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the interesting thing about this first book is its lack of quality. It showed, one would have said, a deplorable competence ability to furnish out something that fitted all the orthodox formulæ. A woman so well trained, who could write so well, had seen so many places and people, and yet who could give neither atmosphere nor life, seemed indeed a case to despair of. Yet within two years she had written Robert Elsmere, which beyond all doubt has life, and here and there has atmosphere.

Life it has, poignant life, in the central chapters which relate the actual struggle of Elsmere's choice. They culminate, when the choice has been made, in the story of slight incidents which render delay unbearable to him, his quest of one man's fortifying sympathy and then-the climax-the avowal to his Puritan dale-bred wife. In that chapter and the next, which describe Catherine's frantic impulse of flight and her dazed penitent return, Mrs. Ward reached a point which she has never surpassed, perhaps never again quite reached; and this assuredly is no dispraise. She has not the gift that seems to burn away superfluous words till none is left but the essential utterance; yet passion is there, the struggle, the strain, and out of passion the unspeakable relief in reconciliation achieved. It is the only passion that she knows, the passion of souls perplexed between intellectual or moral faith and the drag of their hu

manity—a passion singularly austere and unsensuous, with affinities to the landscape which is never far from this writer's mind. What there should be of coldness in those fells and becks and dales, I cannot tell; but Wordsworth's temper enshrines it, and Mrs. Ward is of the same lineage. If she can understand Catherine, the woman of little reading, of convictions so set and limited that they narrow even her heart, it is because Catherine embodies that austere spirit of the fells, Puritanism of the mountains and the glassy Westmoreland streams. Catherine, not Elsmere, is the true centre of the book: she is a life; he is little more than a bundle of ideas, tendencies, and attributes. Where he becomes vital, he catches life and significance from her.

That is the atmosphere which I find in this book-the atmosphere of one place, of one person only. Mrs. Ward details with love and with knowledge all the charms of southern English landscape-though here, as everywhere, she draws out too long her descriptive passages, and mars even the chapters which I have spoken of with an excessive elaboration of sights and sounds upon the heath where Elsmere paused before his fateful home-coming. If she does not smother her northern landscapes, it is only because the feeling behind them is too much alive. Much could be spared, no doubt, yet the superfluities, too, have the touch of inspiration. In the early chapters, which depict the life of Whindale, one perceives still the prentice hand. Mrs. Ward strives after humor, a grace denied her, and the result is triviality; but how wisely she learnt her lesson! I cannot recall in her later works any effort for a laugh. Her gift was so to impassion herself in following the struggles of a conscience that she could impart her own interest in an adventure half spiritual, half intellectual.

What matured ability. Yet I question whether anything in it is quite so good

That is where she is an artist. matters to the artist is Catherine's grip on Robert, Robert's on Catherine -the effort of two souls bound by mortal love to retain close touch of one another when their most vital beliefs run counter. But there is also the publicist to be reckoned with. The publicist is persistent to expound exactly what Elsmere believed, why he came to believe it, and what expression his belief found in action. All this appeals to a curiosity, or a faculty, which is not the faculty that art affects. If Mrs. Ward had needed to expound Catharine as she expounds her husband, the book could never have lived.

That is why Helbeck of Bannisdale, the complementary subject, is a far better work of art. Here is the same collision of faith and unfaith, but reduced to simpler terms. Helbeck, the Roman Catholic, with ages of tradition behind him, loves the girl who simply cannot believe. No doubt at the back of Mrs. Ward's mind there is a feeling that all this sort of trouble is deplorable, and could be avoided if only people would believe something more sensible. If Helbeck had been a Christian in Elsmere's sense, Laura could have easily believed enough to satisfy him and herself. But with a fine dramatic instinct the novelist chooses that form of creed which is most averse to compromise, which knows no mean betwixt acceptance and rejection; and the inevitable end arrives. She renders well the Puritanism of the Romanist; she renders it the better because that, too, is native to her dales. Not in any other setting can I conceive Mrs. Ward's entering into sympathy with an upholder of the fiercest resistance to modern ideas; but Helbeck and his Bannisdale are one, and she knows them as ancestral neighbors might.

Helbeck, of course, is work of her fully

as the best passages in a relative failure which followed Robert Elsmere, the History of David Grieve. It is not David's history in Manchester that appeals to me (save as a good study of the untaught scholar's thirst for books), and still less his experiences in Paris. It is the picture of dale folk, of the unloveliest forms of Puritanism treated with a comprehension that has in it nothing cruel. Old Reuben, who so ill defended David and David's sister against the tyrannous Hannah, is lovable, and loved, through all his weakness; and even for Hannah herself, the shrew, the oppressor, the defrauder in the name of God, Mrs. Ward has at least respect. Hannah is of the dales, her hardness is theirs, a thing needed to make up all that they stand for; in truth it estranges Mrs. Ward a little less than Helbeck's Romanism. And in David and his sister, the characters who demand our sympathy, the mountain air is finely felt.

