Abbildungen der Seite

Too many women cultivate with superfluous sketch in a magazine, and not an episode care their own original narrowness, by shut- or excrescence in a novel. ting themselves up in a circle of family in- For the purposes of the story Mr. Lyon's terests which is but a wider form of selfish time is better employed in receiving the isolation. Esther Lyon, like the ordinary confidence of Mrs. Holt on the self-denying reader of her history, fails wholly to under- honesty of her son. The old contrast bestand the principle on which Felix has re, tween lofty impulses and selfish prudence is solved to belong to the working classes; but as well illustrated by Felix Holt and his after some hesitation, and with a temporary mother as by Don Quixote and Sancho disposition to favour a rival lover, she yields Panza; but, with a happy sense of the fitness to the logic of personal attachment, and of things, George Eliot makes her bero fight allows his life to be shaped according to bis with vulgar considerations of questionable own ideal of nobleness.

profit, and not with imaginary giants. The Mr. Lyon, the simple-minded Independent late Mr. Holt had left to his family the gainMinister, is one of the most agreeable char- ful secret of three specifics, which had acquiracters in the book; and yet it is a common- ed much popularity in the neighborhood. place contrivance to make a modern preacher Having learned enough of medicine to ascertalk in the long-winded sentences of the tain that Holt's Pills, Holt's Elixir, and Holt's seventeenth century. His involuntary con- Cancer Cure were mere impostures, Felix tempt for the tradesmen of his congregation, made up his mind to discontinue the sale. and his preference of the secular reformer His mother was naturally shocked at a deFelix Holt to orthodox church members,' cision which deprived her of her livelihood. relieve Mr. Lyon from the imputation of Her husband, as she informed Mr. Lyon, weak and excessive softness. There is a · had a wonderful gift in prayer, as the old pleasant fallacy in his argument that Wel members well know, if any one likes to ask lington and Brougham may be introduced them not believing my words; and he beinto sermons as properly as Rabshakeh and lieved himself that the receipt for the CanBalaam ; but one of his eccentric proceed-cer Cure, which I've sent out in bottles till ings is improbable in itself, and it makes this very last April before September as the story run capriciously off on a siding. now is, and have bottles standing by me Mr. Lyon takes advantage of a warm he believed it was sent in answer to prayer; acknowledgment for a trifling service which and nobody can deny it, for he prayed most he had rendered to the Tory candidate for regular, and read out of the green-baize the county, to ask Mr. Debarry to induce Bible. The profane Felix has told his his uncle the rector of Treby Magna to en- mother that she had better never open her gage in a public discussion on Church-gov- Bible, ‘for it's as bad poison to me as the ernment and the theory of an Establishment. pills are to half the people as swallow. 'em.' The Reverend Augustus Debarry, in defi- Like several of George Eliot's favourite feance of all probability, accepts the challenge, male characters, Mrs. Holt is profoundly not for himself but for his curate; and after impressed with her own moral and religeneral expectation has been excited in the gious excellence. Mr. Lyon mildly remarks town, the curate takes fright, Mr. Lyon is dis- that Felix ought not to be judged rashly. appointed, and the whole digression ends in nothing. It seems as if the writer had

""Many eminent servants of God have been changed her intention at the last moment, on led by ways as strange." “ Then I'm sorry for the ground that an ecclesiastical controversy their mothers, that's all, Mr. Lyon, and all the would be an incumbrance on the plot; and it more if they'd been well spoken women. For would have been better to pull down the scaf- not my biggest enemy, whether it's he or she, folding when the project of the building was if they'll speak the truth, can turn round and

And when abandoned. Some such abortive experiments say I've deserved this trouble. seem to have been tried during the develop everybody gets their due, and people's doings

are spoken of on the house-tops, as the Bible ment of organic life by natural selection;

says they will be, it'll be known what I've gone but art:compensates for its inability to copy through with those medicines — the pounding, the multiplicity, of Nature by deliberate and the pouring, and the letting stand, and the attention to unity. Mr. Lyon's desire for weighing - up early and down late - there's a public debate is not inconceivable, but a nobody knows yet but One that's worthy to sensible aristocratic rector would never have know; and the pasting o' the printed labels indulged his fancy. If the proposal and the right side opward.' subsequent failure were worth describing at all, they ought to have formed a separate Such touches as the green-baize Bible, and the merit of letting the medicine stand, and his perception, are so elaborately delineated, of pasting the labels right side upwards are that some disappointment arises wken, in only given by the hand of genius.

