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respondents, and we can hardly wonder that a spirit of pardonable emulation should have led the writer of an inoffensive, if somewhat involved, historical work called The White Mask' to end her book with a quotation from Butler's Analogy,' and the following sentence: "My endeavour has been to show in a Romance, in the course of which I have taken many liberties with the muse of history, that there is a retribution even here." This assurance, which seems unnecessary if the endeavour was successful, recalls the conclusion of one of Artemus Ward's most delightful pieces of absurdity: "This is my 1st at"This is my 1st attempt at writin a Tail and it is far from bein perfeck, but if I have indoosed folks to see that in 9 cases out of 10 they can either make Life as barren as the Dessert of Sarah, or as joyyus as a flower garding, my objeck will have bin accomplished, and more too." It is evident that the clergy were not always to be trusted to find out the moral for themselves. Sometimes, however, they were good enough to point it out to the general reader, by means of a preface contributed to a book, as was the case with the Rev. G. R. Gleig, who is remembered to this day chiefly as author of that delightful book, 'The Subaltern,' but who was also known to his own generation as a novelist and an editor of the works of others. In the preface to a posthumous novel by a Miss Campbell, he apologises for the comparatively un-didactic character of the book, when contrasted with an earlier one, in terms which awaken wonder, not unmingled with awe, as to the nature of the latter. "Harriette Campbell never, indeed, wrote a line, of which the tendency was not to improve the moral feeling, as well as to amuse

the fancy of the reader. But in 'The Cardinal Virtues' the inculcation of pure and righteous principles constitutes the staple or main ingredient of the work; to which the story serves no other purpose than that of ornament the setting which surrounds the jewel-full of taste and beauty, yet, as compared with the jewel itself, utterly valueless." Surely the force of vicarious self-abnegation on the part of an author could no further go.

In spite, however, of all the moralising of all the novelists, the taste of the age continued to be corrupt-in fact, if we may trust Lady Blessington, who in 'Victims of Society' doubles the rôles of Juvenal and Cassandra, it deteriorated steadily. "We live," laments one of the characters, "in an age

when none but

exciting subjects have any interest. Tears are now only shed when great crimes are their source; domestic feelings are passés de mode; and those who would awaken sympathy must dare guilt." This denunciation, which seems oddly to echo the diatribes of certain lady novelists not unknown at the present day, is supported by a scathing review of the manners and morals of the upper classes in England. If we are to credit our author, who undoubtedly possessed the advantage of an intimate acquaintance with the life she described, to have used the words "decent society" at this epoch would have been to utter a contradiction in terms. As with the Spartans of old, it was not guilt, but its discovery, that was held to merit punishment. With the laudable object of stemming the tide of corruption, Lady Blessington depicts a series of incidents in aristocratic life, both in France and England, which read like

nothing so much as selections est attempts at what we may call from Sue and De Kock, related realistic treatment of poverty in by a member of the Vigilance the era under discussion are to be Society. All the unsavoury de- found in Mrs Trollope's 'Michael tails are there, but the narrator Armstrong' and Disraeli's 'Sybil'; raises his hands and turns away but in spite of this new light the his face in horror. No doubt the Society novelists remained shut up lady wrote her novel in the same in their enchanted world. They spirit as that in which she ad- were the heralds of the virtues vocated the publication by the and triumphs of that depositary Press of Divorce Court reports, of British excellence, the middle thinking that the publicity and class. A peer's younger son, who the revolting details would tend has made an imprudent marriage, to deter others from sinning; but and been cast off by his family, we can scarcely wonder that the may be welcomed with open arms; French, forming their judgment but to be a peer or peeress actually on this and similar instances, in the enjoyment of a title and should consider us a nation of estates is to forfeit immediately hypocrites. The good people in the sympathies of the author. The the book (for there were some aristocracy are proud, extravagant, good people even among the mean, profligate, prone to marry English aristocracy) might have in their own circle, and to give stepped out of the pages of 'Sir any gifts in their power to their Charles Grandison'-an idea which own near relations. Hence it is has evidently suggested itself to only natural that the mere mention the author. Like the little girl of a peer should freeze up all the of nursery story, the characters milk of human kindness in the when they are good are very, very bosom of the chronicler, for he begood, but when they are bad they longs to a different order of creare horrid. ation; and if it is not allowable to And this brings us to consider contemn and censure those who a curious tendency observable, so possess what you have not, and far as we have been able to re- who profess to be unaware of your mark, in almost all the Society existence, what comfort have you? novels of the time-and surviving The philosophic Liberal, nurtured to our own days in the writings in the demi - semi - revolutionary of the author of 'Nobly Born,' a doctrines which represented in work which is still, we believe, England the most permanent reregarded as a classic by factory-sult of the great French upheaval, girls and the pupils in some young ladies' schools-the tendency to depreciate the upper classes and exalt the virtuous of lower rank. Not the poor, be it understood; the poor are cleanly and excellent people, who exist merely in order to receive charity at the hands of the rich, and to accentuate the difference between the good heroine who remembers this peculiarity of their position and the bad one who neglects to do so. The earli

