menken:

"Many so-called Church historians (_authors of 'Ancient Christianity'
and the like_), ignorant of the purpose and of the hidden glory of the
Church, have their pleasure in the Tares, and imagine themselves
wonderfully wise and useful when out of Church history (which ought to
be the history of the Light and the Truth) they have made a shameful
history of error and wickedness."

It was upon her first or second interview with my mother that Miss
Evans told her how shocked she had been by the apparent union of
religious feeling with a low sense of morality among the people in the
district she visited, who were mostly Methodists. She gave as an
instance the case of a woman who, when a falsehood was clearly brought
home to her by her visitors, said, "She did not feel that she had
grieved the Spirit much." Now those readers of the letters to Miss
Lewis who are acquainted with modern Evangelicalism, even in its
"after-glow," especially as it was presented to the world by Church of
England teaching and practice, will recognize its characteristics in
the moral scrupulousness, the sense of obligation on the part of
Christians to avoid the very appearance of evil, the practical piety,
which those letters reveal.

Mrs. Evans (Miss Lewis tells me) was a very serious, earnest-minded
woman, anxiously concerned for the moral and religious training of her
children: glad to place them under the care of such persons as the
Misses Franklin, to whose school a mother of a different order
objected, on the ground that "it was where that saint Mary Ann Evans
had been."

It is natural then that, early awed by and attracted towards beliefs
cherished by the best persons she had known, and advocated in the best
books she had read, the mind of Miss Evans should have been stirred by
exhibitions of a _theoretic_ severance of religion from morality,
whether presented among the disciples of "Ancient Christianity" or by
the subjects of its modern revivals: it is probable that she may
thereby have been led, as others have been, to a reconsideration of
the creeds of Christendom, and to further inquiry concerning their

On the same grounds it is likely that the presentation of social
virtues, apart from evangelical motives, would impress her; and I have
authority for stating that to the inquiry of a friend in after-years,
as to what influence she attributed the first unsettlement of her
orthodox views, she quickly made answer: "Oh, Walter Scott's." Now I
well remember her speaking to me of Robert Hall's confession that he
had been made unhappy for a week by the reading of Miss Edgeworth's
Tales, in which useful, good, and pleasant lives are lived with no
reference to religious hopes and fears; and her drawing my attention
to the real greatness of mind and sincerity of faith which this candid
confession betokened. Such remarks, I think, throw light upon the
_way_ in which her own evangelical belief had been affected by works
in which its dogmas are not enforced as necessary springs of virtuous

I give these scattered reminiscences, in evidence of the
half-unconscious preparation (of which Mr. Cross speaks) for a change
which was, in my judgment, more gradual in its development, as well as
deeper in its character, than might be inferred from the record of its
abrupt following upon Miss Evans's introduction to Mr. Hennell's
"Inquiry concerning the Origin of Christianity."

The evening's discussion with my father, to which I have referred in
my previous communication in the "Life," is now vividly present to my
mind. There was not only on her part a vehemence of tone, startling
in one so quiet, but a crudeness in her objections, an absence of
proposed solution of difficulties, which partly distressed and partly
pleased me (siding as I did mentally with my father), and which was in
strange contrast to the satisfied calm which marked her subsequent
treatment of religious differences.

Upon my father's using an argument (common enough in those days) drawn
from the present condition of the Jews as a fulfilment of prophecy,
and saying, "If I were tempted to doubt the truth of the Bible, I
should only have to look at a Jew to confirm my faith in it." "Don't
talk to me of the Jews!" Miss Evans retorted, in an irritated tone;
"to think that they were deluded into expectations of a temporal
deliverer, and then punished because they couldn't understand that it
was a spiritual deliverer that was intended!" To something that
followed from her, intimating the claim of creatures upon their
Creator, my father objected, "But we have no claim upon God." "No
claim upon God!" she reiterated indignantly; "we have the strongest
possible claim upon him."

I regret that I can recall nothing more of a conversation carried on
for more than two hours; but I vividly remember how deeply Miss Evans
was moved, and how, as she stood against the mantelpiece during the
last part of the time, her delicate fingers, in which she held a small
piece of muslin on which she was at work, trembled with her agitation.

