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to point an example ;—“My dear this extraordinary love from running children, here is the good and here is smooth. Our heroine runs away to the evil, and you see what they lead to; save herself—falls in with another man and here again you perceive how the almost as singular as her first loveevil is overcome by the good," is the and very nearly suffers herself to be burden of her tale; and the world has reduced to marry this unloved and not been slow to acknowledge the unloving wooer ; but, escaping that goodness that lies in her old-fashion- risk, finally discovers that the obstacle ed moral, nor the many indications is removed which stood between her of power and purpose which her and her former tyrant, and rushes works contain
back straightway to be graciously acWhen we leave these respectable cepted by the blind and weakened elder sisters of the literary corporation, Rochester. Such was the impetuous we immediately find ourselves on very little spirit which dashed into our ticklish ground. Ten years ago we well-ordered world, broke its boundaprofessed an orthodox system of novel- ries, and defied its principles—and the making. Our lovers were humble and most alarming revolution of modern devoted-our ladies were beautiful, times has followed the invasion of and might be capricious if it pleased Jane Eyre. them; and we held it a very proper It is not to be wondered at that and most laudable arrangement that speculation should run wild about this Jacob should serve seven years for remarkable production. Sober people, Rachel, and recorded it as one of the with a sober respect for womankind, articles of our creed; and that the only and not sufficient penetration to pertrue-love worth having was that reve- ceive that the grossness of the book rent, knightly, chivalrous true-love was such grossness as only could be which consecrated all womankind, and perpetrated by a woman, contested served one with fervour and enthusi- indignantly the sex of the writer. asm. Such was our ideal, and such The established authorities brought our system, in the old halcyon days of forth proofs in the form of incorrect novel-writing; when suddenly there costume, and errors in dress. Nobody stole upon the scene, without either perceived that it was the new geneflourish of trumpets or public proclam- ration nailing its colours to its mast. ation, a little fierce incendiary, doomed No one would understand that this to turn the world of fancy upside furious love-making was but a wild down. She stole upon the scene- declaration of the “Rights of Woman" pale, small, by no means beautiful- in a new aspect. The old-fashioned something of a genius, something of a deference and respect, the old-fashvixen-a dangerous little person, inimi- ioned wooing-what were they but so cal to the peace of society. After we many proofs of the inferior position of became acquainted with herself, we the woman, to whom the man condewere introduced to her lover. Such a scended with the gracious courtliness lover!-a vast, burly, sensual English- of his loftier elevation! The honours man, one of those Hogarth men, whose paid to her in society - the pretty power consists in some singular ani- fictions of politeness, they were all demal force of life and character, which grading tokens of her subjection, if she it is impossible to describe or analyse. were but sufficiently enlightened to see Such a wooing !--the lover is rude, their true meaning. The man who brutal, cruel. T'he little woman fights presumed to treat her with reverence against him with courage and spirit, was one who insulted her pretensions; begins to find the excitement and re- while the lover who struggled with lish of a new life in this struggle-be- her, as he would bave struggled with gins to think of her antagonist all day another man, only adding a certain long-falls into fierce love and jealousy amount of contemptuous brutality, -betrays herself—is tantalised and which no man would tolerate, was the slighted, to prove her devotion and only one who truly recognised her then suddenly seized upon and taken claims of equality. “A fair field and possession of, with love several de- no favour,'' screams the representative grees fiercer than her own. Then of womanhood. “Let him take me comes the catastrophe which prevents captive, seize upon me, overpower me if he is the better man-let us fight it glove, and defies you-to conquer her out, my weapons against his weapons, if you can. Do you like it, gentle and see which is the strongest. You lover?-would you rather break her poor fellow, do you not see how you head and win, or leave her alone and are insulting and humiliating that love her? The alternative is quite Rachel, for whom you serve seven distinct and unmistakable-only do years ? Let her feel she is your equal not insult her with your respect and -make her your lawful spoil by your humility, for this is something more bow and by your spear. The cause of than she can bear. the strong hand for ever-and let us These are the doctrines, startling fight it out!" Whereupon our heroine and original, propounded by Jane rushes into the field, makes desperate Eyre; and they are not Jane Eyre's sorties out of her Sebastopol, blazes opinions only, as we may guess from abroad her ammunition into the skies, the host of followers or imitators who commits herself beyond redemption, have copied them. There is a degree and finally permits herself to be igno- of refined indelicacy possible to a wominiously captured, and seized upon man, which no man can reach. Her with a ferocious appropriation which very ignorance of evil seems to give is very much unlike the noble and a certain piquancy and relish to ber grand sentiment which we used to attempts to realise it. She gives a call love.
