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George Eliot Post by :eldon Category :Essays Author :Edmund Gosse Date :November 2011 Read :1490

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George Eliot

In and after 1876, when I was in the habit of walking from the north-west of London towards Whitehall, I met several times, driven slowly homewards, a victoria which contained a strange pair in whose appearance I took a violent interest. The man, prematurely ageing, was hirsute, rugged, satyr-like, gazing vivaciously to left and right; this was George Henry Lewes. His companion was a large, thickset sybil, dreamy and immobile, whose massive features, somewhat grim when seen in profile, were incongruously bordered by a hat, always in the height of the Paris fashion, which in those days commonly included an immense ostrich feather; this was George Eliot. The contrast between the solemnity of the face and the frivolity of the headgear had something pathetic and provincial about it.

All this I mention, for what trifling value it may have, as a purely external impression, since I never had the honour of speaking to the lady or to Lewes. We had, my wife and I, common friends in the gifted family of Simcox--Edith Simcox (who wrote ingeniously and learnedly under the pen-name of H. Lawrenny) being an intimate in the household at the Priory. Thither, indeed, I was vaguely invited, by word of mouth, to make my appearance one Sunday, George Eliot having read some pages of mine with indulgence. But I was shy, and yet should probably have obeyed the summons but for an event which nobody foresaw. On the 18th of December, 1880, I was present at a concert given, I think, in the Langham Hall, where I sat just behind Mrs. Cross, as she had then become. It was chilly in the concert-room, and I watched George Eliot, in manifest discomfort, drawing up and tightening round her shoulders a white wool shawl. Four days later she was dead, and I was sorry that I had never made my bow to her.

Her death caused a great sensation, for she had ruled the wide and flourishing province of English prose fiction for ten years, since the death of Dickens. Though she had a vast company of competitors, she did not suffer through that period from the rivalry of one writer of her own class. If the Brontës had lived, or Mrs. Gaskell, the case might have been different, for George Eliot had neither the passion of Jane Eyre nor the perfection of Cranford, but they were gone before we lost Dickens, and so was Thackeray, who died while Romola was appearing. Charles Kingsley, whose Westward Ho! had just preceded her first appearance, had unluckily turned into other and less congenial paths. Charles Reade, whose It is Never Too Late to Mend (1856) had been her harbinger, scarcely maintained his position as her rival. Anthony Trollope, excellent craftsman as he was, remained persistently and sensibly at a lower intellectual level. Hence the field was free for George Eliot, who, without haste or hesitation, built up slowly such a reputation as no one in her own time could approach.

The gay world, which forgets everything, has forgotten what a solemn, what a portentous thing was the contemporary fame of George Eliot. It was supported by the serious thinkers of the day, by the people who despised mere novels, but regarded her writings as contributions to philosophical literature. On the solitary occasion when I sat in company with Herbert Spencer on the committee of the London Library he expressed a strong objection to the purchase of fiction, and wished that for the London Library no novels should be bought, "except, of course, those of George Eliot." While she lived, critics compared her with Goethe, but to the disadvantage of the sage of Weimar. People who started controversies about evolutionism, a favourite Victorian pastime, bowed low at the mention of her name, and her own strong good sense alone prevented her from being made the object of a sort of priggish idolatry. A big-wig of that day remarked that "in problems of life and thought which baffled Shakespeare her touch was unfailing." For Lord Acton at her death "the sun had gone out," and that exceedingly dogmatic historian observed, ex cathedrâ, that no writer had "ever lived who had anything like her power of manifold but disinterested and impartial sympathy. If Sophocles or Cervantes had lived in the light of our culture, if Dante had prospered like Manzoni, George Eliot might have had a rival." It is very dangerous to write like that. A reaction is sure to follow, and in the case of this novelist, so modest and strenuous herself, but so ridiculously overpraised by her friends, it came with remarkable celerity.

