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be better, worthier. We are friends; do The experiences of these two women not ask me to say more not yet. But were as different as their talents, with my place is at your side” - her breath some curious apparent resemblances. caine and went, she freed her hands from Both were the daughters of clergymen; his clasp. “ You told me to be frank,” | both wrote novels; both passed the she said, turning away. “Oh, be gener- greater part of their lives within the quiet

precincts of a country parsonage, and Emilia oh, there you are at last !” each died within a space of two years from cried Clarice, running towards them, her fortieth birthday. "you must come, please. Mamma is Life was, however, actually very differready — you know she cannot bear to be ent for them. We can read so much in kept waiting, and she is so nervous this their writings without needing to turn to morning."

their biographies. Charlotte Brontë re“ You must go ?” said Lawrence, “then quired the consciousness of passionate I come too.”

joy and attachment, at some time or other, She put her hand into his once more. past or present, to console her for the “ Come," she said, with gentle decision. passionate pains of which her life was Then turning to her cousin,

full. That life had not been well ordered Clarice,” she said, “this is my hus- by those who had the care of it; so inband. I want you to know him.” tense a nature, struggling continually to

E. F. POYNTER. wards the right amid so many strange

influences, could not struggle without suffering. Death played a large part in the drama of her existence; she saw those

she loved depart one by one, leaving her From The Modern Review.

alone at last with the strange old father. JANE AUSTEN AND CHARLOTTE BRONTE:

Her own health was shattered then, all A CONTRAST.

buoyancy of spirit had departed from her, “ I HAD not seen • Pride and Prejudice and her surroundings offered to her nothtill I read that sentence of yours, and sing but monotony and melancholy. Who then I got the book. And what did I that has visited her old home, and looked find ? An accurate, daguerreotyped por- out along the hideous stretching valley, trait of a commonplace face; a carefully- with hardly a tree and with many an ugly fenced, highly cultivated garden, with neat building on its undecorated sides, has not borders and delicate towers; but no felt the misery of gazing day after day glance of a bright, vivid physiognomy, no into such a scene, where nature is neither open country, no fresh air, no blue hill, no homelike nor picturesque ? It was probbonny beck. I should hardly like to live ably better in her days; the buildings with her ladies and gentlemen in their were fewer; perhaps the hills were less elegant but confined houses."

dreary. We know that she loved her This is the judgment which one great native moors, and behind her home they authoress passed on another, and that have just a hint of beauty; but before it! other the same of whom Macaulay bas Mrs. Gaskell gives us no idea of the told us (without one voice importance dreariness, the simple, bare monotony of uttering a dissentient word) that she was those green slopes. Charlotte Brontë a “woman of whom England is justly loved them, as she loved nearly all the proud;”, the same, too, whose especial persons and things interwoven in her talent Sir Walter Scott describes as the life's story. She found possibilities of most wonderful I ever met withi," adding, beauty there which no stranger would with the modesty of a truly great man, suspect; she cherished thoughts about that her “exquisite touch, which renders thein which no stranger could imagine. commonplace things and characters inter. But, all the same, when we look upon that esting from the truth of the description dreary, stony, manufacturing valley, we and the sentiment, is denied to me. fancy that we see how its reflection would

And yet the judgment of Charlotte mirror itself as a terrible depression on Brontë is not wonderful, is hardly even her vividly impressible mind. We cannot surprising. Her genius and that of Jane wonder that she felt isolated, low-spirited, Austen were of opposite types. It was uninspired for work, when she looked out natural that one should judge the other alone on the view from the parsonage hardly, and the one to pronounce the windows. harshest sentence was likely enough to be Such a world to look at! -uncultured the lesser genius of the two.

enough for solitude, peopled enough for

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cheerfulness; yet possessing neither the youthful when she had become actually wild beauty of a lonely place, nor the re-old. Although personally very much deeming civilization of a populous dis more attractive than Charlotte Brontë, we trict. The people out there, who built do not hear that she actually received so stone mills and houses, and did not en- many offers of marriage. Whatever ofcourage a plant to grow about them; the fers she did receive were rejected, and nature out there, that reared hillsides there never seems to have been any conagainst the sky, and hardly produced a sequent regret in her heart in after times. tree to grow upon them, were they worth Nothing touched her of that bitterness, writing about or living for? Yet she or that melancholy, or even that oddity, managed so to write that the whole world which so many men still believe (all the read, and wondered what manner of wild, men of the last century seemed to be sure scenery this must be among which the of it) must characterize any woman who author lived, and what manner of original is unfortunate enough to remain unmar. characters with whom she passed her ried. time.

