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salutary reminder of the just bounds of gentlemen throughout Mr. Wilson's criticism.

twenty-seven years' management apFor I am not here to apologize for pears to have received any complaint. this reviewer. His offence has stirred Indeed, apart from the misdeeds of the bile of the urbane Mr. Birrell, and one dirty cook (whom he dismissed), may justly be left to the torment of and of one cross governess, Miss Mr. Swinburne’s alliterative damna- Brontë herself had nothing to allege ; tion. Nor indeed am I so rash as to and it was admitted by all witnesses hold a brief for the reviewer in gen- that, in an uphill work of charity, Mr. eral, whose case is of course past Wilson's management was both generpleading. Yet if the story of Hugh ous and watchful. The intensity of Brontë illustrates vividly the risks of Charlotte Brontë's bitterness it is quite the reviewer, “ Jane Eyre” illustrates, easy to understand ; her sister Maria on the other hand, the license of the died at the school, and to watch a novelist. If it comes to a question of dying sister sickening over unpalatable hurting folks' feelings, Charlotte food or subjected to the nagging of a Brontë had herself a great deal to governess, is a cruel experience for a answer for.

No reader of “Jane child of eight or nine. The recollecEyre” is likely to forget the Lowood tion of it bit into her intensely personal Institution ; well, no sooner did the and brooding imagination; and nearly novel reach Yorkshire than Lowood a quarter of a century later the philanwas identified with the Cowan Bridge thropic clergyman was punished for School for the children of the clergy, having entertained unawares that danand its founder, the Rev. Mr. Brockle- gerous angel, a future novelist. Miss hurst, with the real founder of the real Brontë told Mrs. Gaskell more than school, the Rev. William Carus Wilson. once that she would not have written And very pleasant reading the novel what she did of Lowood in made for this philanthropic clergyman Eyre” if she had thought the place in his old age and years of declining would have been so immediately iden. health. The school for the children of tified with Cowan Bridge. She added the clergy had been the darling scheme that she had not considered it necesof his life. He had sympathized sary, in a work of fiction, to state every deeply with the extreme difficulty ex- particular with the impartiality that perienced by clergymen, with their might be required in a court of justice, limited incomes, in providing for the nor to seek out motives and make education of their children ; and had allowances for human failings, as she devised this scheme of a school to be might have done if dispassionately supported partly by subscriptions, analyzing the conduct of those who had where girls might receive a sound edu- the superintendence of the institution. cation for £14 a year. For more than Here precisely lies the danger of this a quarter of a century he worked for it license of the novelist. It is this absoand watched over it with unremitting lute irresponsibility of the romancer, zeal and self-denial, to find in the end this privilege of selecting the facts and himself and his school represented in a imputing the motives, which, added to romance, read from one end of the the artistic gift for deepening the country to the other, as something akin shadows and heightening the effect, to Squeers and his Dotheboys' Hall. makes the novel so far-reaching and so That Mr. Wilson was guilty of any irresistible a libel. fault of omission or commission in the One would perhaps attach management of the school, there is, so weight to Miss Brontë's expression of far as I can make out, no evidence to regret for the wrong done to Mr. Wilprove and a good deal to contradict. son if she had shown herself more Mr. Wilson, though taking upon him scrupulous in her handling of living the chief management, was only one of people in her subsequent novels. But twelve trustees, and none of these I what is one to say of the treatmeat of