The worship of an intellectual circle of admirers, reverberating upon a dazzled and genuinely interested public, was not, however, even in its palmiest days, quite unanimous. There were other strains of thought and feeling making way, and other prophets were abroad. Robert Browning, though an optimist, and too polite a man to oppose George Eliot publicly, was impatient of her oracular manner. There was a struggle, not much perceived on the surface of the reviews, between her faithful worshippers and the new school of writers vaguely called pre-Raphaelite. She loved Matthew Arnold's poetry, and in that, as in so much else, she was wiser and more clairvoyant than most of the people who surrounded her, but Arnold preserved an attitude of reserve with regard to her later novels. She found nothing to praise or to attract her interest in the books of George Meredith; on the other hand, Coventry Patmore, with his customary amusing violence, voted her novels "sensational and improper." To D. G. Rossetti they were "vulgarity personified," and his brother defined them as "commonplace tempering the stuck-up." Swinburne repudiated Romola with vigour as "absolutely false." I dare say that from several of these her great contemporaries less harsh estimates of her work might be culled, but I quote these to show that even at the height of her fame she was not quite unchallenged.

She was herself, it is impossible to deny, responsible for a good deal of the tarnish which spread over the gold of her reputation. Her early imaginative writings--in particular Janet's Repentance, Adam Bede, the first two-thirds of The Mill on the Floss, and much of Silas Marner--had a freshness, a bright vitality, which, if she could have kept it burnished, would have preserved her from all effects of contemporary want of sympathy. When we analyse the charm of the stories just mentioned, we find that it consists very largely in their felicity of expressed reminiscence. There is little evidence in them of the inventive faculty, but a great deal of the reproductive. Now, we have to remember that contemporaries are quite in the dark as to matters about which, after the publication of memoirs and correspondence and recollections, later readers are exactly informed. We may now know that Sir Christopher Cheverel closely reproduces the features of a real Sir Roger Newdigate, and that Dinah Morris is Mrs. Samuel Evans photographed, but readers of 1860 did not know that, and were at liberty to conceive the unknown magician in the act of calling up a noble English gentleman and a saintly Methodist preacher from the depths of her inner consciousness. Whether this was so or not would not matter to anyone, if George Eliot could have continued the act of pictorial reproduction without flagging. The world would have long gazed with pleasure into the camera obscura of Warwickshire, as she reeled off one dark picture after another, but unhappily she was not contented with her success, and she aimed at things beyond her reach.

Her failure, which was, after all (let us not exaggerate), the partial and accidental failure of a great genius, began when she turned from passive acts of memory to a strenuous exercise of intellect. If I had time and space, it would be very interesting to study George Eliot's attitude towards that mighty woman, the full-bosomed caryatid of romantic literature, who had by a few years preceded her. When George Eliot was at the outset of her own literary career, which as we know was much belated, George Sand had already bewitched and thrilled and scandalized Europe for a generation. The impact of the Frenchwoman's mind on that of her English contemporary produced sparks or flashes of starry enthusiasm. George Eliot, in 1848, was "bowing before George Sand in eternal gratitude to that great power of God manifested in her," and her praise of the French peasant-idyls was unbounded. But when she herself began to write novels she grew to be less and less in sympathy with the French romantic school. A French critic of her own day laid down the axiom that "il faut bien que le roman se rapproche de la poésie ou de la science." George Sand had thrown herself unreservedly into the poetic camp. She acknowledged "mon instinct m'eût poussée vers les abîmes," and she confessed, with that stalwart good sense which carried her genius over so many marshy places, that her temperament had often driven her, "au mépris de la raison ou de la verité morale," into pure romantic extravagance.

But George Eliot, whatever may have been her preliminary enthusiasms, was radically and permanently anti-romantic. This was the source of her strength and of her weakness; this, carefully examined, explains the soaring and the sinking of her fame. Unlike George Sand, she kept to the facts; she found that all her power quitted her at once if she dealt with imaginary events and the clash of ideal passions. She had been drawn in her youth to sincere admiration of the Indianas and Lelias of her florid French contemporary, and we become aware that in the humdrum years at Coventry, when the surroundings of her own life were arduous and dusty, she felt a longing to spread her wings and fly up and out to some dim Cloud-Cuckoo Land the confines of which were utterly vague to her. The romantic method of Dumas, for instance, and even of Walter Scott, appealed to her as a mode of escaping to dreamland from the flatness and vulgarity of life under the "miserable reign of Mammon." But she could not achieve such flights; her literary character was of a totally different formation. What was fabulous, what was artificial, did not so much strike her with disgust as render her paralysed. Her only escape from mediocrity, she found, was to give a philosophical interest to common themes. In consequence, as she advanced in life, and came more under the influence of George Henry Lewes, she became less and less well disposed towards the French fiction of her day, rejecting even Balzac, to whom she seems, strangely enough, to have preferred Lessing. That Lessing and Balzac should be names pronounced in relation itself throws a light on the temper of the speaker.