the course of the story, he subsides into comThe story has the defect of running in parative insignificance. Mrs. Transome two parallel lines with only an occasional wishes to retain the management of the esand arbitrary connexion. Mrs. Transome tate, not merely from a love of authority, and her son know nothing of the world of In- but because she has placed herself in the dependent Ministers, and, if they had heard power of Mr. Jermyn, the fraudulent family that the son of a quack-medicine vendor had solicitor. Her son, however, supersedes her voluntarily become a journeyman watchma- without even perceiving that she is dissatis ker, they would scarcely have appreciated fied, and he inflicts an additional shock by so imperceptible a declension in the remoter announcing his intention of standing for the portion of the social scale. Except in a sin- county as a Radical, although he might gle interview in matters connected with the easily have been returned on the hereditary election, Felix Holt never speaks to Harold Tory principles of her family. The necessity Transome, and to Mrs. Transome his exist- of employing Jermyn as agent for the elecence is probably unknown. The heroine tion postpones the impending rupture and indeed turns out, as in many other novels, the consequent disclosures, and the contest to be the heiress of the estate, and for a time forms a considerable part of the action of she wavers between the admirer whom she the story; but the paradoxical radicalism expects to dispossess, and the stern ascetic of Harold Transome leads to as abortive a who requires her to take a non-celibate vow result or absence of result as Mr. Lyon's proof poverty ; yet it is evident that either half jected discussion on Established Churches. of the story would have stood by itself, if Felix Holt is convicted of riot and manEsther Lyon had not been employed as a slaughter at the election, on evidence which link between the Minister's little house in would satisfy any juryman who was not in Malthouse Yard and the stately park with the secret of the novel ; and Harold Tranthe bad title. At the beginning of the book some scarcely troubles himself about a dethe docile reader thinks that he is to be ex- feat which leaves him at liberty to quarrel clusively perplexed and interested by the with Jermyn. By filing a bill against the disfortunes of the Transome family, and by honest agent he produces an explosion, which the results of their past misdeeds. Mr. might have been avoided if Harold and Sampson, the coachman, is supposed in the the author of his fictitious being had rememintroductory chapter to amuse his passen- bered that his father was alive. As long as gers with a vague account of the Transome old Mr. Transome ostensibly owned the esbaronets, summing up his narrative with tate of which he was tenant in possession, the luminous remark that

his resolute and active wife might have de

fied her son's urwelcome intrusion. Even «« There had been ins and outs in times gone if Mrs. Transome had over-estimated the priby, so that you could'nt look into it straight vileyes and power of the stronger sex, Mr. backward." At this Mr. Sampson (everybody Jermyn, having a common interest in sup, in North Loamshire knew Sampson's coach) would screw his features into a primary ex- porting her administration of affairs, would pression of entire neutrality, and appear to aim not have failed to dispute the pretentions of his whip at a particular spot on the horse's an encroaching remainder-man. The part flank.

of the mystery which concerns the title to

the estate disappoints expectation ; for, alAt the opening of the story, Mrs. Tran- though Mrs. Transome and Jermyn had resome, who has long administered the affairs sorted to questionable methods of resisting of her paralytic husband, awaits the arrival an action of ejectment twenty years before, of her son Harold from Smyrna, where, be- the Bycliffe claim had been at that time infore the recent death of his elder brother, valid, as Tommy Trounsem was still alive. he had made a fortune in trade. The dis- Jermyn seems to have concealed from his appointment of the proud and energetic client the strong point of her case, and to mother when she finds that her son intends have aided her in an unintelligible plot for to assume the exclusive control of th es- imprisoning Bycliffe by mistake for a total tate is described with admirable intuition stranger. It is difficult to comprehend how into character, and with less perfect appre- a charge of forgery, whether true or false, hension of the legal relations of the parties. could have divested Bycliffe's unfounded The good-natured selfishness of Harold, his or premature claim. Bycliffe died in prison, contempt for the business capacities of wo- and it was believed that his family was exmen, bis cleverness, and the obtuseness of tinct, until half the personages in the story

