after his forty years in the wilderness, Mr. Meredith's position may be described, like Browning's in 1870, as that of a distinguished unpopularity. Every one has heard of his writings; a small company have read them; and among his fervid or even fanatical admirers we may reckon younger and more famous men, who are never weary of praising "The Egoist" and lauding his feminine creations as "Shakespearean." With Burton he might fairly divide the claim to be Democritus Junior; adding that all knew him and no one had ever set eyes on him. As Blake was Pictor Ignotus, so, despite reviews, a cheap reprint, and American pirates, Mr. Meredith still remains Scriptor Ignotus, a treasury of good things which few will be at the trouble of unlocking; and, what is more to the purpose, he is George Eliot's successor in logical order, though her coeval in time. The situation is piquant, the moral instructive.

ago, brought her large genius to the revolution, she has gone up into that presentation of those country folk in sphere from which the throned gods look whose aboriginal, uneducated passions, down, immortal and immovable, upon and family pride, the world suddenly rec- struggling mankind. Mr. George Mereognized a chapter of existence it had never dith has undergone a far different fortune. been shown how to read until she re- His first book, a collection of poems dedihearsed it. Not, however, in her most cated to that remarkable and brilliant successful writings do we find the new scholar, the late Thomas Love Peacock, tone of realism, or, as she herself would whose daughter he married, saw the light have it termed, of positivism, fully devel-in 1851. His last, the three-volume novel oped. The note is struck, doubtless, in entitled "One of our Conquerors," was "The Mill on the Floss;" but the solemn published not many months ago. But oratorio, which was waiting to be played in that key, does not resound with overpowering effect until we open "Middle march" and "Romola." The Florentine story, indeed, being a record of facts, cannot bend altogether, as George Eliot would have wished, to her rule and compass. In "Middlemarch" she is free, and her patient dissection of motives, her reliance upon "environment" to explain character, and her "physiology of the soul," may be fairly compared with Balzac's mechanical fatalism; except that where the French author beheld only a conflict of individualities, an unchecked and undiluted passion for self, the agnostic English lady, mindful of her Christian bringing up, could still discern the beauty of sacrifice and the struggle towards perfection. Her profound sadness touched, as with pensive evening light, the vast battlefield over which she gazed, tenderly, yet despairing of an immortal issue. She could have analyzed tears, with the chemist who sought for the absolute; but her own eyes were dimmed while she steeled herself to the operation. George Eliot was a repentant realist, for she could not be satisfied with the melancholy facts of existence; she lamented the lost spiritual kingdoms even while she denied that they had ever been, outside the pious imagination of believers. She borrowed her art from Christianity; and, so long as it was not overborne by her science, she wrote what will hardly die before the English language itself.

It is curious to reflect that "Adam Bede" and "Richard Feverel" are of nearly the same age. Thirty-two years have passed since George Eliot became famous; and now, saving the chances of

"Would you grasp the secret of life?" said a wise man; "then study the failures; they teach more than success, which only dazzles." If popularity be a test, the gallery of curious figures invented by Mr. Meredith can hardly be pronounced a success, for who pays it a visit when the learned, and the all-enquiring journalist stay away? It may be good to steal from, as Fuseli said of Blake; and stealing implies a compliment to our property if a wrong to ourselves. George Eliot won the ear of the whole English-speaking race with "Adam Bede" and "The Mill on the Floss." She made us all read, not "Middlemarch" alone, but (as now seems wonderful) that partisan, wire-drawn pamphlet, known as "Daniel Deronda." But the public sturdily declines to look at "Beau.

champ's Career," puts aside with a "thank you "the "Adventures of Harry Richmond," and would as soon think of plunging into a Parliamentary blue-book as of tracing the mental zigzags and psychological evolutions of Sir Willoughby Patterne. Is the public in the wrong? or is it the author who will not stoop to satisfy the demands of good sense, and the canons by which all great masters of his craft have been guided? These questions open a discussion of no small interest, and may help to throw a light upon the central problem of literature which we have indicated above, namely, the true method of marrying science with art, so that we may attain once more to the prose drama, which is a criticism of life, and an inspiration to lift life towards the ideal.