The impression allowed to remain upon the minds of her friends, for
some time after she had made declaration of her heresies, was of her
being in a troubled, unsettled state. So great were her simplicity
and candor in acknowledging this, and so apparent was her earnest
desire for truth, that no hesitation was felt in asking her to receive
visits from persons of different persuasions, who were judged
competent to bring forward the best arguments in favor of orthodox
doctrines. One of these was a Baptist minister, introduced to her by
Miss Franklin; he was said to be well read in divinity, and I remember
him as an original and interesting preacher. After an interview with
Miss Evans, meeting my father, he said: "That young lady must have had
the devil at her elbow to suggest her doubts, for there was not a book
that I recommended to her in support of Christian evidences that she
had not read."

Mr. Watts, one of the professors at Spring Hill College (Independent),
Birmingham, a colleague of Mr. Henry Rogers, author of the "Eclipse of
Faith," and who had himself studied at the Hallé University, and
enjoyed the friendship of Dr. Tholück, was requested (I think by my
mother) to call on Miss Evans. His acquaintance with German
Rationalism (rare in England in those days) qualified him to enter
into, and it was hoped to meet, difficulties raised by a critical
study of the New Testament. After his first or second interview, my
brother remembers his observing with emphasis, "_She_ has gone into
the question;" and I can recall a reference made by him at a later
date in my hearing to Miss Evans's discontent with her own
solutions--or rather with her own standpoint at that time. This
discontent, he said, "was so far satisfactory." Doubtless it gave him
hope of the reconversion of one who had, as he told my mother,
awakened deep interest in his own mind, as much by the earnestness
which characterized her inquiries as by her exceptional attainments.

From letters that passed between my brother and myself during his
residence in Germany, I give the following extracts referring to this

The first is from one of mine, dated September 2, 1842:

"In my father's absence we (my mother and I) called on Miss Evans. She
now takes up a different position. Her views are not altogether
altered, but she says it would be extreme arrogance in so young a
person to suppose she had obtained _yet_ any just ideas of truth. She
had been reading Dr. Tholück's reply to Strauss's 'Life of Jesus,' but
said Mr. Watts had advised her _not_ to read his 'Guido and Julius.'"

In answer to this my brother says, in a letter dated Hallé, September
26, 1842, "You have given, doubtless, a very accurate account of Miss
Evans's mode of stating her present sentiments. Mr. Watts's reason for
advising that Dr. Tholück's 'Guido and Julius' be not read is,
perhaps, that the reasoning is not satisfactory."

In another letter, addressed to my brother at Hallé, and dated October
28, 1842, I tell him: "Last week mother and I spent an evening with
Miss Evans. She seemed more settled in her views than ever, and rests
her objections to Christianity on this ground, that Calvinism is
Christianity, and, this granted, that it is a religion based on pure
selfishness. She occupied, however, a great part of the time in
pleading for works of imagination, maintaining that they perform an
office for the mind which nothing else can. On the mention of
Shakespeare, she praised him with her characteristic ardor, was
shocked at the idea that mother should disapprove the perusal of his
writings, and quite distressed lest, through her influence, I should
be prevented from reading them. She could be content were she allowed
no other book than Shakespeare; and in educating a child, this would
be the first book she would place in its hands.

"She seems to have read a great deal of Italian literature, and speaks
with rapture of Metastasio's novels. She has lent me 'Le mie Prigioni'
di Silvio Pellico, in his own tongue, as a book to begin with. She
says there is a prevailing but very mistaken idea that Italian is an
easy language, though she is exceedingly delighted with it. If at any
time I wish to begin German, she would very much like to give me some

In addition to the above relating to Shakespeare, I recall the protest
that my mother's objection to his plays (my mother _had_ been an
ardent lover of "the play"), on the ground that there were things in
them that offended her, was as reasonable as the objection to walk in
a beautiful garden, "because toads and weeds are to be found in it."