We cannot suppose that Jane Austen She had witnessed, too, a terrible trag. was a woman without tenderness; her edy of temptation and sin in her own letters and her novels prove her to have household. It had destroyed the charac- been the reverse; and, doubtless, if she ter, genius, and life of her brother. She had met among her acquaintance a Churchhad known what it was for a home to be ill or a Darcy, who had known how to no covert from the troubles of the world, commend himself to her so as to make but only a hiding-place, a terrible secret her feel as well as to perceive the exceldungeon in which to conceal the dreadful lences of his character, she would have family disgrace and trouble, When she married him, and made him a good and and her sisters went home and shut the happy wise. door of the parsonage behind them, during Not meeting such a man, or not meetthe last years of Branwell's-life, they did ing him in the right way at the right time, not shut out their worst dread and sor- she was incapable of longing for what she row; they shut themselves inside with it. had not, or regretting what she had given

There was hardly, then, any trial of life up. She contained all the necessary ele. which Charlotte Brontë had not tasted, ments of her own happiness in her own and tasted so strongly that it left a flavor character, and did not require a particular of bitterness and futility in all her after combination of circumstances to bring

Existence was emptied for her out her capabilities of usefulness or conof its hope, its buoyancy, its health; and tent. Being so complete a woman, having then the consolation of a wonderful re- the perception that there is hardly any nown was offered to the lonely, tired, and relationship of life into which we cannot, disheartened woman.

if we choose, weave a sufficiency of affecNo such melancholy picture of life is tion and interest to keep our own lives woven round the figure of the other healthy, she was independent of most of clergyman's daughter, who died when the chances and conditions to which the Charlotte Brontë was a year old. She weaker of us are bound. was well nurtured, and carefully taught; Her genius was not unlike her characshe dwelt in a happy home, enjoyed cheer. ter — self-sufficing, unambitious, serene.. ful social relations, moved amongst pleas. It is only actual genius that can afford so, ant scenes, was never brought into close to be; that need not long, strive, or strug.. contact with passion or crime; and what. gle; that simply is, and so is excellent. ever sorrows of life reached her did not It is like nature in that respect — sure of come without the consolations of self-re- itself, unanxious about opportunities. It straint in those around her and of serenity can afford, like nature, to possess numerin her own heart.

ous unexercised and unapparent capabiliNo passionate disappointments had for ties; because it exists to answer, out of her turned the word love into a symbol of the fulness of its own capacity, the needs. anxiety and pain; she had not learned of its own time and place. It does not that to possess was suffering, and to have require, like a smaller thing, that the repossessed a perpetual desolation. We quirements of the whole world should be see her always a sweet, serene figure -adjusted to meet the development of its kindly, cheerful, unimpatient, unambi- narrow talent. It is, therefore, indepentious; willing to be put aside among the dent of chance, certain of opportunity, middle-aged while she was yet young, yet and does not live in perpetual danger of bright enough in spirit to have remained failure and disappointment.

1948

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LIVING AGE.

VOL. XXXVIII,

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Jane Austen found subject enough forest than “Jane Eyre.”. All its peculiarher genius in her own quiet experience. ities, all its exaggerations, all its limitaShe never had to search for material, to tions of vision tend to the deepening of stretch her imagination, or to reach be. the charm in which the reader is held. yond the limits of her natural sphere in We cannot wish that Charlotte Brontë had an effort to be great. She probably knew modified herself when she wrote this that she was great, but we are confident book. She threw the whole strength of that she never tried to be, and also that her genius, the whole original force of her she was cheerfully indifferent to the indif- character into its composition; and we ference of a world that had not learnt to accept it gladly, as it is, without wishing recognize her according to her merits. It that she had altered or improved anything was real success that she desired, the in it. achievement of good work rather than the The only justification of advice offered praise of it.

to genius is its successful result. Pope Get leave to work

is said never to have quite forgiven AdIn this world — 'tis the best you get at all.

dison for giving his counsel against any

alteration from the earliest form of “The And Jane Austen lived out the idea before Rape of the Lock," although his advice it was spoken. She had that uncon- had, in this case, been actually sought for. sciousness of virtue which it is impossible Addison's opinion proved a mistaken one, to acquire. As soon as we are sufficiently but it was, at any rate, given in a spirit of awake to admire it, the chance of it for appreciative admiration. ourselves is gone. It is George Eliot We can hardly say this so positively of who speaks of “that controlled self-con- Mr. Lewes's advice to Charlotte Brontë sciousness which is the expensive substi- (the advice which provoked her to a depre. tute for simplicity;" and this is all that ciative expression of opinion on the subthe majority of us can attain.

