it was found that its energies could be and practical affairs, and who contribbest directed and its influence most uted largely to the Review. To his widely exerted from London.

lot it fell to review "Atlanta in Caly. It is impossible without breaking don,” “The Spanish Gypsy,” and “LOthrough that rule of anonymity which thair," as well as to contribute many has always been observed by the papers discussing European and gen. "Edinburgh Review" to show how eral politics. Elsewhere in the presclosely the early advice of Lord Jef- ent day the rule of anonymous writing frey has throughout been followed- may no longer be observed. Here the viz., to keep its criticism as free as old tradition prevails. In every propossible from the influence of mere fession and in every walk of life the literary cliques. As has been said, its most distinguished men have ever been contributors have always been very ready, and even proud, to give us their largely drawn from amongst those help. But we can make no mention who are not exclusively men of the in these pages of contributors in the pen. Lord Houghton, who himself past who have not themselves chosen made known the authorship of many to disclose their identity, nor of those of his articles, is a typical instance of who in this, the second century of its a man of literary distinction, who existence, most ably support the mixed, nevertheless, in political life "Edinburgh Review." The Edinburgh Review.



Miss Austen's fame is great, her Are there any two qualities more enadorers are many. It is three-quarters tirely lacking to Miss Austen? She of a century since she died, and still was essentially human, with a graceful the incense hides the altar. The dev- realism; wholly ladylike and reserved otees,

numerous with every in her treatment of life; a patient and year that passes by, stand round with accurate observer of what facts lay drawn swords and compel our hom- around her in one tiny circle. She is age. Fifty years ago Lord Macaulay a stranger to the Alps and torrents of -acclaimed her “Shakespearean,” it is Shakespearean English. In Miss Ausbut the other day 1 that Mr. Howells ten's landscape there are pleasant called her “divine.” The generous en- grass plots, well trimmed lawns, and thusiasm of Macaulay compels us to neatly planned hedgerows. There are listen to all that he says. As for Mr. acclivities more alarming than Howells, it must be admitted that The those which our grandmothers were Rise of Silas Lapham is as good work wont to tend as "rockeries." Exteras the best of Jane Austen's. So that nals count for much with her. The when a great master accords divine rush and riot of Shakespearean life, honors to an authoress (sprung from a its tumultous passions, its hell-black race that he cordially despises) we tragedies, and its glimpses of heavens must perforce take note of his esti- undreamed of—I do protest that all mate.

these things would be vastly improper But really: Shakespearean? Divine? in Miss Austen's world. 1 In "Criticism and Fiction,"

What was Miss Austen's world?




Take the world of to-day and elimi. corner of the world of to-day Miss nate Japan; eliminate China and the Aristeu's characters lived and moved South Seas--all Asia, in fact, except and had their being. What India. In Europe eliminate every- Miss Austen's characters? The thing except France. For purposes of swer is easy-they were ladies and polite conversation you may include gentlemen. She herself was a lady, the Rhine. If you have been to and she wrote like a lady. She saw Vienna you have travelled. Berlin nothing that a lady might not see; she was a provincial town; there was heard nothing that a lady might not nothing to see in Russia except the hear; she recorded nothing that a lady Court and the British Embassy. The might not record. There are little unchief wonder about Russia was wheth- conscious touches here and there that er the traditions of Peter the Great show how charmingly and winningly would be strong enough to enable the ignorant she was of what was really Czar to hold together his hordes of going on around her. These add a barbarians long enough for them to zest to what she actually records, for become a nation, Europe, then, con- we may be sure that she wrote of sisted of France (the home of the most nothing that she could not treat with dangerous principles and the most knowledge. There are no attempts to abominable innovations) and England describe, from hearsay, debaucheries (called by Providence to keep France with which she was totally unacin order). If you could allude to a quainted. There is no low life; there fever caught at Ancona, you showed is no high life; there are no fatiguing that you had been in Italy and were

passages in dialect. probably conversant with the Fine A word on Miss Austen's realism. Arts; but socially and politically Italy It is genuine realism; not the bastard was dead.