Most novelists seem to have begun to tell stories almost as early as musicians begin to trifle with the piano. The child keeps other children awake, after nurse has gone about her business, by reeling off inventions in the dark. But George Eliot showed, so far as records inform us, no such aptitude in infancy or even in early youth. The history of her start as a novel-writer is worthy of study. It appears that it was not until the autumn of 1856 that she, "in a dreamy mood," fancied herself writing a story. This was, I gather, immediately on her return from Germany, where she had been touring about with Lewes, with whom she had now been living for two years. Lewes said to her, "You have wit, description, and philosophy--those go a good way towards the production of a novel," and he encouraged her to write about the virtues and vices of the clergy, as she had observed them at Griff and at Coventry. Amos Barton was the immediate result, and the stately line of stories which was to close in Daniel Deronda twenty years later was started on its brilliant career. But what of the author? She was a storm-tried matron of thirty-seven, who had sub-edited the Westminster Review, who had spent years in translating Strauss's Life of Jesus and had sunk exhausted in a still more strenuous wrestling with the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus of Spinoza, who had worked with Delarive at Experimental Physics in Geneva, and who had censured, as superficial, John Stuart Mill's treatment of Whewell's Moral Philosophy. This heavily-built Miss Marian Evans, now dubiously known as Mrs. Lewes, whose features at that time are familiar to us by the admirable paintings and drawings of Sir Frederick Burton, was in training to be a social reformer, a moral philosopher, an apostle of the creed of Christendom, an anti-theological professor, anything in the world rather than a writer of idle tales.

But the tales proved to be a hundredfold more attractive to the general public than articles upon taxation or translations from German sceptics. We all must allow that at last, however tardily and surprisingly, George Eliot had discovered her true vocation. Let us consider in what capacity she entered this field of fiction. She entered it as an observer of life more diligent and more meticulous perhaps than any other living person. She entered it also with a store of emotional experience and with a richness of moral sensibility which were almost as unique. She had strong ethical prejudices, and a wealth of recollected examples by which she could justify them. Her memory was accurate, minute, and well arranged, and she had always enjoyed retrospection and encouraged herself in the cultivation of it. She was very sympathetic, very tolerant, and although she had lived in the very Temple of Priggishness with her Brays and her Hennells and her Sibrees, she remained singularly simple and unaffected. Rather sad, one pictures her in 1856, rather dreamy, burdened with an excess of purely intellectual preoccupation, wandering over Europe consumed by a constant, but unconfessed, nostalgia for her own country, coming back to it with a sense that the Avon was lovelier than the Arno. Suddenly, in that "dreamy mood," there comes over her a desire to build up again the homes of her childhood, to forget all about Rousseau and experimental physics, and to reconstruct the "dear old quaintnesses" of the Arbury of twenty-five years before.

If we wish to see what it was which this mature philosopher and earnest critic of behaviour had to produce for the surprise of her readers, we may examine the description of the farm at Donnithorne in Adam Bede. The solemn lady, who might seem such a terror to ill-doers, had yet a packet of the most delicious fondants in the pocket of her bombazine gown. The names of these sweetmeats, which were of a flavour and a texture delicious to the tongue, might be Mrs. Poyser or Lizzie Jerome or the sisters Dodson, but they all came from the Warwickshire factory at Griff, and they were all manufactured with the sugar and spice of memory. So long as George Eliot lived in the past, and extracted her honey from those wonderful cottage gardens which fill her early pages with their colour and their odour, the solidity and weight of her intellectual methods in other fields did not interfere, or interfered in a negligible way, with the power and intensity of the entertainment she offered. We could wish for nothing better. English literature has, of their own class, nothing better to offer than certain chapters of Adam Bede or than the beginning of The Mill on the Floss.

