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phant, which exhibits the full face of Lord | plicity, the gracious courtliness of the North, and led by Burke, as his imperial Shakspearian men; the sober gravity and trumpeter.” The Opposition, with the usual self-respecting solemnity of the Cromwellian exaggeration of faction, vowed that Fox time. Even the levity of the Restoration meant to make himself a dictator in Indian was of the easy French type, while in all the affairs, and by the peculiar provisions of the follies of the Queen Anne men there were Bill to establish an influence, authority, and brains, and a flavour of wit and scholarship. position that should be independent of the But with George I. manners seem to fall to Crown, and of any change of Ministry which pieces, and society to become some shåpemight take place. Some later historians, less community of hogs. You have a Beauseeing the inappropriateness of this objec- clerk and a Langton, it is true, who could tion, have assumed that it could not have love their Johnson for his brains and his had much influence at the time. Yet, ac- character; and you have a strange and polcording to Mr. Wright, Fox acknowledged ished Horace Walpole. But in the ruck, in that it was Sayer's caricature — embodying society as a whole, there seems to have been this objection with forcible humour — which no particle of capacity for rational pleasure dealt the most severe of all blows to the — no simplicity, no shadow of grace. The Bill in public opinion. Young Pitt seems atmosphere is thick with grossness and sillito have thought so too, for when he came ness. “Nothing in the world was ever so into power he gave the artist a place. Mr. nearly like a society of Swiftian Yahoos. Wright gives us an entertaining account of It is true that we have Schneiderism in our some of the lampoons and caricatures that time, but then compare that, silly and disissued in countless numbers during the great gusting as it is, with the account of one of Westminster election of 1784, which fol- Mrs. Cornely's masquerades, or a masquerlowed shortly after the dismissal of Fox and ade at the Pantheon. Licentiousness, wanNorth from office and the accession of Pitt. tonness, and gross debauchery seem never Among them is a little cut representing the to have been so bad and so avowed in Engfamous kiss with which the beautiful Duch- land as they were almost exactly a hundred ess of Devonshire was supposed to have years from now, when the offices of Chanbribed the butcher to vote for Charles Fox. cellor of the Exchequer and Abbot of MedConsidering the decorous way in which the menham were possessed by the same titled standard historians are justly content with personage, holding the president-ship of the mentioning an electioneering trifle of this Hell-Fire Club in commendam. Imagine sort, we get a wonderful vision from Mr. ladies of rank going now to a masked ball, Wright's wider and more detailed account say at Cremorne or the Argyll Rooms. of the kind of things which were really said Yet at a masquerade at the Pantheon in 1772 and drawn about the beautiful Duchess's there were some fourteen hundred persons share in the election. Indeed, it is not dif- of rank and position present, and participaficult, if one remembers the exceeding gross-ting freely in the orgies. To sit in a box ness and license of that day, to conjecture and watch a lady from Paris throw her legs the outrages from tongue, pen, and pencil about and otherwise outrage sober proprito which a woman of her prominence taking ety is not a good thing, but it is better than a violent part in a violent election would as- what used to take place at the masquerades suredly expose herself. We are not sure ofthe great-grandmothers of Madlle. Schneieven now, if a lady of rank were to make der's patrons and patronesses. “There herself as conspicuous for Mr. Mill as the were scenes in the upstairs rooms," says an Duchess Georgiana did for Fox, that she eyewitness in 1774, * too gross for repetiwould escape gross and horrid lampooning. tion; I saw ladies and gentlemen together Some of the prints against the Duchess in attitudes that would have disgraced the found their way along with others into the Court of Comus." After all, it is better hands of the Queen, but their grossness was that this kind of thing should be done by too much even for that august person's par- proxy on the stage. Then consider the distisanship, inflamed and bitter as it was. regard of physical cleanliness in those dreary
It really appears, as one turns over the times — the filthiness of the head-gear, for pages of this queer and, in its way, elabo- instance, which ladies of position were acrate history, as if society in England was customed to wear. Everybody knows the in truth not formed nor shaped during the mass of wool, tow, hemp, lard, pomatum, times which it describes. Manners, cos- and other things which rose above the head, tumes, habits, amusements, conversation and the long time during which the structall was a chaos of extravagance, meanness, lure once laboriously raised was allowed to coarseness, and ugliness. We can perceive remain undisturbed in its place. Just a the frank and sweet gaiety, the jocund sim- / hundred years, this very month, a correspondent of the London Magazine, quoted sense of the fitness of things is offended by by Mr. Wright, describes the hairdresser the continual recurrence of what ought to as asking a lady how long it was since her be most sparingly employed to bring about “ head” had been opened or repaired. a catastrophe or to disentangle a plot. At “She answered, Not above nine weeks; to the same time, it is clear that the offence which he replied, that that was as long as a arises from the nearness of the events which head could well go in summer.” The de-are narrated. Take, for instance, the well scription which follows of the opening of known scene in Ivanhoe, the storming of the head is too disgusting for Mr. Wright Front-de-Bæuf's castle, and translate it into to venture to reproduce it. It is some com- modern life. A body of labourers, led by fort, after all, whatever may be the com- a gang of poachers and by a Royal Duke parative inner morality of this age, that we in Disguise, attack the castle of the wicked do keep clean the outside of the cup and Earl Mowbray, in order to deliver certain platter.