In a letter dated March 6, 1843, I write to my brother: "Your request
that you may be informed as to the precise nature of Miss Evans's
philosophical views I shall find it very difficult to comply with,
inasmuch as on our last interview she did not express herself so fully
on this subject as formerly; indeed, I believe she is not now so
desirous of controversy. She however appeared, to me at least, to have
rather changed her ground on some points. For instance, she said she
considered Jesus Christ as the embodiment of perfect love, and seemed
to be leaning slightly to the doctrines of Carlyle and Emerson when
she remarked that she considered the Bible a revelation in a certain
sense, as she considered herself a revelation of the mind of Deity,
etc. She was very anxious to know if you had heard Schelling."

In a letter addressed to my brother at Spring Hill College, and dated
October 28, 1844, I find this reference to Dr. Harris, who had been
preaching a charity sermon in a chapel at Foleshill:

"Miss Evans has just been reproaching me for not informing her of Dr.
Harris's preaching, which she would have given anything to hear, as
she says his 'Great Teacher' left more delightful impressions on her
mind than anything she ever read, and is, she thinks, the best book
that could be written by a man holding his principles."

In the same letter I mention a second lesson in German given me by
Miss Evans. In one written some time before, I tell my brother of her
kind proposal, but add that my parents object "on account of her
dangerous sentiments." She had, however, since called at our house one
morning to renew it: and I well remember how eagerly I watched my
mother, looking so affectionately at Miss Evans, and saying quietly,
"You know, with your superior intellect, I cannot help fearing you
might influence Mary, though you might not intend to do so. But," she
went on to say, "her father does not agree with me: he does not see
any danger, and thinks we ought not to refuse, as it is so very kind
of you to be willing to take the trouble--and we know it would be a
great advantage to her to learn German; for she will probably have to
earn her living by teaching." Seeing at a glance how matters stood,
Miss Evans turned round quickly to me, and said, "Come on Saturday at
three o'clock, and bring what books you have."

So I went, and began "Don Carlos," continuing to go, with some
intervals occasioned by absence, pretty regularly on Saturday
afternoons, for nearly two years; but it was not until the end of the
second year, when I received Miss Evans's suggestion that the lessons
were no longer necessary, and should be discontinued, that I fully
realized what this companionship had been to me. The loss was like the
loss of sunshine.

No promise had been given that my religious belief should be
undisturbed, nor was any needed. Interest was turned aside from
Calvinism and Arminianism, which at an early age had engaged my
attention, towards manifestations of nobility of character, and
sympathy with human struggles and sufferings under varied conditions.
The character of the "Marquis von Posa" (in "Don Carlos") roused an
enthusiasm for heroism and virtue, which it was delightful to express
to one who so fully shared it. Placing together one day the works of
Schiller, which were in two or three volumes, Miss Evans said, "Oh, if
_I_ had given these to the world, how happy I should be!"

It must have been to confirm myself in my traditional faith by
confession of it, that I once took upon myself to say to her how sure
I was that there could be no true morality without evangelical belief.
"Oh, it is so, is it?" she said, with the kindest smile, and nothing
further passed. From time to time, however, her reverence and
affection for the character of Christ and the Apostle Paul, and her
sympathy with genuine religious feeling, were very clear to me.
Expressing one day her horror of a crowd, she said, "I never would
press through one, unless it were to see a second Jesus." The words
startled me--the conception of Jesus Christ in my mind being so little
associated with a human form; but they impressed me with a certain
reality of feeling which I contrasted, as I did Miss Evans's abiding
interest in great principles, with the somewhat factitious and
occasional as well as fitful affection and concern manifest in many
whom I looked up to as "converted" people.

Once only do I remember such contrast being made by herself. She
attended the service at the opening of a new church at Foleshill, with
her father, and remarked to me the next day that, looking at the gayly
dressed people, she could not help thinking how much easier life would
be to her, and how much better she should stand in the estimation of
her neighbors, if only she could take things as they did, be satisfied
with outside pleasures, and conform to the popular beliefs without any
reflection or examination. Once, too, after being in the company of
educated persons "professing and calling themselves Christians," she
commented to me on the _tone_ of conversation, often frivolous,
sometimes ill-natured, that seemed yet to excite in no one any sense
of impropriety.