But, from the first, if we now examine coldly and inquisitively, there was a moth sleeping in George Eliot's rich attire. This moth was pedantry, the result, doubtless, of too much erudition encouraging a natural tendency in her mind, which as we have seen was acquisitive rather than inventive. It was unfortunate for her genius that after her early enthusiasm for French culture she turned to Germany and became, in measure, like so many powerful minds of her generation, Teutonized. This fostered the very tendencies which it was desirable to eradicate. One can but speculate what would have been the result on her genius of a little more Paris and a little less Berlin. Her most successful immediate rival in France was Octave Feuillet; the Scenes of Clerical Life answer in time to Le Roman d'un Jeune Homme Pauvre, and Monsieur de Camors to Felix Holt. There could not be a stronger or more instructive contrast than between the elegant fairyland of the one and the robust realism of the other. But our admirable pastoral writer, whose inward eye was stored with the harmonies and humours of Shakespeare's country, was not content with her mastery of the past. She looked forward to a literature of the future. She trusted to her brain rather than to those tired servants, her senses, and more and more her soul was invaded by the ambition to invent a new thing, the scientific novel, dealing with the growth of institutions and the analysis of individual character.

The critics of her own time were satisfied that she had done this, and that she had founded the psychological novel. There was much to be said in favour of such an opinion. In the later books it is an undeniable fact that George Eliot displays a certain sense of the inevitable progress of life which was new. It may seem paradoxical to see the peculiar characteristics of Zola or of Mr. George Moore in Middlemarch, but there is much to be said for the view that George Eliot was the direct forerunner of those naturalistic novelists. Like them, she sees life as an organism, or even as a progress. George Eliot in her contemplation of the human beings she invents is a traveller, who is provided with a map. No Norman church or ivied ruin takes her by surprise, because she has seen that it was bound to come, and recognizes it when it does come. Death, the final railway station, is ever in her mind; she sees it on her map, and gathers her property around her to be ready when the train shall stop. This psychological clairvoyance gives her a great power when she does not abuse it, but unfortunately from the very first there was in her a tendency, partly consequent on her mental training, but also not a little on her natural constitution, to dwell in a hard and pedagogic manner on it. She was not content to please, she must explain and teach as well.

Her comparative failure to please made its definite appearance first in the laboured and overcharged romance of Romola. But a careful reader will detect it in her earliest writings. Quite early in Amos Barton, for instance, when Mrs. Hackit observes of the local colliers that they "passed their time in doing nothing but swilling ale and smoking, like the beasts that perish," the author immediately spoils this delightful remark by explaining, like a schoolmaster, that Mrs. Hackit was "speaking, we may presume, in a remotely analogical sense." The laughter dies upon our lips. Useless pedantry of this kind spoils many a happy touch of humour, Mrs. Poyser alone perhaps having wholly escaped from it. It would be entirely unjust to accuse George Eliot, at all events until near the end of her life, of intellectual pride. She was, on the contrary, of a very humble spirit, timorous and susceptible of discouragement. But her humility made her work all the harder at her task of subtle philosophical analysis. It would have been far better for her if she had possessed less of the tenacity of Herbert Spencer and more of the recklessness of George Sand. An amusing but painful example of her Sisyphus temper, always rolling the stone uphill with groans and sweat, is to be found in her own account of the way she "crammed up" for the composition of Romola. She tells us of the wasting toil with which she worked up innumerable facts about Florence, and in particular how she laboured long over the terrible question whether Easter could have been "retarded" in the year 1492. On this, Sir Leslie Stephen--one of her best critics, and one of the most indulgent--aptly queries, "What would have become of Ivanhoe if Scott had bothered himself about the possible retardation of Easter? The answer, indeed, is obvious, that Ivanhoe would not have been written."

The effect of all this on George Eliot's achievement was what must always occur when an intellect which is purely acquisitive and distributive insists on doing work that is appropriate only to imagination. If we read very carefully the scene preceding Savonarola's sermon to the Dominicans at San Marco, we perceive that it is built up almost in Flaubert's manner, but without Flaubert's magic, touch by touch, out of books. The author does not see what she describes in a sort of luminous hallucination, but she dresses up in language of her own what she has carefully read in Burlamacchi or in Villari. The most conscientious labour, expended by the most powerful brain, is incapable of producing an illusion of life by these means. George Eliot may even possibly have been conscious of this, for she speaks again and again, not of writing with ecstasy of tears and laughter, as Dickens did, but of falling into "a state of so much wretchedness in attempting to concentrate my thoughts on the construction of my novel" that nothing but a tremendous and sustained effort of the will carried her on at all. In this vain and terrible wrestling with incongruous elements she wore out her strength and her joy, and it is heart-rending to watch so noble a genius and so lofty a character as hers wasted in the whirlpool. One fears that a sense of obscure failure added to her tortures, and one is tempted to see a touch of autobiography in the melancholy of Mrs. Transome (in Felix Holt), of whom we are told that "her knowledge and accomplishments had become as valueless as old-fashioned stucco ornaments, of which the substance was never worth anything, while the form is no longer to the taste of any living mortal."