discovered by a cluster of simultaneous ac- that office, and especially clerical office, cidents that Esther Lyon was his daughter should imply corresponding duties, nor isand heiress. An early intrigue between Mrs. deed is it improbable that in some future Transome and Mr. Jermyn introduces a generation property itself may be regarded gratuitous and disgreeable complication. as the salary of a public function. From an Near the close of the story Harold strikes age long anterior to the Reformation till a Jermyn over the face in public, and in a time within living memory, a benefice was scuffle which ensues Jermyn tells him in a by a large portion of the clergy and of the grating voice, “ I am your father.". The laity regarded as a life-estate, burdened with episode is equally purposeless and painful, certain definite payments in the form of for Jermyn disappears, Harold proposes on ceremonial observances, as well as by a genthe same day to Esther, and he heard from eral understanding that the clergy ought to her lips that she loved some one else, and lead tolerably, decorous lives. An incumthat she resigned all claim to the Transome bent of good income was a smaller kind of estates. If Mr. Sampson had not been country squire, who was generally resident, superseded by the railway, he might have unless he happened to be a pluralist. It remarked more impressively than ever, that never entered into his mind, or into the imthere had been ins and outs in time gone agination of his parishioners, that he had by, and that you couldn't look into it undertaken to be a rural missionary, or to

raight backward.' Harold Transome must visit from house to house. His modern suchave looked forward with grave anxiety to cessor, like himself, conforms to the public the termination of twenty years from the opinion of his time, not without some good death of Tommy Trounsem. An estate held results, and not with unmixed moral gain to under a verbal resignation of her rights by himself. The English clergy of former times a woman may involve many alarming ins were entirely exempt from a desire to aggranand outs.

dise the Church, inasmuch as they valued Harold Transome's radical doctrines are their position as gentlemen far more highly not so amusing as the external and tempo- than any privileges of the priesthood. They rary conversion of his uncle Mr. Lingon, were also exceptionally free from the sacerthe Tory parson of the parish. On the dotal propensity to work on the feelings of night of Harold's return, over a second bot- women, because in the ordinary intercourse tle of port, Mr. Lingon was not indisposed to of society, on the bench of magistrates, and persuade himself that Toryism was extinct, in the management of local business, they and that Whiggery was à ridiculous mon had their fair share of influence with men. strosity. The next day he was less satisfied George Eliot, who perhaps inclines to Mr. with his own arguments, but bis nephew Lyon's revolutionary doctrines on church relieved his scruples, by informing him that establishments, always dwells with affectionhe was

à Radical only in rooting out ate minuteness on the peculiarities of the abuses.

old-fashioned parson. In Felix Holt'there

are two well-born specimens of the class, "" That's the word I wanted, my lad,” said Mr. Debarry being somewhat more refined the Vicar, slapping Harold's knee. That's a than his neighbour. Mr. Lingon's electionspool to wind a speech on. Abuse is the very eering speech in support of his nephew is a word, and if anybody shows himself offended, model of bucolic rhetoric. It is not surprishe'll put the cap on for himself.”)

ing that the Tory farmers in the neighbour

hood were heartily amused by their favourWhen he is left to himself he reflects ite parson's transparent assumption of a newthat —

fangled creed. « "It's a little awkward, but a clergyman must keep peace in a family. Confound it !

«« Come, now, you'll say I used to be a Tory, I'm not bound to love Toryism better than my I know the head of my own crabstick, will say

and some of you, whose faces I know as well as own flesh and blood, and the manor I shoot that's why I'm a good fellow. But now, r'i over. That's a heathenish, Brutus-like sort of thing, as if Providence couldn't take care of tell you something else; it's for that very reason the country without my quarrelling with my low – that I go along with my nephew here,

that I used to be a Tory and am a good fel. own sister's son."

