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nection with 'Maga' which During their stay in Italy the lasted for more than five-andforty years. 'Katie Stewart' -that exquisite little workwas not, however, Mrs Oliphant's first effort in literature. Margaret Maitland' had been published by Colburn in 1849, when the author was twentyone, and had been followed by other novels of decidedly inferior merit. Lord Jeffrey's letter of congratulation to the anonymous author of 'Margaret Maitland' will be read with much interest. The veteran critic was acute enough to guess the sex of the writer. Mrs Oliphant herself did not display the same sagacity when the 'Scenes of Clerical Life' and 'Adam Bede' took the reading public by storm. Lord Jeffrey's praise must have been intensely gratifying to the beginner, whose early associations and surroundings, by the bye, were all Whig, if not Radical; but, considering his lordship's letter with a cool mind, we think that his eulogy was not one whit too strong, and that, in his faultfinding, he was, if anything, hypercritical. It was well for Mrs Oliphant that her barque was thus safely and satisfactorily launched upon the sea of letters, for, after her marriage, she was the main support of the household. Her husband's business-that of an artist and designer of painted windows - proved the reverse of remunerative. Finally his health broke down, and after the removal of the household to Italy in the vain hope that Mr Oliphant might there recover health, he died at Rome in 1859.

family, which now included a son and daughter, were principally dependent for subsistence upon advances made by Mr John Blackwood on the faith of articles to be written by Mrs Oliphant for his Magazine. Probably Mr Blackett also made similar remittances. At her husband's death Mrs Oliphant found herself in these circumstances: "I had for all my fortune about £1000 of debt, a small insurance of, I think, £200 on Frank's life, our furniture laid up in a warehouse, and my own faculties, such as they were, to make our living and pay off our burdens by." A posthumous child was born, and then, with the assistance of Mr Blackwood and Mr Blackett, Mrs Oliphant returned to this country, where, after staying for some months with her brother at Birkenhead, and afterwards at Elie in Fife (the scene of 'John Rintoul '), she settled for the winter in Fettes Row, Edinburgh. It was during her residence there that, when things seemed at their very worst, she began the Carlingford seriesthe most satisfactory and the most popular group of her novels. They "almost made me one of the popularities of literature," is her wistful commentary upon them. She retells the story of her interview with Mr John Blackwood and "the Major," which readers of the 'Annals of a Publishing House' are not likely to have forgotten. Truly, the tide turned for her at the right moment.

She never made so

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much out of her writings as some of her contemporaries-as Anthony Trollope, for example, or Miss Muloch. "Yet I have done very well," she admits, "for a woman, and a friendless woman with no one to make the best of me, and quite unable to do that for myself I never could fight for a higher price, or do anything but trust to the honour of those I had to deal with." After a winter in Fettes Row, she moved to Ealing, which was her headquarters until she went to Windsor for the education of her boys.

Now let the reader mentally place himself or herself in the situation in which Mrs Oliphant stood after her husband's death, always postulating, of course, a certain faculty for writing, and a certain established position in the world of letters. What course would he pursue? We imagine that a prudent person, on arriving in England from abroad, would seek out some low - rented house in some country-town where education was cheap, or even in some altogether rural district; would cut down expenses as far as possible and live with the strictest economy; would direct his or her efforts to paying off outstanding debts and thereafter to laying something by, as the phrase runs, "for a rainy day." Not so Mrs Oliphant. Deliberately and with open eyes she adopted a policy which necessarily involved her being always behindhand with the world. Her avowals as to this "plan of campaign" are astoundingly outspoken. Nothing but

the best of everything was good enough for her. She hated small economies. To travel expensively was "her way." She never would travel secondclass. "I never liked secondclass journeys nor discomforts of that kind.” Rather than face a twelve hours' passage across the Channel she drove from St Malo to Boulogne. She had none of what she calls "the faculty of economics" in her. She stayed at the very best and most expensive hotels; she dressed in the richest of silks and satins; she insisted on producing champagne for her guests at dinner. To most people in her circumstances a "main-door" in Fettes Row and the boys going to the neighbouring Edinburgh Academy would have represented the summit of ambition. Fettes Row is uninviting enough in all conscience. But the Academy had revived classical learning in the Scottish secondary schools; it had introduced athletics into Scottish school-life; and it holds. its own to-day in the face of severe competition. Yet the Academy, which was good enough for most Scottish parents fiveand thirty years ago, not good enough for Mrs Oliphant. It must be either Eton or Harrow, and Eton it turned out to be.


