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she has greatly lost touch with these discipline as lands the ship safe in port fiercer emotions; and among novel- without throat-cutting. If he had been readers women make the majority. laboring for the blue eyes of a fair

That is why in every novel the love haired lass, discreetly suggested in the interest is obligatory. When you have first chapter, hinted at in moments of that, you have something that appeals high emotion throughout, and introto every woman-something that she duced with a pink halo on the last can compare, not, perhaps, with her ac- page, the book might have been a novel tual experiences, but with those infinite in the orthodox form, and women capabilities of which she alone is might have read it; as it was, it reaware; and therefore, to win her appro- mained a yarn, and one of the best of bation, if the story be one of risks and its kind, but Mudie's, probably, had adventures, they must at least be very little call for copies. risked and adventured for the sake A book of this sort is a saga, and a of a woman. If the novelist neglects saga of the old Icelandic type; it apthis interest he does so at his peril; peals to man, the aboriginal fighting women have hardly yet become recon- animal, who is more concerned with ciled to Stevenson, because in the the fight than the motive of the fighter. books by which he became famous But the pleasure of recognition, of there was no love-story. Still, in Stev- identifying our own latent instincts enson there was always that charm translated into act, is, in a book like which is not proper to the novel as a this, only for men, whereas the success. novel—the fascination of romance; the ful novel easily eschews such a limita. sense everywhere, at every turn of the tion of the potential audience. The narrative, that there is something superficial interests of men and of waiting always just beyond the corner; women are to-day widely similar, and and this touch of mystery is felt less a novel that deals with the ordinary by women than by men, yet it is felt life of civilized society gives this pleasby all human beings who have a sus- ure to both sexes, but chiefly to the sex ceptibility to the influences of litera- which is par excellence the sex of novelture. But give to the average educated readers. Hence, in spite of the vogue lady a book like Mr. Morley Roberts's which the historical novel has recently "Sea Comedy," which is simply an ad- attained, there arises the domination mirable yarn of rough-and-tumble ad. of the novel of manners; yet it must venture, with the grimmest issues tak- not be supposed that here the novelist en in a jesting spirit, and the book has to move checked and fettered by will have no interest for her. She has the laws of common probability. The no possible concern in the scenes that most popular novel of manners is that pass on board a ship homeward bound based mainly on imagination. It confrom Australia with a crew of broken trives to pay a double debt, gratifying miners, half of them "Shanghaied" or the human interest in a story, and trepanned, and every mother's son tickling the human curiosity where with a revolver in his pocket. But, on that curiosity is most sensitive. Mr. the other hand, every man will enter Hall Caine, in "The Christian," reat once into the spirit of the adventure, vealed to a palpitating public the monand he will have a man's admiration strous wickedness that goes on in Lon. for a man, the hard-fisted ruffian who don hospitals, and showed how patients first of all sharks up the crew out of generally owe their lives to the sagacity hospitals and gambling dens, and then and resolution of a raw probationer. manages to keep such a make-shift for The information was vouched for as ac.

upon it.


curate by the author, and it was just the information that the general public desired. Accuracy was a matter of slight importance; to have a picture of the life lived by people whom one met in the street, but not elsewhere, to see the true inwardness of what was only vaguely recorded in the newspapersthis the average novel-reader, the person in whose hands lie pecuniary success and failure, demanded of the popular instructor. For novels of manners resolve themselves into two classes—those which are based on knowledge and those which rear fabric on imagination. And for solid success it is to the latter we should look. The power to gratify a popular curiosity accounts for the stupefying fact that Miss Marie Corelli is read by tens of thousands. She describes 80ciety-the haunt of wicked peers and abandoned peeresses-not exactly as it is, but exactly as her audience wishes to hear it described. Her books are to her audience was good as a sermon," and much better too, because they are more detailed. A work like Ouida's powerful piece of rhetoric, “The Massarenes," does not rest on direct observation but it rests on facts; it is not life but it comes as near life as satire is bound to do. A book like "The Mur. der of Delicia” is true to nothing in heaven and earth but Miss Corelli's imagination. And yet Miss Corelli has been so successful that it is impossible, in an essay of this kind, to omit at least so much reference to her as is contained in saying that her work is entirely undeserving of any consideration.

Miss Corelli ranks as a novelist of manners by intention rather than by result, but it is plainly her intention to depict not much individuals as classes; to render not a single charac*ter but the character of a society. The distinction is important for our present purpose, and it may be well to dwell

A novelist who sets out to tell us what men and women may be like uses imagination for the purposes of psychology; one who tells us what they are like uses observation. The stronger the emotional interest, wheth. er roused by violent and exciting in. cident or by the suggestion of some great spiritual crisis, the more difficult it is to avoid concentrating all atten. tion on the principal figure, unless, like Scott, the writer fixes our minds on the events themselves rather than on the persons affected by them. But in the day of small things interest is diffused, and we observe all the actors, we note their individual peculiarities, we listen to general comment, every accessory has a value in its own right, we see things and people as they are in themselves, not in relation to some tragic personage.

