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upon the institutions of a country, it is reasonable to inquire into his experience and facilities for observation, and this may excuse the egotism of a few words of personal explanation.

I left England in 1858, after a first visit of some eighteen months, and returned to it in 1865 for a sojourn of about the same duration. The changes which had taken place in these seven years struck me very forcibly; the first which attracted my attention lay in the manners of what, for the sake of being intelligible, must be called the common people. I do not mean to put myself in the delicate situation of avowing whether I thought the change for the better or worse, but a great change there certainly appeared to be, and it was one that required no conservance with current affairs to understand. It will suffice to say it was perfectly obvious that in seven years democratic principles had made great progress in the community: an explanation which will enable the reader, of whatever convictions, to draw his own inference. The rapid mutations that occur in America are proverbial; but, after an absence from the United States upon one occasion as long as the noted one from England, I saw no such alteration as this in the manners or bearing of my countrymen. Naturally enough the phenomenon did not seem to strike average English people whom I encountered, although here and there individuals were keenly sensible of it. Now the London newspapers, of which I was always, when in England, an omnivorous reader, impressed me in very much the same way. I hope the frankness will be pardoned which leads me to admit that the element ad captandum vulgus appeared to me to have greatly increased, and to be rankly flourishing. It is one thing to say this and another to reprobate it. Who live to please must presumably please to live; and perhaps a journal must needs be only an exponent even when it most affects to be a leader of its community. Journalists are like politicians in being able to maintain their place only by keeping a finger on the public pulse, and studying the caprices of popular humour. It is easy for the inexperienced, or for those whose knowledge is confined to special circles, to censure the varying tone, the apparent blemishes of taste or defects of judgment, which they may detect in a given journal; but toleration usually comes with wider knowledge in this as well as in other fields of human achievement. There are newspapers successfully published in London which would inevitably fail in New York, and, as some of my English friends need hardly be told, vice versa. Possibly when democracy has gone in England a little further, thinking Englishmen will not be quite so

ready as they sometimes have been to regard a certain style of American journalism as fairly representative of the best thought or culture of the country, any more than they will be to blame us all for the occasionally intemperate and bizarre exhibitions on the floor of Congress.

It will be curious to observe, as the London press grows more democratic, whether that of America will continue to hold it in the same regard as at present, or whether the existing estimation shall prove to be modified. At present the feeling is a rather singular and mixed one. Most of our American journals affect to hold English ones in little esteem; yet anything which favours their own side is eagerly copied by political papers, and anything disapprobatory of our institutions or prominent men, obtains enormous American circulation. If an American artist or book appears in London, the criticisms of the local press are widely quoted by our own, and our publishers in their advertisements almost invariably append English endorsements of works reproduced by them in preference to American ones. An apropos habit of American newspapers is frequently noticeable. If an article originally printed at home happens to be copied by a London journal of standing, it is often recopied in full from the latter by our own prints, although it had been quite unnoticed by them on its first appearance. The inference is certainly not complimentary to the discernment of our own editors, whatever it may be to their appreciation of that of their English brethren. All these things are intelligible enough, if seemingly anomalous. The problem is as to whether they will still present themselves, when the American press becomes more cosmopolitan and the English press more democratic. Let us, however, refrain from comparisons which, either for conviction's sake or for that of good feeling, are little likely to be profitable.

Apart from the abstract or analogical consideration of tendencies, I make bold, as an humble American observer, to say that Mr. Disraeli's strong eulogy on the press of his country is still richly deserved. Its energy, courage, and scholarship must in all fairness be admitted; and although its moral feeling is often impugned in the United States in connection with our unhappy civil war, the fact that if it erred it did so with a great number of Americans themselves, including not a few of their journalists and some of their ablest thinkers, is daily becoming more fully understood and appreciated. The generosity with which London journalists take up and encourage ability or desert, when they find it with utter disregard of origin or previous obscurity, is worthy of highest praise. There may be discreditable exceptions, but as a class


this tribute is surely due to them. No petty considerations of possible rivalship deters them from warmly acknowledging merit when they see it. The trick of ignoring what in justice should be recognized finds no place in their routine; and if they sometimes exhibit the opposite weakness of favouritism, it is at least a fault that leans to virtue's side. It is occasionally suspected that in matters of literary criticism 'kissing goes by favour" with a portion of the London press. Perhaps it does, but we have only a right to speak of what we know. I know the case of an unknown and uninfluential American author who had not a single literary friend in London, and who, on arriving there, sent a copy of a little volume he had published in New York the previous year, and which had made no noise, to the editor of a famous critical weekly, about which such a rumour as that I have mentioned was occasionally whispered. The volume was accompanied by a four-line note of explanation and apology.

