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presses upon us with fresh force what | Hampshire, with their county families, was already fairly well known that their marryings and christenings, their broadly speaking, the whole yield of Jane dancings and charities, are the only world Austen's individuality is to be found in she knows or cares to know. She never her novels. There are a certain number seems to have had a literary acquaintance, of facts about her which help to explain or to have desired to make one. While her books, and which are of use to the Miss Ferrier's wits were quickened by student of the psychological side of letters, the give and take of Edinburgh society in but these were already within everybody's its best days, and Miss Edgeworth_found reach, so that the collection printed by herself welcomed with extravagant flattery Lord Brabourne is as a whole neither on the Continent as the representative of amusing, nor sufficiently instructive to English culture, all the literary influence make in worth publication. that Jane Austen ever experienced was due to her father, and all the literary influence she ever personally exerted was brought to bear upon a novel-writing niece. No doubt if she had lived a little longer things would have been different. When she died, at the age of forty-one, her books had already brought her some fame, and friends would have followed. As it was, her circle of interests, both intellectual and personal, was a narrower one than that of any other writer we can remember with the same literary position. In spite, however, of her narrow Weltanschauung, and her dearth of literary relationships, Jane Austen is a classic, and "Pride and Prejudice" will probably be read when “Corinne," though not its author, is forgotten. Her life is a striking proof that a great novelist may live without a philosophy, and die without ever having belonged to a literary coterie. But out of the stuff of which the life was com posed it was impossible to make a good letter-writer. To be a good letter-writer a man or woman must either have ideas, or sentiments strong enough to take the place of ideas, or knowledge of and contact with what is intrinsically interesting and important. Jane Austen had none of these. The graphic portraiture of men and women seen from the outside, in which she excelled, was not possible in letters. It required more freedom, more elbow-room than letters could give. Jane Austen, in describing real people, found herself limited by the natural scruples of an aimable and gentle nature. There was a short time when the exuberance of her talent overflowed a little into her correspondence. But it soon came to an end, and for the rest of her life Jane Austen's letters were below rather than above the average in interest, point, and charm.
The triviality of the letters is easily explained. No circumstances were ever less favorable than Jane Austen's to good letter-writing. She possessed one literary instrument which she used with extraordinary skill and delicacy - the instrument of critical observation as applied to the commoner types and relations of human life. Within the limits fixed for her by temperament and circumstances she brought it to bear with unrivalled success, success which has placed her amongst English classics. But she was practically a stranger to what one may call, without pedantry, the world of ideas. The intellectual and moral framework of her books is of the simplest and most conventional kind. The author of "Corinne," placed as she was in the very centre of the European stress and tumult, might well think them too tame and commonplace to be read. Great interests, great questions, were life and breath to Madame de Staël as they were to her successor George Sand. She realized the continuity of human history, the great fundamental laws and necessities underlying all the outward tangle and complication. And it was this insight, this far-reaching symyathy, which gave her such power over her time, and made her personality and her thoughts "incalculably diffusive." Meanwhile Jane Austen, in her Hampshire home, seems to have lived through the stormiest period of modern European history without being touched by any of the large fears and hopes, or even strongly impressed by any of the dramatic characters or careers in which it abounded. Though the letters extended from 1796 to 1817, there is barely a mention of politics in them, except in some small personal connection, and of the literary forces of the time-Goethe, Byron, Wordsworth-there is hardly a trace. Even when she comes to London, though we have an occasional bare record of a visit to a theatre, we still hear of nothing except sisters, cousins, neighbors, the price of Irish," and the new fashions in caps. And for the rest, Kent and
Miss Austen's novels are a well-worn subject. We have all read her, or ought to have read her; we all know what Macaulay and what Scott thought of her; and the qualities of her humor, the extent of her range, have been pointed out again and again. Perhaps, after all, however, it
history of the world; those of concentra tion come later, and the human mind takes longer to fashion the instruments which fit and display them. Although a great writer will have both in some measure, the proportion in which he possesses them will depend upon his date. The progress of literary expression during the last two hundred years has on the whole, and making due allowance for the vast stores of new material which have found their way into literature since Rousseau, been a progress towards concentration. Literature tends more and more to become a kind of shorthand. The great writers of this generation take more for granted than the great writers of the last, and the struggle to avoid commonplace and repetition becomes more and more diffused. The mind of the modern writer is on the whole most anxiously concerned with this perpetual necessity for omission, for compression. It will never describe if it can suggest, or argue if it can imply. The first condition of success in letters is nowadays to avoid vaporing, and to wage war upon those platitudes we all submit to with so much cheerful admiration in our Richardson or our "Spectator."