But that was not all. Shortly after her removal to Windsor in order that her boy Cyril might go to Eton, her brother was ruined, and without an instant's hesitation she took upon herself the charge of his family. It meant the addition to her household of four people.

No doubt, friends remonstrated that resolution; but now I with her for undertaking this think that if I had taken the enormous additional responsi- other way, which seemed the bility. Mr John Blackwood, at less noble, it might have been all events, indulged a few years better for all of us." It was afterwards in a kindly warning, really easier to her, she says, which elicited from her the fol- "to keep on with a flowing lowing candid statement of her sail [the inappropriate adjective position:is characteristic], to keep my household and a number of

"My money is almost always spent before I get it, or received only just in time for pressing necessities, so that the pleasant sensation of feeling even three months clear before me is one which very rarely occurs to me. I have four people, an entire family, three of them requiring education, absolutely on my hands to provide for. My only chance of ever escaping from this burden is to train and push on my nephew into a position in which he can take this weight upon himself. This process of course involves a great additional expense, and I cannot let my own boys suffer for what I am obliged to do for him. For the next three years, during which I shall have all three at work, I can look forward to nothing but a fight à outrance for money. Now perhaps it would be wiser, with this tremendous struggle before me, to retire from my pretty house and pleasant surroundings and go to some cheap village where I could live at less expense. I hold myself ready to do this should the necessity absolutely arise; but you will easily understand that while still in the full tide of middle life I shrink from such a sacrifice, and would rather work to

the utmost of my powers than withdraw from all that makes existence agreeable. I never can save money, but if I can rear three men who may be good for something in the world, I shall not have lived for nothing."

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That this course involved the sacrifice of the ambition to do the very best work, Mrs Oliphant was well aware. At the time, she tells us, with extraordinary frankness, "it seemed rather a fine thing to make

people comfortable, at the cost of incessant work, and an occasional great crisis of anxiety, than to live the self-restrained life which the greater artist imposes upon himself." Time after time she repeats this view in the autobiography. The easy swing of life" was what she loved. "I had enough to carry me on easily, almost luxuriously, but not enough to save." A little extra expense could always be made up for by a little extra exertion.


What wonder that life for her was "always at hard, if not at high, pressure"? Well, indeed, might she liken herself to Prometheus, "the man chained to the rock, with the vultures swooping down upon him!" Think of it: always forestalling money earned, so that the price of a book was generally eaten up before it was printed; always owing somebody, "though never owing anybody to any unreasonable amount;" and with awful moments when some dreadful corner seemed impassable, which somehow was always rounded! Was it tempting Providence or trusting God? she herself asks. Who shall say? It is assuredly not for us to decide. We may note, at all events, that in one respect her calculations were justified; the

power of work lasted practically as long as life. Never was her skill more conspicuous than in the interval between Cecco's death and her own. Her sons, for whom she thus slaved, were taken from her. They no longer required a provision. If the line she followed was mistaken, surely she suffered a more than adequate penalty in the exquisitely bitter reflection that to some extent their failure to find a footing in life was due to her solicitude and indulgence.