realism of later days. According to Socially and politically the United the school to which we have grown States were in puling infancy. South accustomed to allow the monopoly of America was a wilderness, Africa and “realism,” nothing exists that is not Australia unexplored and in great part disgusting. Miss Austen undiscovered. Such was Miss Aus- sanely. There were dreadful things in ten's world considered from the geo- her world, it is true: putrid sore graphical point of view-England and throats, for example. But also there France; it is permissible to include the

were many pleasant things. Perhaps West Indies, which formed a powerful she did not take a very wide view of interest at that time. It is very im- life; but as far as her observation portant to remember how small Miss went she saw evenly and recorded Austen's world was. We are thus fairly. saved the annoyance and surprise at As to her characters, they all came finding ourselves called upon to con- from one class—the class of gentry, i.e. sider seriously the doings of children people entitled to bear coat-armor. of seventeen who have never been out- In the England of to-day, this definiside their village. Considering the tion is not precise. There are many size of the world at that time, this gentlemen who are not entitled to bear amounted to experience of the world; coat-armor, and vice versa. But it while a man who had nearly taken his really was a social guide in Mis:3 Ausdegree had really done a good deal of ten's day. First and foremost in the what there was for him to do in life. land

the landed gentry of In this thinly populated and obscure which class it might be said with jus




tice that even the peers were no more the coronation of Louis the Sixteenth than its most conspicuous members. was a recent event, and she died two This class, so powerful once, of so lit- years after the battle of Waterloo. tle account now, settled all social ques. She was, therefore, thirty years old tions. Either you were one of the A's when the news of Trafalgar reached of B-shire, or else your existence England, and forty when Napoleon required explaining and justifying. was overthrown. There are a few refYou might belong to the professional erences to "the war" in her novels, but classes-a very much smaller body of you would never suppose that she was men than the same people nowadays. referring to a death-struggle between There was the Church, of course—that England and France. Although the was highly respectable--and there was rivalry of six hundred years culmi. the Bar. But attorneys, surgeons, and nated in twenty years of conflict corCity people were quite impossible. responding to the twenty years of Physicians, with some reservations, Miss Austen's literary life, it would could be known, and the Army would appear as if "the war" was of no do if you were in the Guards; but the greater national importance than a Navy was on a different footing: all war with Ashanti. Were there no ilsorts of queer people went into the luminations for Camperdown, for the Navy.

Nile, for St. Vincent, for Trafalgar, These considerations really guided for Waterloo? Apparently not. Also the actions of the people who inhab- apparently Miss Austen never saw an ited Miss Austen's world; and Miss invalid or a pensioner, or met anyone Austen herself recognized the pro in mourning for a relative who had priety of respecting them. She writes fallen in the service of his country. of them as natural and convenient dis- Also, apparently, nobody ever tinctions, and shows no desire to por grumbled at the taxes, although they tray ardent human nature struggling must have been appallingly heavy, against the bonds of convention. On and were borne by the very class the contrary, Emma is the careful which was the object of her studies. study of a young lady who presumes The Napoleonic wars would appear to suppose that the natural distinction to have been fought for the purpose existing between ladies and people of giving young gentlemen in the arwho are not ladies, can be treated my an opportunity for displaying their lightly or, perhaps, ignored. There is gay clothes. Also they were useful in no passion in her books, it would not enabling young officers of the Navy to be ladylike, and when we admire the gain prize-money, so that they might felicity of her language and the deli- marry pretty girls and settle down cacy of her work, we must recollect respectably in England. The that what action there may be moves and joys (if these are not too violent in a very narrow arena, and that the expressions for the emotions of Charincidents are trivial and superficial. lottes and Carolines) of very young

Miss Austen's work is eighteenth lovers and very young married people century in its subject-matter and are all that Miss Austen has to write treatment. She never saw a railway about. The elders form an agreeable train; and, although much of her life background, now thwarting, now symwas passed in the nineteenth century, pathizing, encouraging, interfering there is not in her pages the faintest with, or soothing the young people. echo of its busy and distracted life. But we know that, in point of fact, She was born in the year 1775, when whatever Miss Austen may have


found interesting or the reverse, Eng. some habit of appealing to the sensaland was stirred to its depths by the tonal and the melodramatic, and that war. Tribulation and mourning were she did sa by showing how really inheard throughout the land. The na- teresting the common events of everytion was shaken with the sensations of day life might be made to appear. terrible triumphs and terrible disas- It may be so, and it may be that this ters. Never was there a more Shake- is to her credit. But, after all, what is spearean time: not even Shakespeare's Hamlet but a yarn about a ghost and own. It is not Miss Austen's fault a murder and a haunted castle? And that she is so very un-Shakespearean. if it comes to reproaching the sensaShe herself would have been much tionalists with too lavish introduction chagrined had anyone ventured on of incident, how does Hamlet stand? such a comparison in her presence. We have poison, steel, suicide, mad. Or, if she had been in merry mood, ness, murder, the wrecking of great she would have “vowed that you were kingdoms, battle, and sudden death all the very drollest creature" or a “shock- in five acts. The play streams with ing quiz."

