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by the celestial light; paint us yet avowed predilections as these, a brief oftener a Madonna, turning her mild glance over the principal figures of her face upward, and opening her arms to different works would assure us that welcome the divine glory; but do not our author's sympathies are with comimpose on us any æsthetic rules which mon people. Silas Marner is a linenshall banish from the region of art weaver, Adam Bede is a carpenter, those old women scraping carrots with Maggie Tulliver is a miller's daughter, their work-worn hands, - those heavy Felix Holt is a watchmaker, Dinah clowns taking holiday in a dingy pot. Morris works in a factory, and Hetty house, – those rounded backs and stu- Sorrel is a dairy-maid. Esther Lyon, pid weather-beaten faces that have bent indeed, is a daily governess; but Tito over the spade and done the rough Melema alone is a scholar. In the work of the world, — those homes with “Scenes of Clerical Life," the author their tin cans, their brown pitchers, is constantly slipping down from the their rough curs, and their clusters of clergymen, her heroes, to the most igonions. In this world there are so norant and obscure of their parishionmany of these common, coarse people,
Even in “Romola” she consewho have no picturesque, sentimental crates page after page to the conversawretchedness. It is so needful we tion of the Florentine populace. She should remember their existence, else is as unmistakably a painter of bourwe may happen to leave them quite out geois life as Thackeray was a painter of of our religion and philosophy, and the life of drawing-rooms. frame lofty theories which only fit a • Her opportunities for the study of the world of extremes. . . . . . There are few manners of the solid lower classes have prophets in the world, - few sublimely evidently been very great. We have beautiful women, — few heroes. I can't her word for it that she has lived afford to give all my love and reverence much among the farmers, mechanics, to such rarities; I want a great deal of and small traders of that central rethose feelings for my every-day fellow- gion of England which she has made men, especially for the few in the fore- known to us under the name of Loamground of the great multitude, whose shire. The conditions of the popular faces I know, whose hands I touch, for life in this district in that already diswhom I have to make way with kindly tant period to which she refers the accourtesy...... I herewith discharge tion of most of her stories – the end my conscience,” our author continues, of the last century and the beginning “and declare that I have had quite en- of the present — were so different from thusiastic movements of admiration to any that have been seen in America, ward old gentlemen who spoke the that an American, in treating of her worst English, who were occasionally. books, must be satisfied not to touch fretful in their temper, and who had upon the question of their accuracy never moved in a higher sphere of in- and fidelity as pictures of manners fluence than that of parish overseer ;
and customs. He can only say that and that the way in which I have come they bear strong internal evidence of to the conclusion that human nature is truthfulness. If he is a great admirer lovable — the way I have learnt some- of George Eliot, he will indeed be thing of its deep pathos, its sublime tempted to affirm that they must be mysteries — has been by living a great true. They offer a completeness, a deal among people more or less com- rich density of detail, which could be monplace and vulgar, of whom you the fruit only of a long term of conwould perhaps hear nothing very sur
scious contact, such as would make prising if you were to inquire about it much more difficult for the author them in the neighborhoods where they to fall into the perversion and supdwelt.”