may be still worth while to try and face | Tale, and elsewhere. But the qualities the question which these disappointing of expansion develop first in the literary letters bring home to one. How was it that, with all her lack of knowledge and of ideas, and with her comparative lack of passion, which so often supplies the place of both, Jane Austen accomplished work so permanent and so admirable? What is it, in a word, which makes "Pride and Prejudice " and "Northanger Abbey" English classics, while the books of her contemporaries, Miss Ferrier and Miss Edgeworth, have practically lost their hold upon our sympathies, and are retreat ing year by year into a dimmer background? There are two kinds of qualities which go to the making of a classic. There are the qualities of expansion and the qualities of concentration. The great books of the world are rich in both. If you compare Chaucer's and Gower's treatment of the same theme the subject of "The Man of Lawes Tale," for instance you will see not only that Chaucer's treatment is light and rapid where Gower's is heavy and prolix, but that Chaucer knew where, as the French would say, to "lean," where to dwell, where to expand. You may trace this poetic expansion at work in all the great moments or crises of the story. Gower plods on through the trial of Constance for the murder of Dame Hermengild, and through the various incidents which accompany it, with no variation of tone or pace. Chaucer, when he has brought Constance face to face with her enemies, pauses, as any true poet would, and lets the tragedy of the situation penetrate himself and his readers.
Have ye not seyn sometyme a palë face
O queenës, lyuinge in prosperitee
And a little further on there is a still more striking instance of it, in the exquisite scene between Constance and her child before she is turned adrift on the Northumbrian coast. As for the qualities of condensation they may be traced in the "Troilus and Cressid" as compared with the "Filostrato," and in the Knightes
It was her possession of the qualities of condensation that made Jane Austen what she was. Condensation in literary matters means an exquisite power of choice and discrimination a capacity for isolating from the vast mass of detail which goes to make up human life just those details and no others which will produce a desired effect and blend into one clear and harmonious whole. It implies the determination to avoid everything cheap and easy-cheapness in sentiment, in description, in caricature. In matters of mere language it means the perpetual effort to be content with one word rather than two, the perpetual impulse to clip and prune rather than expand and length
And if to this temper of self-restraint you add the imagination which seizes at once upon the most effective image or strike a reader, and a spontaneous interdetail and realizes at a glance how it will est in men and women as such, you have arrived at the component parts of such a gift as Jane Austen's. Nothing impresses them more strongly upon the reader than a comparison of her work with that of her slightly younger contemporary, Miss Ferrier. Miss Ferrier had a great deal of humor, some observation, and a store of natural vigor which made her novels welcome to the generation of Scott and By.
ron. Stronger expressions of praise were | lesser affections and inclinations, which used to her and about her than ever seem had been filling up the time of his absence, to have suggested themselves to any con- disappear. Others might have had a temporary admirer of Miss Austen, and chance if he had remained away, but his the author of "Marriage" was encouraged return, his neighborhood, rouses a feeling to believe that her work would rank with which sweeps all before it. This is the that of Scott as a representation of Scot- situation. We may imagine, if Miss Fertish life and manners. But we who read rier had had to deal with it, how she Miss Ferrier with an interval of fifty years would have spun it out; with what rapbetween us and her can judge the propor- tures, what despairs, what appeals to tions of things more clearly. Miss Fer- heaven she would have embroidered it! rier is scarcely read now, except for the But Jane Austen at once seizes upon the sake of satisfying a literary curiosity, and vital points of it, and puts them before us, will gradually drop more and more out of at first with a sober truth, and then with reading. And it is very easy to under- a little rise into poetry, which is a triumph stand why, if one does but approach her of style. books with these qualities of expansion and concentration which go to make up a classic in one's mind. She has little or no faculty of choice, nothing is refused that presents itself; reflections, love-making, incident, are all superabundant and second-rate. Everything is done to death, whether it is Miss Pratt's bustle, or Lady Juliana's finery, or Mr. McDow's brutal ity, and as for the sentiment-these reflections from the first volume of the "Inheritance" are a fair average specimen of it.
"There was much regret," she says, in her analysis of Anne's feelings towards the man she had resolved to sacrifice to her old lover. "How she might have felt had there been no Captain Wentworth in the case is not worth inquiring; for there was a Captain Wentworth, and be the conclusion of the present suspense good or bad, her affection would be his for. ever. Their union, she believed, could not divide her more from other men than their final separation. Prettier musings of highwrought love and eternal constancy could never have passed along the streets of Bath than Anne was sporting with from Camden Place to Westgate Buildings. It was almost enough to spread purification and perfume all the way." How terse it is, how suggestive, how free from vulgar. ity and commonplace!
"Ah,' thought Gertrude, how will ingly would I renounce all the pomp of greatness to dwell here in lowly affection with one who would love me and whom I could love in return. How strange that I, who could cherish the very worm that crawls beneath my feet, have no one being to whom I could utter the thoughts of Another striking instance of this choosmy heart, no one on whom I could bestowing instinct of hers is the description of its best affections!' She raised her eyes, swimming in tears to heaven, but it was in the poetic enthusiasm of feeling, not in the calm spirit of devotion!"
