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of Tolstoy's 'Powers of Darkness' as that was given by the Stage Society during their last season, will have an opportunity of gauging the difference between the presence and the absence of the religious sentiment in drama. In the Powers of Darkness' the religion comes in, not as a thing taken for granted or as a matter of convention, but as a substantive element in the drama, just as it does in Greek tragedy. When Nikíta mutters, 'It felt strange taking that oath before the ikon,' you anticipate that the heavenly powers will make their presence felt, even as Apollo punished the house of Laius for his slighted oracle. The ikon (in the Russian play) is always there in the corner of the room. And you feel that in the mind of the playwright the supernal powers are always present likewise watching over the scene. Your thoughts, as has been said, are carried backwards, past almost all modern drama, till they land you full upon the Greek stage. And that, in despite of all differences of time and creed, has so much in common with the 'Powers ' of Darkness' that, in a reflected wise, the modern drama sheds its light upon the ancient. The Chorus of Old Men in the Antigone,' for example, which to all schoolboys and to many scholars is but a collection of dotards, seems not so when placed beside old Akím in Tolstoy's play.
Now the essential importance of J. Henry Shorthouse's writings lies in this, that here again in another field-in fiction-religion enters as a substantive element in the thing created. It is a religion of a different kind from Tolstoy's, and more remote still from that of Greek drama; but as in these instances it appears (one may say) noumenally, as a part of the mental construction of the writer, not phenomenally, as a thing studied from without. Shorthouse in his preface to John Inglesant' styles that a 'philosophic romance.' He probably selected the phrase partly from prudence, knowing that all but readers of tracts would be scared away by the word 'religious.' But a religious romance 'John Inglesant' really is; 'philosophic,' the adjective which applies to 'Caleb Williams,' is not the right one for this book.
Their religious character then gives to John Inglesant,' and practically to all Shorthouse's stories, a place apart. But, of course, they could never have had any place, could never, in sporting phrase, have been placed' at all, if the writer, besides his separate outlook on life and on romance, had not had the gifts which make for permanence in his art. In these days of a journalism covering the world, at once
feverish and flippant, mocking at all things and attempting all things, it was no small matter that a man conscious, as Shorthouse must have been, of literary gifts above the common, should set himself to labour between business hours, ohne Hast and yet almost ohne Rast, at one novel, through a period of ten years; during which time he spoke of what he had in hand to hardly a soul outside his immediate circle. Possibly he recalled that saying of Goethe, that a man who has work of this kind on hand is like the treasure-seekers of old, whose discipline forbade them to speak to any man of their search till its end was accomplished. Shorthouse, working in this deliberate way, did not produce much. The volumes of his Life and Letters' and his Literary Remains,' lately published, give us down to the crumbs of his intellectual table. The Remains' include a certain number of essays and reviews (whereof his preface to the excerpts from Molinos' Spiritual Guide' is the best known and of chiefest literary merit), a few short stories, and a little-a very little-verse. Who has not written a little verse? Many an honest stockbroker has, while Plancus was still Consul, composed more poetry than this volume contains, and by this time forgot he ever touched a pen. The review of Maurice's life helps us in the not easy task of determining the writer's religious outlook; and there is at least one of the short stories-an impression rather A Sunday Afternoon,' which strikes exactly the right note, and shows the artist in J. Henry Shorthouse triumphing over the controversialist.
The letters are not of a kind to add to Shorthouse's literary reputation. Many excellent masters of English have been but poor letter-writers. But they give a very pleasant picture of his character, which, if that be possible, erred only by an excess of amiability. Occasionally the writer seems too much disposed to be all things to all men; but his admiration of some of his friends' work, which strikes the colder critic as excessive, was doubtless quite sincere. He was a humble-minded man, and his power of admiration went often beyond his warranty; but that is only the excess of a quality, and one which, by all appearance, Shorthouse shared with the greatest name in all our letters. With intervening passages of explanation written by Mrs. Shorthouse, and with one very interesting memoir from one of Henry Shorthouse's cousins (Mrs. W. H. Evans), these letters give an adequate account of a life simple and studious and free from adventure. To a man who lives much in his books
and in an ideal world, it is of secondary consequence on what particular ground of our planet his habitation is fixed. Though the state of our author's health obliged him, now and again, to take long holidays from business, he seems, after his youth, to have felt no inclination towards travel. Italy, with which, while writing the second volume of John 'Inglesant,' his imagination was so busy, he never saw in fact.
It was, indeed, a life by its birth, and even by inheritance, altogether devoted to quietism, both of body and spirit. Joseph Henry Shorthouse was born in Birmingham in 1834 of Quaker parents, and their eldest child. The father moved to a house in Edgbaston a year after Joseph Henry was born, so that, with the exception of a time passed in London as a boy (whose object was to cure him of his stammer, and was unavailing), and in his yearly holidays and so forth, the author of John Inglesant' spent the whole of his days in this suburb of Birmingham, and died there (at Lans'downe') on March 4, 1903. The position of the family was one of solid unpretentious comfort. The chemical works from which all their income was derived had been founded by the grandfather. The widow of this first Shorthouse of Birmingham lived to a great age in a country house with a beautiful garden at Moseley, a few miles from Birmingham. The memory of this country garden is reflected in many of Shorthouse's writings, and there Henry as a boy passed much of his time, very often in the company of four female cousins-the Southalls-one of whom writes the Memoir spoken of above.