pression of facts, than to set them But even in the absence of any such down literally. It is very probable
that her colors are a little too bright, Donnithorne; so, although he will perand her shadows of too mild a gray, sist in going without a cravat, is Felix that the sky of her landscapes is too Holt. So, with perhaps the exception sunny, and their atmosphere too redo- of Maggie Tulliver and Stephen Guest, lent of peace and abundance. Local is every important character to be found affection may be accountable for half in our author's writings. They all of this excess of brilliancy; the au- share this fundamental trait, – that in thor's native optimism is accountable each of them passion proves itself for the other half. I do not remem- feebler than conscience. ber, in all her novels, an instance of The first work which made the name gross misery of any kind not directly of George Eliot generally known, con
caused by the folly of the sufferer. tains, to my perception, only a small | There are no pictures of vice or pov- number of the germs of her future erty or squalor. There are no rags,
om the “ Scenes of Clerical no gin, no brutal passions. That av- Life” to “ Adam Bede” she made not erage humanity which she favors is
so much a step as a leap. Of the three very borné in intellect, but very genial tales contained in the former work, I in heart, as a glance at its representa- think the first is much the best. It is tives in her pages will convince us. In short, broadly descriptive, humorous, “Adam Bede," there is Mr. Irwine, the and exceedingly pathetic. “The Sad vicar, with avowedly no qualification Fortunes of the Reverend Amos Barfor his profession, placidly playing ton" are fortunes which clever storychess with his mother, stroking his tellers with a turn for pathos, from dogs, and dipping into Greek trage Oliver Goldsmith downward, have dies ; there is the excellent Martin found of very good account, — the forPoyser at the Farm, good-natured and tunes of a hapless clergyman of the rubicund; there is his wife, somewhat Church of England in daily contentoo sharply voluble, but only in behalf tion with the problem how upon eighty of cleanliness and honesty and order; pounds a year to support a wife and six there is Captain Donnithorne at the children in all due ecclesiastical genHall, who does a poor girl a mortal tility. “Mr. Gilfil's Love-Story,” the wrong, but who is, after all, such a second of the tales in question, I cannot nice, good-looking fellow; there are hesitate to pronounce a failure. George Adam and Seth Bede, the carpenter's Eliot's pictures of drawing - room life sons, the strongest, purest, most dis- are only interesting when they are creet of young rustics.
The same linked or related to scenes in the tavbroad felicity prevails in “ The Mill ern parlor, the dairy, and the cottage. on the Floss.” Mr. Tulliver, indeed, Mr. Gilfil's love-story is enacted enfails in business; but his failure only tirely in the drawing-room, and in conserves as an offset to the general in- sequence it is singularly deficient in tegrity and prosperity. His son is force and reality. Not that it is vulobstinate and wilful ; but it is all on gar, - for our author's good taste never the side of virtue. His daughter is forsakes her, — but it is thin, flat, and somewhat sentimental and erratic; but trivial. But for a certain family likeshe is more conscientious yet. Con- ness in the use of language and the science, in the classes from which rhythm of the style, it would be hard to George Eliot recruits her figures, is a believe that these pages are by the universal gift. Decency and plenty same hand as “ Silas Marner.” and good-humor follow contentedly in “ Janet's Repentance," the last and its train. The word which sums up longest of the three clerical stories, we the common traits of our author's vari
return to middle life, ous groups is the word respectable. sented by the Dodsons in “ The Mill Adam Bede is pre- eminently a re- on the Floss." The subject of this spect able young man ; so is Arthur tale might almost be qualified by the VOL. XVIII. - NO. 108.
the life repre
French epithet scabreux. It would be difficult for what is called realism to go further than in the adoption of a heroine stained with the vice of intemperance. The theme is unpleasant; the author chose it at her peril. It must be added, however, that Janet Dempster has many provocations. Married to a brutal drunkard, she takes refuge in drink against his illusage; and the story deals less with her lapse into disgrace than with her redemption, through the kind offices of the Reverend Edgar Tryan, - by virtue of which, indeed, it takes its place in the clerical series. I cannot help thinking that the stern and tragical character of the subject has been enfeebled by the over-diffuseness of the narrative and the excess of local touches. The abundance of the author's recollections and observations of village life clogs the dramatic movement, over which she has as yet a comparatively slight control. In her subsequent works the stouter fabric of the story is better able to support this heavy drapery of humor and digres
To a certain extent, I think Marner" holds a higher place than any of the author's works. It is more nearly a masterpiece; it has more of that simple, rounded, consummate aspect, that absence of loose ends and gaping issues, which marks a classical work. What was attempted in it, indeed, was within more immediate reach than the heart-trials of Adam Bede and
Maggie Tulliver. A poor, dull-witted, disappointed Methodist cloth-weaver ; a little golden-haired foundling child; a well-meaning, irresolute country squire, and his patient, childless wife; these, with a chorus of simple, beer-loving villagers, make up the dramatis persona. More than any of its brother-works, "Silas Marner," I think, leaves upon the mind a deep impression of the grossly material life of agricultural England in the last days of the old régime, — the days of full-orbed Toryism, of Trafalgar and of Waterloo, when the invasive spirit of French domination threw Eng
land back upon a sense of her own insular solidity, and made her for the time doubly, brutally, morbidly English. Perhaps the best pages in the work are the first thirty, telling the story of poor Marner's disappointments in friendship and in love, his unmerited disgrace, and his long, lonely twilight-life at Raveloe, with the sole companionship of his loom, in which his muscles moved "with such even repetition, that their pause seemed almost as much a constraint as the holding of his breath." Here, as in all George Eliot's books, there is a middle life and a low life; and here, as usual, I prefer the low life. In "Silas Marner," in my opinion, she has come nearest the mildly rich tints of brown and gray, the mellow lights and the undreadful corner-shadows of the Dutch masters whom she emulates. One of the chapters contains a scene in a pot-house, which frequent reference has made famous. Never was a group of honest, garrulous village simpletons more kindly and humanely handled. After a long and somewhat chilling silence, amid the pipes and beer, the landlord opens the conversation by saying in a doubtful tone to his cousin the butcher:
"Some folks 'ud say that was a fine beast you druv in yesterday, Bob?'
