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part a habit to be patiently acquired. And much should have remained for ever silent; just in proportion as it exists does life be many lives should have passed out of the come a divine and spiritual thing, material world comparatively unutilized. That na facts becoming more and more the symbols ture, full of noble reserve and true womanliof mental, till often, with two souls that ness (we can acknowledge so much now) have been loving students of one another, which gave birth to Villette and Jane Eyré, the mere “ touch of hand, or turn of head,” in what form but that of fictitious narrative is the perfectest seal and declaration of an in- could it have declared itself? When Charward covenant which language is too pure a lotte Bronté wrote in verse, she was scarcely work of thought to express. Now we may a poet. She would have shrunk, perhaps consider this sympathy which we so much too violently, from the anguish and exposure want to get, as made up of a wise imagination, of an autobiography. But for that branch love, self-knowledge, and experience. For of literature to which, even in her childish love it is which gives us first the will, and years (so clear was the true tendency), she then imagination gives us power and in- instinctively turned, a soul like hers, ensight, and experience and reflection give dowed with quite unique gifts, and possessus the empirical laws of this interpretation ing so rich though sorrowful an experience, by sympathy. Goodwill alone is not suf- could never have made us partakers of its ficient; it yearns and is powerless. There wealth, could never even have fully realis, indeed, something very touching, we ized that wealth for itself. Those wild have all felt it, in love that strives to sympa- lights, intense in their joyouso
isness and in thise though it can understand but little (as their sadness, like the lights that we have in the devotion of a lower human intelli- seen sometimes pass over a troubled sea on gence to one it recognizes as higher, or even a stormy day in June, could never have in the sad, mute eyes of a dog, conscious of gleamed forth for us; we should have known his master's distre:s); but this love invari- somewhat less than we do know of the ably weakens and breaks us down, instead secrets of self-conflict, the life in solitude, of sustaining us. The “understanding and the mysterious affinities which guide heart” is so much better than the heart. the elections of the heart. Yet even this we too seldom find. For The novelist who could afford much culhow very much of selfishness, and pride, ture in sympathy must, we have said, be a and the blindness of pride, and the disease thoroughly good one; for the autonatonof superficial curiosity, is required to ac- manufacturer does not teach men much count for the amazing equanimity with about physiology, and those moral automwhich so many men endure all the sorrows atons, called men and women in the storyof their acquaintance, and of the world at books, are alike deficient of heart and brain large! But with their imaginations stifled and bowels, and execute their simple moveunder the pressure of over-much worldly ments by aid of a few powerful springs in work, unwatered by the dew which falls them, called motives and leading passions, in upon the heart in an hour of leisure and of a way altogether violent and mechanical. peace, or, it may be, made gross by indul. These are easy things to understand; but gence in things sensual, how can we hope human beings are truly very hard things to that the unseen, the future, or the remote, understand, and are never to be quite made will possess any reality to the minds of men ! out. And yet, as Mr. Carlyle has taught Before men can sympathize, they must be us, there is no book so inept that it may given the power, and acquire the percep- not bring a lesson to somebody. Therefore, tions of sight.
let these clothes-horse, speech-making heBut what has all this to do with novels ? roes and heroines remain; they may be Much, indeed; for our novelist (but he must complex enough to give some reader a new be a thoroughly good one) will help us here, hint regarding the constituents of characinasmuch as he will afford culture to that ter, among many simple folk there is so exdramatizing imagination spoken of above, ceedingly rude a psychology, so exceedingly inasmuch as he will lead us to self-knowl-blank a chart of human nature. But it is edge, and will give us, in a form most inte- not well that half-a-dozen principles of acresting and impressive, the record of his tion should be resorted to as sufficiently own reflections and observations concerning explaining all the doings of men for the mental conditions, how they express them- threescore years and ten.
