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I look upon this letter as smoothing mostered, now that it is too late, that he is very of your difficulties with your uncle away. sorry not to have seen more of him during So, if you and Verner continue to be of the bis stay.' same mind-'
• Take care, Madeleine,' said Julia, smil• O aunt!' said Madeleine, you know ing, you don't have a third victim on your we shall. How kind you are, to take this conscience. I wonder if Mrs. Marsh would view! How clever, to turn what threatened acquit you of any flirtation in that quarter to be such an annoyance into good! What also ? ' a pity I cannot tell Verner! But I can't ; • Pray don't say such a thing, aunt, even and yet, if that odious Herbert sticks to this in jest,' said Madeleine earn
irnestly. “Mr. notion about me, Verner must find it out Holmes is not like the others; he has plenty when he comes home.'
of good sense, and would never make a • Nonsense, Maddy: This odious Her- fool of himself, like them.? bert, so far from sticking to his notion about *Very well, so much the better; only, you, as you express it, with a curtness truly you know, folly of that kind is sometimes surprising and unsentimental, will, if I contagious.' know anything of human nature, marry as Mrs. Haviland's line of action proved soon as he can, if for no nobler motive than perfectly successful. Madeleine was exto prevent your being Lady Bredisholme posed to no more affectionate advances on some day.'
the part of her cousins; indeed, those Madeleine's red lip curled with supreme young ladies showed rather a disposition to contempt.
quarrel with her. But Madeleine would “Yes,' said Julia, answering the unspoken not quarrel, or be quarrelled with, and they thought; it is wonderful; but there are parted with the outward semblance of amity people who belong to the infinitely little, three days later. and he is a stupendous specimen. When Horace Holmes had left Meriton on the Verner has been introduced to his sister-in- previous day. The incidents of the excurlaw, you can tell him the story, and laugh sion to Basing had aided to confirm him in fraternally at Herbert if you like. As for his fatal delusion. Madeleine's undisguised the injury done to Herbert Bingham or the pleasure in his society, the delight with Captain by my telling Mrs. Marsh, I think which she listened to him, the satisfaction we need not disquiet ourselves. Angelina she derived from her father's evident liking and Clementina are not very likely to spread for him, the frank, girlish cordiality of her the fame of your conquests. Have you had manner, completely misled him. From a pleasant afternoon
that moment he discarded every scruple, Delightful!' replied Madeleine. “Mr. every misgiving, and dwelt only in his Holmes was so pleased with Basing, and thoughts on the means by which the fact of knew so much about it. I don't think I Alice's existence might be for ever supever knew anyone except yourself, so fond pressed, and on the reversal of the persecutof historical recollections and associations. ing decrees of fate against himself which Papa was quite surprised to find him so seemed now within his power. clever and well-informed; and has discov
From Saint Paul's.