"The butcher, a jolly, smiling, redhaired man, was not disposed to answer rashly. He gave a few puffs before he spat, and replied, 'And they would n't be fur wrong, John.'
"After this feeble, delusive thaw, silence set in as severely as before.
"Was it a red Durham?' said the farrier, taking up the thread of discourse after the lapse of a few minutes.
"The farrier looked at the landlord, and the landlord looked at the butcher, as the person who must take the responsibility of answering.
"Red it was,' said the butcher, in his good-humored husky treble, —— ‘and a Durham it was.'
"Then you need n't tell me who you bought it of,' said the farrier, looking round with some triumph ; * I know who it is has got the red Durhams o'
this country-side. And she 'd a white star on her brow, I 'll bet a penny?'
"Well; yes—she might,' said the butcher, slowly, considering that he was giving a decided affirmation. 'I don't say contrairy.'
"I knew that very well,' said the farrier, throwing himself back defiantly; 'if I don't know Mr. Lammeter's cows, I should like to know who does, that's all. And as for the cow you bought, bargain or no bargain, I've been at the drenching of her,
dick me who will.'
"The farrier looked fierce, and the mild butcher's conversational spirit was roused a little.
"I'm not for contradicking no man,' he said; 'I'm for peace and quietness. Some are for cutting long ribs. I'm for cutting 'em short myself; but I don't quarrel with 'em. All I say is, its a lovely carkiss, and anybody as — was reasonable, it 'ud bring tears into their eyes to look at it.'
"Well, its the cow as I drenched, whatever it is,' pursued the farrier, angrily; and it was Mr. Lammeter's cow, else you told a lie when you said it was a red Durham.'
"I tell no lies,' said the butcher, with the same mild huskiness as before; and I contradick none, not if a man was to swear himself black; he 's no meat of mine, nor none of my bargains. All I say is, its a lovely carkiss. And what I say I'll stick to; but I'll quarrel wi' no man.'
"No,' said the farrier, with bitter sarcasm, looking at the company generally; and p'rhaps you did n't say the cow was a red Durham; and p'rhaps you did n't say she'd got a star on her brow, stick to that, now you are
Matters having come to this point, the landlord interferes ex officio to preserve order. The Lammeter family having come up, he discreetly invites Mr. Macey, the parish clerk and tailor, to favor the company with his recollections on the subject. Mr. Macey, however, "smiled pityingly in answer to the landlord's appeal, and said: 'Ay,
ay; I know, I know: but I let other folks talk. I've laid by now, and gev up to the young uns. Ask them as have been to school at Tarley: they 've learn't pernouncing; that 's came up since my day.'
Mr. Macey is nevertheless persuaded to dribble out his narrative; proceeding by instalments, and questioned from point to point, in a kind of Socratic manner, by the landlord. He at last arrives at Mr. Lammeter's marriage, and how the clergyman, when he came to put the questions, inadvertently transposed the position of the two essential names, and asked, "Wilt thou have this man to be thy wedded wife?" etc.
"But the partic'larest thing of all,' pursues Mr. Macey, 'is, as nobody took any notice on it but me, and they answered straight off "Yes," like as if it had been me saying "Amen" ' the right place, without listening to what went before.'
But you knew what was going on well enough, did n't you, Mr. Macey? You were live enough, eh?' said the butcher.