ject of “ Pride and Prejudice ") that she Jane Austen lived serene without long. should“ follow the counsel which shines ings, and died content without regrets; out of Miss Austen's mild eyes.' And whereas Charlotte Brontë, to whom life if the novelist's instincts had not, in this had brought so much suffering, relin. case, revolted against the suggestion; if quished it with passionate reluctance. she had been foolish enough to follow the Throughout nearly the whole of her bitter mistaken counsel, its error would have experience, happiness was only a possi- been made patent enough, as indubitably bility, something she had touched in the evident as Addison's was. We should past, or might reach in the future. She have lost our Charlotte Brontë, but we naturally thought that it was actually in should have gained no second Jane Ausher bands when life was taken from her; ten.“ Jane Eyre,” denuded of its extravafor we find the most persistent (although gances, would not have become “Emma." not the most cheerful) hope in the most The peculiarities of Charlotte Brontë's unhappy. Jane Austen seems to have style carried their own apology in accomrealized the blessed secret that happiness panying power, and possessed their best is and is everywhere. It was abundant inodifier in the authoress's sincerity. The enough, like nature or her own genius, to sensationalism of "Jane Eyre” is not a destroy all cause for anxiety lest an early sensationalism artificially produced or death should deprive her of a little of the with difficulty dragged in to suit the vitismall portion allotted to her, if she lived ated tastes of the public. It is entirely out the usual term of life.

the production of the intense excitement Since her death, Charlotte Brontë has and profound interest with which the aubeen exalted into a literary heroine. More thoress has come to regard her heroine's than one popular history of her life has fortunes; and, as such, it is a legitimate been written, and the church where she picture. If the authoress erred in prewas buried came to be regarded chiefly as senting such a picture, the fault was in her a monument of her genius.

mind and not in her manner. The only It is not so with Jane Austen. No pil. cure for it was an annihilation of her wongrims wander to her grave as to a shrine; derful genius. no curious literary studies can be made of That very intensity of feeling, which her life or her character; and the number sometimes carried Charlotte Brontë be. of her readers is, even yet, smaller than yond the usual limits of subjects on which that of the readers of “ Jane Eyre.” women wrote in those days, made her

It is doubtful, indeed, whether a book more sensitive to criticism and rebuke avas ever written of more absorbing inter- I than those who were less reckless about

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provoking them. There is something tative picture of any time or any place. very characteristic in her strong desire to The fact that so many of her characters have the question of sex left out of the were drawn from real life detracted from criticism of her works to be spoken of their value as permanent types. She had as a writer, and not as a woman. And not the highest artist's calmness and imwe should have thought more highly of partiality; she might be dowered with the the delicacy of judgment of her critic in poet's "scorn of scorn, and love of lovc;" the Edinburgh Review of January, 1850, but, although she depreciated the style of if he had spared her the pain of a dis- Jane Austen as wanting in poetry, she course on this point, especially since he had not herself reached the level when had chosen to enter himself in the list of she could say, her private correspondents, and to add

Poets become such the claims of personal friendship to those

Through scorning nothing. of literary courtesy. He took a different view, however, and could even apply the In all the characters which she created, adjective “cavalier” to the style of Char- and whose fortunes we have followed with lotte Brontë's very generous second letter so vivid an interest, there is not one for to him on the subject.

whom she did not indulge some strong Another contemporary critic of distinc- personal feeling, whether of like or distion - Harriet Martineau – objected that like. There is a tinge of bitterness in the passion of love held too large a place her description of disagreeable people in Charlotte Brontë's writing. To de which misses the highest tone of literascribe that passion with an intensity and ture, if not of morals. The highest artist reality hardly ever reached before was, has learnt patience, and is wholly calm. however, Charlotte Brontë's speciality; Bitterness is a different thing from indig. and, indeed, the quality of her genius, its nation, which may be found among the weird imaginativeness, its wild fervor of finest examples of poetical pictures. It feeling, could not have worked so well on is something just a little smaller and a any other subject than this; for love, with great deal more personal. Our sympaits self-deceptions, its sudden awakenings, thies follow hers in the matter. We do its uncertain issues, and the strange posi- not disagree with the opinion suggested; tions which it may develop, is, as a certain only, from an artistic point of view, the critic has told us, more capable of dra- opinion had better not have been there. matic interpretation than any other senti. We want no personal coloring in our perment which is common to the human race. fect illustrations of human life; the artist

Charlotte Brontë excelled in sugges. must be out of sight, and the picture tions of natural scenery. She gave us should not be painted on toned paper. none of the lengthened descriptions which It is in this that Jane Austen so much are fashionable to-day, and in which excels Charlotte Brontë. She has found colors are used as lavishly as in a paint- enough to write about without the intruer's crudest study of a sunset; but there sion of any prejudices or disappointments was a fitting relationship between her of her own. When we look at the world personages and the scenes in which they through her eyes the atmosphere is wholly moved, so that each reflected a pictur- clear. The picture is so perfect that we esque light upon the other.