That which strikes me most [says Mrs. Evans] in recalling our intercourse with our cousin at this time is 'that our conversation did not consist of commonplaces. 'We talked for hours on literary subjects.' This would be when Henry Shorthouse was from sixteen to eighteen.
The dissenting bodies, who were in those days cut off from the public schools and universities, had to make their own means and centres of culture. The Society of Friends had its Essay Society, to which Henry Shorthouse was a diligent contributor, and thus early exercised himself in using his pen. Religious or quasi-metaphysic discussions these too, it is evident, often took place between the cousins. In these days Henry Shorthouse-whose stammer and great nervousness prevented him from attending school-was thrown much more with the other sex than with his own; and so no doubt it continued to be throughout his life. He
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fell in love, with Miss Scott of Edgbaston, before he was of age, and was married to this lady when not quite twenty-three he had thus little time to frequent grownup bachelor society. Naturally his novels were specially popular with women. No appreciation of his writings,' says Shorthouse's biographer, 'pleased Mr. Shorthouse 'more than that of good women.' Howbeit his published letters are divided about equally between the two sexes; and whether that fact be partly due to the greater method of the male one it is impossible to say. His correspondent in youth is Margaret Southall (Mrs. Evans); after his fame was made his chief woman correspondent is Lady Welby, and one of his chief male ones the latter's relative, Dr. Talbot, the Warden of Keble. Alexander Macmillan, the Bishop of Ripon, and Mr. Edmund Gosse are also among the number. The two distinct events of Shorthouse's life, next after his marriage (he had no children), were his leaving the Society of Friends and his baptism into the English Church; this took place in 1861: and the publication of John Inglesant,' or perhaps we should say its first printing in 1880-it was begun in 1866 and finished in 1876. All the essentials of culture he had found in the circle to which he belonged. That Shorthouse had no great equipment in other languages but his own is evident. If as a young man he takes pleasure in finding that he can make out most of an Italian libretto, he confesses later in life that he has forgotten much of the Italian he ever knew; and he makes errors more considerable than the writing of San Giorgio' with an 'e.' Here and there it must be confessed his mistakes are annoying, not because the ignorances themselves are heinous, but because they generally occur needlessly and in the midst of an assumption of knowledge. In one of his stories (Sir Percival,' unless we forget) he has an imaginary French motto, 'Amour dure: dure Amour,' where the second dure' is- the context shows--an adjective. But as 'amour' is masculine such an adjective is, of course, impossible. In The Little Schoolmaster Mark' we have a certain Barotin' introduced; and here again the context seems to show that 'Barotin' is in Shorthouse's mind the German for Baroness: the Herr Rector' in the same story is evidently in Shorthouse's view the parson of the parish.
Last year, little one,' says the Court Chaplain in this story, when the Herr Rector took thee away from the 'Latin school and from thy father's tailoring, and confirmed
thee, and thou tookest thy first communion, and he made 'thee schoolmaster here, many wise people shook their 'heads. I do not think,' he continued, with a smile, that 'they have ceased shaking them when they have seen in how strange a manner thou keepest school.'
But he was right in so many more important matters that these slips are of no consequence. The evil of an education conducted in one language only lies chiefly in this-that it engenders too quick and therefore too shallow a fashion of absorbing knowledge. But this vice Shorthouse quite escaped. We know as a fact that he read immensely as a preparation to the writing of 'John Inglesant;' and the book shows conclusively that what he read he assimilated in marvellous fashion. Among his minor writings the various German stories ('Mark,' 'The Teacher of the Violin,'' Helena ' von Saarfeld') show not an equal but a remarkable assimilation of German romance.
Perhaps the best way to express the type of mind and character (of mind, at least) which was formed or fostered by Shorthouse's up-bringing, is to say that it was as near as may be the antithesis of Thackeray's. There is, of course, no comparison in literary standing between the author of John Inglesant' and the greatest of English novelists; but for contrast of type they are excellently comparable. Thackeray's was eminently the public-school and university type of mind and character. His Anglo-Indian birth, the re-marriage of his mother, perforce cut him off from home life. His domestic married life was short: when it ended, he preferred his club to his home. After he ceased to be a Parisian, he was a Londoner, a club-man, to the end of his days. Shorthouse, on the contrary, was only for a year or so of his life away from home influences: he was a provincial, with something of a provincial's narrowness, with much more of his ignorance of men; but then without the Londoner's conventionality. That from the edge of his smoky Midland town Shorthouse looked out into a world of hedgerows and fields, of parks and manor houses, and idealised that in a wonderful fashion, choosing to see only what was pleasant to look upon, this is obvious. What of this world he elected to look at most, and idealise the most, were the parks and manors and the inhabitants of themthe country aristocracy, in a word. This has been set down as a vulgarity in Shorthouse, but unjustly. There is, in truth, no vulgarity in admiration, even when that rests upon the ideal more than on the actual. There is no