It must have been in those early days that she spoke to me of a visit
from one of her uncles in Derbyshire, a Wesleyan, and how much she had
enjoyed talking with him, finding she could enter into his feelings so
much better than she had done in past times, when her views seemed
more in accordance with his own, but were really less so.

Among other books, I remember the "Life of Dr. Arnold" interested her
deeply. Speaking of it to me one morning, she referred to a
conversation she had had with a friend the evening before, and said
they had agreed that it was a great good for such men to remain within
the pale of orthodoxy, that so they might draw from the old doctrines
the best that was to be got from them.

Of criticisms on German books read with Miss Evans, I recall one or
two. In the "Robbers," she criticised the attempt to enhance the
horror of the situation of the abandoned father, by details of
physical wretchedness, as a mistake in Art. "Wallenstein" she ranked
higher from an intellectual point of view than any other work of
Schiller's. The talk of the soldiers in the "Lager" she pointed out to
me as "just what it would be." On my faint response, "I suppose it
is!" she returned, "No, you do not _suppose_--we _know_ these things;"
and then gave me a specimen of what might be a navvy's talk--"The sort
of thing such people say, is, 'I'll break off your arm, and bloody
your face with the stump.'"

Mrs. Bray tells the following incident, as showing her quick
perception of excellence from a new and unknown source. "We were
sitting," Mrs. Bray says, "one summer afternoon on the lawn at
Rosehill, July, 1850, when Marian came running to us from the house
with the _Leader_ newspaper in her hand. 'Here is a new poet come into
the world!' she exclaimed, and sitting down with us she read from the
_Leader_ the poem called 'Hymn,' signed M., and ending with the fine

     "'When I have passed a nobler life in sorrow;
       Have seen rude masses grow to fulgent spheres;
     Seen how To-day is father of To-morrow,
       And how the Ages justify the Years,
                                 I praise Thee, God.'

"The 'Hymn' is now reprinted in Mr. W. M. W. Call's volume of
collected poems, called 'Golden Histories.'"

Kingsley's "Saint's Tragedy" was not so popular as his other works,
but Miss Evans was deeply moved by it. Putting it into my hands one
morning, she said, "There, read it--_you_ will care for it."

The "Life of Jean Paul Richter," published in the Catholic Series (in
which the head of Christ, by De la Roche, so dear to her, figures as a
vignette), was read and talked of with great interest, as was his
"Flower, Fruit, and Thorn Pieces," translated by the late Mr. Edward
Noel of Hampstead. Choice little bits of humor from the latter she
greatly enjoyed.

Margaret Fuller's "Woman in the Nineteenth Century," I think Miss
Evans gave to me. I know it interested her, as did Emerson's "Essays."
On his visit to Coventry, we could not, unfortunately, accept Mr.
Bray's kind invitation to meet him at Rosehill; but after he had left,
Miss Evans soon came up kindly to give us her impressions of him while
they were fresh in her memory. She told us he had asked her what had
first awakened her to deep reflection, and when she answered,
"Rousseau's Confessions," he remarked that this was very interesting,
inasmuch as Carlyle had told him that very book had had the same
effect upon his mind. As _I_ heard Emerson's remark after his
interviews with Miss Evans, it was, "That young lady has a calm, clear
spirit." Intercourse, it will be seen, was kept up with my family,
otherwise than through the lessons, by calls, and in little gatherings
of friends in evenings, when we were favored to hear Miss Evans sing.
Her voice was not strong, and I think she preferred playing on the
piano; but her low notes were effective, and there was always an
elevation in the rendering.