who is a thorough-going Liberal. For will any. Mr. Lyon's scholastic phraseology expresses low has no need to tack about and change his

body here come forward and say, “A good felmore elevated sentiments, but the old-fash- road." No, there's not one of you such a Tom ioned clerical gentleman is perhaps a pleas- Noddy. What's good for one time is bad for anter object of contemplation. It is right another. If any one contradicts that, ask him



to eat pi: kled pork when he's thirsty, and to and the drink into these parts; for afore bathe in the Lapp there when the spikes of ice that it was all kep up the Lord knows are shoo ing. And that's the reason why the where.' Eloquence, however, even when men who are the best Liberals now are the very seasoned with beer, is an enjoyment too men who used to be the best Tories. There is not a partier horse than your horse that'll jib purely intellectual for the Midland collier and back, and turn round, when there is but mind. one road for him to go, and that's the road before him And my nephew here he comes of Let's have our pipes then,” said Old Sleck, a Tory breed, you know. I'll answer for ihe “I'm pretty well tired o’this.”

So am I," Lingons. In the old Tory times there was said Dredge, “it's wriggling work, like following never a pup belonging to a Lipgon but would a stoat; it makes a man dry. I'd as leef hear howl if a Whig came near him. The Lingon preaching, ony there's nought to be got by't. blood is goed rich old Tory blood, and that's I shouldn't know which end I stood on if it why, when the right time comes, it throws up a wasn't for the tickets and the treatin'.'” Liberal cream. There's plenty of Radical scum. I say, beware of the scum and look out for the The best and wisest inhabitant of Treby

Harold Transome will do you on the whole displays the smallest amount credit. If anybody says the Radicals are a set

of common of sneaks ; Brummagem halfpennies ; scamps been endeavouring to persuade the colliers

Felix Holt, who had who want to play at pitch and toss with the property of the country; you can say, “Look to send their children to school, is indignant at the Member for North Loamshire." And at the attempt of his own party to enıploy mind what you'll hear him say; he'll go in for his sluggish disciples for purposes of riot. making everything right - Poor laws, and On the election day he takes command of a Charities, and Church — he wants to reform riot, for the sole purpose of leading the riot'em all. Perhaps you say, “There's that Par- ers out of mischief, and from the same moson Lingon talking about Church reform why he belongs to the Church himself - he stable who attempts to interfere with the

tive he trips up and accidentally kills a conwants reforming too.” Well, well, wait a bit, and you'll hear by and by that old Parson Lin: proceedings. He is more fortunate than he gon is reformed ; shoots to more ; cracks his joke deserves in obtaining a pardon on the applino more; has drunk his last bottle; the dogs, cation of the magistrates headed by the the old pointers, 'll be sorry, but you'll hear that Tory and Radical candidates; but the story the Parson at Little Treby is a new man. - was coming to an end; Esther had, after That's what Church reform is sure to come to some wavering, determined to refuse Harold before long. So now here are some more nuts Transome; and Felix was required to acfor you, lads, and I leave you to listen to your cept the hand which had long awaited his candidate. — There he is — give him a good condescension. It is impossible to judge, hurray. Wave your hats, and I'll begin Hurray!”

from any summary of the plot, of the abun

danre of thought and humour which more The farmers were quite right in giving the than compensate for any complications or parson a "friendly hurray ’ before he began. some's old attendant, with her cynical phi

Let's hear what Old Jack will say for him-losophy of life, forms a life-like and remarkself,” was the predominant feeling among them ;

able portrait, although her character is only “he'll have something funny to say, I'll bet a indicated in one or two short conversations penny."

with her mistress ; and the farmers and

tradesmen who visit the butler at the Manor If the North Loamshire election fails to are each distinguished by some natural and assist the progress of the story, it displays recognisable peculiarity. Less original writhe writer's extraordinary knowledge of out- ters identify their minor characters by some of-the-way modes of English thought, and trite or cant saying, but George Eliot always her dramatic faculty of giving life to the denotes the intellectual or moral differences most insignificant character. The address of the dullest and most commonplace of of a Radical agent to the colliers of Sprox- mankind by some little idiosyncrasy of lan-. ton, assembled for their Sunday drinking, is guage or of thought. If • Felix Holt' has exactly adapted to the peculiar minds of the none of the tragic depth ofRomola,' it is a audience. One of the colliers had heard truer picture of life, and the changes which that it was the time to get beer for nothing, bave occurred since the date of the story and his companion sagely infers, “That's almost give the book a historical value. sin the Reform — that's brought the 'lections