The notion that George Eliot was herself, in spite of all the laudation showered upon her, consciously in want of some element essential for her success is supported by the very curious fact that from 1864 to 1869, that is to say through nearly one-quarter of her whole literary career, she devoted herself entirely to various experiments in verse. She was so preternaturally intelligent that there is nothing unlikely in the supposition that she realized what was her chief want as a writer of imaginative prose. She claims, and she will always be justified in claiming, a place in the splendid roll of prominent English writers. But she holds it in spite of a certain drawback which forbids her from ever appearing in the front rank as a great writer. Her prose has fine qualities of force and wit, it is pictorial and persuasive, but it misses one prime but rather subtle merit, it never sings. The masters of the finest English are those who have received the admonition Cantate Domino! They sing a new song unto the Lord. Among George Eliot's prose contemporaries there were several who obeyed this command. Ruskin, for instance, above all the Victorian prose-writers, shouts like the morning-star. It is the peculiar gift of all great prosaists. Take so rough an executant as Hazlitt: "Harmer Hill stooped with all its pines, to listen to a poet, as he passed!" That is the chanting faculty in prose, which all the greatest men possess; but George Eliot has no trace of it, except sometimes, faintly, in the sheer fun of her peasants' conversation. I do not question that she felt the lack herself, and that it was this which, subconsciously, led her to make a profound study of the art of verse.

She hoped, at the age of forty-four, to hammer herself into poetry by dint of sheer labour and will-power. She read the great masters, and she analysed them in the light of prosodical manuals. In 1871 she told Tennyson that Professor Sylvester's "laws for verse-making had been useful to her." Tennyson replied, "I can't understand that," and no wonder. Sylvester was a facetious mathematician who undertook to teach the art of poetry in so many lessons. George Eliot humbly working away at Sylvester, and telling Tennyson that she was finding him "useful," and Tennyson, whose melodies pursued him, like bees in pursuit of a bee-master, expressing a gruff good-natured scepticism--what a picture it raises! But George Eliot persisted, with that astounding firmness of application which she had, and she produced quite a large body of various verse. She wrote a Comtist tragedy, The Spanish Gypsy, of which I must speak softly, since, omnivorous as I am, I have never been able to swallow it. But she wrote many other things, epics and sonnets and dialogues and the rest of them, which are not so hard to read. She actually printed privately for her friends two little garlands, Agatha (1868) and Brother and Sister (1869), which are the only "rare issues" of hers sought after by collectors, for she was not given to bibliographical curiosity. These verses and many others she polished and re-wrote with untiring assiduity, and in 1874 she published a substantial volume of them. I have been reading them over again, in the intense wish to be pleased with them, but it is impossible--the root of the matter is not in them. There is an Arion, which is stately in the manner of Marvell. The end of this lyric is tense and decisive, but there is the radical absence of song. George Eliot admired Wordsworth very much: occasionally she reproduces very closely the duller parts of The Excursion. In the long piece of blank verse called A College Breakfast Party, which she wrote in 1874, almost all Tennyson's faults are reconstructed on the plan of the Chinese tailor who carefully imitates the rents in the English coat he is to copy. There is a Goethe-like poem, of a gnomic order, called Self and Life, stuffed with valuable thoughts as a turkey is stuffed with chestnuts.

And it is all so earnest and so intellectual, and it does so much credit to Sylvester. After long consideration, I have come to the conclusion that the following sonnet, from Brother and Sister, is the best piece of sustained poetry that George Eliot achieved. It deals with the pathetic and beautiful relations which existed between her and her elder brother Isaac, the Tom Tulliver of The Mill on the Floss:

His sorrow was my sorrow, and his joy
Sent little leaps and laughs through all my frame;
My doll seemed lifeless, and no girlish toy
Had any reason when my brother came.
I knelt with him at marbles, marked his fling,
Cut the ringed stem and made the apple drop,
Or watched him winding close the spiral string
That looped the orbits of the humming-top.
Grasped by such fellowship my vagrant thought
Ceased with dream-fruit dream-wishes to fulfil;
My aëry-picturing fantasy was taught
Subjection to the harder, truer skill
That seeks with deeds to grave a thought-tracked line,
And by "What is" "What will be" to define.