prisoners whom he is holding in durance, say, General Wilfred, a soldier who has
distinguished himself in India, and Miss From The Spectator. Rebecca Isaacs, the beautiful daughter of a SENSATIONAL NOVELS.
money-lender in Piccadilly. The chief of A well known satirist of parsons, par
the poachers would wield a small-bore rifle, sons' wives, and other ecclesiastical and the Royal Duke a life-preserver of enorquasi-ecclesiastical persons and things has
mous size. And the story of the siege written a book,* which is intended to make
would conclude with a scene in which Sarah ridiculous the sensational novel. Lucretia
Hodge, a daughter of the people, who has Beverley (née Lucky Frommage) is a young
suffered a fearful wrong from the wicked lady who is determined to find romance in
house and repaid it with as fearful a venher life, and who meets, in consequence,
geance, dances on the battlements of the with all sorts of painful and ludicrous mis
flaming pile, while she sings some song of the adventures, the chief of them being that she
Music Halls. Yet no one would call Scott's marries her uncle's cowherd, one Reuben great romance
great romance “ sensational.” The remoteRush, who describes himself as a nobleman
ness of the time protects it from the charge; in disguise. Marmion Mowbray by name. we know generally that the age of Richbut who is really a burglar known by the ard 1. was an age of violent deeds; we do soubriquet of '* Brummagem Brittles." not know, at least we do not know instinctThis satire is quite just, because it exactly
|ively, and the softening effect of distance hits the great artistic fault of the sensational
makes us careless to inquire, whether this novel, the use of illegitimate means to pro
or that incident is probable. duce an effect upon the reader. The case
An exact illustration is afforded by the of the author and his public may be thus querence between tragedy and melodrama. described. The novel of incident is easier Tragedy deals wit
Tragedy deals with historical or legendary to write and finds a larger circle of readers persons and events, and gains a liberty than the novel of character. But those
which could not otherwise be accorded to it readers further require that the scene of the from the dignity or the sanctity of its substory should be laid in a place and at a time jects. Where could we find greater horrors. with which they are or suppose themselves
Wolves than in the story of Edipus? A man kills to be familiar. To produce a tale of mod
his father and marries his mother; his sons ern life that shall be at the same time a tale
perish in mutual conflict; his daughter is of striking incident is the problem set to
buried alive. No Greek audience would the writer of novels. The skilful construc
have endured such a story, had the scene tor of plots can satisfy the conditions with
been laid in the Athens or Thebes of their out violating the proprieties of art, but to own age. But it was made endurable by heap together startling and exceptional in
in the remoteness of the time. This softened cidents in defiance of all probability is the
Klitoris the the effect of the horror; this reconciled the obvious resource of inferior artists. Such
e sich audience to that central idea of an over
lifo powering necessity by which the dramatist nor is there any reason why they should not el
should be felt his subject to be sanctified. Men who be introduced, under the restrictions which would rebel against the notion of a fate good taste will prescribe, in the novels
which governed their own lives, would ac, which undertake to represent it. But our
cept it without difficulty of the shadowy
personages of a far distant past. But Lucretia ; or, the Heroine of the Nineteenth cen. tury A Correspondence, Sensational and Sentimental. By the Author of the Orolet of Owlstone Edge. London: Masters. 1868.