From the Spectator, 20 Oct. our political course suspended, the negroes

left unprotected, the army filled with demoTHE IMPEACHMENT OF PRESIDENT

crats, the bureaus stuffed with men whom we JOHNSON

do not trust, concessions made to Fenians, fil

libusters, and schemes for foreign war, all proThe immediate future of the United gress paralyzed, and all finance rendered unStates depends now on the resolutions at certain, because of the wrongheadedness of a which Mr. Andrew Johnson may within the man whom we did not elect to be the head next few weeks arrive. Pennsylvania has of the States. It is impossible, allow the modgiven its decision, and the Pennsylvanian erate, and the fiercer men behind them vote, from the equality which in quiet times add that, whether possible or not, at least it exists there between the two great parties, shall not be. The great project of removing is the test vote of the Union. It is no longer the President, to which we have so frepossible for the President to doubt that the quently pointed as the inevitable alternative North has almost unanimously rejected his to his submission, is rapidly acquiring form. policy, that it has determined to support The extreme Liberals have been ready for Congress as against the Executive, and that it ever since Mr. Johnson vetoed the Freedit has decided to impose conditions upon the man's Bill, and now the nation has begun South which will ensure the two primary to perceive that the dismissal of a single ofresults of the war the freedom of labour ficer, however highly placed, is a less evil and the ascendancy of the North in the than the continuance of political anarchy, councils of the Union. If he can make up of the old-world form of conflict between his mind to submit to these terms, to obey the individual and the country. Unfortuthe people as he has so frequently expressed nately, the difficulties in the way of such his readiness to obey them, the danger is removal are unprecedented, not only in deover, and American politics will go on in gree, but in kind. In a despotic country their accustomed course. Congress will be the matter would be settled by a short rev. very strong and the Executive very weak, olution, the objectionable monarch giving a law or two will have to be passed over the place to a successor more amenable to the President's head, and there will be some re- national will. In a constitutional country laxation in the reins of official discipline, the representative body would contrive to but the evil will be temporary and endur- signify in some unmistakeable way that it able. The South will either yield and accept intended to be sovereign, and the executive its new position as a strong but not a domi- would either be changed or the dynasty nant section of the commonwealth, or re- dismissed. But in the United States the main outside until in 1868 the election of people, while determined to change either some determined Northerner demonstrates their ruler or his policy, are equally deterthe futility of further resistance to the inevit- mined to preserve, if it is in any way possiable. The collection of one good crop of ble, the forms of the Constitution, and under cotton by paid labour will greatly improve those forms it is nearly, though not quite, the temper of the great planters, while the impossible to remove the President. The lower whites will have time to perceive that framers of that great document did indeed as the aristocracy of caste cannot continue, contemplate the contingency, but either the free-soilers are their natural allies from a belief that no such case could occur, against the aristocracy of the land, a dan- or a lingering respect for the idea of kingship, ger which the planters are sure to perceive, or a wish to preserve the Preisdent's indeand sure also to try to avert by granting the pendence at all bazards, they left the law in freedmen full political rights. They may lead a very uncertain state. The tribunal, indeed, the negroes if they like - - a fact which comes is clear. The very able correspondent who out at every turn - but between them and writes to the Daily News exaggerates unthe landless whites there is a deep gulf fixed. consciously the difficulties of the mere trial, If Mr. Johnson will only yield, and suffer for the second and third sections of the first emancipation to be made a reality, the im- article give the House of Representatives mediate future may be, if not satisfactory, the power of impeachment by a simple maat least endurable, but if not

jority and the Senate the right of trial. Then, say American Liberals, Mr. Johnson * The Senate shall have the sole power to must be deposed. The President's term of of- try all impeachments. When sitting for fice does not expire till March, 1869, and it is that purpose they shall be on oath or affirquite impossible that we can endure for two mation. When the President of the United years and a half more a conflict between the States is tried the Chief Justice shall preGovernment and the nation. We cannot have side, and no person shall be convicted with

« ZurückWeiter »