One gift shows itself first in this book-the remarkable power of picturing mean feminine types. The young lady from a Manchester shop who sets her cap at David is excellently seen.

Whether it may be rightly argued that women can be fully portrayed without, the gift of humor, whereas men cannot, it might be interesting to inquire; but certain it is that Mrs. Ward has not that gift, that she fails in her men and succeeds remarkably with women. In her fourth book, one of the finest and completest things is the study of Mrs. Boyce, Marcella's mother, who is everywhere touched with something that serves instead of the corrective laughter. Doubtless she is thrown into relief against her daughter, whose main trait is a lack of all the qualities which save men and women from making fools of themselves. It is a great achievement to have ren

dered a heroine likeable who is conspicuously without humor.

Marcella is the first of the considerable series of novels whose interest is mainly political-in which the fortunes of characters are bound up with a House of Commons career. Sir George Tressady, which pursued Marcella's history into a later period, is to my mind that rare thing, a sequel better than the original book. Here again Mrs. Ward's gift for dealing with mean women stands to her. Lady Tressady is a real addition to the portraiture of contemporary types; for the shrewish little doll is seen with humanity, and we are made to understand, if not sympathize with, the phases of her jealous rage. One scene in this book-that where Marcella comes to apologize to and appease the woman whose husband she has unwittingly made captive-is perhaps the best thing Mrs. Ward has done: as a piece of technical mastery in the contrasting of two women's characters it was more difficult to achieve than the central chapters of Robert Els'mere. And if the novelist implies that Marcella strained compassion almost to the limit of folly, it is only by way of reminding us that Lady Maxwell's married felicity (too sacred for Letty Tressady's ears) was of a piece with her fortune and her station in the world. Even here what one might quarrel with is only the novelist's implied cominent: the dramatic movement of the scene, the truth of what the two women do and say, could hardly be bettered.

Lady Rose's Daughter (a very clever study in social values), the Marriage of William Ashe, and Diana Mallory all belong to this political group. I remark with interest that the virtuous hero is always Tory or at least Whig (though he must be for social reform and have some diffidence as to the duty of game preserving); whereas the attractive villain of the piece is always Radical. He

may be defeated and exposed, as in 'Marcella; or again, as in Diana Mallory, he may be rewarded beyond his deserts by marriage to the generous girl who forgives and sets to work piecing up his miserable existence. But in all cases he is shown up for the self-seeker we know him to be. Further, in all these books there is the hint of some well-known story; which in William Ashe goes far beyond a hint. Lady Kitty in this book is very unlike the Lady Caroline Lamb of the original: she is ultra-modern; but Mrs. Ward has contrived to give a sense of freakish charm combined with half-mad wilfulness, which invests her heroine with something like tragic dignity.

Lady Kitty is, I think, the only lady in Mrs. Ward's gallery who transgresses seriously; and she does so in a curious absence of passion. She falls to an attraction of the intellect rather than of the temperament; and so the page is left unsullied-not needing expurgation. Indeed, the really pathetic closing scene of the book is rendered a little ridiculous by the stress which husband and wife lay upon precautions to observe decorum, when after years of separation they meet by accidentshe evidently moribund-in a tiny Swiss hotel.

Oddly enough, the only physical note of passion which I can trace in any of these books comes as part in a very powerful study of jealousy. Eleanor (apart from its incidental interests as a description of Italian scenery, and of a persecuted Modernist), tells the story of an attractive woman, well past her first youth, who sees the man of her heart slip away from her to new youth and beauty-armed, too, with attractions which she had herself enhanced. Mrs. Ward tends to deal with this same theme of the jealous woman; it makes a great part of the story in Fenwick's Career (again a resetting, Romney's story brought up to date),

and the main pith of the book in Daphne. But the fullest and subtlest treatment is that in Eleanor-the finest too, because it is jealousy uncomplicated by any marital sense of ownership. We have simply two women and one man set between them-one conspicuously pursuing, the other attracted indeed and attracting, but merely as it were by the law of existence, and finally refusing what she sees else. where so passionately desired. No subject could be more depressing; yet it almost comes to a happy ending, because Mr. Manisty marries the young girl, and we know well that an American woman will, sooner probably than later, assert herself and teach her husband that she, and not he, is the centre of creation. So, judgment is executed upon one of the most detestable types conceivable and I would not say that Manisty is inconceivable.

The amazing point is that Mrs. Ward evidently admires him. She makes him carry about Greek texts in his pocket and read them at odd moments, which is with her the fine mark of masculine perfection (see the novels passim).

Canadian Born, latest but one of the books, cannot be accounted among the successes. Mrs. Ward has been to Canada, and builds up a story with impressions of travel; it was a fashion of novel-writing that William Black used with unfailing charm. But here through all the pleasure in nature one hears the voice of the publicist formulating views. A little thing would change many of the scenes, many of the dialogues, into excellent leading articles.

