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From Temple Bar.
A WEEK WITH GEORGE ELIOT.
CHRISTMAS week of 1870 will not be easily forgotten even without any recol. lection of George Eliot to stamp it on the memory. The weather was unusually rude, the mild health resorts of southern England were visited by severe frost and heavy falls of snow, and whilst delighted schoolboys revelled in the prospect of unlimited skating, and the benevolent ministered to the needs of the poor, all friends of France were stricken with grief at the calamities that had overtaken her. It was about this time that took place those terrible scenes outside Paris in which Henri Regnault, the brilliant young artist, and how many other brave fellows! - perished after indescribable sufferings and heroism. With so fearful a struggle going on between two civilized nations, both our neighbors, Christmas could hardly wear its customary aspect of festivity. Families and friends, however, met together, and it fell to the present writer's good fortune to form one of a party of four in a pleasant country house in the Isle of Wight, the two other guests being George Eliot and George Henry Lewes.
It was not my first acquaintance with this rare pair, but to be formally presented one to another in a London drawing-room, and to spend a week together under the same roof, was quite a different thing. As a matter of course, acquaintance tends under such circumstances to ripen into friendship. Such a quartette, moreover, would hardly be made up unless there were pretty good reasons to suppose that the members of it would prove sympathetic. To my great regret, I gave up living in London two years later, and therefore saw little of George Eliot and George Henry Lewes from that time, but the memory of the Christmas week spent with them in the south of England will remain ever fresh and ever precious to me. Hospitable as were the biographer of Goethe and the author of " Adam Bede" in their London home, the largest acquaintance naturally bears a slight proportion only to the world of outsiders; for the benefit of these, therefore, I say a word or two about their appearance, and the general impression they produced on a stranger.
What a contrast the pair presented! He, pétillant d'esprit, as the French say, as brimful of life, geniality, and anima
tion, as it was possible for any human being often oppressed with bodily ailments to be, ever able to shake off these for the sake of lively, engrossing talk, ever on the alert to discover intellectual qualities in others; she, grave, pensive, thoughtful, not disinclined for sportive. ness and wit certainly, as ready as he to bring out the best in those around her, but equally devoid of his habitual gaiety and light-heartedness, as was he of her own earnest mood. There was something irresistibly winning and attractive about Mr. Lewes. The heart warmed to him at once, he was so kindly, so ready to offer help or counsel, so pleased to be of use. George Eliot's large-hearted, deep-souled benevolence took in all human kind, but could not so easily individualize. That commanding spirit, that loyal, much-tried nature, could not be expected to testify the same catholicity in personal likings as a man, who, despite his rare intellectual endowments and devotion to especial fields of learning, yet remained a man of the world.
Charles Lamb speaks somewhere of a woman's “divine plain face,” and perhaps the same criticism might be passed on George Eliot. The plainness vanished as soon as she smiled, and the tone of the voice was singularly sympathetic and harmonious. As to Mr. Lewes's looks or personal appearance, one never thought of the matter at all. Small, spare, sallow, much bearded, with brilliant eyes, he could neither be called handsome nor ugly. Delightful he ever was, kindness itself, always on the look-out to serve and to amuse. For he knew none betterthe value of a smile.
As an instance of his extreme kindness to young authors, I will mention the following incident. I happened to say that I was going in the spring to Germany to stay there some months. Quick as lightning he said, "Then I will introduce you by letter to my friend, Baron Tauchnitz. He will publish your stories in his series. And you shall have letters to other German friends of ours as well." He sat down straightway and wrote off some charming letters of introduction which brought me a warm welcome at Leipzig and in other places. What a pity it is not the fashion to return such missives! Those letters signed G. H. Lewes would be precious souvenirs now."
With George Eliot acquaintance ripened slower into friendship. In spite of her warm human sympathies and the
keenness of her desire to enter into the | to be worked out at leisure. The give feelings of others, her manner at first and take of social intercourse was not awed, perhaps even repelled. It was so much more difficult for her than for Mr. Lewes to quit her own world of thought and speculation, and enter into that of the common joys and sorrows and aspirations of humanity. Yet few delighted more in gathering her friends together. "From my good father I learned the pleasure of being hospitable," she once said to me with a glow of feeling. "He rejoiced ever to receive his friends, and to my eyes now the pleasure wears the shape of a duty."