achieves success under easier conditions,
- but achieves it at the sacrifice of art. It subtle analyses of passion. Nor can they deals with the same subjects as tragedy, but be sheltered under the half-ironical defence it vulgarizes them, because it removes them which Charles Lamb made for the dramatists from the associations which legitimatize and of the Restoration. Theirs is not a world ennoble them.
in which morality simply does not exist. So far, then, we think the satire of Lu-They have a thin varnish of pretence which cretia to be just; but when the writer, in excludes the notion. The lady who debates his epilogue, exchanges humour for indig- through three volumes whether or no she nation, when he declares “ that the teach- shall be an adulteress never forgets that ing of the sensational novels of the day is, there is a divine commandment and a social on the whole, so infamous, the principles law. She simply gives to understand that contained in many of them so utterly de- they are of less moment than her own pasmoralizing; the conversations retailed so sion or caprice. Any writer who could revolting for their looseness, wickedness, make ridiculous such tales as these would and blasphemy; the scenes represented so indeed do good service to society. We licentious, or so horrible, that it becomes may again take an illustration from the the duty of every one who can.find his way stage. The melodrama of the cheap theainto print to protest against them,” he seems, tres is an acted sensational novel; a rude to us, to be going beside his mark. The audience, from whose life civilization has fault of the sensational novel is artistic not banished violence as effectually as it has rather than moral. If the writer might be from ours, views with pleasure scenes which credited with any object beyond those of would strike us as ludicrous or disgusting. amusing his readers and enriching himself, But, whatever abundance of horror and he might assert that his aim is identical with crime there may be in the melodrama, there that which Aristotle states to be the aim of is no immorality. The audience will not tragedy, -" to purify the passions by emo-put up with it. The costermongers of the tions of pity and terror." These are cer- gallery would not endure the shameless extainly the emotions to which the sensation-hibitions which our princes and nobles have al novel, as we understand the term, com- lately been applauding with such frantic enmonly appeals. And though we readily thusiasm, or, indeed, what has been for allow that the artistic defect interferes with years the staple commodity of many of our the moral purpose, we cannot concede that Western theatres. We may laugh at the it makes it immoral. The writer of Lucre- vulgarity of their taste. And if we can eltia, when he assumes the serious mood, evate it, if we can teach them to prefer mentions no names, but the character of Macbeth to the Murderer's Doom, we shall his plot and his heroine's allusion to Aurora have done them no small benefit. But when Floyd make it evident that his attack is we pass from ridicule to serious censure, we levelled against Miss Braddon. We are not must never forget that the rudest melodraconcerned to defend that lady, but we will ma stands in moral value higher than such say this, that none of her novels, and we polite productions as La Grande Duchesse have read them all, have seemed to us im- de Gerolstein. moral. Aurora Floyd suffers enough for the folly of her girlhood to satisfy the most rigid moralist, and no one will be inclined
From The Saturday Review. to follow the example of Lady Audley, who accompanies her to her final doom in the RICHARDSON'S CLARISSA.* Belgian madhouse.
Mr. Dallas deserves the thanks of every This mistake is the more to be regretted, lover of English literature for his endeavour because there is a class of novels which, to rehabilitate one of its most unquestionawithout being in the least sensational, de- ble masterpieces. Most people begin their serve all the hard language which can be study of Richardson with Pamela, and the applied to them. The scene of their story insufferable prolixity of that complete letis laid in modern drawing-rooms and gar- ter-writer - for it is not much more — usudens. Every accessory introduced is given ally stifles any desire to become better acwith perfect propriety and correctness. quainted with so ineffably tiresome an auThey may justly claim to be free from any thor. Pamela is only worth reading by extravagance of incident or of language. professional students of the literature and But they are not the less scandalously im- moral tone of the period. The case is very moral for that. Their very verisimilitude different with Clarissa. There is a stir and makes them dangerous. There is an active contagion, because there is such a probabil
* Clarissa. A Novel. By Samuel Richardson.