Here, says Mr. Dallas to all English readCLARISSA.*
ers, is a great treasure. There are circumThis is indeed an old tale, and we should stances connected with it which seem to not now have thought of inviting the atten- make it unavailable to the public in its tion of our readers to one so old, were it present shape. Let us see if we cannot so
handle this not for the boldness and unambiguous
piece of unsurpassed excellence, thoroughness of the challenge thrown down as to make it of general service to humanity. by Mr. Dallas, in his introduction to this
Unfortunately,” says Mr. Dallas, “Richnew edition of Samuel Richardson's well-ardson has a great fault; he is prolix. known novel. He expresses an opinion,
He gives us indeed gold, but the gold is almost in so many words, that Richardson shapen into a goblet so huge that few of us is the greatest of all novelists, and “ Clar- can lift it to our lips.” And then he goes issa” the greatest of all novels. He quotes readers a simple abridgment of the marvel
on, “I have ventured to offer to English Macaulay, who is said to have expatiated lous tale, — matchless in the range of prose to Thackeray on the pleasures which he and fiction, – because, for the honour of literaothers took in reading “Clarissa" the hills in India. He tells us that Sir ture, I lament that the noblest of all novels, James Mackintosh declared that it was the the most pathetic, and the most sublime, finest work of fiction ever written in any
should be unread and well-nigh unknown language. He overwhelms us with French among us." To cure the evil of prolixity, admiration, naming Alfred de Musset, D'Al- therefore, Mr. Dallas has abridged the embert, Voltaire, Rousseau, and Diderot,
work by omitting such of the letters as he
deemed to be unnecessary to the developthough, as two out of these five were ad
ment of the story. mittedly adverse critics, we hardly see to what this leads. And then he tells us that issa," as left to us by the author, is in the
In this there is an admission that “ Clarmany besides Diderot put Richardson and the Bible together. In fact, Mr. Dallas present day unreadable. Thus there arise means to assert that there is the strongest
two questions. Is Mr. Dallas right in the possible evidence which can be given by the extreme amount of eulogy, which he passes judgment of critics that “ Clarissa” is the its present form ; and will he be successful admiration of contemporaries and by the on a work which he admits to be beyond greatest of novels. But he goes on to add, in making that popular which is now ad
- and this is the point at which he aims, that, though 6 Clarissa" is thus excellent,
mittedly unpopular by the simple work of it does not now receive that attention which abridgment? We notice the book thinkso excellent a work deserves, and does not
ing that his judgment is wrong and that his administer to readers generally that delight the matter is of great importance, and be
labours will prove to be futile; because which it is capable of affording. This, indeed, is the very gist of the plea which he cause it may be worth while to inquire why puts forward. • I lament,” he says,
nobody now reads Richardson's novels. the noblest of all novels, the most pathetic, Now and again we hear the voice of a
In these days everybody reads novels. and the most sublime, should be unread, and well-nigh unknown among us." And thoughtful or earnest man raised against again, “ For the novelist who could so pre
this popular reaction. Mr. Carlyle or the vail, I claim in all the English courts of Archbishop of York may endeavour to criticism, and in the regard of all his coun- prove that we are dissipating our minds, trymen, a reversal of the sentence of neglect wasting our time, and encouraging laxity from which he now suffers.". And again, but the preaching of the preacher is of no
and diffuseness in our intellectual powers; “I challenge for him in all the courts of avail. Men are as laborious as ever they English criticisin and in the regard of all
Our wives and our daughters are his countrymen a reconsideration of his services."
more highly educated than were our mothThere is an enthusiasm in this, a true ad
ers and grandmothers. We work, and miration for an undoubtedly noble work, pray, and ride, and dance, and gamble, and a true interest for the reputation of a But we all read novels; - lawyers, divines,
and talk politics as assiduously as great writer, which the lovers of English merchants, soldiers, sailors, courtiers, poliliterature cannot but love. One's first feeling on reading Mr. Dallas's remarks is that ticians, - and what not. There is barilly of sympathy, at any rate with Mr. Dallas. a man or a woman who can read who does
not require that some amount of nove readA Novel, by Samuel Richardson, ing shall be printed for the delight of his or edited by E. S. Dallas. Tinsley, 1868.