As I knew Miss Evans, no one escaped her notice. In her treatment of
servants, for instance, she was most considerate. "They come to me,"
she used to say, "with all their troubles," as indeed did her friends
generally--sometimes, she would confess, to an extent that quite
oppressed her. When any object of charity came under her notice, and
power to help was within her reach, she was very prompt in rendering
it. Our servant's brother or sister, or both of them, died, leaving
children dependent on friends themselves poor. Miss Evans at once
offered to provide clothing and school-fees for one of these, a
chubby-faced little girl four or five years of age. Unexpectedly,
however, an aunt at a distance proposed to adopt the child. I
recollect taking her to say good-bye to her would-be benefactress, and
can see her now, standing still and subdued in her black frock and
cape, with Miss Evans kneeling down by her, and saying, after giving
her some money, "Then I suppose there is nothing else we can do for

My husband's mother, who was a member of the Society of Friends,
established, with the help of her daughters and a few others
interested, an Industrial Home for girls about the age of fourteen. It
was in the year 1843, and was, therefore, one of the first
institutions of the kind in England. The model was taken from
something of the same order attempted by a young girl in France. The
girls were, as far as practicable, to maintain themselves, working
under conditions of comfort and protection more attainable than in
their own homes. The idea was new; the Home could not be started
without funds, and my mother undertook to collect for it in her own
neighborhood. In a letter to me, written at this time, she tells me
she is "not doing much to help dear Mrs. Cash," there being "a
prejudice against the scheme;" but adds, "This morning Miss Evans
called, and brought me two guineas from her father." I tell of this as
one among many indications of Miss Evans's ever-growing zeal to serve
humanity in a broader way, motived, as _she_ felt, by a higher aim
than what she termed "desire to save one's soul by making up coarse
flannel for the poor."

In these broad views--in this desire to bring her less advantaged
neighbors nearer to her own level, to meet them on common ground, to
raise them above the liability to eleemosynary charity--she had Mr.
Bray's full sympathy. To me she dwelt frequently upon his genuine
benevolence, upon his ways of advancing the interests of the working
men, as being, in her judgment, wise and good. She visited
periodically, in turn with Mrs. Bray, myself, and a few others, an
infant school which Mr. Bray had helped to start; and although this
sort of work was so little suited to her, yet so much did she feel the
duty of living for others, especially the less privileged, that one
morning she came to Mrs. Bray, expressing strongly her desire to help
in _any_ work that could be given her. The only thing that could be
thought of was the illustration of some lessons in Natural History, on
sheets of cardboard, needed then, when prints of the kind were not to
be procured for schools. The class of animals to be illustrated by
Mrs. Bray on the sheet taken by Miss Evans was the "Rodentiæ," and at
the top a squirrel was to figure, the which she undertook to draw.
This I have seen, half-finished--a witness to the willing mind; proof
that its proper work lay otherwhere. Lectures at the Mechanics'
Institute were matters of great interest to Miss Evans; and I remember
the pleasure given her by the performance of the music of "Comus,"
with lecture by Professor Taylor, at our old St. Mary's Hall. In that
hall, too, we heard the first lecture on total abstinence that I
remember to have heard in Coventry, though of "Temperance Societies"
we knew something. The lecturer was the Rev. Mr. Spencer, a clergyman
at Hinton Charterhouse, near Bath, and uncle of Mr. Herbert Spencer.
Miss Evans was present at the lecture, with Mr. Bray, who told me
afterwards he had some difficulty in restraining her from going up, as
soon as the lecture was over, to take the pledge, he thought, without
due consideration. "I felt," she said, speaking to me afterwards of
the lecturer, "that he had got hold of a power for good that was of
incalculable worth."

I need scarcely say that I received, along with lessons in German,
some "rules and lessons for life" from Miss Evans. One of the first
was an injunction to be accurate, enforced with the warning that the
tendency is to grow less and less so as we get older. The other was
tolerance. How well I can remember the remonstrance, "My dear child,
the great lesson of life is tolerance." In the proverb, "Live and let
live," she saw a principle involved, harder to act upon, she would
say, than the maxims of benevolence--I think, because bringing less
credit with it.

