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vulgarity in Shakespeare's admiration of the Southampton or the Pembroke to whom his sonnets are addressed; though we may be sure that neither was worthy of that tribute-indeed, unless he had been a demigod how should he be? Vulgarity consists in the admiration of mean things. Bulwer-Lytton and Disraeli and the host of Book-of-Beauty romancers and poetasters, their contemporaries-these are vulgar. They admired the nobility because they drove fourin-hands and had vast wealth and a troop of retainers,' because they wore divers waistcoats and watch chains. Then descended Thackeray's iron hand and blotted out all that, let us hope, for ever. We to-day read Thackeray so much for his humour, his gaiety and wit, the urbanity of his perfect style; we are so conscious of the geniality of his later years, bordering at times upon sentimentality; and then time has made the world he pictures with purposed exaggeration still more fantastic in our eyes, that we are wont to overlook the bitter and immense power of his craftsmanship, especially in his earlier years. But where in the whole range of literature do you get a gallery of portraits more terrible than Thackeray has made out of the upper members of society, his creations ?-Old Sir Pitt Crawley, young Sir Pitt, Bute Crawley, and Mrs. Bute; Lord Steyne, Lord Cinqbars, Lord Bareacres, Lord Dorking, Lord Castlewood (of 'The Virginians '), and Will Esmond. There is hardly one of these who has a redeeming quality, who is not the embodiment of meanness, of selfishness, of cowardice-all but physical cowardice- and of that, too, in many instances. And these people are created, not borrowed from the conventionalities of melodrama, as Dickens' villains are his Carker and his Heep, his Quilp or Bill Sikes. These lords and baronets of Thackeray have haunted the mind of two generations, and have begot the prejudice, deepseated but unconscious, that no admiration of folks of this class can be other than mean-that, to put it shortly, to pay respect to a lord' is in itself a vulgar act. Shorthouse's up-bringing seems to have kept him quite outside this influence of Thackeray, so that he never even felt the necessity of justifying his ideal view. This had at least the advantage of giving a directness and simplicity to his theory of life and of society from which he never departed. In a letter on 'John Inglesant' its author boldly asserts the unpopular doctrine,' that the end of existence is not 'the good of one's neighbours but one's own culture.' The true nobleman shapes himself on no standard marked out
for him by the common voice: he obeys only the dictates of his own conscience. It is a kind of Christian Nietzscheism, and one more example of the truth that extremes meet. But of course its seeming harshness is modified when we take into account its 'religious sanctions.' We have no intention of discussing it on abstract grounds. But unless it be taken account of, Shorthouse's work cannot possibly be understood. This aristocratic ideal always runs side by side with the distinctly religious element in his stories.
Not of course that Shorthouse as a creator was also a preacher. No creator is that, in his creative moments. And Shorthouse consciously suffers because people will take his stories as allegories. Canon Ainger had done that with 'The Little Schoolmaster Mark' (Canon Ainger's fine critical insight having gone to sleep in the pulpit), and Shorthouse writes to tell him, in the politest possible way, that he has missed the point of the tale. For a religious novel is not necessarily a preaching novel: it may not be distinctly that, if religion is treated in the only way in which it can belong to art as a part of life, not as a series of propositions.
It was partly because, once John Inglesant' had been published, readers would insist on doing what Canon Ainger did, making allegories or doctrines or purposes out of Shorthouse's books, that all the later among these have suffered much in reputation. They are very far inferior to his great romance: on that point no two opinions are possible. But most, almost all, are much above the average of contemporary fiction. The Little Schoolmaster Mark' would be enough to establish what one may call a minor fame.
'John Inglesant' was printed for private circulation (but sent also to some reviews) in 1880. In February 1881 it was regularly published by Macmillan & Co. Its success was almost immediate; and the most part of Shorthouse's letters for the next year are taken up with the book in one way or another, now telling a friend of a review or a report of how the romance had been received by a distinguished or an exalted personage, now in thanks for the same sort of information sent to himself. His satisfaction with his success is naïf and unaffected.
After John Inglesant' came 'The Little Schoolmaster 'Mark,' of which the present Part I. formed at first the whole story, and had best have so remained. The second part was printed at the end of 1884. Sir Percival' was published in 1886. Shorthouse, it seems, began Blanche, Lady Falaise'
in the autumn of 1887; it was first published in 1891.
" was the last romance that Mr. Shorthouse was able to complete. He found that the labour of preparing for publication was too burdensome for continuance, as he only ' retired from business within a year of his death.' The stories in the Teacher of the Violin' volume had already appeared, mostly in Macmillan.' Countess Eve' and the volume of collected tales were published in 1888. From 1888 Shorthouse's letters say little about his own writings, much of those of his friends. The golden time of literary composition had gone by for him; since the coming of his fame it was but a few years. But no doubt the most golden years of all were those between 1866 and 1876 when he was at work on John Inglesant,' with no clear expectation how it was to see the day. For about ten years he worked at
' intervals at his self-chosen task, always reading to me each paragraph or page as it was written, but rarely mentioning 'the matter to any of his friends. The book was finished
' at Llandudno in 1876.'