Within three weeks, a long review appeared of the little work, which gave it, in my present opinion, more praise than it deserved; but how far this notice was from being actuated by any but generous and upright considerations may be judged when, to the circumstances already narrated, I add the fact that the book contained a somewhat acrimonious assault upon the very journal which thus reviewed it. I think it right further to bear witness, having been in England during the white heat of our Civil War, and frequently cognizant of letters being sent by Americans to various newspapers directly traversing the opinions, and occasionally the statements of facts, printed in their columns, that I never knew an instance wherein such letters were refused an insertion. To my mind, such incidents as these are worthy of being recorded and remembered.

It is difficult for an American to speak of the London Press without comparing it with that of New York. It is true that the situations are so essentially different that no just comparison can be instituted. The two communities are so far dissimilar in years, in metropolitan attritions, and in habits of social, literary, and political thought, that a parallel shaped with a view to determine the precise desert of their respective journalism would be unfair to both. As has been said before, I see little advantage in such comparisons, although there is sometimes a strong temptation, when dealing with people of either country who are more patriotic than well-informed, to remind them of pertinent facts. The New York Press has surprisingly improved in the past ten years, as all fair judges must allow. This

statement seems to gainsay a previously expressed theory, that decadence is to be looked for in journalism where a community is becoming more democratic. The inconsistency is, however, only apparent. In point of fact, we reached the lowest rung of our democratic ladder-attained the extremest swing of the pendulum, some time ago; and socially, if not yet politically, our course is now one of recession. The English are hurrying along the track we have already gone over, and we are likely presently to cross each other-one going one way, the other the other. When that juncture shall occur, the press of the two capitals will be more alike than ever before. Which is likely subsequently to excel, may for the present be left to the thinkers who are certain to take diametrically opposite views of the validity of my theory to judge for themselves. Whether, when the English newspaper press shall become entirely the "patrimony of the people," scholars like Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Disraeli will find so much in it to admire and to extol, must be left to the future to decide.

Women's Novels.

WITHIN very recent memory, several important changes have taken place both in the position and character of fictitious literature. The production of stories has increased enormously, out of all proportion with the increase of the population, out of all proportion, also, with the increase of grave and solid books. No magazine has a chance of success unless it contains a serial story, and even professedly religious periodicals seem unable to achieve their aim without the aid of fiction. Again, modern novels, in order to be popular, must be full of exciting scenes, and glowing descriptions: the tame colourless love-story, often as not told in a series of letters, which won the fancy of our grandmothers, would now be laid aside with contempt. Lastly, female writers, if they do not occupy the foremost rank as composers of fiction, at any rate appear in the greatest numbers. For one man nowa-days who writes novels, there are certainly half a dozen women. Briefly, novels are more numerous and more highly-coloured than they used to be, and these numerous and highly-coloured novels are chiefly composed by women.

Female authorship seems admirably adapted for a certain class of novels. A gossiping letter is generally better written by a woman than by a man, because women observe trivial matters which men pass by with indifference; and such novels as resemble gossiping letters on an extended scale, might reasonably be expected from feminine pens; also, we might fairly expect that any department of literature in which female influence predominated, would be characterized by purity of conception and gracefulness of treatment. We should readily excuse the absence of strength and originality, but we should certainly expect that educated women, being sheltered by the conditions of their sex from much of the vice and temptation of the outer world, would in their literary efforts, display a pleasing ignorance of many things which are forced on the observation of men. But what is the real state of affairs? The real state of affairs is simply this. Some years ago it was discovered the honour of the discovery may be chiefly awarded to Mr. Wilkie Collins-that tales of crime and horror, which had hitherto thrilled the hearts of scullery-maids, might, if more artistically treated, be rendered acceptable in the drawing-room. The world of fashion ate eagerly of these highly-spiced dishes. Sensation became the rage, and new sensations were demanded every hour. The female pen, though seldom able to originate, is skilful in imitation. Mr. Collins had sown the dragon's teeth, and speedily a phalanx of ladynovelists sprang up, armed at all points; armed with the "Newgate Calendar," the Annals of the Divorce Court, the gossip of the smoking-room, the argot of the race-course. They appeared to know everything that men knew. Formerly, we respected and admired our wives and sisters all the more for their innocent ignorance on certain topics, but now the most rustic maiden of sixteen, may by a diligent perusal of the works of her literary sisters, attain an almost perfect knowledge of every vice that festers beneath the sun. She is more fortunate than Rasselas, for he needed a pair of wings to escape from the ennui of the Happy Valley; whereas she, with the magic key of the circulating library, can unlock the jealous gates, and step into the howling wilderness beyond, in all its naked deformity. Let us correct this last phrase, and say, in more than its naked deformity: for after all, this real world of ours is scarcely as bad a place as the sensation-novelists represent it criminals and reprobates still form the minority. But in the pages of sensational novels, especially in those which are penned by the gentler sex, vice runs riot, and crime reigns supreme. In the romances of old days, it was customary to introduce a single villain,

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