6 Jane



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the curates in “Shirley," or of Ma- | pilloried the failings of private persons, dame Héger in “Villette ” ? Curates, which were not public property at all, like many other amiable and useful and had exposed them to the derision servants of the community, have long of their friends and the world. When dwelt in the cold shadow of romance ; one remembers Mrs. Ritchie's half and when, as in this case, the romancer ludicrous, half pathetic account of was doubled with the rector's daughter, Miss Brontë's own behavior as a lionthese unfortunate young men naturally ess at Thackeray's party, one is stood scant chance of humane treat- tempted, quite apart from considerament. Yet when Miss Brontë was not tions of good taste and good feeling, to sharpening her pen for a biting por- question her right to be satirical in the trait, she had eyes for merits out- matter of manners even at the expense weighing manners even in a curate of of her father's curates. She was quite Haworth. The militant Puseyism of aware how badly she had treated them. these curates had provoked, you may “ Even the curates, poor fellows," she remember, a quarrel in the parish over wrote, “show no resentment; each Church rates. The undaunted Pusey- characteristically finds solace for his ites defied the schismatics to come to own wounds in crowing over his brethchurch to hear them preach. The ren." Not a hint of remorse or rechallenge, oddly enough, was accepted ; pentance, I am afraid ; on the contrary, the chapels were closed, and " a keener, when these good fellows took it laughcleverer, bolder, and more heart-stir-ing instead of crying, she is in her ring harangue” than that which one of superior way quite scornful of their these Anglican champions delivered insensibility. Because “Mr. Donne” from Haworth pulpit that Sunday even- forgave her, she wrote : “Some peoing, Miss Brontë had never heard. ple's natures are veritable enigmas; I “He did not rant,” she wrote to a quite expected to have had one good friend, “he did not cant, he did not scene at least with him ; but as yet whine, he did not sniggle ; he just got nothing of the sort bas occurred.” up and spoke with the boldness of a Does not after all the impersonal and man impressed with the truth of what responsible reviewer compare favorably he was saying, who has no fear of his with the personal and irresponsible enemies and no dread of conse- novelist? The writer in the Quarterly quences.” Nevertheless their heroism Review did not know the anonymous in the pulpit availed the curates noth- author of " Jane Eyre” from the man ing when their characters were required in the moon.

If Lockhart interpolated by the novelist for "

the offending observations, he did so at A review of “Shirley” appeared in least merely in mistaken loyalty to the the Times when Miss Brontë was stay- traditions of the review and from an ing in London with her publishers. It honest dislike of revolutionary septiwas severe, and the paper was hidden ment in the relations of the sexes. lest it should spoil the day's enjoy- After all, apart from one unwarrantable ment. Miss Brontë guessed the truth personal insinuation, he only said puband persisted in her request to be licly and curtly what Harriet Martineau shown the criticism. She tried to hide said privately and with management her face between the large sheets, but when Charlotte Brontë adjured her her companion could not help becom- as a friend to speak frankly. We ing aware of tears stealing down the now know that Charlotte Brontë was face and dropping on the lap. I sup- the most old-maidenly of Revolting pose nobody who has read the incident Women; yet strange as it may seem to would like to have been the reviewer ; a generation privileged to peruse the yet the reviewer at least was severe productions of the Pioneer Club, our only on what had deliberately chal- parents and grandparents did actually lenged a public judgment. The novel. consider Jane Eyre and Lucy Snowe ist, on the other hand, bad deliberately lindelicate.