her leisure hours. And so much is learned
" Clarissa :"
from novels, — so much of good and of evil, has undertaken on our behalf to make it
so very many of the details of everyday less so. We will acknowledge, as we pass life are done honestly or dishonestly, self- on, that he has so far done his task well, ishly or unselfishly, in a manner divine or that he has omitted nothing necessary to diabolical, as the mind of the doer may the story, and that, in the three volumes have been operated upon beneficially or in- now under notice, “ Clarissa is a better juriously by the novelist's art, that the pro- novel than it was as left by Richardson. duction and possession of good novels We will not pause to assert that an author instead of bad, that is of novels that will should be judged by his works as he himteach good lessons instead of novels that self leaves them, and will acknowledge, will teach bad lessons, is a matter of vital also, as we proceed, that the world of importance to the nation. We think that readers is indebted to the editor or comwe are right in asserting that the novels of mentator who will make that which fitted the day have more effect on the national the taste of one age fit also for the taste of mind than either the sermons or the poetry; later ages by his labours. But we venture more probably than any other branch of to express our opinion that, even in this literature with the exception of newspapers, abridgment, “Clarissa ” is so prolix, that
even if we except them. In speaking of the impatience of the times will not endure the novels of the day, we mean the novels the book; and also that, as a work of art, which are now read, and should count Rich- it is not only prolix, but is so replete with ardson's among those if they were in daily other faults which have been condemned by use. If this be so, it would be a great the ever-advancing literary education of the thing to redeem from darkness and bring day, that it can never again become popuout into meridian light a work, of which the lar. lessons are undoubtedly moral, if that There are those, among whom, however, work be, as it is asserted, of all novels the we do not think that we should reckon Mr. best and most charming.
Dallas, - lovers of literature too, who It is confessed that nobody reads " Clar- will tell us that our education and taste as issa.” Richardson's novels must, indeed, to that which we read have gone backwards ; be classed among those standard national that men and women who prefer Macaulay works of literature with which men in gen- to Burnet, Tennyson to Dryden, or Thackeral think it no harm to profess an acquain- eray to Richardson, do so because to their tance, although they have never read a line attenuated intellects and sickly judgments of them, and have never opened the volume. tinsel shines brighter than gold. These are There are many such national works. We the “ lauditores temporis acti,” the Conserdon't mean to say that men and women lie vatives in literature, — for there are Conabout them. If asked to put their hands servatives in literature as in politics, men on their hearts and say whether they had who are very serviceable to us in saving us perused this or that book from end to end, from too quick a desertion of things that the truth would come from them clearly and are old, because they are old, rapidly. But in the ordinary conversation upon our wheels which might otherwise run of the world, it is customary to presume an down the hill too quickly. But we hold acquaintance with these happy literary own- them to be altogether wrong in their judgers of brevet rank. Beaumont and Fletcher ment of men's intellects. As age succeeds are a great example. We are disposed to age, that which is most worthy keeps its believe that Spenser might be named in the hold upon us. As it is in matters political, list; Bunyan's “ Pilgrim's Progress " should so it is also in matters of literature. Trial be inserted; and De Foe's writings, with by jury remains, and is likely to remain, the exception of “ Robinson Crusoe.” Dry- let Messrs. Beales and Odgers be ever so den's poems, Chesterfield's letters, and Dr. triumphant; and Shakspeare is still known Johnson's works, — of course we do not in- to us at least as intimately as in any previclude his dictionary, may be added. In ous age. The very admission that "Clarthis catalogue Richardson's novels must issa is not read, is of itself proof to us certainly find a place. All these are books that “Clarissa " is unreadable. which it is assumed that every man has Mr. Dallas admits that this work is proread, which all men have on their book- lix, and endeavours to cure the fanlt. But shelves, but which nobody ever reads. If unfortunately the book is weighted with a “ Clarissa " is so pre-eminently the best of double prolixity. It is prolix in all its novels, and as novels are now more popu- parts, as well as in its whole. Cut it to lar than ever, why is “ Clarissa ”
among pieces as you will, and it will still be prolix. . the books that are never opened ?
The telling of every incident is done with a Mr. Dallas tells us that it is prolix, and prolixity that to us is amazing; and, as the
whole story is told in letters, it strikes us there is no touch of natural life in it from as being as impossible as it is cumbersome. beginning to end. The least critical reader knows that the Clarissa Harlowe is the daughter of a writing of such letters must have been im- wealthy gentleman, and is one of a possible. The twenty-four hours of the large and united family, with whom, up to day were not long enough for the transcrib- the period at which the story begins, she ing of all the words which men and women was loved, not only in family amity, but as are supposed to have thrown into their let- a favoured one, a pet, and an idol. She ters, written, -say, between Monday and has father, mother, brother, sister, and two Tuesday morning. Mr. Dallas will proba- uncles who have all adored her; and she bly tell us that if the letters so written be has had a grandfather who has left to her a in themselves charming, this inconsistency large fortune. She has also a friend, Miss should be held to be venial. Even with Howe, who worships her; and she has two this we cannot agree.