But Mrs. Ward's excursions into the field of imperial policy are in a sense superficial: they bring us into touch only with the surface of the writer's mind. In The Case of Richard Meynell she returns to that deeper prepossession which has never left her since it inspired her first achievement. In the

preface to the Westmoreland edition of Robert Elsmere she tells how that book owed its birth to a movement of revolt

revolt against a Bampton Lecture!— and how that revolt sought its utterance in a pamphlet, and how years after the pamphlet ripened into a novel, which put the thesis of the pamphlet as a concrete human case. If Robert Elsmere disbelieves, is it only (as the Bampton lecturer would suggest) through spiritual pride or some other unchristian quality? That is the question which the book is written to answer. But beside it runs the other question: Are the things which Elsmere cannot believe things essential to Christianity? Now, after twenty years, Mrs. Ward returns to these problems, and it is apparent that in her view the first question no longer needs to be put. No one, she would say, disputes that persons in the Christian community living good and even exemplary lives hold views as difficult to reconcile with the letter of the Creed as are the tenets of an extreme ritualist with the Thirty-Nine Articles. Her question now frames itself rather in this form: Has the Christian a right to assert views which involve wide modification of Christianity's intellectual framework? Obviously this is an inquiry by far more polemical than that other, which could be answered by showing how a good man can in all honor and sincerity, and against every pull of his nature, feel himself driven to conclusions at variance with those of his Church. The problem raised is less human: and in answering her question Mrs. Ward must assume the rôle of a prophetess, picturing in advance not a secession but a struggle within the Church of England. That forecast will interest all who care for such matters; but as a novel the book suffers by lack of any contest within the hero's mind: there is no essential drama. Mrs. Ward tries to meet this lack by

inventing a plot, to me wholly incredible, which forces upon Meynell a certain choice arising out of extraneous happenings. The struggle in Elsmere's case is inevitable, inseparable from his position; but because a novel ought to have a plot, Meynell is grouped with a set of people each and all of whom have acted with criminal folly, and so force him to decide between his private honor and his public mission. Yet this is all, in reality, padding: what Mrs. Ward has wanted to do in writing the book has been to project herself into an imaginary contest of modernist Anglicans against Anglican orthodoxy: to invent the situations that might arise, the weapons that might be used, and above all the sermons that might be preached. All my respect for her talent cannot help my feeling that the publicist in her has bolted, dragging the artist off her feet.

To sum up, there is, broadly speaking, in all Mrs. Ward's books either the adventitious interest attaching to a roman more or less à clef, or what I venture to call the guide-book interest: whether the guide-book introduces us to Italian landscape, to the Quartier Latin, to the environments of artist life in London, to the House of Commons and its appanages, or to the domestic circles of the really great, does not matter, these various themes are treated a little in the guide book's vein. Or, again, there is the propagandist interest of an attractive and well-accredited heresy-a heresy on the side of the angels.

Only once has she attempted what I may call the story pure and simple the tale of Bessie Costrell's theft and her undoing. It is the kind of subject that Maupassant would readily have chosen and handled in perhaps one-third, perhaps one-sixth, of the space. The tale is one of natural pity; no artist of any accomplishment could fail to move us with it. Yet judged

by it Mrs. Ward must be set down a failure.

It is not there her gift lies. She has doubtless found her own way. Her gift has been to interest rather than to move. She has, using the bait of a story, interested a vast public in things of the mind; she has with surprising skill dramatized current movements of public thought and of public feeling; and consistently she has written well. Here is a characteristic passage of her prose, from Diana Mallory:

The February afternoon darkened round the old house. There was a light powdering of snow on grass and trees. Yet still there were breathings and bird-notes in the air, and tones of color in the distance, which obscurely prophesied the spring. Through the wood behind the house the snowdrops were rising, in a white invading host, over ground covered with the redbrown deposit of innumerable autumns. Above their glittering white rose an undergrowth of laurels and box, through which again shot up the magnificent trunks-gray and smooth and round-of the great beeches, which held and peopled the country-side, heirs of its ancestral forest. Anyone standing in the wood could see, through the leafless trees, the dusky blues and rich violets of the encircling hill-hung there, like the tapestry of some vast hall; or hear from time to time the loud wings of the wood pigeons as they clattered through the topmost boughs.

That is very good, very true, very well seen, and the final note of sound, bringing in another sense, deftly completes the realization. But after all what matters in a novelist is not description of landscape, and I at least find it impossible to illustrate Mrs. Ward's gifts as a novelist by quotation. Length is an attribute of her work, as it is of a German sausage; the mixture is well distributed all through, but it is a little monotonous.

And the writing itself, good as it is, lacks personality. It would be hard

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