For one side of his enterprise, no man could stand better equipped than Mr. Meredith; who is a born philosopher, analyst, and watcher of the moods of soul. If sheer abstract thinking could result in a work of art, his would be prodigies, for to the making of a picture there never went such deep and patient meditation as he employs. He has an eye, not for striking scenes or stage situations, not for the cut and thrust of vulgar action, but for the fine inward machinery which men and women are content to use without knowing anything about it. To him, the very flesh, which he can paint admirably on occasion, is a transparent network, showing, as through innumerable meshes, the spirit with all its motives and movements. He takes a soul, neither hating nor much loving it, that he may explain how it works; and he lays the fibres bare, separating them coolly, or, as it would seem to the shivering spectator, remorselessly; never heeding the reproach of cynicism which springs to the lips of the young whom he is conducting through the sombre galleries of the college of surgeons. "This," he would say, "is life when you turn it in side out; by such mechanism does the pulse beat higher, and your ingenuous rosy blush, signifying innocence or the first throbbings of affection, may be thus produced." When Robert Browning, to whom he bears a singular likeness, declared that his ambition was merely to "paint a soul," it may have struck more than one of his readers, even among those who thought most highly of his splendid gifts, that all he painted was a diagram, and that the soul oftentimes escaped. For by analysis and dissection no Pygmalion will breathe life into his statue; the true method of art is exactly the opposite.

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Or suppose it to be "skeleton-anatomy," who is there, except a surgeon, that does not insist on the skeleton being concealed? It must be clothed upon with life. Now the living, creative breath of the drama, whether comic or tragic, is love, passion, a keen interest, not in the abstract workings of a heart, but in the heart itself. 'Si vis me flere!" Do not tell me that tears are thus and thus produced; let me see them flow, and I shall be touched by the emotion which has stirred their springs. Art altogether, and not poetry alone, must be simple, sensuous, and direct; whereas Mr. Meredith, relying on his science with a conviction that it will give the required inspiration, is never, but in half-a-dozen happy scenes, either simple or sensuous. He appeals to the calm, logical understanding, as though romance were a game of chess; and while the listener is all for moving on, the story-teller cannot persuade himself to leave the spot where he perceives some wretched shred of psychology still undissected. He lectures, and the story flags; he shows astounding skill in tossing up a number of motives at once, as the juggler tosses up plates; but he will not move a step forward, and we throw down the volume in despair. To the tired victim of analysis he puts, in a sparkling manner which does but increase our irritation, the apparently conclusive query, "What is action without motives?" But did not Aristotle long ago suggest the yet more pregnant question, "What are motives without action?" The action is the story; and where the story is wanting, art cannot possibly exist.

Well, Mr. Meredith cares not at all for the story. In more than one instance, he deliberately, with malice prepense, ruins it, setting probabilities at defiance rather than allowing poetical justice to have its rights. The marriage-bells ring out their golden chimes for mismatched couples, which the reader longs to unyoke and rearrange as the true moral of the narrative demands. Does realism invariably mean putting up with the second best? Why should the lovely pastoral of Richard and Lucy, in Mr. Meredith's greatest book, conclude with harsh discords, like a ghost shrieking in the bridal chamber? Forsooth because the writer has a problem to work out, the tragic struggle between a father whose affection has turned to pedantry, and a son in whom nature will have its way. But a son like Richard would not kill his wife; and experience proves that out of the given elements a far hap pier as well as a more probable conclusion