The reading of dramas and romances naturally gives rise to discussion
of their main theme. In treating of love and marriage, Miss Evans's
feeling was so fine as to satisfy a young girl in her teens, with her
impossible ideals. The conception of the union of two persons by so
close a tie as marriage, without a previous union of minds as well as
hearts, was to her dreadful. "How terrible it must be," she once said
to me, "to find one's self tied to a being whose limitations you could
see, and must know were such as to prevent your ever being
understood!" She thought that though in England marriages were not
professedly "arrangés," they were so too often practically: young
people being brought together, and receiving intimations that mutual
interest was desired and expected, were apt to drift into connections
on grounds not strong enough for the wear and tear of life; and this,
too, among the middle as well as in the higher classes. After speaking
of these and other facts, of how things were and would be, in spite of
likelihood to the contrary, she would end by saying, playfully, "Now,
remember I tell you this, and I am sixty!"

She thought the stringency of laws rendering the marriage-tie (at that
date) irrevocable, practically worked injuriously; the effect being
"that many wives took far less pains to please their husbands in
behavior and appearance, because they knew their own position to be
invulnerable." And at a later time she spoke of marriages on the
Continent, where separations did not necessarily involve discredit, as
being very frequently far happier.

One claim, as she regarded it, from equals to each other was this, the
right to hear from the aggrieved, "You have ill-treated me; do you not
see your conduct is not fair, looked at from my side?" Such frankness
would, she said, bring about good understanding better than reticent
endurance. Her own filial piety was sufficiently manifest; but of the
converse obligation, that of the claim of child upon parent, she was
wont to speak thus strongly. "There may be," she would say, "conduct
on the part of a parent which should exonerate his child from further
obligation to him; but there cannot be action conceivable which should
absolve the parent from obligation to serve his child, seeing that for
that child's existence he is himself responsible." I did not at the
time see the connection between this view and the change of a
fundamental nature marked by Miss Evans's earlier contention for our
"claim on God." The bearing of the above on orthodox religion I did
not see. Some time ago, however, I came across this reflection, made
by a clergyman of the Broad Church school--that since the _claims_ of
children had, in the plea for schools, been based on the
responsibility of parents towards them, a higher principle had been
maintained on the platform than was preached from the pulpit, as the
basis of the popular theology.

In my previous communication in the "Life" I have already made mention
of Miss Evans's sympathy with me in my own religious difficulties; and
my obligations to her were deepened by her seconding my resolve to
acknowledge how much of the traditional belief had fallen away from me
and left a simpler faith. In this I found her best help when, as time
passed on, my brother saw he could not conscientiously continue in the
calling he had chosen. As, however, his heresies were not considered
fatal, and he was esteemed by the professors and students of his
college, there was for some time hesitation. In this predicament I
wrote to him, a little favoring compromise. My mother also wrote. I
took the letters to Miss Evans before posting them. She read mine
first, with no remark, and then began my mother's, reading until she
came upon these words--"In the meantime, let me entreat you not to
utter any sentiments, either in the pulpit or in conversation, that
you do not believe to be strictly true;" on which she said, turning to
me, "Look, this is the important point, what your mother says here,"
and I immediately put my own letter into the fire. "What are you
doing?" she quickly said; and when I answered, "You are right--my
mother's letter is to the point, and that only need go," she nodded
assent, and, keeping it, sent it enclosed with a few lines from

I knew what I had done and so did she: the giving up of the ministry
to a young man without other resources was no light matter; and as I
rose to go she said, "These are the tragedies for which the world
cares so little, but which are so much to me."

More than twenty years elapsed before I had again the privilege of
seeing George Eliot, and that on one occasion only, after her final
settlement in London. It touched me deeply to find how much she had
retained of her kind interest in all that concerned me and mine, and I
remarked on this to Mr. Lewes, who came to the door with my daughter
and myself at parting. "Wonderful sympathy," I said. "Is it not?" said
he; and when I added, inquiringly, "The power lies there?"
"Unquestionably it does," was his answer; "she forgets nothing that
has ever come within the curl of her eyelash; above all, she forgets
no one who has ever spoken to her one kind word."

     END OF VOL. I.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes:

Obvious typographical errors were repaired.

Duplicate sidenotes (repeated at the top of continuation pages) were

Latin-1 file: _underscores_ enclose italicized content.

P. 99 "[Greek: tho pascha]" and p. 139 "[Greek: nenikekas
Galilaie]"--for the actual Greek script see the html version of this

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