held it as an article of faith to dislike the aristocracy as strongly as he despised the "hands" who were demanding remedial legislation in factories and mines. And yet, with an inconsistency only to be found in perfection in your true republican, his great desire was to force his own way into the society which considered itself so far above him-an inconsistency which was but intensified by the hatred he felt to any member of his own

class who succeeded in the attempt. In Mrs Gore's novel, 'The Banker's Wife,' it is difficult to say whether the author or the aristocratic neighbours of the banker, among whom he wishes to establish himself, regard his presumptuous efforts with the greater disfavour. It only adds to the unhappy man's tribulations to find that the old Indian officer, whose acquaintance, formed through a business connection, he has cultivated from motives of policy, succeeds where he has failed. The Colonel, who went out to India at the age of fifteen, and has never revisited England until he retires with a fortune, is not only ignorant of the usages of social life, but speaks vulgarly and ungrammatically, and yet he is taken up, owing rather, we fear, to curiosity than to appreciation of his good heart and kind intentions towards every one, by the noble family in whom the banker is particularly interested. To add that the banker, after almost attaining the object of his ambition, speculates, ruins himself and his family, and finally commits suicide, is merely to show that in the Early Victorian era, as now, the introduction into a novel of a successful business man was merely a prelude to his financial destruction.

Of the aristocratic society which presented the aspect of a guarded paradise to the banker and his like, we have no picture that can be called sympathetic, with the exception of Samuel Warren's sketch of the De la Zouch family and their intimates in Ten Thousand a Year.' Rather are we given to understand that the manners of the aristocracy towards one another were as disagreeable as the lack of expansiveness they displayed towards those below them. In another novel of Mrs Gore's,

Preferment,' the hero is endowed with an uncle, who, like the Sir Charles Tregellis of a later author, is unrivalled as the judge of a race horse or as the arbiter of a disputed bet, ruling as "a sort of Lord Chancellor of the realms of vice and folly." This gentleman remonstrates with another nephew on the subject of his having been seen in Pall Mall or Piccadilly speaking to his country cousin, who added to his guilt by wearing a coat made by a country tailor. "The moment you have explanations to make about people," says the careful uncle, "they are not fit for your society." He has himself laboured under a somewhat similar incubus, the possession as a brother of an Irish Peer, who expected his companionship and countenance occasionally on his visits to London. "There was a vulgar domesticity about him," says this affectionate relative-" a family coach sort of way of going on, which often made him inconvenient and ridiculous." As we have touched already upon a present-day novel, we offer no apology for quoting from 'Preferment' another passage dealing with the latter end of "the illustrious group which had emerged from obscurity in the days when George IV. was Regent "the Bucks of whom Dr Doyle writes with such affectionate enthusiasm.

"Some," says Mrs Gore, writing thirty or forty years after the Corinthian era, "were in exile some in the grave; some at Calais-some at Coventry; some married to divorcées, and estranged from female societysome to country heiresses, and lost to male society. George Robins had disposed of the paraphernalia of a dozen or so, whose place remembered them no longer-whose snuff-boxes were dispersed among the curiosityshops-whose travelling-carriages had been bought cheap by retired haber

dashers-whose names were forgotten amid their daily haunts and ancient neighbourhood, except in the defaulter-lists of the clubs. Some were showing their withered faces and knocking knees at Paris - some at Naples-some concealing themselves

in more obscure retreats."