gore. No imitator of Shakespeare was In fact, if she ever thought of her- ever so lavish with incident as Shakeself and Shakespeare in the same speare himself. It is not that the minute she must have concluded that school of writing is bad that insists her only chance of success was to aim on a plot with incidents. Mr. Howells at being as unlike him as possible. would have us believe that it is. Nev. She called herself, modestly, a minia- ertheless, the Mysteries of Udolpho is turist, and she is credited, as one of only indifferent work in the school of her many triumphs, with having de- Shakespeare, and the school which stroyed the school of the Mysteries of Miss Austen founded-the school of Udolpho.

analysis and introspection—is capable That novel, no longer read, depends of producing just as tedious work in much upon incident. The incidents its way as the Mysteries of Udolpho. are all unusual and exciting. The But the people who decry the Mysscene is continually changed, and teries have perhaps not read that disthere are murders amid gloomy sur- mal composition. When they have roundings. It had an immense vogue read it they will allow that it is teand was much imitated by writers dious, not because of the fatiguing frewho thought that with a ghost and a quency of improbable incidents, but murder and a haunted castle they because of its sentimental tone and could make a story. A great many wearisome style. In effect the inci. bad stories of this kind were pro- dents are few, when the vast length of duced, and it certainly was unfortu- the story is considered. The real sunate that young ladies' heads should periority of Jane Austen's work lies in be so turned by this tinsel tragedy her admirable style; the real drawthat they could not stay in a country back to enjoying he work is that it house without imagining that some is about nothing at all. Whereas the disreputable secret haunted the fam- school of the Mysteries held that startlily. Northanger Abbey pokes gentle fun ing incidents as unlikely as possible) at this school of mock romance, al- were what a story chiefly needed, and though it would perhaps be too much that style and truthfulness signified to say that it "destroyed” the school. nothing, Miss Austen, on the contrary,

But the claim is that Miss Austen put style and truthfulness first and destroyed this school with its unwhole- avoided

like the plague.




The result is that each of her stories Miss Austen admires. Sir Thomas, is exactly like the last, and that much “his mind disengaged from the cares of her narrative is hopelessly uninter- which had pressed on him at first" esting.

(putting a stop to some private theatIt does not matter, for instance, ricals) and plunging into the petty goswhether Frank Churchill “was most sip of his village; or Sir Thomas "the deedily occupied about Mrs. Bates's life of the party seated around the spectacles"; or that when "Mr. Wood- fire,” and, with “the best right to be house had drank his tea he was ready the talker," becoming "communicative to go home"; or that Mr. Knightley's and chatty in a very unusual degree,” boys' "glowing faces showed all the is the man stripped of all that makes benefit of a country run, and seemed him interesting. But this is the Sir to ensure a quick despatch of the Thomas of Miss Austen. roast mutton and rice pudding they All honor to her for not writing were hastening home for.

about what she did not understand. Nothing turns on these incidents, All honor to her for not trying to deand they are not, in themselves, of scribe an imaginary mutiny at sea, an any importance at all. But (says the imaginary conspiracy of the colored devotee) look at the observation of folk, imaginary tussle with life-the marvellous record of detail! fraudulent agent, or an imaginary enThere is, it is true, observation of life; counter with a French privateer. although it does not require excep- But do not let us be so far led astray tional powers of observation to have by our admiration for Miss Austen's grasped the fact that children often reticence and veracity that we must have roast mutton and rice pudding needs claim that her subjects are all for dinner, and that running makes interesting; because they are not. Inthem hungry. There is, it is true, cidentally, and as a touch of life and much detail recorded; but it is unim- manners, it is important to know that portant detail. It is not the mere ac

in the intensely respectable circle of cumulation of detail that marks the Mansfield Park cards and dancing artist; it is the selection of detail. were encouraged, whilst private theat

This, then, is the point at which we ricals were forbidden. But the actual may, after much pondering, pause and process of stopping the private theatcontemplate Miss Austen's work with ricals is not interesting or amusing or some sense that we approach it intel- important. ligently if perhaps clumsily.

It must have been a dull world, Knitting needles are more interest- after all. It appears to have been iming to her than bayonets, perhaps be- possible for a gentleman to address cause she can understand the manage- words of the commonest civility to a ment of the knitting needle and watch lady without the gentlemen exchangit in action; but she cannot say the ing significant glances, whilst the same of the bayonet. To a country ladies rallied their female friend on walk she will devote all her attention; the evident partiality of dear Bingle but more exciting incidents are of less for her society. The girls had the value to her and her story.

minds of odalisques. In childhood Sir Thomas Bertram going in person and youth they thought and talked all to look after his West Indian estates, day long of nothing but men, and in and risking capture by French cruis- maturer years of the men about whom ers, is a plucky and interesting figure; their juniors were talking and thinkbut he is not the Sir Thomas whom ing. At all ages they gossiped, gener

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