I am not sure as to the precise words she used, but this was the sentiment. Whilst none more readily recognized this side of social duty, none more heartily commiserated the sufferings inflicted by the idle upon the busy, by those devastators of the day anathematized by the American poet-the idlers, valetudinarians, or it may be bores, who, having nothing wherewith to occupy their own time, contrive to while away the empty hours by taking up that of the busy. Yet George Eliot could pity even a bore, so true it is, as Goethe says, to the really great mind hardly anything is ridiculous. We were talking one day of the havoc thus wrought upon the hours of busy people, more especially at seaside resorts, where the greater number have really no occupation at all, or are in too poor health to undertake anything serious, yet cannot live without a certain amount of social in tercourse, that is to say, so much conversation or chit-chat every day out of the seven. George Eliot said, with one of her quiet smiles, "Why should not those in quest of a charitable mission constitute themselves into an order, whose duty it should be to distract invalids and others by a little bright conversation?"
Certainly if there was such a sisterhood or such a brotherhood, and the members were intelligent, capable people, they would confer an inestimable boon upon their fellows. There should be one order of talkers, one of listeners, for necessary as is to some the sound of another's voice, it is still more necessary to most to hear their own. The fraternity therefore so wittily suggested by the great novelist, would fulfil a twofold mission. Busy brainworkers might not only be rescued from their "devastators of the day," but also from the ennui induced by hearing the same thing over and over again, or tirades about nothing at all. The subject is one
difficult to George Eliot, although she could never descend to small talk. For instance, during these winter evenings she would sit down to the piano and play Beethoven's sonatas to us without effort and evidently with great enjoyment. Both loved music passionately. Almost the first question Mr. Lewes asked me on my return from Germany the following year was: "The dear little opera-house at Weimar, what did you hear there?" And soon after came another query: "Liszt, dear fellow did you hear him play?"
One bright day we all made an excursion to Shanklin Chine. I well remember an incident that occurred at the railway station. I had chanced to find there a fellow-novelist, and as we chatted in the waiting-room till our train came up, my companion talked of George Eliot, little dreaming that the lady in mourning pacing up and down the platform was the author of "Adam Bede." I was bound to preserve her incognita.
Many a long country walk with Mr. Lewes fell to my share, and, in spite of the bitter weather which tried him much, delightful they were. He talked all the time and for the most part of her, showing that self-effacement and freedom from anything like assumption of superiority, only found in really great minds. He dwelt upon her tremendous intellectual capacities, which ever seemed rather in quest of difficulties and problems than baffled or checked by them. Facility of acquirement was here no less astonishing than compass of understanding. He cited her knowledge of the Spanish language as an instance of the former gift: having in view a special object, she had set herself to learn it, and the task had been accomplished in a few weeks.
Scholarly women have existed in plenty before Girton students were heard of, and George Eliot was one. Her knowledge of the literature of ancient Greece and Rome was considerable, and besides possessing these languages, she was familiar with Hebrew, Spanish, German, Italian, and of course French, although she could not express herself in modern tongues with the fluency of Mr. Lewes. His French and German were as good as those of any Englishman or foreigner can be. Perhaps a knowledge of many languages requires aptitude and application rather than mental qualities of a higher order. I once knew an exceedingly industrious
person who had spent five round years on German soil, for the purpose of acquiring the language. At the end of the period, the presumably Herculean task was satisfactorily accomplished, but the question arises in the mind, Was it worth while? The knowledge of a language indeed avails little unless we are in a position_to_turn our acquirement to account, to unlock the casket of which we hold the key. With out leisure to read Cervantes and Calderon, why be at pains to study Spanish?
Such intellectual exercises were mere sport and pastime to George Eliot, who had brought with her among other books as holiday reading, Wolf's" Prolegome na," and alluded to it just as any one else would allude to the last new novel. Not that she never read novels. "I hope we may embrace each other on the ground of a common fondness for Walter Scott," she said to me; and Miss Austen was almost an equal favorite with both.
authors who were in earnest, and who had given evidence of real literary faculty. The conversation once turned upon the relation of an author with the public, and the gauge of his work as he may measure it for himself or others for him. "There is the money test," she said, "but above all, the test of sincerity." Then she went on to say that by sincerity the permanent value of a work must be judged, alike by outsiders and by writers themselves, if they would honestly ascertain how they stand with the public.
Wise words, yet suggestive of melancholy thought! Were every one of the legion of writers to apply this last test to himself or herself, how many would pass such an ordeal unscathed!
In our age of hasty production and reckless catering to an insatiable public, sincerity is perhaps the last qualification necessary for what is called literary success. The literary article needed for the I have alluded to musical evenings, but | market must be showy, easy to under. for the most part the social after-dinner stand, dashing, clever; sincerity of purhours were spent in talk and reading. George Eliot would read aloud something interesting, and then the subject would be discussed. She read to us one of Waterton's quaint essays with no little enjoyment.
pose can hardly be taken into account by writers who turn out half-a-dozen threevolume novels in a year. Yet George Eliot's words hold good, applied to literature pure and simple; and the books that are written not for money or reputation, but because the author has something to say, will bear this test of sincerity. A writer, however, who abides by it, must make up his mind to live without regard to getting on in the world, as the phrase goes, that is to say, must be ready to sac
work, not let his work exist for his material needs. Never was a time when artists and authors who have faith in themselves stood in such need of self control and selfdenial, for never were habits of living so luxurious and luxury so contagious.