The conseselves, and how they are commonly mis- quence is strikingly evil ; many an innocent understood. And it ought not to be forgot look is interpreted as pride – how else ten that, but for this mode of utterance, could it be accounted for ? many an innomany voices from which we have learned cent saying as malice; characters are made
out too readily, many natural varieties are the difference is one of much importance, regarded as monstrous growths, apparent and of wide application. Jane Austen is inconsistencies of conduct are multiplied, pre-eminently the novelist who attains by and a false proportion is established between observation; George. Eliot pre-eminently the recognized classes of emotions. How the novelist who attains by meditation. It much too large a place, for instance, is must not, of course, be supposed that either allotted, in most rural parishes with which possesses the one power to the exclusion of we are acquainted, to the truly important, the other. Jane Austen's quick, clear, and yet, truly, not all-important, emotion of faultless reading off of whatever she had heard love ; while in the very same place this and seen into its mental equivalent was not “ being in love ” is understood to compre- acquired without much previous reflection; hend only a few of its least highly organ- yet even here it was noticeable the reflection ized, and often most vulgar forms, popular- was of a strictly observative kind, and not of ly known “setting-her-cap-at-him," that brooding kind which is allied to the crea• being-soft-on," and " desperately smitten,” tive imagination; it was simply internal obserinstead of including at least the three hun- vation. In like manner George Eliot is no dred and fifty-four distinct species, which mere analyist or self-evolver. She is an the Germans have enumerated and classi- observer of wide range and exquisite delified. Fron all which facts we deduce the cacy, with an eye for some things Jane Ausconclusion that valuable additions to the ten never saw, or saw but dimly the eddyelements of bucolic mental science may be ing flow of pleasant streams, the outlines made by even the simple demoniac-seraphic and colouring of trees, the light forms and school of fiction by analysts less search- wayward caprices of clouds in spring, and ing and less profound than George Eliot, many other such things; and, lastly, little by observers not half so sensitive, so pains- children, both the angelical and the fro taking, or so honest as Jane Austen. ward.* And here it is worth noticing, by
There are two different ways by which the way, the strange circumstance that a the novelist attains that truth which is woman so amiable as Miss Austen should necessary to render his work of value in nowhere throughout her writings have the culture of sympathy, and the two writ- shown a loving sympathy with children; ers just named may be taken to illustrate they are rarely more than glanced at from the difference. Not only are the ways in a grown-up, comparatively uninterested which truth is attained different, the truth point of view; they are troublesome little itself, and the resulting culture, are different also. No English writers have been more
* Is it possible that Miss Austen did see these things, enrnest or successful realists in literature if so, can we offer any conjecture as to what the rea
and yet for some reason was silent about them ? And than Jane Austen and George Eliot. Their son may have been? In Vansfield Park occurs the books (to borrow the epithet Dr. Johnson following passage : – Their road was through a
pleasant country; and Fanny, whose rides bad nevapplied to Reynolds) are amongst the most er been extensive, was soon beyond her knowledge, “invulnerable” buoks we read. They have and was very happy in observing all that was new, a secret respect for truth, and will not be ing the appearance of the country, the bearings of seduced from their calm self-possession to the roads, the difference of soil, the state of the gain a dishonest effect, or make an unsound, found entertainment that could only have been telling point. A false touch would pain heightened by having Edmund to speak to of what them (Jane Austen's sensibilities would
suf- delicney of tastes, of mind, of feeling; she saw vafer more, and George Eliot's conscience) ture, in animate nature, with little observation: her though no one were to detect it but them attention was all for men and women; her talents selves. That sense of responsibility broods
for the light and lively."
Was Miss Austen's attention, then, not all for upon them, “which led the Greek to be as
men and women? From her earliest, though last diligent in working out that part of the published work. Northanger Abbey, we learn how statue which would be hidden by the wall romantic school of fiction: how her tendencies were of the temple, as that part which would be deliberately set in opposition to that school. exposed to the eye, because the gods would possible that she might have said more about look upon them both.?” They love their said so inuch? All we can certainly affirm is, that work, and therefore finish the details in an if Miss Austen saw the external world, she saw it
in the way of active observation, not in that effortuntiring way. They are free from the im- less way in which the poetical spirits sce, to whom patience and anxiety to shine, which pos- the perception comes whole and unsought, and, if sess the merely clever artist. They are consciously, by the leadings of the sensations and great artists, and are therefore calm, sincere, sentiments which suffuse and mingle with it. She never unstrupulou-ly brilliant. But these would have agreed with Matthew in thinking Iril.