might have been drawn. The drop-scene | wonder he is dry beyond any writer of of "Beauchamp's Career" is admittedly novels known to us, dry and exasperatout of keeping with the rest of the story; ing; tediously brilliant; witty and wise not, we mean, that Beauchamp should out of season; filling our eyes with dia have died by water in rescuing a drowning mond dust which is as blinding as sand or child, but his marriage with Jenny Den- steam; not ponderous like his own Dr. ham and all the marriages are a mistake. Middleton, but suffocating; and in short, if one could say it without incivility, a bore. "But the man has genius," you That is the very head and front of our accusation. With such endowments of mind, with fancy and metaphor, with an eye for every grave and tender aspect of the sky, with insight into man's nature and woman's nature (those widely divergent species), with unswerving faith in the joy which keeps life going, how is it that he does not charm, but repels? Because he is resolved to practise ΠΙΟtive-grinding" to the end of the chapter? When Carlyle had finished "Richard Feverel," he paid Mr. Meredith the high compliment of remarking to Mrs. Carlyle in his gruff dialect, "The man's no fool," which is as true as it is terse. But Carlyle thought "motive-grinding" fatal to religion and the philosophy of life. It is no less fatal to art. Analysis in this department never will be victorious, for the deep but simple reason that life itself, which art copies, is something beyond anatomy.

Harry Richmond is luckier than Beauchamp, since if he loses the first heroine he wins the second, and is not, as Shake-object. speare would say, fobbed off with a wife that cares not for him and for whom he does not care. But he deserved the Princess Ottilia, — one of Mr. Meredith's noble women, and in real life he would have been raised to her side. Here again, the father intervenes, with disastrous yet comic effect. Be the circumstances how touching or delightful they may, our perverse author seems to have been subdued by the maxim, "Difficile est satiram non scribere." Satirize he must, though nature and truth assure him that lovers have conquered fate, and that experience does not always spell discomfiture. We can understand the proud and sensitive Diana Warwick marrying Redwood; he is the honest, sturdy wooer, patient but loyal, whom no ill-fortune can wear out. Is it possible, however, to understand the match between Cecilia Halkett, that rare and admirable study in woman's development, and the wooden Tuckham? A daughter's sacrifice? But neither was Mr. Halkett resolved to be a new Agamemnon, nor did any goddess thirst for the blood of this Iphigenia. She could not take Beauchamp. Why not, then, have made her a present of Seymour Austin? Because it would have savored of the stereotyped? - the cliché, to employ a word which in journalist slang condemns a situation wholly and without appeal? No doubt all the stories have been told, and stereotype is another name for the infinite warehouse which we call the past. But genius seizes upon the letter to make it live again; nor will haphazard combinations be allowed to pass, under the cloak of realism, for wonders denied to the romanticist whose memory kills his invention.

Sooner than ride round in the trodden sawdust, Mr. Meredith leaps the barrier and declines the customary feats of horsemanship. There shall be no story because he cannot invent a new one. He slurs over the moving incidents, slackens his pace when he should be running full tilt, narrates instead of painting a scene, and balks the primitive instinct which longs for picturesque and exciting action. No


Pure science must descend from the brain to the heart, and be steeped in passion, feeling, enthusiasm, or whatever the divine element is termed, ere it can make the cold blaze warm and kindle while it enlightens.

There is just one focal point, however, where Mr. Meredith, forgetting analysis yet possessing it, becomes a clear and noble poet. Set him face to face with nature, and his unmusical yet over-subtle chords melt to the whisperings, the sighings, that steal away the heart, to the fitful, exquisite melodies of an Eolian harp. At other times, he is a deaf Beethoven, skilled, above all praise, in counterpoint, but with science instead of an ear to guide, to correct him. But the silverclouded Alps, the "unsounded purple sea of marching billows," the "unattainable blue summits" of a bridal Hesper, which some disdained poet has called "the pas sion-flower of heaven," these are visions of things real, yet most airy and spiritlike, which never abandon him to the tyranny of abstraction. We have touched here the one fibre in him that quivers incessantly, answering to nature as the murmur of the shell is rhythmic with ocean-tides. The inspiration masters him, and he shows the man he might be,

were he to cast off the strait-jacket of system and satire; and were he to describe what he feels, not merely what he can dissect.