The room where a murderer sits takes a shadow from the murder, but the room where three old ladies combine to talk gossip has a physiognomy of its own. Where there is no overmastering central preoccupation the novelist may atone for its absence by the great significance given to detail, and a catholicity of concern.

Let us illustrate by examples. In "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" Mr. Hardy's object is to portray character, but individual character, to show us the nature of Tess shaking off alien accretions and shooting up into the final glory of its tragic blossom. Every other actor affects us in a way through Tess; we judge them by their dealings with her, by their contrast to her figure or their armony with it. So true an artist as Mr. Hardy is indifferent to no form of human life, but he depicts the surroundings for the sake of Tess. On the other hand the novelist of manners is concerned to combine and to contrast in the picture groups rather than individuals. There is no character in Miss Austen's works who so dominates

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a story, none who is such an emotional George Gissing, to name a typical excentre as Tess. But on the other hand ample, has written the novel of manlook at the skill with which this subtle ners with genuine talent. His “New artist marks off not only individualities Grub Street” is an amazing study of but the gradations between group and the people who live the most uncomgroup in the very limited section of so- fortable of all lives, between two ciety that she knows and treats of. classes; meeting on the stair that leads The county families, the stray visitors up and down from the recognized litfrom the world of London, the profes- erary world. It is a sordid ascent, a sional men like the clergy and barris. squalid descent, as Mr. Gissing sees it, ters, the indigent gentlefolk of country and that, perhaps, is why he is a towns, who barely escape social rela- neglected excellence. Mr. George tions with the shopkeeper-all these Moore in "Esther Waters" gained a are differentiated so perfectly that wider popularity with a study conevery character which figures is true ceived in a similar spirit, but dealing not only to its own nature, but to the with a class—the hanger-on of raceclass from which it comes. Miss Fer- courses—whose lives are of more genrier, aiming at a similar result, was eral interest, and have less frequently forced to employ the most glaring con- been treated in literature. But for the trasts—to plunge fine ladies into the full measure of success the novel of house of a Highland laird, or bring a manners must be the novel of Society Highland lass in among the blue-stock- -with a capital S. Mr. E. F. Benson ings at Bath; and her work is super- recognized that fact some time ago, annuated these fifty years. Even and made his profit out of it; his last Thackeray makes his task easier for book, “Mammon & Co.," gave the pub. himself than Miss Austen did; his op- lic what it wanted, a story about the positions were obvious; the life of the sort of people with titles who not only soldier or the Bohemian is naturally in- are, but call themselves, “smart” (an compatible with that of the stockbrok- adjective we find it hard to reconcile er or merchant, and a less skilful hand our ear to), with details about a baccould have drawn out the contrast be- carat party thrown in. The book was tween Major Pendennis and old Costi- clever enough, but, without entering gan. But after all Thackeray would be into the questions of taste which it the novelist of manners par excellenoe suggests one has to object to its insinif he were not so much more. When cerity. A lady who misconducts hersybtlety of discrimination is needed it self without the excuse of passion is never fails, and the households of the made to develop scruples which she prosperous Osbornes and the broken- certainly would not have felt; and down Sedleys are rendered in every de- this tampering with truth out of a detail with the same certain touch as sire to conciliate sympathy for a perBecky's card parties, or Lord Steyne's son who does not deserve it appears to ball. But the genius of the novelist us an offence against the morality of half obscures his art, and in thinking of art. Mr. Benson gratifes at the same Becky and Amelia we forget that, just time the taste for scandal and the to fill in the picture, he has accom- taste for false pathos; it is an achieveplished what is the lifelong effort of ment, but not one on which he is to laborious artists.

be congratulated. Let us talk rather Recent fiction never attempts such a of two other novelists who come under range as Thackeray's; it is prone to the same classification-Miss Cholmonlimit its study to a single class. Mr. deley, who is much more talented than

Mr. Benson, and Miss Fowler, who is knowledge of the world, which is cermuch more successful.

tainly more characteristic of elderly The first fact that strikes one about colonels, when they happen to be these ladies is the fact of their sex. stupid, than of any other type of stupid They are both novelists who write man. The trick of making a narrator stories exclusively about love, but who unconsciously expose his own oddities write them as social philosophers. They and short-comings is one that had been are both somewhat sententious and the worn rather threadbare in the generamain text of their moralizings is love. tion to which Wilkie Collins belonged, Consequently, one is led to the conclu- and Miss Cholmondeley was no doubt sion that the British public delights in conscious of the fact. But in one of novels which consist mainly in moral. the other characters she hit upon a izings about love, and that it likes the type that interested her, and she made moralizings about love to be done by him the hero of her next novel which unmarried women. One must distin- bore his name, "Sir Charles Danvers." guish however. Miss Cholmondeley, About this book one need only say that who is not nearly 80 lavish of her it is a decidedly clever book with a aphorisms, writes, it is true, like a good plot of the mechanical kind; that woman with a limited outlook upon is to say, a plot in which interesting life, but she writes like a woman of circumstances happen as they might the world. Miss Fowler writes like a conceivably have happened to those clever girl. It is true that the public very people, and throughout which the thinks her, and with some reason, to characters behave consistently. A be extremely witty; but we have a great plot is one like that of “Vanity shrewd suspicion that her readers also Fair,” in which the events arise natuadmire and buy her because she is so rally and inevitably out of the characwise-almost as wise as Miss Corelli. ters, with nothing arbitrary about it; That, however, is merely a matter of but it is a difficult matter to invent a conjecture; our business is to say how story, even with arbitrary elements, the work of these two ladies, when which shall be interesting and probtaken as outstanding representatives able, and Miss Cholmondeley may of their art, impresses our most candid fairly claim to have mastered this acjudgment.