liam somewhat of an idler, while he sat that morn. writers work after different methods, and (ing, on the old gray stone, by Esthwaite lake.
this inanimate nature" if Mrs. Radcliffe had not
bodies, of whom, as a general rule, the less' and Jaques. Who so regal as Shakspeare's we see the better; they are introduced in kings ? Were they compounded, think order that a gleam may be thrown upon the you, from observations of a paltry James ? character of mother, or aunt, or friend, or The modern writer who is comnionly supvisitor, from a new point of reflection ; their posed to have possessed the most of Shaksown little lives are left unconsidered; there is speare's spirit has fortunately made us acno Eppie, no Totty Poyser, no Maggieor Tom quainted with his method of working in an exTulliver. The truth probably is that Miss plicit declaration. “Knowledge of the world," Austen's own was a very ordinary childhood, said Goethe to Eckermann, “is inborn with and not one likely to attract the study of her the genuine poet, and he needs not much exmature mind; her powers were of a kind per- perience or varied observation to represent haps not usually much developed in early it. I wrote Goetz von Berlichingen as a life ; but however this may be, they were not young man of two-and-twenty, and was assuch as would have made an interesting tonished ten years after at the truth of my childhood, since the gains they brought delineation.” But Goethe was not subjec'ive? would not have deposited themselves in the True, if you mean that his writings are impast, but be carried on to form part of personal, but most false if you mean to imadult thought and feeling.
ply that he was not profoundly introspecBut, returning to the main subject, it is un- tive. questionable that whatever points in common Not only, however, is the original store there are between these two great novelists, of characters at the command of the mere the difference is organic, and strongly observer very limited, the development of marked. When Jane Austen reflects, she is these few characters is limited also. Not moved to it upon the impulse or occasion of only would Shakspeare probably never what she has observed. George Eliot medi- have found an Othello in Fleet street or tates because she cannot choose but search Eastcheap, even had he been so fortuinto that wonderful nature of hers, and, nate, it is not likely that the Moor would searching, she finds that she contains within appear to him otherwise than as the bighherself a wonderful world of men and wo- spirited, gracious gentleman he would be to men. Under the guidance of that inner light strangers. But as things were, no secret of (with many a prudens interrogatio which is bis heart or life was hidden from the poet, dimidium scientiæ) she looks abroad, observes, who followed him unseen, and was freer of verifies all, and adds whatever sight can every house in the wave-wed city, whether add to thought. In a word, Jane Austen merchant's, or Moor's, or senator's, than the seeks in berself the interpretation of the Duke himself or any magnifico. Far otherworld. George Eliot finds in the world the wise is it with the admirable authoress of interpretation and evolution of herself. Mansfield Park and Emma. First, her Lord Macaulay has ranked Jane Austen whole field of study lies in a single level of amongst the writers who approach, in their English society, and everything beside, in presentation of character, nearest Shaks- the heaven above and in the earth beneath, peare. And if we determine her position is viewed from that level. Humble life by the truth, sincerity, and perfection of her does not exist for her in itself, with its own workmanship, this judgment is just. But joys and sorrows; it exists only in relation her mind and manner of work were not to the people of the Park or the Hall. She Shakspearian. It is the great novelist of our accepts as adequate the dictionary's logical own day who has wrought in Shakspeare's definition of servant
One who serves, manner to the extent of a nature not uni- whether male or female - corrlative of versal like bis, yet large and sympathetic. master, mistress, or employer.” The same
And now observe the difference in the re- scenery appears for all the dramas, and sults obtained by these two modes of work- there is little shifting of it during each manship. If Jane Austen's work is Shakspea- piece. It is always, “ Scene, a gentleman's rian, it is so in its thoroughness, delicacy, residence in the country, or his house in and perfection, not in its range and com- Bath or London,” with that memorable exprehensiveness. It is simply impossible that ception when the curtain rises to place us the range of an observer should be Shaks- among the Prices of Southampton. These pearian. Shakspeare bimself did not find, are exquisite pictures — not photographs, and could not have found, his men and wo- because no work of actinism and collodion men in the narrow world of Stratford or is illuminated with the light of artistic conLondon lite. He found them in the great sciousness which illuminates the e, nor is world of his own soul. Shakspeare did not pervaded by that subtle charm which, bringsce but was Hamlet and Othello, Falstaff, ! ing all the soul into the face, renders one of those delicate miniatures of our beautiful best places, nor