The best that is in a book was ever discovered by these two critics, instead of the faults being held up to scorn only and the merits altgether slurred over, as is the fashion in these days. Of German literature a good deal was said, and certainly if anything could recall such search-rifice worldly advantages and live for his ing, single-minded criticism as that of the great Lessing, or such wise, earnest, suggestive talk as that of the greater Goethe, it was these after-dinner conversations of George Eliot and George Henry Lewes. Literature, science, art, human affairs, were discussed in turn, and ever from a serious, subtle point of view. Not that there was no relief to such mental strain. Mr. Lewes was an inimitable story-teller and would tell us wonderful stories, and both were admirable listeners A good story delighted them. A jest, too, was quite in Mr. Lewes's way. "A merry Christmas and a marrying new year, Ann," was his Christmas greeting to the highly sedate, middle-aged parlor-maid, whom he had known for years.
Concerning her own work, the topic on which he was ever so eloquent, I never once heard the great novelist so much as open her lips, yet she was ever ready to discuss literature from a writer's point of view, and to advise and inspirit young
I am sorry that I made no memoranda of these conversations at the time, but it never occurred to me that in a few years later both George Eliot and George Henry Lewes would have passed away, and the notion of "interviewing" distinguished people was ever repulsive to me. seems unfair now to keep to myself so pleasant a remembrance of these great writers, whose names perhaps have not always been treated with that courtesy and reticence in the matter of criticism they were ever ready to show to others. It is pleasant too to record their love of the good and the beautiful in the least little thing - George Eliot's rapture at the sight of an exquisite flower, Mr. Lewes's delight in a bright, happy child,
also the keenness of their sympathy with common joys and sorrows, and the unbounded kindliness and pitifulness of their nature. How well I remember the expression of pain that came into George Eliot's face, when she fancied it was fancy only that she had hurt me. I was suffering from an abscess in the thumb. In the cordial handshake on Christmas morning she forgot the fact. "Ah!" she said, "the poor thumb! I am sure I have hurt it, I always do these careless things!"
Warm as were naturally their sympa thies with Germany, no one could feel more acutely for the French nation during their terrible struggle. "Let us weep to gether over poor France," she wrote at this time, and the expression was no mere hollow form. Such calamities saddened her and weighed upon her spirits like a personal grief.
Goethe once said of his fellow-poet, "Schiller is always great," and the same remark might be applied to George Eliot. She could be genial, sympathetic, affectionate, she remained ever great. Littleness, self-seeking, commonness, much less vulgarity, were as foreign to her nature as self-assertion, intolerance, and uncharitableness. When indeed I look around me and witness the arrogance and incompetence displayed by young men and women in these days, the audacity and want of principle displayed in criticism, the assumption of superiority and rashness of judgments shown by those who set themselves the task of appraising others, I look back with thankfulness upon this intercourse with George Eliot and George Henry Lewes, and regard it as a great lesson. Opinions may differ as to the achievements of these two great writers now passed away. None can deny to the one a commanding spirit and a great intellect, to the other a brilliance and versatility of intellectual endowments vouchsafed to few; whilst all who knew them in daily life can bear witness to their reverence for the truth, their love of humanity, their ardent, unswerving devotion to the high work they had to do. Their rule of life might be expressed by Goethe's well-known lines, so beautifully translated by Professor Blackie :
From Macmillan's Magazine.
A CANADIAN HOLIDAY.
WELL-INFORMED readers, judicious readers, you who are ever in search of more information, you are hereby warned off these pages. They do not profess to contain anything new or useful. They are the slight record of a time of much enjoyment, heightened by the comradeship and hospitality of friends both old and new, to whom we are at best poor in thanks. If in these jottings there are found some dim and distant pulses of light and sound from waters of spacious rivers, some faint savor of sun-lit air from the forests of the St. Maurice and the Adirondacks, the writer's aim is fulfilled.
The North American continent is before all things a land of great waters; nay, as regards the uses of man, it is a land made by the waters. The lines of the great rivers, as being the only practicable lines of advance, determined the lines of the original settlement of the country.
Travelling by land in an unexplored continent, especially when covered by for. ests, is slow, difficult, and often danger. ous, and the early settlers had no choice but to make their own way along the nat ural highroads they found ready for them - the basins of the great rivers. Canada, therefore, is hardly anything else but a settlement up the banks of the St. Lawrence and its tributaries, and what the St. Lawrence is in the north and east the Mississippi is in the south and west. These two rivers were the keys of both commercial and political power all through the eighteenth century, and herein is the secret of a great part of the history of North America down to the War of Independence.