The reader feels that lovers, one, the notorious Lovelace, who there is a trespass made upon his judgment is the villain of the book; and the other, when he is asked to accept that as true one Solmes, who is the object of her early which he feels to have been impossible. disgust. Of these two lovers, the first has But independently of that, letters so written managed to get himself refused by Clarissa's must in themselves be prolix, - prolix, sister, who is, nevertheless, frightfully jealthough a week were allowed for the writing ous when the lover transfers himself to of them. When two or three prolix letters Clarissa. The other is favoured by all the have given accounts, equally prolix, of the Harlowe family, as being one who will not same circumstance, Mr. Dallas has been give trouble, either by profligacy or in moable to omit one or two of the number; and ney matters. Clarissa, of course, loves the reader is so far spared. But the ques- Lovelace, - though, thoughout the whole tion should be one, not of sparing, but of story, so much is never admitted by her, delight; and a story told with prolixity is and protests loudly that she will have not delightful even when told but once. nothing to say to Solmes.
Then the We will attempt very shortly to analyse whole family go to work to force her to the story of “ Clarissa,” and to show, in marry the man she hates, and make scruple doing so, that its faults, independently of of no tyranny to drive her to compliance. its prolixity, are such as to forbid its ever Her brother and her sister become fiends of being restored to general popularity: We malice. Her father removes himself away will begin by admitting that the tale pos- as an offended god, but as a god who knows sesses in the highest degree the highest no mercy; and her uncles are stormy, cruel, merit which a work of prose fiction can and devilish. Clarissa, in the meantime, possess. It is pre-eminently pathetic. They manages to keep up a correspondence with who can make their way through it, -- and, Lovelace, and at last elopes with him. Up even in the three volume form in which Mr. to this point the mind of the reader is solely Dallas has given it to us, it is about twice intent on getting on with his work. The as long as an ordinary novel, — will find whole story is told in letters, – chiefly, up that their feelings are harrowed by the suf- to this point, passing between Clarissa and ferings of the heroine, and that their indig- her friend, Miss Howe. The minutest denation is stirred by the iniquity of the chief tails are told, but all these details are untransgressor. Such cruel usage, and borne natural. There is not a letter among them with such angelic heroism, - such barbar- that any girl could have written in any age. ity, and planned with such devilish art, is Anna Howe herself is detestable. She has not perhaps to be found in the whole range a respectable lover, whom she marries at of novels with which our shelves and those last, and in respect of whom her letters are of our circulating libraries are laden. And full of the most absurd abuse. She relates this great virtue belongs admittedly and of to her friend all her ill-treatment of this tradition so absolutely to “Clarissa,” that lover, down to the very words she uses. its existence is in itself the strongest proof Yet not once does she profess affection for of the faults of the book in other respects. bim. And yet she marries him. In depictThere is no virtue in novels so generally in ing Anna Howe and her lover, Richardson demand as the virtue of pathos; and yet, has intended to be humorous, but even Mr. though the existence of this virtue in Dallas will not, we think, break a lance in “ Clarissa” is admitted on all hands, al- defence of his author's humour. And, in though it has become an acknowledged fact describing the manner in which Anna Howe in literature, neither men nor women will did get married and Clarissa Ilarlowe did read it. They will not read it, because not, Richardson has adhered to his stiff, ungainly, puritanical idea as to women, comes most intricate, but the letters which that a woman till she is married should be tell the plot are continued throughout, and ashamed ever to own that she loves. We are so written that the reader is never for a may be told that such was the idea among moment permitted to feel that his story is well brought-up women of the time: but we being told to him by the person who should venture to assert that the poetry, plays, tell it. That young ladies should be laboriand tales of the day tell us that this was not ous, persistent, and long-winded in their so; and that women then, if less demonstra- letters to their friends, is perhaps an idea so tive, and therefore less natural than now, well established in the minds of novel readwere still known to speak their minds. ers, as to make it seem possible that eight Richardson desired to teach virtue as he saw or ten hours a day should be devoted to the it; and, in doing so, has repudiated all hu- purpose; but when young men about town, Dan nature, as is done by so many who, gay rakés, fellows who fight, and drink, and in these days, endeavour to teach us virtue gamble, and notoriously spend their hours in godly but false little books, about godly in the pursuit of pleasure, when such as Lui false little people.