runaway, far-off glimpse-a strange Yes, it is but a mere vulgar boiling improper situation, and whenever she over of the political cauldron, which has succeeded in raising a sufficient tosses your French monarch into chaos, amount of excitement to make it posand makes a new one in his stead. sible that something very wrong might Here is your true revolution. France follow, she prevents the wrong by a is but one of the Western Powers; bold coup, and runs off in delight. woman is the half of the world. Talk There are some couversations between of a balance of power which may be Rochester and Jane Eyre which no adjusted by taking a Crimea, or fight. man could have dared to give-which ing a dozen battles-here is a battle only could have been given by the which must always be going forward- overboldness of innocence and ignoa balance of power only to be decided rance trying to imagine what it never by single combat, deadly and uncom- could understand, and which are as promising, where the combatants, so womanish as they are unwomanly. far from being guided by the old punc. When all this is said, Jane Eyre tilios of the duello, make no secret of remains one of the most remarkable their ferocity, but throw sly javelins works of modern times—as remarkable at each other, instead of shaking hands as Villette, and more perfect. We before they begin. Do you think that know no one else who has such a young lady is an angelic being, young grasp of persons and places, and a pergentleman ? Do you compare her to fect command of the changes of the roses and lilies, and stars and sun- atmosphere, and the looks of a counbeams, in your deluded imagination ? try under rain or wind. There is no Do you think you would like to "deck fiction in these wonderful scenes of and crown your head with bays," like hers. The Yorkshire dales, the Moutron, all for the greater glory to north-country moor, the streets of her, when she found you " serve her Brussels, are illusions equally comevermore"? Unhappy youth! She plete. Who does not know Madame is a fair gladiator-she is not an angel. Beck's house, white and square and In her secret heart she longs to rush lofty, with its level rows of windows, upon you, and try a grapple with you, its green shutters, and the sun that to prove her strength and her beams upon its blinds, and on the sulequality. She has no patience with try pavement before the door? How your flowery emblems. Why should French is Paul Emmanuel and all she be like a rose or a lily any more his accessories ! How English is Lucy than yourself? Are these beautiful Snowe! We feel no art in these reweaklings the only types you can find markable books. What we feel is a of her? And this new Bellona steps force which makes everything realforth in armour, throws down her motion which is irresistible. We are swept on in the current, and never thrown back upon sheer blind force as draw breath till the tale is ended. our universal conqueror. Mr Carlyle's Afterwards we may disapprove at our Thor, too, is a sweet-hearted giant, leisure, but it is certain that we have and bears no comparison to Mr Ronot a moment's pause to be critical chester and Mr John Owen. We till we come to the end.
suspect, indeed, that Thor would be The effect of a great literary success, even sheepish in love, and worship especially in fiction, is a strange thing the very footsteps of his princess; to observe the direct influence it has whereas it is principally in love, and on some one or two similar minds, in vanquishing a woman, that the and the indirect bias which it gives to strength of the other gentlemen seems a great many others. There is at to lie. No, it is no Thor, no Berserker, least one other writer of considerable no mighty Goth or Northman. One gifts, whose books are all so many re- could fancy how such a genuine and fections of Jane Eyre. We mean no real personage might eclipse the disparagement to Miss Kavanagh; "manly beauty" of the bland Greek but, from Nathalie to Grace Lee, she Apollo, to certain forms and moods has done little else than repeat the of mind. These ladies, however, are attractive story of this conflict and not so solicitous to have some one combat of love or war-for either who can conquer war or fortune, as name will do. Nathalie, which is to find some one who can subdue, and very sunny and very French, is, for rule with a hand of iron-themselves. these its characteristic features, to be Nor is the indirect influence of this endured and forgiven, closely though new light in literature less remarkable. it approaches to its model; but Daisy