Edited by E. S. Dallas. 3 vols. London: Tinsley ity, in their voluptuous descriptions, in their Brothers. 1868.
movement and liveliness in the book-seller's | if this unreadable matter were curtailed with second story which not even Richardson's a pretty free hand, his countrymen might warmest admirers could think they found in be induced again to turn to a romance which the first, whatever merits it may be sup-has probably excited more sincere enthusiposed to have from a didactic point of view. asm among Frenchmen than any other sinNobody can pretend that the plot of Clar-gle product of our literature. Mr. Dallas * issa does not excite and keep up one's keen-goes too far when he says that in the reignest interest, from the beginning to its terri-ing literature of France during the last cenble climax and its tragic consummation. As tury " there was not to be found a trace of Macaulay said to Thackeray in a character- English iniluence save that of our novelist." istic outburst, reported in Mr. Dallas's in- For, in truth, that portion of French literatroduction -“ If you have once entered on ture during this time which most especially Clarissa, and are infected by it, you can't made it the reigning literature of Europe leave it." And this is equally true of men was strongly impregnated with English inand women who are without Macaulay's in- fluences. French philosophy was characexhaustible and insatiable power of taking teristically a continuation of Locke and interest in things. People who have supped Newton, and, as M. Villemain has said, on the horrors and complexities of such nearly every bolt of the freethinkers was writers as Mr. Collins or Miss Braddon may drawn from the quiver of the English Destill find their attention fast engaged by the ists. Mr. Buckle has expatiated on this woes of Miss Clarissa Harlowe, and the end-connexion with his customary amplitude of less machinations of her destroyer. But detail. But this exaggeration is not at all then they will probably be driven, by this necessary for Mr. Dallas's case, which is, very engagement of their interest and its that Richardson has met among Frenchmen, intensity, to resort to the rather demoraliz- and even Germans, with an amount of recing and tiring device of skipping. For it ognition that has never been accorded to cannot be concealed, as we turn over the him by the later generations of English peopages of the original and unabridged Clar-ple. This, we take it, is beyond dispute. issa, that its prolixity in some parts is re- | There are two reasons to account for it. pulsive even to the man who takes up his The ordinary novel-reader found the unnovel in as serious a spirit as if it were an abridged Clarissa too heavy for him, while ethical treatise. Richardson, as Mr. Dallas the people with understanding and patience reminds us, was sixty years old when he enough to appreciate all its merits had prowrote his best book, and at sixty most re- bably for the most part forsworn fiction, flective tradesmen, especially if the world and neglected Clarissa along with the flimhas gone very well with them, are addicted sier books. Mr. Dallas's edition will, at to heavy moralizing and preaching. Be- any rate, obviate the objections of the first sides, the author may perhaps have felt that class. He has not set to work with a reckthe amount of wickedness in his romance de- less enjoyment of his prerogative, ņor cut manded a prportionately handsome amount and slashed on the right hand and on the of sermonizing by way of makeweight. left. If anything, he has been too consciNot satisfied that virtue should teach itself entiously tender, too solicitous to retain all by example, he insists on setting forth the the characteristics of his author's art. Still advantages of virtue in an abstract manner, Clarissa is now readable, like any other and impressing its claims upon us with all three-volume novel, by anybody with the the severity of didactic common-place. This feeblest capacity of being interested in the is plainly a fault. When your heart is torn exploits and sufferings of some of the most with the anguish of a noble-minded woman, admirable characters in the whole range of and inflamed with anger against her ruthless fiction. As is usual when a good thing has betrayer, it is a piece of unspeakable bathos been done, we only wonder why it was to ask us, directly or indirectly, to lend our never done before. Why were not men of ears to garrulities about right and wrong. letters before Mr. Dallas stimulated by that If one does not hate vice, in seeing the cir- saying of Scott's, in which he has found a cumstances of Clarissa Harlowe's fate, no highly appropriate motto for his title-page, number of general propositions is at all that " a modern reader may be permitted to likely to engender the proper amount of in- wish that Clarissa had been a good deal dignation. Seeing that this mistaken pro- abridged at the beginning”? However, let lixity, where prolixity was less than any- us be thankful that the abridgment has been where else to be endured, has succeeded in inade at last, and made with judgment and thrusting what is really an admirable work discretion. For, though we can scarcely go of art into the limbo of books unread, Mr. so far as the editor in his superlative estiDallus wisely bethought him that perhaps, mate of Clarissa as “the noblest of all
novels,” yet nothing can be more desirable is over with his victim. Yet he is no vulgar than that in these days — when writers of melodramatic villain, but just the ordinary fiction, with the rarest exceptions, are con- clever scoundrel of polite society, and with tent either with superficial reproduction or the clever scoundrel's eminent points — his equally superficial outrage of the facts of wit, shiftiness, gaiety, wicked levity. Lovelife - we should cease to neglect a story lace's letters are incomparably good, full of which, while closely realistic with the agree- life and reality; and it is exactly because able realism of primitive art, yet rises fully they are so real and unstrained that they to the height of human tragedy.
