Slike stranica

by this soft creature. The two natures are contrasted throughout, and Miss Yonge gives all the honours to Violet, whose intelligence of the heart, responding easily to culture, outdoes all Theodora's original power of brain. And yet the authoress here and in all her books keeps a great kindness for the high-spirited girl who rebels against use and wont and scorns feminine subjection. Before the moralist has done with her, she is sure to be mercilessly bitted and bridled, but Theodora ends as a fine creature perfected through humility—and rewarded with an adoring husband. And, let it be clearly understood, Theodora flirts. She is not the born flirt, like Lucilla in Hopes and Fears,' who cannot see a man without proceeding to subjugate him; but she does flirt, and Miss Yonge, though she disapproves, quite recognises that it is human nature. Theodora is not so ruthlessly handled as Lucilla, who goes through the servitude of governess-ship, and in the end marries an elderly parson, though remaining to the end the original woman. Theodora loses her beauty, yet Miss Yonge has a fine perception that Theodora is the rare woman who really would prefer to be desired independently of her looks, and the punishment is, therefore, in the end a kind of glorification by high poetical justice—since Theodora has disfigured herself by saving life in a fire-an achievement, too, of which her victor, Violet, would have been incapable. Thus the finished whole has a fine harmonious grouping-for of course it belongs to the class of art which rejects realism and aims at an ordered plan. The good influence of Helen is offset by the bad influence of Helen's hater, Mrs. Martindale, a clever old lady who domineered over the generations and preached continually self-advancement. But Miss Yonge knows too well to make Helen triumph over this old aristocrat in her proper person-for Mrs. Martindale dies quite impenitent, with sincere dislike of everybody who does not marry money; it is over Theodora and through Violet that the principle of self-abnegation is


Yet, for all this conforming to a fixed moral scheme, there is a deal more reality in these books than in most of the novels which aim at presenting us with a slice out of life. People like the old Lord Ormeston do not show themselves in any very intimate light; but it is in the nature of these people to go through existence in a decent, gentlemanlike way, without experiencing or causing violence of emotion, or doing either outstanding good or ill; and

Miss Yonge presents them living and individualised, with a curious economy of any bold distinguishing touch. But his young grandson is studied in the fullest detail, and though we see this amiable spendthrift only as his womenfolk see him, we see him vividly-the easy, well-bred, wellconditioned young soldier of a crack regiment, who is capable of bravery, but has never done a day's work in his life. Miss Yonge draws him with more than liking for his good looks and charm, with real intimate sympathy that does not preclude a sense of his slack fibre. She shows him first in trivial details, pleasant fondnesses of courtship with his pretty young wife alternating with heedless traits of inconsiderate selfishness and pettish ill-temper; she shows him later in agonised emotion over the young wife, who is all but dying after a first confinement, premature and embittered by his unkind absence, till she is brought back to life almost out of actual death by the sense of his nearness; she shows him again and again, altered but the same, in relations with his children, first indifferent to them (for this lady is under no sentimental illusions about the paternal emotions), and lastly, when reduced to real contrition by dangerous illness and the long languor of convalescence, finding a curiously complete companionship in the delicate little boy whom he has never cared for. It would be difficult to overpraise this study, at once so unsparing and so full of sympathy. Very few women have drawn any type of man so well. And if one has to admit that Miss Yonge draws always the gentleman somewhat to the exclusion from view of the mere man, it is only fair to say that she depicts forcibly enough the inherent and almost incurable selfishness of the male.

Any one who cares to study her method would find it curiously illustrated by a comparison of her habitual naturalism with the essay in ideal portraiture before referred to the attempt made in 'My Young Alcides' to draw a man of heroic proportions, with the touch of delirium in his passions which makes drink a permanent danger—and to draw this modern Hercules as the Christian hero. There is a genuine enthusiasm in the book which redeems it from the commonplace. Miss Yonge is too much interested in her own story to leave us cold. But her position as an artist-and to such a position she is amply entitled-rests in her power to create a number of living personages fully individualised though within a narrow range. Of her young men-the hardest thing for a lady novelist to accomplish

we should single out the young lad FitzJocelyn in 'Dynevor 'Terrace,' where a type of character very rare, and yet not the less recognisable, is extraordinarily well drawn. Miss Yonge does not often get so far beyond the commonplace as in the suggestion of this airy volatile charm, the gracious flower of a nature born without the darker propensities. And it should be remembered that this youth is expressly referred to by Miss Yonge as the son of a marriage between a pedantic statesman and a lovely young woman who died while 'childish vanity and folly' were as yet only 'verging on levity and imprudence.'