There is, however, one consideration which rises irresistibly to the mind in reviewing the course which Mrs Oliphant mapped out for herself and consistently followed. If she was able to ride in first-class carriages, to stay at the best hotels, to educate her sons at Eton, to travel all over the Continent, to make a pilgrimage even to Jerusalem, whence came the money to meet the inevitable expense? The answer is very simple, from her publishers. They acted as her bankers: they advanced money to her on the security of her health of body and vigour of mind. It may very well be that if Mrs Oliphant had been beforehand with the world, she might have commanded better prices. You cannot expect a capitalist to let you have the use of his capital for absolutely nothing. Dickens has explained this aspect of

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a much-debated question with great force and clearness.1 But it is certain that, as matters actually stood, Mrs Oliphant would have had to forgo most of the luxuries and comforts by which she set as much store as anybody else, had it not been for the ready aid of those who "financed" her. In what other calling would she have been so fortunate? Perhaps, if she had been a painter, a picture-dealer might have advanced her a few guineas. But we know of no "profession" other than letters in which remuneration can be anticipated to the same amount and on the same terms. Solicitors do not finance barristers to the tune of several thousands. A struggling surgeon will probably fail to raise a five-pound note on the strength of a promise to cut off the lender's leg if called upon to do so. When the countless iniquities of "the trade" are rehearsed by prosperous and well-fed authors, let not the recording angel fail to note that publishers have long done, and still continue to do, what is asked and expected of no man in any other kind of business.

From the point of view of literature, it would be affectation to pretend not to regret that Mrs Oliphant drove herself so hard. She resented compliments to her industry; but she sometimes ran a serious risk

"He was equally intolerant of every magnificent proposal that should render the literary man independent of the bookseller. 'What does it come to?' he remarked. 'You and I know very well that in nine cases out of ten the author is at a disadvantage with the publisher, because the publisher has capital and the author has not. We know perfectly well that in nine cases out of ten money is advanced by the publisher before the book is producible-often long before.'"-Forster's Life of Dickens, iii. 451.

industry for people to compliment her upon. How remarkable it was, the present volume, with its full and excellent bibliography, gives ample indication. She had always an article on hand for 'Maga' in the midst of her heaviest work. No other contributor, except Aytoun, approached her versatility and diligence, and the term of his connection with the

of leaving nothing but her a species of instinct for discovering the salient points of a book at a mere glance and on the first turning over of the leaves. The knack of what is called "journalism" she possessed in an unusual degree. Her "copy," particularly in the case of her more important articles, was often delayed till the the last possible moment, but never longer. She was extraordinarily apt and ready at taking up a hint, and at working into her articles any new line of thought or argument suggested to her, provided always that it did not conflict with her own prejudices or convictions. In that case she was tenacious to the point of obstinacy; nor did she face the task of recasting a completed work with any more equanimity than her neighbours. Yet, when the first shock of annoyance was past, she was often wise enough to profit by distasteful advice; and 'The Beleaguered City' is a striking instance of judicious, though at the time, perhaps, reluctant, deference to the counsels of another. She wrote currente calamo. It was impossible to foretell what length her articles would "run to": she herself had probably little notion when she took up her pen. Hence a slight readjustment of balance or proportion might sometimes have effected a perceptible improvement. But these shortcomings were trivial indeed in comparison with her abounding merits. No periodical was ever better or more loyally served by a contributor: not the

Magazine was considerably shorter than hers. With the exception of purely political subjects, there was almost no topic on which she was not prepared to write. Old-fashioned in her ideas, she preferred the system of anonymous to that of signed articles; but she held out vigorously for her own views when they were not in harmony with the Editor's, as the correspondence sufficiently testifies. She was extremely plain-spoken in her comments on the Magazine upon occasion, and in writing to the Editor did not hesitate to stigmatise any article as "dreadful nonsense "if she thought it SO. As a critic she was fair and open-minded: not averse from "a little slashing" when that operation seemed necessary, and well able to apply the rod to serious delinquents. Her opinions were strongly held, and sometimes, perhaps, prevented her from catching the true drift of ideas with which she was unfamiliar. Yet she had no "fads" or eccentricities, no logs to roll, no axes to grind; and in the great majority of cases her views were both sensible and sound. Long practice had endowed her with

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