fill us with a hearty aversion for the meanThe conditions of Richardson's success ness of that gaiety which is merely the proin Clarissa are very striking. The climax duct of robust health and unflinching selfishof his plot is the wickedest crime in the.cal-ness. People have wondered how it came endar, perpetrated under the most atrocious to pass that a domestic and decorous bookand disgusting circumstances that one can seller could conceive and draw a rake to well imagine. Yet, somehow, the sweet such perfection. Even the rakes with thickand pure nobleness of the unhappy heroine er heads than Lovelace – Tourville and sheds such a light over the story that the Mowbray - are excellently sketched. And horror of the crime, which with a smaller here, by the way, we are inclined to dissent artist would have made the whole book from Mr. Dallas's complaint of want of lurid and foul, seems only to touch us indi- background. The minor characters who rectly. Founded on an impurity, the ro- fill in the background are full of truthfulmance glows and is radiant with the very ness and life, from the abominable Mrs. purest impressions. The most censorious Sinclair and Sally Martin and Elias Brand critic in such matters will allow that not a up to Belford and Clarissa's brother and shadow of vicious influence can be found in sister. Nothing in its way can be better Clarissa. Every man or woman who is not than the by-play between Miss Howe and to begin with as corrupt as Lovelace him- her mother and the worthy Hickman; in self, will be vehemently set against the bru- some portions of this there is really good tality of unbridled passion, not stimulated comedy. Again, though left in a certain to yield to it, or even to think about it, by shadow, still the reader constantly finds Richardson's portrayal of its mastery and himself thinking of the effect of Clarissa's violence. Even a modern Lovelace — and terrible miseries and her ultimate fate upon the vile type survives — who should be per- her hard and unamiable relations at Harlowe suaded to read Clarissa would infallibly be place. This is an ever-present background moved to a better mood, and constrained to to any reader of right sensibility, though leave his usual courses for a month at any his own imagination is left to fill it in. It rate. They are but sickly moralists, with a is one of Richardson's chief merits as an puny faith in the virtue or principles of artist that he weaves his story as it were in their clients, who fear a book that only pre- a single piece. Take up a modern novel sents crime in such a light as to make it un- and the chances are a hundred to one that mistakably hideous even in the eyes of men you find yourself engaged not on one story who might previously not have shrunk from but on two, or perhaps three, linked togethits commission. Probably the secret of all er by some unspeakably slender thread. this is that Richardson has steered so thor- Richardson, like all other persons with a oughly wide of anything like an intermix- feeling for art, studies unity of construction, ture of sentimental with descriptive matter. makes his story an integral work, and, while Try to conceal or colour lust with delicacy, not excluding asides and by-play, holds romance of circumstance, tenderness of feel- them in strictest subordination to the cening, or anything that is morally creditable tral interest of his story. We fancy that in men's eyes, and the danger of such work this is all that Mr. Dallas means by want of is unfathomable and unending. Witness background. To us it seems rather a virthe corruption of certain modern French tue than a defect, provided that, along with tales and studies. Not a sentimental line strict unity of story, you have a just diverin Clarissa veils the ugliness and cruelty of sity of character. Of this diversity there is the outrage, which stands just as baldly hate-l in Clarissa no lack. The meanly spiteful ful as a vindictive murder or a crafty and Arabella, the sullenly spiteful James Hardestructive fraud. It is this which makes lowe, the fiery and spirited Anna Howe, the story so emphatically moral. Not for the sober Hickman, the thick-headed rake one second can any one sympathize with Tourville, the reformable rake Belford, the Lovelace. We detest him before he has incorrigible and clever rake Lovelace, the wrought his iniquity; and we despise him pure, gentle, and high-minded Clarissa Ilarfor his silly noise and vehemence when all lowe — all these people are drawn with a