Darcey's place, Pemberley, in "Pride and Prejudice." There, although there is scarcely any description at all, every stroke of the pen is so managed that any reader with ordinary attention may realize, if he pleases, the whole lie of the park, the look of the house, as Elizabeth surveyed it from the opposite side of the ravine above which it stood, the relative positions of the lawns, stables, and woods. Anybody with a turn that way could sketch it with ease, and yet there is no effort, no intention to describe, nothing but a clear and vivid imagination working with that self-restraint, that concentration, which is the larger half of style. This self-restraint indeed is her important, her determining quality. In other ways she has great deficiencies. For fine instances of the qual
There is no parlicular reason why writing of this kind should ever stop; there is nothing intimate and living in it, none of that wrestle of the artist with experience which is the source of all the labors and all the trials of art; it is all conventional, traditional, hearsay in fact. The qualities of concentration are altogether wanting. But now, put side by side with Gertrude's sentiment or Mrs. Sinclair's remorse, some of the mental history of Jane Austen's dramatis persona, and the gulf which this marvellous choosing faculty digs between one writer and another will be plain at once. Anne Eliot, in "Persuasion," has arrived at the criticalities of expansion we must go elsewhere moment of her fate. The man whom she had rejected seven years before has reappeared upon the scene, and as soon as she is brought in contact with him all
than to Jane Austen. Emotion, inspiration, glow, and passion are not hers; she is a small, thin classic. But classic she is; for her work is a typical English em.
By the retirement of Dr. Trench from the archiepiscopal see of Dublin, a wellknown figure is withdrawn from active participation in the affairs and direction of the Irish Church. The letter announcing his intention to retire was read yesterday at a special meeting of the United Synods of Dublin, Glendalough, and Kildare, and as a mark of respect to the retiring prelate the whole assemblage rose and stood during the delivery of his message. While every one will regret that failing health and physical infirmity have prompted the archbishop to seek to be relieved of his public duties, the action he has taken is perhaps the wisest course for him to pursue, and in retirement he will be able to secure that rest and immunity from anxiety which are denied to the occupant of an episcopal throne. During the fortyfive years of his ministry in the Church the career of Dr. Trench has been somewhat chequered, and not wholly uneventful. While holding the small incumbency of Curdbridge Chapel he first attracted public attention by the publication of two volumes of poems which established his reputation as a poet. These so impressed Dr. Wilberforce, then rector of Alverstoke, that he requested Mr. Trench to become his curate. Thence on the preferment of his rector, Mr. Trench was presented to Itchenstoke, which he resigned on appointment to the deanery of Westminster. His tenure of this office was marked by great intellectual activity, and it was during this period that he published some of his best works. In 1864, he was selected to succeed Dr. Whateley in the archbishopric of Dublin, from which he now desires to retire. During his resinence in Dublin, he has proved himself a true benefactor to Ireland, and his administration of the diocese during a difficult and trying period of twenty-one years has been conducted on principles the most just and wise. His administrative powers were amply proved by the tact he displayed at the time of the disestablishment, and he leaves his diocese in a peaceful and flourishing condition. His last act in
the refusal to accept the provision of a retiring allowance confirms the disinterestedness and self-denial which have marked his public career, and he retires into private life with the good wishes and sympathy of all who have known him, either directly as an archbishop, or indirectly through the books he has published.
Times, Dec. 1.
WITH all the dignity of high desert, and all the warmth of mutual appreciation, the Archbishop of Dublin has placed his resig nation in the hands of his Synod of a load of office which, after twenty-one years of continued strain, he is no longer able to bear. There have been several such resignations in this country since Parliament consented to give the requisite facilities, but they seem to have come in the ordinary course of nature, and they only remind one that after three score and ten the strength of man is apt to be labor and sorrow. Dr. Trench has exhausted his life and his forces in the discharge of one of the most painful tasks that ever fell to the lot of a bishop, or any ruler of men. He has had to lead a losing and divided cause; to command in a campaign foredoomed to defeat; to conduct a harassed retreat; to submit to hostile terms and make the best of a diminished position; to sacrifice in a sense all, with the saving of honor, and to leave his work so far incomplete as not even to know in what form to make his resignation real and effectual. The knot which death usually cuts has in this case to be untied. It is to be feared, however, that this is but a small part of the legacy of difficulties Dr. Trench leaves to the Church of Ireland and his successors. Between the charac ter of the man and the part he has had to perform on the great stage of public life there is a certain disparity which adds to the pathetic interest of the event. There are men who might be thought made for such a crisis; there are men who might be thought to have even provoked it, and who only hand over to others the work they had spontaneously initiated. In this case we seem to see only misfits and cross purposes. It is impossible, indeed, to say what better terms could have been made for the doomed Establishment, or what manner of man would have been fitter for work to be done. Nevertheless, the man and the office and the period forcibly illustrate the mixed fortunes and conflicting conditions which fortune, with a certain playfulness, is often found to combine in one personal career.