Thomas à Kempis and a mothers or grandmothers in youth a far very materialistic brother (a mere moralist) truer likeness than any of the grim, slaty the most favourable persons, for inducing faces which stare at one another in our the harmonious development of faculties modern albums. But, secondly, the devel- like bers. In the writings of Jane Austen opment of character in Miss Austen's novels there is earnest and faultless realism, and is not broad. The baronet, the officer, the the masterful quiet of conscious power; lawyer, the rector, the rector's wife, and all but there are in life higher realities than the young ladies, get through life, as most those she has considered, and they can be people do, in a very quiet way, between attained only by a different method. visits, drives, dances, dinners, “ explorings,” And now let us see how these two kinds private theatricals, and an occasional elope- of novels afford different kinds of culture ment. There is no deep passion stirred, no to the reader. No one, with any openness lofty purpose embraced, the mandate of a of spirit, can read Jane Austen's novels higher than prudential wisdom (there is no without insensibly receiving, the power, occasion for it), no moment of rapturous more or less, of sympathetic interpretation self-devotion, no struggle against terrible in the ordinary intercourse of social life. temptation, no sound of the bitter cry The instruction thus afforded is as if we (which, God knows, is often simple truth), were taken into the very places and com" All thy waves and thy billows are gone pany represented, and saw unfolded the over me.” The essentially solitary motions of inner meaning of all the natural and conthe soul are left quite unexpressed. Those ventional symbolism before us. We are passages of life which are not rich in social made thoughtfuller by this and tenderer; incidents, though they may be rich in spirit- wiser, too, for we learn much about petty ual progress or decline, are not detailed. vanity and petty malice. We learn to de Solitude, with Miss Austen, means usually tect much latent self-flattery in the converretiring from society to one's bedroom or sation of ourselves and of those around us. elsewhere, and thinking about it. A strong We come to discriminate the various social mind, a sweet temper, and a high sense of intonations (written or spoken) which, as duty, may be developed without the life in in monosyllabic languages, determine the solitude ; but hardly a spiritual nature. various significances of sounds that have no And in Jane Austen's heroines we find all appreciable difference to the uneducated the former in a remarkable degree; but the ear. We are taught to recognize the piece latter we do not so much directly perceive, of shy love, or lurking selfishness, or delias infer from the grace and harmony of the cate deceit, by a single twinkle in the suncharacter in its social movements, impress- light, before it is aware of itself and retreats; ing us with the sense of a completeness, and we thus gain in power, becoming masorderliness, and even balance in the powers ters of the situation. And we learn also a of the soul — the Platonic dikaiosune great deal about the little daily cares and which could not exist if any of the more anxieties and desires of others; we learn to important of them were absent or depressed. understand their nature, and rightly to anFrom Anne Elliot we learn much; but with ticipate, divine, and make allowance for all her weakness (the weakness of a nature them. But George Eliot, not neglecting full of unappropriated strength) we receive this, though doing it less thoroughly, teaches a more momentous spiritual impulse from us higher things with the same truth. She Maggie Tulliver; not simply because the too makes us wiser and tenderer — wiser elements of her character were more mas- and tenderer by showing us the entire hissive, and of more regal power, but because tory of certain wonderful human souls, makwe are brought immediately into contact ing them declare themselves even when with those elements which are especially they are most alone, and making us accept life-giving, those which are most fully and understand them even when they are charged with the electric energy of the taken in the toils of calamity or of sin. I soul. And who will estimate lives by their sedulously disciplined my mind,' wrote Spiapparent success or failure ? Maggie's life noza, peither to laugh at, nor be wail, nor was a failure, precisely because the forces detest the actions of men ; but to underin her nature were all so strong, her rich stand them. In the same spirit has George sensuousness, her profound emotions, her Eliot thought and written. "And with her, intense spiritual cravings. They were in the result of understanding men, notwithconflict, not in harmony, it is true, and standing all their poverty of intellect, and hence the weakness and the sorrow. But all their feebleness of will, as it must ever Dorlcote Mill and St. Oggs were not the be, is love. A poor, diseased, dim-eyed,
miserly Silas Marner even has sight in his end beforehand. Naughty Harry will ineyes and room on his breast for the golden fallibly be torn by the lion, and the amiable curls of Eppie, and may be called father by brother will feast on cakes and apples. bis adopted child.