Mrs Gaskell, a sensible and consiBarns, which is not French, has much derate woman, and herself ranking less claim upon our forbearance, and high in her sphere, has just fallen subthe last novel of this author exagge- ject to the same delusion. North and rates the repetition beyond all tolera- South is extremely clever, as a story; tion. The story of Grace Lee is a and, without taking any secondary story of mutual “ aggravation," in qualification to build its merits upon, it which the lady first persecutes the is perhaps better and livelier than any gentleman with attentions, kindnesses, of Mrs Gaskell's previous works; yet scorn, and love; and the gentleman here are still the wide circles in the afterwards persecutes the lady in the water, showing that not far off is the self-same way. When John Owen identical spot where Jane Eyre and is worried into falling in love with Lucy Snowe, in their wild sport, have her, it becomes Grace Lee's turn to been casting stones ; here is again the exasperate and tantalise, wbich she desperate, bitter quarrel out of which does with devotion; and it is not till love is to come; here is love itself, after a separation of many years, and always in a fury, often looking exwhen they are at least middle-aged ceedingly like hatred, and by no means people, that this perverse couple are distinguished for its good manners, or fairly settled at last. The lady is a its graces of speech. Mrs Gaskell is pure heroine of romance throughout, perfect in all the properties" of her and has no probability in her; but scene, and all her secondary people that is a lesser matter; and the hero, are well drawn; but though her suwithout a single amiable quality, so far perb and stately Margaret is by no as appears in the story, has only to means a perfect character, she does recommend him this same bitter not seem to us a likely person to fall strength, which we must conclude to in love with the churlish and ill-nabe the sole heroic attribute worth tured Thornton, whose " strong" mentioning, in the judgment of the qualities are not more amiable than author. We might perbaps trace the are the dispositions of the other origin of this passion for strength fur- members of his class whom we have ther back than Jane Eyre; as far back, before mentioned. Mrs Gaskell perhaps, as Mr Carlyle's idolatry of the lingers much upon the personal gifts
Canning"—the king, man, and hero. of her grand beauty. Margaret has But it is a sad thing, with all our glorious black hair, in which the cultivation and refinement, to be pomegranate blossoms glow like a
flame ; she has exquisite full lips, The vain attempts of her friends to pouted with the breath of wonder, or conceal the irrecoverable downfall of disdain, or resentment, as the case this poor child-the discovery that may be ; she has beautiful rounded comes after many years—her bumiarms, hanging with a languid grace; lity and devotion and death-are, of she is altogether a splendid and course, the only circumstances in princely personage ; and when, in ad- which the author can place her unfordition to all this, Margaret becomes tunate heroine; the mistake lies in an heiress, it is somewhat hard to see choosing such a heroine at all. Every her delivered over to the impoverish- pure feminine mind, we suppose, ed Manchester man, who is as ready holds the faith of Desdemona —" I to devour her as ever was an ogre in do not believe there is any such a fairy tale. The sober-minded who woman;" and the strong revulsion are readers of novels will feel Mrs of dismay and horror with which Gaskell's desertion a serious blow. they find themselves compelled to Shall all our love-stories be squabbles admit, in some individual case, that after this? Shall we have nothing their rule is not infallible, produces at but encounters of arms between the once the intense resentment with knight and the lady-bitter personal which every other woman regards altercations, and mutual defiance? It the one who has stained her name is a doleful prospect; and not one of and fame; and that pitying, wonderthese imperilled heroines has the good ing fascination which so often seems gift of an irate brother to exchange to impel female writers to dwell upon civilities with the love-making mon- these wretched stories, by way of ster. There is one consolation : Have finding out what strange chain of we not in these favoured realms a causes there was, and what excuse Peace Society? And where could there might be. these most respectable and influential We will only instance one other brethren find a fairer field ?