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Of course a certain usage of their | impulse was to retort with a tu quoque; friends by novelists is legitimate in but his purpose was overruled by fiction and indeed inevitable. Sir Wal- Charles Dickens, whose advice he ter Scott borrowed from his father for asked and followed. old Fairford, and for the young one If indeed Dickens bad consented to from William Clerk, and he made use be accessory to Yates's retort, it cerof Laidlaw more than once ; but Scott tainly would have been curious, considwas a great gentleman as well as a ering his own license in this particular great writer ; his unerring tact and line. Probably the most famous case kindly heart kept him always on the in the record is the case of Harold safe side and void of all offence. Char. Skimpole and Leigh Hunt. Nor was lotte Brontë drew her heroine Shirley that by any means Dickens's first oifrom her sister Emily whom she idol- fence. I pass over the unfortunate ized. So long, indeed as the painter Yorkshire schoolmasters who were but adds an aureole, nobody is ag- ruined or made wretched by Dickens's grieved ; the trouble begins when the delineations of Squeers and Dotheboys' portrait is unamiable as well as recog- Hall, because no doubt where a guilty nizable. The aunt of George Eliot, class has to be exposed the innocent who was the original of Dinah Morris, must sometimes suffer. But take the had no ground of complaint, and Caleb ease of Fang in “Oliver Twist," and Garth might be accepted by the novel. read this letter which the novelist ist's father with tolerable equanimity ; wrote to a Mr. Haines who at that time but it will be agreed on the other hand, superintended the police reports for that however disagreeable a young gen. the press : “In my next number of tleman Master Isaac Evans may have Oliver Twist,'" wrote Dickens, - I been, his sister was more than even must have a magistrate ; and casting with him when she presented him to about for a magistrate whose harshuess the world as Tom Tulliver. Where and insolence would render him a bit novels are autobiographical (aud prob. subject to be shown up, I have, as a ably half the novels written are more necessary consequence, stumbled upon or less autobiographical) there is neces- Mr. Laing of. Hatton Garden celebrity. sarily with the self-portraiture some I know the man's character perfectly portraiture of relations and friends. well; but as it would be necessary to In " David Copperfield,” which is describe his personal appearance also, frankly autobiographical, we have it I ought to have seen him, which (foron the authority of the minute German tunately or unfortunately as the case critic, that even “ die Schwester von may be), I have never done. In this Mealy Potatoes, who did inips in the dilemma it occurred to me that perhaps pantomime, ist ebenfalls bistorisch." I might under your auspices be smug. To the self-portraiture in “ Penden-gled into the Hatton Garden office for nis,” Thackeray pleaded guilty by a few moments some morning.” sketching his own features in an illus- Let the police magistrate have been tration of bis not too heroic hero. It what you will, I call that rather an was Thackeray's usage of his frievds, ugly letter. Nor is it reassuriog to be as subjects for both pen and pencil, told that after the magistrate had been which led Edmund Yates to consider brought up" before the novelist, the himself justified in making Thackeray home secretary found it an easy and himself the subject of an early essay “popular" step to remove Mr. Lains in personal journalism. The story is from the bench. If there is a public familiar, and has so recently been re- evil, it should be the business of some called to the public recollection, that it more responsible authority to look to it is unnecessary to repeat it here, perti- than the popular novelist. The novelnent as it is to the matter in hand. ist is under too great temptations 10 When Thackeray resented Yates's make his characters dramatic aod tell“pen-and-ink portrait,” the latter's ling. Dickens confessed the temptation, when he had no excuse of public have done ; and the testimony of the zeal to offer. After the twenty-second great novelists is unanimous, that chapter of “David Copperfield" had genius never merely copies from life, appeared in the serial form, Dickeus but always idealizes and combines. received by post a pileous protest from What Dickens said, Charlotte Brontë the poor little Miss Mowcher of real said likewise. “You are not to suplife. The novelist had to confess he pose any of the characters in “Shirley” had enjoyed the fun of copying closely intended as literal portraits. It would peculiarities of figure and face amount- not suit the rules of art nor of my own ing to physical deformity of a grotesque feelings to write in that style. We little oddity among his acquaintance. only suffer reality to suggest, never to He did not stop to consider that it was dictate.” And as it was back to the cruel fun for the victim. When her days of Fielding, so we are told is it cry reached him he was shocked, and down to the days of “ Dodo.” Even made some amends for the pain he had the misguided manufacturer of romans inflicted. But the most notorious case, à clef trims and twists. M. Daudet as I have said, was Skimpole. Leigh assured Gambetta that had he really Hunt was cruelly hurt by the caricature. meant Numa Roumestan for him, he Dickens knew perfectly well he was would have made him so like that there doing wrong, and confessed that again should have been no possibility of mishe had succumbed to the novelist's take. The niischief is that genius has temptation. He said that he often a knack of making the borrowed traits grieved afterwards to think he had twice as natural as life, till the average yielded to the inducement of making man recognizes the likeness a mile off. the character speak like an old friend, And then the differences which the for the pleasure it afforded him to find author emphasizes in order to prove a delightful manner reproducing itself that the picture is no portrait serve under his hand. Leigh Hunt himself only