The principal cities of Canada lie either on the St. Lawrence or very near it. Nearest to the mouth of the St. Lawrence is Quebec, the capital of the old French dominion, and to this day essentially an old French provincial city. Next is Montreal, French in its origin, and now almost equally divided between English and French in population, but showing few traces of the original French settlement in its general appearance, which is hardly distinguishable at first sight from that of a well-to-do city in the United States.
Higher up are Ottawa and Toronto, of a more modern and English type. Ot tawa (renamed after the tributary of the St. Lawrence on which it lies) is a place with a curious history. Until the middle of this century it was a village supported by the lumber trade. The lumbering vil
lage is there still, but since it became the political capital of the confederated dominion of Canada (now eighteen years ago) it has assumed an entirely new character. Toronto is the capital of Upper Canada, as it used to be called, now the Province of Ontario, and is as thoroughly English as Quebec is French. It is a purely English settlement, where, if you hear a word of French spoken, it is in an occasional and accidental manner, as you would do in London. An Englishman has more of a homelike feeling there than in any other Canadian city.
Of all these cities Quebec is the most striking from a picturesque point of view. The approach to Quebec from the St. Lawrence is one of the most remarkable that can be found anywhere. To describe it as a river scene is misleading, for the scale is too large for comparison with European river scenery. The city is built on a cliff commanding a magnificent reach of water below. Looking down from the citadel on the St. Lawrence the traveller has one of the grandest views of this kind in the world, heightened by that wonderfully clear atmosphere which in England we vainly long for. Only the clear, early light of the finest English summer morning can be likened to the atmosphere which people live and breathe in all day on the western continent, and even that falls short of it. Quebec is a city full of paradoxes. You go up to the citadel and see a sentry in a uniform exactly like that of the Royal Artillery. You naturally address him in English, and he answers you in French. This, one learns, is what Lower Canadians are apt to do, having retained their language, their laws, and their institutions, and become, as one of their own statesmen said of them, excellent Englishmen who happen to speak French. Passing troubles there have been, but they may now be forgotten. The city of Que bec is also paradoxically built, as if it had been shot out of a sack down the back of the cliff and shaken itself into place as best it could. It is more like a French provincial city than anything else, but it is not even like that, as no French city can be found over which the Revolution has not passed. Quebec was saved from the French Revolution by English conquest. Below the citadel stretches a long and spacious terrace, now named Dufferin Terrace, whence we have after dark a fairy-like view over the river, with the crossing lights of its many ferry-boats. And here the people of Quebec, being simple enough to admire their own view,
have a laudable custom to stroll up and down at most hours of the day, but especially during the hour or two before the evening gun. Taking day and night all round, Quebec is as fascinating a city as one shall have the fortune to see.
The chief tributaries of the St. Lawrence are the Saguenay, the Ottawa, and the St. Maurice. The Saguenay is wellknown to tourists and to readers of Mr. Howells. Its characteristic scenery depends on the formation of the Laurentian rock (a rock in general appearance and texture more like the gneiss of European mountains than anything else), which lies or stands in great flat slabs. When the slabs have an oblique dip, we get shelving banks with broad ledges, very convenient to walk upon; when they are vertical we get about as near an approach to real perpendicular precipices as can be met with in nature. There are cliffs on the Saguenay which go up eighteen hundred feet sheer from the water's edge; it would be best to see them in peace from a small boat, but even as seen from the crowded excursion steamer they are impressive.
The Ottawa River, before the establishment of the federal capital, was known mainly by its timber trade. The lumber cut in the forests is formed into rafts, and floated down the Ottawa, and thence by the St. Lawrence to Quebec. Physicists who hunger and thirst for the economizing of energy would be pleased to see - nay, they doubtless were, for has not the British Association been to Ottawa? - how the river is made to do nearly all the work. First it floats the timber down to the sawmills. Then the mills are driven by the stream, and in the season run day and night. Light is supplied by electric lamps, and the engines whose motion is turned into electric light are also driven by waterpower. Finally, the river carries the timber down to Quebec for shipment. Ottawa has now become something more than a lumbering village. The village is there still, but it is crowned with palaces. When the British North American colonies became a federated dominion, and Ottawa was chosen as the seat of the federal capital, the Canadians set about furnishing it with buildings worthy of this purpose; and the Parliament buildings of Ottawa are among the most remarkable and successful that have been produced within living memory. Coming home to
pice, they may be taken, unless they are mountaineers Commonly when people speak of a vertical preciof some experience or unusually accurate persons, to mean some inclination between 45° and 60°.