young writer touched by the spirit of There is one feature of resemblance Jane Eyre, the author of the Head between Mrs Gaskell's last work and of the Family; but the long and Mr Dickens' Hard Times. We are most tantalising courtship of Ninian prepared in both for the discussion of Græme, the hero of this book, with an important social question; and in its “many a slip between the cup and both, the story gradually slides off the the lip,” is redeemed by the fact that public topic to pursue a course of its it is the lover here who is humble, own. North and South has, of neces- patient, and devoted, and not the sity, some good sketches of the lady. There is a great deal of talent " hands" and their homes; but it is in this lady's works, and a great deal MrThornton's fierce and rugged course of love. Alas! for this hard world, of true love to which the author is with all its rubs and pinches ! how most anxious to direct our attention; soon it teaches us the secret of harder and we have little time to think of struggles than those of love-making. Higgins or his trades-union, in pre- In the last work of this writer, Agatha's sence of this intermitting, but always Husband, we have plenty of quarrellively, warfare going on beside them. ling; but these are legitimate quarMrs Gaskell has made herself an im- rels between married people, lawful portant reputation. The popular sport with which we have no right to mind seems to have accepted Mary interfere, and which the author deBarton as a true and worthy picture scribes with genuine relish, and with of the class it aims to represent; and no small truth. Ruth, though a great blunder in art. We suppose it is a natural consedoes not seem to have lessened the quence of the immense increase of estimation in which her audience hold novels that the old material should her. Ruth is the story of a young begin to fail. It is hard to be origirl betrayed and fallen while little ginal in either plot or character when more than a child-innocent in heart, there are such myriads of “examples" but with her life shipwrecked at its treading in the same path as yourself, very earliest outset ; and Ruth is the and prior to you; and many a shift sole heroine and subject of the book. is the unfortunate fictionist compelled
to, if he would put some novelty into young lover's first declaration, she is his novel. We have before us at this carried away for the first time to see moment two different books, which we her mother, and is told how the case are constrained to class together as stands with her, and how she is bound novels of disease. The House of Raby not to marry, lest she should transmit is a tale of a family afflicted with in- to others this dreadful inheritance. sanity. We have first some legen- Such is the argument of these books; dary information about a “wicked and they form one of the many moearl," whose madness is furious and dern instances of super-refinement and vicious, but scarcely known as mad- improvement upon the infallible laws ness to the world. Then comes his of nature and revelation. That there son, an amiable and worthy gentle- could be anything which possibly man, who falls in love, and is refused might make up to the unfortunate by a virtuous Margaret Hastings, supposed children—for whose sake who is deeply attached to him, but Arundel Raby will not marry Marthinks it a sin that he should marry. garet, nor Constance Philip-for the In this view the gentleman coincides great calamity of being born, our aufor a while; but ultimately gets rid thors do not seem to suppose; but of his conscientious scruples, and Miss Jewsbury's heroine, when she marries his cousin. Then comes a feels herself very miserable, takes resecond generation, the twin sons of fuge in abusing Providence and God this couple, of whom one inherits the for her dreadful privations, and for family malady in periodical fits, but the cruel injustice of creating her unin his sane intervals shows the great der such circumstances. Indeed, Miss est genius, takes an important place Jewsbury's opinion seems to be, that in society, and has no weakness about the only business which God has to do him. This is the hero ; and he falls with at all is to make His creatures in love with a second Margaret happy, and prevent those discourteous Hastings, the niece of the former one, ills and misfortunes from laying hands whom, however, more self-denying upon them; and when grief does come, than his father, he never wishes to the unfortunate afflicted person has marry, but is content to have a very full permission to upbraid the great fervid and loving friendship with. Author of his misery, who ought to Margaret is a clergyman's daughter, have paid attention to it, and taken and, being left with no great provi- means to stay the evil; nay, is quite sion, accepts an appointment as justified in refusing altogether to be. housekeeper at Carleton Castle, the lieve in the existence of the careless ancestral house of the family, where Deity, who will not exert himself to she has always been a friend and keep troubles away. This, indeed, favourite, and lives there, taking care seems a very fashionable doctrine in of her lover in his dark hours, and en- these days, when we have all become joying his society when he is in his so very much kinder and more chariproper mind, all with the fullest table than the God who preserves the sanction of his elder brother the earl, life in these ungrateful hearts. Now, and Margaret's friend the countess; we cannot help thinking it a great and so the story ends. With less in- error to make any affliction, like that cident, and also with less interest, of hereditary insanity, the main subMiss Jewsbury follows in the train ject of a story. It is permissible as a of the anonymous author of The secondary theme; but a thing out of House of Raby. The hereditary ma- which no satisfactory result (according lady is the most shadowy possibility to our carnal and mundane ideas of in the world in the family of Constance happiness) can come—is not a fit cenHerbert; but her mother, in whose tral point for fiction. The position of blood there is no such disease by de- the lady housekeeper and her lover scent, becomes suddenly mad, and patient, alternately a madman and a settles into a hopeless idiot. Con- genius, is in the highest degree unstance, too, has an Aunt Margaret, comfortable, and we cannot reconcile Aunt Margarets are fashionable in ourselves to it in any shape; and we novels—and when she is in all the have seen few books so perfectly unjoyful excitement produced by her satisfactory as Constance Herbert. The