these are found to cover quires of paper We may here point out the impracticabil- daily, not only with their own productions ity of telling, by means of letters between to their own correspondents, but in copying correspondents, a story in which the details them to send to others, and in copying the of life are to be given and the intricacies of production of others to send to their corresa wide plot evolved. Novelists who have pondents, — the patience of the reader gives attempted this have usually begun their way, and he feels that too much is demanded work with epistles which might possibly of him. have been written, - with letters which as Clarissa elopes, and after various advenletters are not altogether absurd, - with tures with her lover, is taken to a house of simple statements of facts and expressions ill fame, and is there detained a prisoner of feeling and opinion, of wishes and fears; by Lovelace with the aid of a bevy of vile but they have invariably found themselves women, and by the assistance outside of driven to use the straitened form of narra- men as vile. In arranging this, Richardson tive with which they have provided them- bas been forced to continue intricacies of selves in a manner of which epistolary cor- plot so minute, so detailed, so dove-tailed, respondence can know no real example, re- as to create continually the feeling of impeating whole conversations, and, on occa- possibility. Letters go astray, and don't sions, conversations which have reached the go astray, get into wrong hands, and into writer second-hand, leaping letter upon let- right hands, with equal improbability. A ter, one after another in the same day, and diplomate in the old days of diplomacy presuming at last that the writers of them cozening all Europe, a Talleyrand or a wrote as thongh they themselves were in- Metternich carrying out a scheme for imtentionally fabricating the novel which has posing or deposing an emperor, were as to be given to the public. Scott tried this nothing in intrigue to Lovelace managing mode of structure in “Redgauntlet,” and the ruin of a young woman, whom, to do Scott failed. In this novel the great master him justice, he is generally quite ready to gradually escapes from the narrow confines marry, and who has eloped with him clearly of fumiliar opistles to the still cramped mode with the purpose of marrying him. Plot of a diary, and from that to a narrative, thickens upon plot. Forgery, perjury, with which he ends his story; - and even rape, and murder are executed or proposed with this resource ends a story that bas with the freest volubility; and to every been spoilt in the telling. “Evelina” is such crime, or scheme for crime, women of perhaps the best instance we have of a novel the town, domestic servants, and ruffians told by letters; and this is so, not because hired for the occasion, are made privy with the letters are at all natural, but because no compunction. There could have been Miss Burney in concocting them has thrown no law in the land, and yet Richardson is over all idea of fashioning the letters to the writing of the reign of George II. It is minds and natural language of the writers, known to her friends that Clarissa is in the and has allowed herself to write them as hands of a villain ; - it is even known durthough she herself bad forgotten her own ing the story that she is with villainous trammels. When the reader comes to women; — but no one comes to help her. * Evelina in continuation," it is to him sim- Her devoted Anna Howe writes letters by ply the beginning of a new chapter. But the dozen, but never appears on the scene, Richardson has provided for himself no such even when she hears the whole story of her refuge from his difficulty as was found either friend's tragedy. During the greater porby Miss Burney or hy Scott. The plot be- tion of this part of the book the reader