How near this is to true poetry, and yet how many miles away!

At last George Eliot seems to have felt that she could never hope, with all her intellect, to catch the unconsidered music which God lavishes on the idle linnet and the frivolous chaffinch. She returned to her own strenuous business of building up the psychological novel. She wrote Middlemarch, which appeared periodically throughout 1872 and as a book early the following year. It was received with great enthusiasm, as marking the return of a popular favourite who had been absent for several years. Middlemarch is the history of three parallel lives of women, who "with dim lights and tangled circumstances tried to shape their thought and deed in noble agreement," although "to common eyes their struggles seemed mere inconsistency and formlessness." The three ineffectual St. Theresas, as their creator conceived them, were Dorothea, Rosamond, and Mary, and they "shaped the thought and deed" of Casaubon and Ladislaw and Fred Vincy. Middlemarch is constructed with unfailing power, and the picture of commonplace English country life which it gives is vivacious after a mechanical fashion, but all the charm of the early stories has evaporated, and has left behind it merely a residuum of unimaginative satire. The novel is a very remarkable instance of elaborate mental resources misapplied, and genius revolving, with tremendous machinery, like some great water-wheel, while no water is flowing underneath it.

When a realist loses hold on reality all is lost, and I for one can find not a word to say in favour of Daniel Deronda, her next and last novel, which came out, with popularity at first more wonderful than ever, in 1876. But her inner circle of admirers was beginning to ask one another uneasily whether her method was not now too calculated, her effects too plainly premeditated. The intensity of her early works was gone. Readers began to resent her pedantry, her elaboration of allusions, her loss of simplicity. They missed the vivid rural scenes and the flashes of delicious humour which had starred the serious pages of Adam Bede and The Mill like the lemon-yellow pansies and potentillas on a dark Welsh moor. They regretted the ease of the conversation in her early books, where it had always been natural, lively, and brief; it was now heavy and doctrinaire. Tennyson rebelled against the pompousness, and said, in his blunt way, that Jane Austen knew her business better, a courageous thing to say in Victorian circles fifty years ago. Then came Theophrastus Such, a collection of cumbrous and didactic essays which defy perusal; and finally, soon after her death, her Correspondence, a terrible disappointment to all her admirers, and a blow from which even the worship of Lord Acton never recovered. Of George Eliot might have been repeated Swift's epitaph on Sir John Vanbrugh:

Lie heavy on him, earth, for he
Laid many a heavy load on thee.

It was the fatal error of George Eliot, so admirable, so elevated, so disinterested, that for the last ten years of her brief literary life she did practically nothing but lay heavy loads on literature.

On the whole, then, it is not possible to regard the place which George Eliot holds in English literature as so prominent a one as was rather rashly awarded her by her infatuated contemporaries. It is the inevitable result of "tall talk" about likeness to Dante and Goethe that the figure so unduly magnified fails to support such comparisons when the perspective is lengthened. George Eliot is unduly neglected now, but it is the revenge of time on her for the praise expended on her works in her lifetime. Another matter which militates against her fame to-day is her strenuous solemnity. One of the philosophers who knelt at the footsteps of her throne said that she was "the emblem of a generation distracted between the intense need of believing and the difficulty of belief." Well, we happen to live, fortunately or unfortunately for ourselves, in a generation which is "distracted" by quite other problems, and we are sheep that look up to George Eliot and are not fed by her ponderous moral aphorisms and didactic ethical influence. Perhaps another generation will follow us which will be more patient, and students yet unborn will read her gladly. Let us never forget, however, that she worked with all her heart in a spirit of perfect honesty, that she brought a vast intelligence to the service of literature, and that she aimed from first to last at the loftiest goal of intellectual ambition. Where she failed, it was principally from an inborn lack of charm, not from anything ignoble or impure in her mental disposition. After all, to have added to the slender body of English fiction seven novels the names of which are known to every cultivated person is not to have failed, but to have signally, if only relatively, succeeded.

(The end)
Edmund Gosse's essay: George Eliot

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