"Yes, bless you!' said Mr. Macey, pausing, and smiling in pity at the impatience of his hearer's imagination, —
why, I was all of a tremble; it was as if I'd been a coat pulled by two tails, like; for I could n't stop the parson, I could n't take upon me to do that; and yet I said to myself, I says, "Suppose they should n't be fast married," 'cause the words are contrairy, and my head went working like a mill, for I was always uncommon for turning things over and seeing all round 'em; and I says to myself, "Is 't the meaning or the words as makes folks fast i' wedlock?" For the parson meant right, and the bride and bridegroom meant right. But then, when I came to think on it, meaning goes but a little way i' most things, for you may mean to stick things together and your glue may be bad, and then where are you?'"
Mr. Macey's doubts, however, are set at rest by the parson after the service, who assures him that what
does the business is neither the meaning nor the words, but the register. Mr. Macey then arrives at the chapter
or rather is gently inducted thereunto by his hearers of the ghosts who frequent certain of the Lammeter stables. But ghosts threatening to prove as pregnant a theme of contention as Durham cows, the landlord again meditates: "There's folks i' my opinion, they can't see ghos'es, not if they stood as plain as a pikestaff before 'em. And there's reason i' that. For there's my wife, now, can't smell, not if she'd the strongest o' cheese under her nose. I never seed a ghost myself, but then I says to myself, "Very like I have n't the smell for 'em." I mean, putting a ghost for a smell or else contrairiways. And so I'm for holding with both sides. For the smell 's what I go by.""
The best drawn of the village worthies in "Silas Marner" are Mr. Macey, of the scene just quoted, and good Dolly Winthrop, Marner's kindly patroness. I have room for only one more specimen of Mr. Macey. He is looking on at a New Year's dance at Squire Case's, beside Ben Winthrop, Dolly's busband.
"The Squire's pretty springy, considering his weight,' said Mr. Macey, and he stamps uncommon well. But Mr. Lammeter beats 'em all for shapes; you see he holds his head like a sodger, and he is n't so cushiony as most o' the oldish gentlefolks, they run fat in gineral; and he 's got a fine leg. The parson's nimble enough, but he has n't got much of a leg: it's a bit too thick downward, and his knees might be a bit nearer without damage; but he might do worse, he might do worse. Though he has n't that grand way o' waving his hand as the Squire has.'
"Talk o' nimbleness, look at Mrs Osgood,' said Ben Winthrop.
nor breeches; you can't make much out o' their shapes!'"
Mrs. Winthrop, the wheelwright's wife who, out of the fulness of her charity, comes to comfort Silas in the season of his distress, is in her way one of the most truthfully sketched of the author's figures. "She was in all respects a woman of scrupulous conscience, so eager for duties that life seemed to offer them too scantily unless she rose at half past four, though this threw a scarcity of work over the more advanced hours of the morning, which it was a constant problem for her to remove. . . . She was a very mild, patient woman, whose nature it was to seek out all the sadder and more serious elements of life and pasture her mind upon them." She stamps I. H. S. on her cakes and loaves without knowing what the letters mean, or indeed without knowing that they are letters, being very much surprised that Marner can "read 'em off," - chiefly because they are on the pulpit cloth at church. She touches upon religious themes in a manner to make the superficial reader apprehend that she cultivates some polytheistic form of faith, extremes meet. She urges Marner to go to church, and describes the satisfaction which she herself derives from the performance of her religious duties.
“If you've niver had no church, there's no telling what good it'll do you. For I feel as set up and comfortable as niver was, when I've been and heard the prayers and the singing to the praise and glory o' God, as Mr. Macey gives out, and Mr. Crackenthorp saying good words and more partic'lar on Sacramen' day; and if a bit o' trouble comes, I feel as I can put up wi' it, for I've looked for help i' the right quarter, and giv myself up to Them as we must all give ourselves up to at the last: and if we've
'She's the finest made woman as is, done our part, it is n't to be believed
let the next be where she will.'
"I don't heed how the women are made,' said Mr. Macey, with some contempt. "They wear nayther coat
as Them as are above us 'ud be worse nor we are, and come short o' Theirn."
"The plural pronoun," says the author, "was no heresy of Dolly's, but