to aggravate the libel. It is easy did not at first recoguize the portrait, enough for criticism to discriminate and very much enjoyed the picture ; how much in Skimpole is Leigh Hunt, but when good-natured friends ex. and how much not; but unfortunately plained things, as good-natured friends the general public is not critical, and do, he suffered keenly. Dickens was the result has been that Dickens did his good friend, who had done this his friend a more lasting injury than thing. In vaiu Dickens tried to com- did all his enemies from the “fat fort him : “ Separate,” he said to him, Adonis of forty " downwards. Seeing “ in your own mind, what you see of that Micawber was drawn from Dickyourself in Skimpole, from what other ens's own father, and Mrs. Nickleby people tell you they see.” Cold com- from his mother, it is little wonder that fort this ! Hunt's grievance was that the novelist could not restrain himself the public did, and posterity would, to spare his friends. take Skimpole's character for his own, These libels of genius are doubly emtrait for trait. “Every one in writ- barrassing to the victim. The author ing," Dickens went on to plead," must vexes him from a high sense of literary speak from points of his experience, obligation ; and the victim is in no and so I of mine with you ; but when position to complain, for a complaint I felt it was going too close, I stopped serves only to publish his shame, and myself, and the most blotted parts of is taken for an admission that the dramuy manuscript are those in which I matic villain or picturesque fool of the have been striving hard to make the author's imagination is a recognizable impression I was writing from unlike portrait. If the real Parson Adams you.” Here surely is even more con- had been so foolish as to take Fieldfession than defence. Of course what ing's portrait in bad part, a charitable Dickens says is perfectly true. He world would certainly have assumed was but doing what all the novelists that there was much discreditable truth behind that queer story of his being spicuous Englishman alive on the found in Mrs. Slipslop's bedroom. I globe ? Another novel that I read pass over the flagrant case of Disraeli, soon after this one was about a famous for indeed the calendar of the novel. African traveller and explorer who ist's offences in this kind is inex- got into trouble about his treatment of haustible, and I have quoted enough the blacks, married a lady well know examples for my purpose. I have cited for her independent spirit and her familiar examples, just because they sketches of street Arabs, and on his are familiar, and because if I attacked marriage abandoned travel for politics. later and lesser cases (of which there It would not be easy to indicate a wellis assuredly no lack) these precedents known couple more closely. Any tolwould be quoted against me. Besides, erably wide reader of current novels familiar as these cases are, we have for could lengthen the list at will. the most part heard the stories from For the present prevalence of the one side only. Only the novelist's ad- fashion there can be no doubt that the vocate has his say, and the jury is success of Mr. Benson's “ Dodo " is packed with delighted and grateful largely responsible. We all know that readers. The reader is tempted to Dodo was not the lady that she was think it expedient that one little cripple supposed to be ; but we all know also should wince and smart in order that that everybody said that she was, and the world may crack its sides in laugh- that this rumor had a great deal to do ter over Dickens's caricature. Well, with the success of the book. To sone we have been admonished not to blend extent again the fashion is part of a our pleasure or our pride with sorrow general drift, and of a growth of per. of the meanest thing that feels ; and sonal curiosity and a relaxatiou of the even the obscurest victim of the most sense of respect due to privacy, which brilliant novelist deserves some sympa- is possibly a concession to the demothetic consideration. Not all the bril. cratic sentiment, “ 'Tis right,” as Tenliant things in “Bleak House” atone nyson sang with angry irony, “the for the wrong done to Leigh Hunt; mapy-headed beast should know.” In and the world, to speak frankly, could fiction another influence has been the have got along a good deal better with not overwise talk about “ documents" out “ Jane Eyre ” and “Shirley” than and “ naturalism ” mimicked from our i without the self-denying work of such neighbors across the Channel. Was it

1 humble persons as were food for Miss the solemn talk about “ documents ? Brontë's genius.

among the literary set that met at the The examples are old, but the moral Magny dinners, or was it indulgence in is not. Unless I am mistaken there native malice which degraded M. Dauis a notable tendency to personality in det's originally pretty talent to the the fiction of the day. A smart young level of the license of his long list of writer gave us the other day a smart romans à clef?“L'Immortel” young novel about a South African tainly seems to point to original sin. politician who emerged into the ken of M. Zola himself has taken to writing the British public, offering in one what may be called contemporary hisclosed hand a new empire, and asking torical novels, which seem to me to with the other hand opened for three have all the disadvantages of the old millions sterling for his South African historical romance and none of its adCompany. When other details are vantages. It is impossible not to feel added, such as personal negotiations commiseration for the real personages with German statesmen and a fixed who have figured in them. Professed choice of celibate lieutenants, is it the historians may make mistakes ; indeed, fault of a guileless public if it imagines one need feel no superstitious belief in that in the story of Mrs. Dennison it the absolute accuracy of any of them, is reading the secret of the obstinate even those of the latest and most apbachelorhood of perhaps the most con- 'proved scientific brand. But at least

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