forget to praise the artist; it is simply Her command of language, also, was quite natural, quite true, and so, perhaps, very great, and conscientiously used, al- for some persons, wholly without interest. though here - as sometimes in her senti. For there is a large class of readers to ment - there is a tone of exaggeration. whom nature does not speak plainly We feel that it is too rich, too mellifluous enough, for whom real life is not intense for nature, which has a touch of rugged- enough. They fail to find in the one the Dess in its sweetest sounds and sights. beauty the poets describe, and in the

As a character-painter she did not at other the passions they depict. Life and tain a very high place. She loved to nature must be translated for them into make studies of particular feelings or in plainer expressions by some other mind, teresting situations; and this naturally and the more theatrical light the other limited her choice of persons and things, mind throws into these expressions the though the studies produced might sur- more satisfactory they are considered. pass in interest any possible character. Day by day we all walk through the same drawings. All her sketches of persons scenes without observing half the details were too strongly biased by her own feel of them; and if we are compelled to ings and experiences to form a represen- grope for the first time in the dark along

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often-trod pathways, we come unexpect most of the powerful writers employ their edly on hitherto undiscovered objects in power in harrowing our feelings painfully, numerable. It is only when some new in weaving miseries out of circumstances light is thrown upon a well-known scene which seem improbable, by means of

-the sudden flashes in a thunderstorm, actions which strike us as unnatural; in. or the red glow of a great fire that our a time when the chief end of talent seems attention is roused to things habitually to be to pile up the agony sufficiently high, passed over unseen.

without caring about the reasonableness Some persons walk as blindly through of the foundation on which it rests, we life itself. They require a cleverer mind may well hesitate before expressing a than their own to throw a background of regret that, in a series of half-a-dozen de. fantastic color behind the objects among lightful novels, there is not one distress. which ihey move. Only so can they per- ing death, not one terrible domestic trag. ceive their true significance.

edy, not one horrible crime, not even one Such persons cannot be expected to irresistible temptation. All can be good appreciate Jane Austen's delicately tinted if they choose, and nearly all may be pictures of human life. Perhaps they happy if they will. must not even be required to realize what We may say of these books that they we mean when we are foolish enough to are simply and entirely delightful. The praise Shakespeare. A very intelligent cheerful reality of interest and the genial young man of to-day, who reads novels spirit of laughter which pervade them with interest and attends theatres with carry us on through pleasant and instrucpleasure, is so convinced of the absence tive pages to a pleasant and satisfactory of any surpassing merit in the mighty end. We know none, except Jane Ausdramatist that he allows himself to be. ten, who, by a few delicate touches, can so Jieve that the enthusiasts for the poet are completely satisfy us concerning the disall pretending!

posal of a heroine at the close of a novel. Another man, an elderly clergyman After passionate quarrels the reconcilia. (also of to-day), an M.A. of Oxford, in tion generally seems tame; but we are early years a botanist and a dabbler in wholly content with the fate of Emma in the natural sciences a man who thinks the novel which bears her name, of her he appreciates Virgil, and has got every favorite Lizzy in “ Pride and Prejudice," thing out of the poets that can be got by and of the gentle heroine in “Persua. an intelligent mind — has been heard to sion.” express, in a kind of confidential disgust There is no respect of persons in the at the stupidity of the world, the fol- works of this writer. A charming impar. lowing astonishing sentiment: “Shake.tiality and candor are to be found in all speare? Shakespeare is a very much her portraits of friend or foe. Jane Ausoverrated man. I can't understand what ten delights us as much in depicting the people profess to see in him. But it's peculiarities of a pleasant old woman as no use saying anything." So he leaves in relating the fortunes of a blooming us all to our blindness.

young one. It is not to such men that we must rec- And the most extraordinary thing is ommend the study of Jane Austen's that at a time when every other writer works, with their quiet humor, their quaint thought it necessary to write in another reality, their trenchant but good-natured way, and to depend upon incident and plot criticism, their sober and unexaggerated for his interest, Jane Austen ventured to tone, and that manner which, Macaulay write in this way, and has so commended has told us, approaches somewhat near to herself to this generation beyond her more Shakespeare's own. There is such an brilliant contemporaries. absence of exciting scenes in Miss Aus- Even the king of novelists, Sir Walter ten's books that, with the exception of Scott, whose wonderful masterpieces of those passages in “Sense and Sensi- fiction we have all read with absorbing bility” designed to illustrate the weak- delight and interest, must, in some points, ness of the heroine's sister, we can hardly as he has himself so generously acknowl. remember any occasion of actual weep-edged, bend his head before this quiet and ing; agony and wild passion are alto. unobtrusive young woman, who never gether excluded. We may complain a made, and never seemed to wish to make, little of want of the pathetic, which can a sensation of any sort. less easily be spared than the exciting The fact that so little of the interest of element; but even here we may be wrong Jane Austen's works depends on her inci. to demur. In the present age, when dents is in favor of a repeated perusal of

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