to be scorched a little, or let us say, burnt in the hand. Far be it from us to upbraid him with the millionaire riches of his metaphor. He is quick at seizing affinities, and, like all the robust poets, a Titan min. gling heaven and earth in undreamt-of confusion. He has chambers of imagery full to overflowing, and if all his pages are in a breeze, and the whole book produces a kind of electrical agitation in the mind and joints, that too is a fault we can easily pardon; for it is better that books should be electric than that, with the usual run, they should be soporific. Rude strength is a virtue; by reason, however, of its strength, not of its rudeness. Again, we cannot think it forbidden to extend, by due and well-attempered effort, the metes and bounds of our English prose, to color it with the dainty hues of French, to bathe it in some tonic elixir of poetic or philosophic ingredients, to make it a little more supple and springing, to infuse into its granite fire, and to mix with its admirable dulness the yeast of Celtic wit. By all means; who shall blame the effort, if it succeeds?

A vain hope; for who can escape the snare of cleverness, when it is his own? The daring aphorism has been uttered, not by Mr. Meredith, that "a good style means a warm heart." How perfect this author's style can be when he follows inspiration, the pages wherein Richard Feverel plays Ferdinand to Lucy's Miranda bear sufficient witness; or that "morning at sea under the Alps," when "the incredible flickering gleam of new heights arose, that soared, or stretched their white, uncertain curves in the sky, like wings traversing infinity." A Celtic, or more truly Cymric poet, he holds the key to nature's enchantments; he is at home in the boundless magic forest, alive in all pulsations of the wandering wind, delighting especially to bluster and shine full of sun-gleams with his dropping southwest, and fixing with a unique word the ever-varying tempests, the flying or float ing cloud, the shadows on the grass, and the shiftings and tremulous chatter of the silver birch. Look down his most wearisome page; and if so much as half a line of natural description occurs, fasten upon it, for it will be unerringly correct and beautiful. Here it is that he may vaunt "Reality's infinite sweetness; here is the problem solved of closely searching analysis, the artist's anatomy, incarnated (no less towering word will serve) in a form which is perfection, either simple or splen-Sauerkraut or Blutwurst instead of did, as you shall choose, but magically giving forth as in a clear glass the scene which eyes and spirit have combined to interpret. We cannot, in such triumphant phrasing, distinguish between body and soul, sense and substance; "single nature's double name, neither two nor one was called." The passion of word-painting has at length snatched this grace beyond the reach of art; and coolest observation, with genius employing it as an instrument, nor overpowered by the pride of mere skill, has, in Mr. George Meredith, given us the natural background, even as we see it and as it is, upon which all our stories should henceforth be painted.

The sanbenito which we are fitting on Mr. Meredith is, it will be seen, decorated with charming figures of zephyr and the cherub-winds, putting silver trumpets to their rosy mouths. For we think he deserves to be at least led round the fire, bearing his own volumes instead of a bundle of faggots on his shoulder, if not

But that which can never be praised is the originality that makes bad worse, and will be affected in its resolve to escape from the common. Just as Mr. Meredith, though not of the cynic's temperament, perplexes or flings aside the web of his story, in dread of the cynic audience he seems ever to have in view, so, in like manner, he decks his table with outlandish meats, offers the indignant Englishman

wholesome roast beef, and misses the charm of speech that lies in old association. Shrinking from the vulgarity of current tropes, of half-worn expressions which pass continually from hand to hand in our hurried converse, he cannot bid you good-morning but in strange, new-minted sentences. Consequently, there is no point of rest anywhere in his dialogues, and nothing familiar about his characters; not even their names, which we find ourselves forgetting ten times a day. Like his plots, they are novel, seldom attractive, and quite unrememberable. The secret of richness in music, we know, is the presence of harmonics; in language, the harmonics are pleasant household words, constant sayings known to us from childhood, the ripple of sounds which we love because we have always heard them. For this subtle demand of nature Mr. Meredith makes no provision; he is like the chemist who should weigh and mix our diet by the atomic scale, giving us accu.