It would be like playing a tedious after-piece to speak of Shorthouse's minor works after discussing John Inglesant.' It is, therefore, best to deal with them now. As has been said above, our appreciation of them will be quite lost if we set out with the theory that the writer was before all else a man with a doctrine, and his book before all else an exposition of that doctrine. An artist and a work of art can never be of such kinds. We need not even pay overmuch attention to what he himself says on the subject, when his inspiration has gone from him; when his imagination exhausted is slumbering, and another faculty of his mind, the reasoning intellect, is awake. A much greater man than Shorthouse, Goethe himself, was given to expounding his work and very ingenious in finding therein intentions of which we may be sure, while he was at his labour, he knew nought. All we can say is that a man's doctrine springs of his personality, or it adapts itself to his personality, and his work springs of his personality likewise. The two are brothers if you please; but brothers of diverse characters, like the Walt and Vult of Richter's Flegeljahre.' Of Shorthouse's personality we have said that if it had to be expressed in shorthand one could hardly do it better than to say that he was the antithesis of Thackeray. He was neither humorous nor humoursome, neither gay, nor bitter, nor self-assertive, nor possessed of that keen and penetrating eye which Thackeray shared with only one other writer of his age, Carlyle. Short
house had been brought up in the bosom of Dissent and accustomed to take his pleasures sadly-i.e. soberly, as such folk do. No wild oats had grown in the purlieus of his mind. On the other hand, his lines had fallen to him in pleasant places; he had been untroubled by the pangs of despised love, by law's delays, by the insolence of office; his patient merit had never smarted at the scorn of the unworthy. A radical, he might have fretted at the glimpses of life which he saw outside his smoky town, the manors and rich parks of Warwickshire and Worcestershire. In his mind they begot only admiration; he idealised them, and probably, too (though this is contentious ground), he idealised the English Church. Out of these two things he made his picture of the Christian gentleman; much as a century and a half earlier a man of very different outward circumstances and character, but humble-minded as was Shorthouse, had made his picture of the Christian hero. This idea or ideal runs through all Shorthouse's writing. Almost always we have a great nobleman or a prince, a château or a magnificent manor-house; and the dominant notion with all these people is after serving God to preserve the traditions of their order. The natural human emotions are of little importance set beside these two duties. It is almost a sin for a roturier to dream of marrying a lady of rank (Come what may,' says the hero in Helena von Saarfeld,' 'I will not marry her. 'The world shall never say that this divine creature married 'Richter the player'); and it is quite a sin for a subject, such as Otto von Saale in The Teacher of the Violin,' to love a princess and dream that she may love him. Do not ask why, nor why again John Inglesant should have been so wedded to the name of obedience-for he obeys, not the constituted authority in any particular acts, rather the influence of the Jesuit as a determining factor of his life-that he must perforce resign all thoughts of Mary Collet. There is no profit in arguing about a temperament. It is of more profit to see with what art Shorthouse contrives to keep the atmosphere of this temperament about you, and how rarefied an atmosphere that is. In this regard Shorthouse most resembles Mr. George Meredith, whose work is, of course, wider, stronger, and fuller than that of Shorthouse. But with Meredith, as with Shorthouse, a good deal of what is natural, probable, and human has to be discarded or written upside down to suit the temperament of the romancer. Shorthouse is never really objective. But it would be an absurdity to suppose he is always serious. Most people
would, we believe, agree that Sir Percival' was his worst book. But in that there are admirable scenes, as the one of Virginia discoursing her Radicalism at the Duke's dinner table with a high sense of her courage and readiness for martyrdom when the explosion shall follow, the Duke's grave looks, his beckoning to the butler and the serious conference which ensues, ending in-a comparison of corks. The butler has brought up a wrong brand. It is excellent, and as the French say, it is dans la note. Who again but he would have carried the unruffled serenity of the ancien régime to such a climax as he does with his Marquis de St. Palaye,' whose last words to his rival and murderer are,' Was that 'quite fair?' Sir Percival himself, in a more marked degree, adds the Christian hero type on to that of the gentleman. He, of course, is meant to be the Parsifal, the perfectly pure spirit. Equally true is it, that from want of realisation he topples over from being sublime into the school-girl's hero. But Lord Falaise in Blanche, Lady Falaise is better imagined; and some of his speeches are natural and boyish, as they are meant to be.
Though we have said there was nothing really vulgar in Shorthouse's outlook on life, it is yet true that now and again his presentation of it does fringe vulgarity, as his stories have a kinship to those which in penny numbers are the reading of shop-assistants and maid-servants, and as, now and then, his sublime touches the ridiculous. There must, without doubt, have been an element-we will not say of vulgarity, but of unculture-somewhere in the recesses of Shorthouse's character-a sort of atavism it may be-though in small quantity; for it appears here and there in his style, which, in most cases, expresses so much the reverse of unculture. Here and there we are shocked by an insincere and conventional epithet or phrase which might almost come out of a penny novelette, by piled-on superlatives or that repetition of the same word in a different connection which is a fault of style just because it shows a lack, for the time being, of sincerity.
On the other hand, so far as his plan, his conscious idealism allows, he has a good sense of character. All the personages in Blanche, Lady Falaise' are lifelike, except Paul Damerle the preacher. Dr. Boteraux, the well-born scholar parson, the ideal high and dry,' whose love for his daughter even must obey the law of caste and not express itself audibly in ordinary life, who does little 'church 'work,' as it is called, but preaches admirable sermons to a