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For a professed moralist, Miss Yonge is always honourably lenient in judgement of her sisters. Lucilla, as we have said, is a flirt pure and simple, and though Lucilla's austere admirer gives up all thought of the girl (with Miss Yonge's approbation) because she insists on going to a ball in a dress trimmed with salmon flies, it must be allowed that this is only part of a much more reprehensible project— namely, to go to Ireland and poach at discretion, confident in her looks to mollify any possible keeper or proprietor. But Lucilla is treated with all charity; and a good deal more than charity goes out to the central figure of that novel. The hopes and fears' which it deals with spread over an inconceivable ramification of relation and affinity (actual and contemplated); the book is almost without form at every point, and in every dialogue redundant. These are Miss Yonge's besetting sins and this book has a double dose of them. Yet one would forgive a great deal more if only for the sake of the large and wise humanity which inspires the central conception of the book. Honora Charlcote, around whom the action revolves, is an old maid neither by conviction nor necessity, but simply because she makes a mess of her life. Always desirous of guidance, romantic in her hopes, she throws herself into an ideal passion for a talented preacher whom she is not allowed to marry, and lives in strenuous imagination of his self-sacrifice among the backwoods and Red Indians. The visions are abated first by news of his removal to a town parish, and later by the communication of his marriage to someone else. Yet, she still persists in her visionary devotion, rejecting as too obvious and commonplace the suitable marriage with her cousin Humfrey Charlcote, and her idealism gets a new lease of life when the distant clergyman, dying widowed, leaves her the guardianship of his children. Only after she has undertaken the charge, and her days of young-ladyhood have been

put away, does she begin to realise that the cousin whom she has always set aside is in reality a finer character than the eloquent clergyman; but as she prepares herself to fulfil his happiness and her own, she is struck dumb by the news that his robust life is under sentence; an aneurism has been discovered; and in a few months she is the lady paramount in his great property. Yet her mission comes to her plain; she has her wards to train, and she devotes herself with the same idolising passion to them, or rather to the younger of them, the boy Owen. And from the same qualities in a new application similar results follow. Their lives also run to confusion, as hers has done. Yet-and here is where Miss Yonge's talent displays itself-we are shown how, side by side with the ill result of Honora's excessive enthusiasm, there follow also from her high standard many things most honourable, and how she, who cannot with ample resources make the happiness which she aims at for herself and those most dear to her, yet is a light and a consolation to other human beings who are brought into the sphere of her influence.

It is a long story, like all Miss Yonge's stories, and in it not very much happens. Yet we come from it, as from all, at least of those written in the freshness of her power, with the sense of having assisted at the slow developement of a number of lives unrolled before us by one who understood them intimately from her own point of view, who sympathised deeply with every form of nobility which their natures contained, and who delighted to show the quickening radiation of goodness. Admitting her limitations-admitting, for instance, that she evidently believed that every good man must be a Conservative-it cannot be denied that the great gift which she possessed of conceiving imaginary persons in imaginary situations, with such intensity and such knowledge of their law of growth that interest was commanded, was so used as to spread very far the influence of a wise and generous mind, and especially among other minds at their most impressionable period. Other writers without number have attempted the field in which she was so successful, and one at least-Miss Evelyn Sharp-with gifts of humour and of style which Miss Yonge lacked; but none has approached her, for the reason that none has shown anything of her talent for interesting herself in the whole personality of a number of persons not obviously interesting and living the most ordinary lives.


1. An Interim Report of the Estates Commissioners for the period from November 1, 1903, to December 31, 1904, with Appendices. Presented to Parliament by command of his Majesty. 1905.

2. Return of Proceedings under the Land Law Acts, the Labourers' (Ireland) Acts, 1883-1891, and the Land Purchase Acts, during the months of March, April, May, and June, 1905.

3. Reports of the Congested Districts Board for Ireland, 19001904.

4. The Irish Landowners' Convention. Twentieth Report of the Executive Committee, submitted to the Irish Landowners' Convention on Friday, August 28, 1905.

5. Speech of the Duke of Abercorn, as Chairman of the Irish Landowners' Convention, August 28, 1905. Reported in the 'Irish Times,' Saturday, August 29, 1905.

6. Letter of the Right Hon. Walter Long, Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, to the Right Hon. Sir John Colomb, M.P. Published in The Times,' September 11, 1905.

WHEN we last had occasion to refer to the Irish Land Acts, Mr. Wyndham was still engaged in seeing through the House of Commons the remarkable and far-reaching measure for which his tenure of the Irish Chief Secretaryship will long be remembered.* We then observed that, admirably as, upon the whole, the Land Act of 1903 appeared to be fitted to provide a final solution of the agrarian difficulty, it would be absurd to expect that, in passing it, Parliament had seen the last of the Irish Land Question. It was impossible to suppose, as we then remarked, that a measure so large, dealing with a subject so complex, should not be found to disclose in its working some administrative defects, to remedy which further legislation would become necessary. We take no credit, we need hardly say, for the correctness of a prediction which needed but little prescience, and as little do we see in its fulfilment any impeachment of the policy which Parliament irrevocably adopted two years ago. For whatever ambiguities may have been occasioned by defective draughtsmanship; whatever difficulties may have been interposed by the magnitude and intricacy of

* See the article on 'The Social Revolution in Ireland' in No. 406 of this Review.

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