The mention in this passage of the retreat to the Continent of the ruined Bucks reminds us of the vast amount of travelling which our fathers contrived to effect in the infancy of steam. To the majority of the characters in their Society novels France and Italy appear to have been a good deal more familiar than their own country. This may be partly due to the necessity of being in the fashion; but when nearly every family had one or more of its members permanently settled on the other side of the British Channel, for reasons connected with debts or duels, or other mat ters of equal weight, the severance between England and the Continent appears to have been much less wide than at present. Fashions, morals, and fiction from France ruled the taste of society; poetry and philosophy from Germany formed the mind of the scholar and enthusiast. Foreign travel was still as necessary a finish to a gentleman's education as in the days of Sir Charles Grandison, and Greville, Strathern, and Tancred set forth as a matter of course. "In our time, you know," we learn from an elderly speaker in 'Preferment,' "the grand tour meant Paris, Rome, Naples, and perhaps Vienna; now it appears to include Russia, Tartary, Persia, Asia Minor, Egypt, and who knows what!" Well, nowadays it means going round the world, and spending a cold season in India, so that the fin-de-siècle Briton is in no way behind his ancestor. In spite of

the wideness of these wanderings, Scotland and the English Lakes do not appear to have been even known to the aristocracy as touring-grounds, and Ireland and the Irish were regarded by all classes with a mingled antipathy and contempt not found at present, we believe, outside the servants' hall. Life within the United Kingdom and out of London seems to have been considered as scarcely worth living, if we may venture to quote again from 'The Banker's Wife':

"The noble owner of some fine

mansion glories in making it almost as agreeable to his guests as a mansion in Grosvenor Square, by bringing down daily from town the freshest London fish and London scandal, the last new books and engravings, periodicals and caricatures. . . . With the thermometer below freezing-point, so as to neutralise the effect of any possible superiority of atmosphere, and imprison the weary guests within the over-stoved house, the captives continue to smile encouragingly upon each other's suffering, and though inexpressibly weary of themselves and each other, persist in congratulating their host on the superior sociability of a country party in wintervivacity to disguise the growing optime, endeavouring by their laboured pression of their spirits."

The English love of fresh air seems from this to be a plant of recent growth. Imagine a countryhouse party of to-day kept helplessly indoors by frosty weather, and reduced to find their sole recreation in the illustrated papers and 'Punch '-for to these, we conclude, do the "engravings and caricatures of early Victorian days correspond! Even the solace of smoking, which is nowadays regarded as a necessary of life, was not generally available. It is true that one of Lytton's heroes, Ernest Maltravers, who has been educated at a German univer

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sity, smokes a large meerschaum, thoughtfully adding to the tobacco a gilt pastille, which, as the author beautifully remarks, "adulterates the seductive weed with odours that pacify the repugnant censure of the fastidious"; but Lady Blessington's Strathern waxes eloquent in condemning the practice. Smoking is a filthy and unbearable habit-an abomination. The man who smokes shows a fixed disregard of the comfort of women, since whenever whenever he approaches them he infects them with the noisome odour which clings to his raiment, and they, poor things! are forced to tolerate a habit from which they naturally recoil in dis gust. Nothing stronger than this could be uttered by the Society moralist of the present day, and it may surprise those from whom we hear so much of the superiority of our fathers in the article of manners; but the imagination fails to conceive the terms in which our author would have scathed the tobacco-loving propensities of the modern man.


The whole position of women in society, in Lady Blessington's opinion, was capable of much improvement. When the censor morum of her age is able to turn her attention from the vices of the great to the needs of the middle class, she betrays a keen good sense and a modernity of view which distinguish her honourably from the majority of her temporaries. French society was more punctilious than English, we learn, as regarded the behaviour of men to women; but our author does not for that reason advocate the general adoption of French customs. Her wish is to improve the status of the unmarried woman. Almost alone, she raises her voice on behalf of the old maid, who had hitherto been regarded with

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of the state of affairs then existing, by which marriage was regarded as the only possible course for every woman, whether poor or rich, is portrayed in her last book, 'Country Quarters,' in which the arrival of a regiment in an Irish garrison town is described. The young ladies of the place plunge immediately into a course of unblushing and unconcealed husbandhunting, per fas et nefas. This is only what is expected of them, and the officers respond with the utmost willingness, but with the avowed intention of loving and riding away.

Another side of the

shield is shown by Miss Catherine Sinclair in 'Modern Society,' in which we see an heiress beset by fortune-hunters, while she, not loving any of them, calculates, with the greatest nonchalance, which of them will be able to give her most in return for her money. To point the moral, the heiress is proved not to be an heiress at all, the fortune belonging in reality to her cousin, the type of modest merit, who has remained untouched by the excitement of the scramble for matrimony, and yet succeeds in carrying off the hero as well as the heritage. Like Lady Blessington, Miss Sinclair was in this matter a reformer born before her time, although not before she was needed. Another book of hers, 'Jane Bouverie,' which is dedicated to the single ladies of England, sets out boldly to tell the story of a woman who was never married, and whose life was nevertheless useful and happy. To her, even more than to the somewhat spasmodic efforts of Lady

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