The boy who eats his neighbour's fruit is In the literature of power (to use the predestinated to the stomach-ache, which, happy terminology of De Quincey), the present or prospective, in a severer or a novel ranks next after the poem. It is, in slighter form, is a notable agent in the re both, the high function of genius to repos- generation of the soul. We will not have sess with lile and force those great practical lives manufactured to order. But some truths which, from their very familiarity times it happens that a real life does speak and universal recognition, have become in- audibly to some one, whispering, it may be, operative in the soul.* And here we must words of comfort and of joy, or uttering, it acknowledge a certain deficiency in the may be, terrible warning and denouncewritings of Jane Austen. The truths she ment; and will have its whole tale told; teaches are not the great elementary prin- nothing suppressed because it might startle ciples of existence; they are rather what the conventions and proprieties and pruderBacon would call the ariomata media of liv- ies; will have the entire life, the light and ing wisely. As a moralist she is not pro- the dark of it painted – the weakness, the founder than Addison, though on the same iron consequence, the bitter sorrow, and level she makes subtler and more original then – no more than this, no explanatory discoveries. She does not enter that region sermons, “ He that hath ears to hear let him where discoveries are impossible, because it hear.” Such teaching is great, and often is deep within us, and " as old as human sad, but always sound, and always bas some reason,” because the laws which operate hope in it, because it is the teaching of truth there are few, well-known, and of import in and nature, and of a world which, after all, every time and place. Jane Austen does is not the devil's, but God's. not attempt to revive in us a sense of the There remains another of the more imstrength that comes by self-renunciation, of portant uses of fiction to notice, with which the moral operancy of suffering, of the in- this paper may conclude. And here Mr. destructible causative power existing in Mill has spoken so wisely and yet so warmly, every deed done, of the truth of that which that we may well be silent. “ The time Coleridge bas called the first axiom of hu- was,” (Mr. Mill wrotes these words in 1838) man prudence — “ that there is a wisdom" when it was thought that the best and most bigher than prudence itself.” But perhaps appropriate office of fictitious narrative was these grave principles cannot be effectively to awaken high aspirations, by the represen-. or suitably taught in a work of fiction ? tation, in interesting circumstances, of charThe answer will be found in the works of acters conformable indeed to human nathat writer whom we have been comparing ture, but whose actions and sentiments were with Jane Austen, in which such principles of a more generous and loftier cast than are as these control the movement of the narra- ordinarily to be met with by everybody in tive, and form the means of its evolution. every-day life. But now-a-days nature and And yet these are no novels-of-purpose, no probability are thought to be violated if temperance prize-tales, no apologues whose there be shown to the reader, in the personmoral is the blessedness of the man that ages with whom he is called upon to sympafeareth the rubrics, or the joy that comes thize, characters on a larger scale than bimupon a parish (and especially upon one self or than the persons he is accustomed to young female parishioner) from the pres- meet at a dinner or a quadrille party. Yet, ence of an evangelical curate. We know from such representations, familiar from those novels-of-purpose at a glance; we are early youth, have not only the noblest minds indignant with the man who would entice in inodern Europe derived much of what us into listening to his homily under pre- made them noble, but even the commoner tence of amusing us; we see the sulphur in spirits what made them understand and that treacle, pah ! and will none of it. We respond to nobleness. And this is educahave begun to doubt the reality of those tion. It would be well if the more narrowstories that wind finely up with the ortho- minded portion both of the religious and of dox piece of poetical justice, and much more the scientific education-mongers would conto doubt the soundness of their ethical ten- sider whether the books which they are dency. We do not think such teaching very banishing from the hands of youth were not interesting or very noble. We know the instruments of national education to the full
as powerful as the catalogues of physical Coleridge: The Friend, vol, i, Essay xv. facts and theological dogmas which they THIRD SERIES.