rate mechanical equivalents of bread and with faults of which Sir Willoughby's bacon, but starving us, in spite of his mechanics are a sample, it is a light thing refined conscientiousness or because of to speak of "brains chewing the cud," of it. Does he expect us to believe in dia- words that ring little silver bells inside grams labelled "Lady Blandish," "Lady one's head; of the "gulf of a caress hovDenewdney," "Simeon Fenellan," "Mr. ing in view like an enormous billow;" of Peridon," or "Colney Durance"? Sir "blood" which is "lively at the throne of Willoughby Patterne has been selected understanding," or of "the critic's trumfor praise in the list of parabolic, signifi-pet-note dispersed to the thinness of the cant names. But is it not too parabolic? fee for his blowing." Could any language It smacks of Ben Jonson and the old survive, were it treated often as in the moral comedy, in which the sound was following sentence from "Diana of the more than an echo to the sense, for it Crossways "?"Fortunately Lady Wamultiplied the meaning without pause or thin" (the name might be taken as a mistruce; and illusion in the neighborhood of print for Watkin, or a foreigner's unhappy this bawling crier became impossible. On guess at it) "knew she could rally a powthe whole, Mr. Meredith's names are sig erful moral contingent, the aptitude of nally wanting in idiom; it is not that we which for a one-minded cohesion enabled seldom hear them in the streets; they it to crush those fractional daughters of never could have existed out of his vol- mischief." Does any one alive think in umes; and that is why no one can recall this dialect? them easily.

Yet more damaging, from the artist's point of view, is the mixture of scientific metaphor with ordinary thought which Mr. Meredith ascribes to his personages or inflicts upon them. A famous chef once warned his subordinates to beware of fanaticism in the article of pepper. Science is remarkably freshening in the literary cuisine, but it may be abused. George Eliot offers a striking instance. She believed in molecules and talked of "imperfect cerebration; " not choosing to perceive that euphuism may be cultivated in the laboratory as well as in the scholar's or the fop's atmosphere. Mr. Meredith cannot resist the temptation to "parley euphuism" in this modern fashion. Sir Willoughby Patterne, in a case where his self-esteem has been sharply dealt with, is, we are told, "assisted to distinguish in its complete abhorrent orb the offence committed against him by his bride. And this he did," the writer continues, "through projecting it more and more away from him, so that in the outer distance it involved his personal emotions less, while observation was enabled to compass its vastness, and, as it were, perceive the whole spherical mass of the wretched girl's guilt impudently turning on its axis." The application of mathematics to love! What could less resemble those fair and shining forms which in the heaven of art solicit our gaze, and shed their glory upon our upturned eyes? A girl's disdain or petulance turning on its axis! We are reminded of Newton's "Principia," and our dream of romance becomes a theorem, with scholia and lemmata to drive it home. In comparison


We shall not say that Mr. Meredith "writes nonsense ten thousand strong." He writes excellent sense always; but he will permit us to wish that he might exchange his manner for a style that should do his sense more justice. There are passages in Shakespeare which seem welded together in this provoking way, mere clotted heaps of dross and metal, wholly impenetrable to his poetic fire. Be it a sentence or a page, in Mr. Meredith we come again and again upon these half-smelted formations. He is fond of likening certain impressions to burnished steel, which glares and hurts the sight; but he deserves to be told that some of his extremely brilliant displays make as unpleasant an effect, searing up in the reader all sense of intellectual enjoyment, and fatiguing where they strike. We say nothing of his men that "shrug," but decline to do it in English; or his women that "swim" towards you when they might just as weli have walked. These are tricks, from which the greatest writers have not been free; and they may be pardoned like other lovable oddities of genius. But euphuism is, and ever will be, detestable. It comes at last to this, that even Mr. Meredith's cleverness will not hinder him from writing, "In the Assembly Rooms of the capital city of the Sister Island there was a public ball," when he means that there was a dance in Dublin.

Enough of the incurable manner which refuses, except in landscape drawing, to be a style. These may be some of the defects of Mr. Meredith; but what are his qualities? Great and rare, we reply. He tells no story, not even that of "Vittoria"

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