complishment at her second attempt. Miss Cholmondeley does not date The book was in other ways characterfrom yesterday, though her first not. istic; it showed a decided talent for able success came after Miss Fowler's. that species of pointed moralizing, “Red Pottage," the only one of her which is a natural embellishment of novels which "took the town by storm," the novel of manners, as, for example, appeared last autumn. The first of

in this passage:them, a story of less than the orthodox length, called “The Danvers Jewels,"

If conformity to type is indeed the

one great mark towards which humanwas published in 1887. As a piece of

ity should press, Mrs. Thursby may work it has no great merit, but it is of

honestly be said to have attained to it. interest as proving that Miss Chol.

Everything she said or did had been mondeley's first interest was in plot, said or done before, or she would and her first model Wilkie Collins. In never have thought of saying or doing this book the story-a story of wildly

it. Her whole life was a feeble imita

tion of the imitative lives of others; in improbable robbery-is narrated in the

short, it was the life of the ordinary first person by an elderly colonel who

country gentlewoman, who lives on her has that childlike faith in his own

husband's property, and who, as Au


gustus Hare says, “has never looked over the garden wall."




It is tolerably obvious that this paragraph would have been materially improved by the omission of the last sentence; and in the book the effect of the opening epigram is further diluted by two full pages of expansion. However, satire always tends to be diffuse; and satire was in that novel, and in its successors, a main part of Miss Cholmon. deley's intention, and the objects of her satire have changed very little. Intolerance of provincialism, intolerance of stupid women, intolerance of stupid religion-those are natural marks of a clever woman living most of her time in the country. There was a positive glut of stupid women in that book, and one of them, Mrs. Alwynn, the almost imbecile wife of the kind and scholarly rector (a marriage not counted for by Miss Cholmondeley),

positive caricature. Indeed, Lady Mary, Sir Charles's matchmaking and religious aunt, is little more human. Satire has a license to overcharge traits; but Miss Cholmondeley has throughout failed to realize that all the characters in a novel ought to bear the same relation to life. If you overcharge consistently, as, for instance, Lever did, or Disraeli, or Dickens, the general effect is consistent; but if you obey the modesty of nature in one chapter, you must not affront it in another. This point must be raised here; but it can best be illustrated from “Red Pottage.”

"Diana Tempest," which appeared in 1893, was at least as good a book as the one which made such a sensation last year. It had really a capital plot, though, again, of the arbitrary Wilkie Collins order. Colonel Tempest is brother to Mr. Tempest, of Overleigh, and Mr. Tempest is dying. Mr. Tempest has an heir, born in wedlock, but illegitimate. Mr. Tempest knows this,

Colonel Tempest knows it, every one knows it; and the boy, though brought up as the heir, has never been treated as a son. But there is a deadly feud between the brothers, since Colonel Tempest ran away with his brother's fiancée; and for that reason the owner of Overleigh lets the hereditary home pass to one who has only his name, and not his blood, sooner than see it go to a Tempest who first robbed him of the woman and then maltreated her. Neyertheless, Colonel Tempest hopes against hope, and at the very last makes an attempt, described in an admirably dramatic scene, to win the succession for himself and his son, Archie. But by the plea he uses-invoking the memory of the woman whom he stole, with a lack of imaginative sympathy that is, as Miss Cholmondeley insists, the mark of the entirely selfish-he only embitters the wronged man; and Colonel Tempest returns to London separated from the great inheritance by the barrier of this boy John, who is called John Tempest. A disreputable ruffian, hanger on of gambling dens, learns the situation, and makes a horrible suggestion. Will Colonel Tempest lay ten bets of a thousand to one that he never succeeds to the estate? Colonel Tempest yields to the temptation; the tempter, Swayne, disappears; and thus a machinery is set in motion which the first mover cannot control. All this is a kind of first act or prologue; the real action of the book begins when John Tempest has come to manhood, after a youth of unaccount. able dangers and escapes. He is on friendly terms with his uncle and his cousin Archie (whose debts he pays), and the woman he is in love with is Colonel Tempest's daughter Diana, who lives not with her father, but her grandmother, Mrs. Courtenay. The psychological crisis of the book comes when John, who has been arrested in the very act of declaring his love by a

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